Growing up in a Russian household, science and math were always stressed as top priority subjects. I spend a lot of time studying, and was often the sole girl in classes such as Honors Algebra and AP Chemistry — no surprise to my teachers and family that I went on to receive a BS in Neuroscience and an MBA in Finance. Today’s inquisitive kids don’t just need to hit the books. Now they have an array of amazing STEM toys that they can play with AND learn from simultaneously.
So what exactly is STEM?
It’s an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; below I’ve summarized each category’s main objectives.
Science: observing, experimenting, making predictions, and asking questions
Technology: being inventive, making things work, identifying issues, and using computers and other smart devices
Engineering: solving problems, using materials, designing, creating, and building
Math: pattering, sequencing, exploring shapes, numbers, volumes, and size
Why is it so important all of a sudden?
In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels that surpass what was considered acceptable in the past.
STEM-based jobs are growing at a pace exceeding 20% per year compared to non-STEM which are increasing at 4%. Also, STEM-based occupations out-earn their counterparts often 2:1 according to a recent PEW study.
Who benefits most from a STEM-based education?
STEM education helps to bridge the ethnic and gender gaps sometimes found in math and science fields (remember the part above when I mentioned I was often the ONLY female in my science and math classes?).
Initiatives have been established to increase the roles of women and minorities in STEM-related fields. STEM education breaks the traditional gender roles. In order to compete in a global economy, STEM education and careers must be a national priority.
Toys cost an arm and a leg nowadays; why not spend your money on items your children will learn and grow from?
Here are some fun options for the “smarty pants” in your life:
1Beginners Marble Run
The 30-piece set helps kids develop logical and motor skills. Think of it as the introduction to engineering while your tot builds their dream run.
2Build-A-Bot Puppy Robot
It’s like color by numbers, but instead, your child can build your own pet robot that can be trained to run, walk, hop and play. A build certificate comes along with the toy to name your pet.
3Human Body 100-Piece Floor Puzzle
For all the future doctors, nurses, surgeons, and scientists, this floor puzzle can keep your kid entertained for hours while giving them a glimpse of how bodies work. Plus, it’s the literally the size of a child.
4Toysmith 4M Brush Robot Science Kit
This clever toy teaches kids to tidy up and is STEM friendly.
5Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid
This one is for the Star Wars lovers. Although your child won’t be able to build the droid, they can create and view holographic recordings. The adaptive robot personality changes as you play and with your interactions.
6Scientific Explorer Kitchen Chemistry Mini Lab
This is for the kids who love slime, bubbles, and rock candy. The Slinky Science Kitchen kit is a fun spin on chemistry in common household items.