I came across a recently published post on a blog I read about inspiring kids in the area of STEM through toys. With the holidays approaching fast, I thought this would be a good time to share some of the highlights of the blog post and some of the STEM gift buying guides available.
The author of the blog post, Chris Wolfe, had some good advice for those looking to buy STEM toys for the children in their lives. The three points of guidance that Chris offers are:
- Align the STEM toys with the child’s general interests and follow their direction. If a little girl likes princesses, show her how she can design and build a castle with building blocks or make dresses using paper or cloth, then let her decide how to play. Maybe she’ll decide to make her princess a race car.
- Beware of cheap, mass-produced toys masquerading as STEM-inspired. STEM is hot, toy marketers know it and they are quick to leverage the excitement. Not every inexpensive toy is bad and some are better then others. Good STEM toys should foster imaginative thinking, engage the user in their creation, and encourage problem solving. Ready-made action figures, dolls, tea sets, buildings and vehicles have a place in children’s play and can help develop social and communication skills needed for success. Good STEM toys offer these opportunities for development as well as targeting the spatial and creative problem solving skills needed for STEM careers.
- To truly inspire a kid in STEM this holiday season, spend time with them on an activity that promotes STEM-thinking and talk to them about STEM. If you know a child that likes make-up, help her mix her own and show her how math and science are important parts of the process and in how the make-up looks and feels once it is applied. Or have them pick a science experiment and do it together, talking about the process.
Click here for the whole blog post by Chris Wolfe.
There is no shortage of STEM gift buying guides available nowadays but I thought I would share a couple of the favorite ones I have seen.
Purdue University has developed a great Engineering Gift Guide through their Inspire program. They state that “research has shown many of the toys, games and books that support engineering learning are more often purchased for boys than for girls. Through the Engineering Gift Guide, the INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering is raising public awareness of the many toys, games and books that promote engineering learning and are fun for both boys and girls.”
Another STEM Gift Guide I really liked was published on a website called Modern Parents Messy Kids. This guide has a great list broken down by different interests such as engineering or chemistry and life sciences.
Feel free to share any other great STEM gift buying guides that you know of!