Parents and educators have long known that educational toys help kids understand more about the world around them. Recently, toys identified by the acronym STEM have become very popular. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – subjects where studies show American students have fallen behind. Here are 7 top toys that will help young scientists engage with STEM subjects and begin a lifetime of learning.
Available in many different price points and piece counts, Magna-Tiles are a unique combination of magnetic toy and building block. Shapes include triangle, square, rectangle and more, and the possibilities are endless. Most sets contain no instructions, so imagination is the rule of the day!
This new construction toy from Denmark has a unique twist – there is only one shape, but that shape can be combined in all kinds of ways. Younger kids will recognize Plus-Plus as a puzzle piece and begin creating flat mosaics, while older kids can follow instructions and build complex 3-D structures like boats, cars, animals and more. They are made in Denmark, and the European quality really shows.
This scientific toy helps kids quickly understand and build electrical circuits. The more advanced kits (suggested for ages 7+) contain sirens, lamps, light switches and more. By creating simple circuit boards that work just like the real thing, children gain an understanding of basic electrical engineering.
This empowering toy for girls has made waves with its heroine, Goldie, teaching kids how to build simple machines. Each kit — like Goldieblox and the Spinning Machine, Goldieblox and the Dunk Tank, and more — contains a story booklet that explains engineering concepts. Suggested for ages 4 to 9.
Another great alternative for girls is the Roominate Chateau. Created by 2 young female engineers, Roominate combines dollhouse play with electrical engineering and construction. Girls can build a room, furniture and more and then outfit it with fans, lights and other gadgets. These elements teach kids how basic circuits work and also develop hands-on problem solving.
This self-described “invention kit for everyone” boasts an incredible array of possibilities. With a circuit board and wires with alligator clips, kids can turn everyday objects into touch pads. Banana Piano? No problem! Makey Makey connects right to your computer (both PC and Mac) and require no previous programming knowledge.
For the serious young student, this kit from LEGO offers up endless opportunities for invention. Including over 550 LEGO Technic components as well as an intelligent, programmable EV3 brick that connects to your computer, this kit will teach kids how to build robots, remote control cars and more.
STEM toys will get kids’ minds moving! They are sure to create in them a lifelong passion for learning about the world around them.