Toys are one of the best ways to get kids involved, learn, and become inquisitive about the world around them.
Some manufacturers have developed toys that try to add some kid-approved STEM toys to the market.
Here are some examples:
Roominate is a dream toy for an engineering-minded girl (or boy). It offers the chance to design, build and electrify a toy house. This is a great way to help a young person understand what goes into the design and construction of a house or building project. It’s fun, creative and helps develop critical thinking skills. The Deluxe Roominate model won a Platinum Oppenheim Toy Award, and Amazon reviewers consistently give it a lofty five stars.
This is an engineering toy designed for girls by a female engineer. Despite a recent advertising controversy, this remains a great toy to get kids interested in engineering — and I am all for that. I also love that it comes with a storybook as well, so kids engage with a positive character as well as with great hands-on and brains-on play.
Snap Circuits Alternative Energy Kit
Snap Circuits have been around awhile and are terrific toys in and of themselves, but this “green” set focusing on alternative energy takes the fun to a whole new level. Budding engineers can build more than 125 projects with this set and learn about solar energy along the way. The batteries are, of course, rechargeable, and the fun and educational value is limitless. This set is also compatible with any other Snap Circuits you already own, and the parent and kid reviews are off-the-charts positive.
Keva Structures present building and engineering in a very basic yet super-creative form. The set is made up of 200 identical high-quality hardwood blocks that can be combined to build an infinite amount of structures, big and small. As one teacher who purchased this for his class says, “There is not a lot to it, but that is the beauty of the product.” This simple set allows kids to use their imaginations to the max and helps them understand balance and proportion in building design. They can start with one of the many building ideas and instructions that come with the Keva structures or dive right in and design their own. Best of all, their sturdy construction ensure that this is a toy that can be kept and handed down years later to the next generation if architects and engineers.
Unlike the others, Tynker is an online resource. It’s a site designed for kids from 4-8 and “makes it fun and interesting to learn programming.” Kids can use Tynker to learn to code and build mobile apps, games and animated stories. Learning to code is a great way to teach kids to think, to break problems down and to build things. And with more careers in technology than we presently have students to fill, this kind of learning could set them on a path for a pretty awesome future.
These have been around for a while. Starting with Lincoln Logs and others, K'enex now has a powerhouse of toys that get kids engaged and interested. They now offer contests and online help so there is a bigger learning initiative now as well.
National Geographic Engineering Toys
There are so many great toys and learning kits offered by National Geographic, it’s hard to pick just one as a favorite. You can work with your kids to learn how to build wind-powered generators that will charge your rechargeable batteries and power your electric cars. You can learn about physics by building models powered by air and water pressure and you can introduce them to the amazing world of robotics.
Do you have any other suggestions for STEM toys?