Best STEM Toys
INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering from Purdue University has released it’s 2nd annual gift guide for future engineers. The guide includes toys that foster STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) learning across various categories.
“Define the problem Identify an engineering design problem to solve. Set criteria (desired attributes) and constraints (limits). Recognize who the client (who has asked you to find a solution) and users are (who will use the end product).
Gift Guide for Future Engineers
According to the guide, a good toy for inspiring critical thinking necessary for engineering challenges must encourage kids to:
Learn about the problem Research to see what, if any, solutions have already been created to solve the problem or one similar to it. Read different texts about the science and mathematics skills, knowledge and tools that will help them solve the problem.
Plan a solution to the problem Have them generate many ideas before deciding which one they would like to try. Encourage them to make a design plan. They may need to go back and learn something new before they can finish their plan. That is ok!
Try the solution Have them use their plan to create a prototype (a testable model that may be smaller or larger than the final design).
Test the solution Help your children conduct fair tests to see if their plan is a good solution for the problem.
Decide Use the test results to make decisions about their solution. Did the solution solve the problem and meet the constraints? Should they try other ideas they previously brainstormed or brainstorm new ideas to achieve a better solution?
Communicate /deliver Have them make claims (use evidence to support what they believe is true) about their solution so the client knows why they should use or select it. Have them communicate their idea to the client.”
Some of the top picks from the guide include:
1. WEDGNETIX 32 -pc Magnetic Construction Toy
2. Ubongo from Thames and Kosmos
3. MakeWonder Wonder Pack
4. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
5. Dynamo Dominoes from Hape
Smart-Toys wants to encourage parents to help kids discover the fun of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). We place great importance in understanding the value of education in childrens’ lives, as well as the enormous impact that STEM toys can have on their future.
Good STEM toys should be:
-multi-purpose learning materials with an observable impact on learning skills & knowledge
-entertaining and engaging while also educational
-design and development focused, while enhancing divergent thinking, creativity, hand-eye coordination and spatial reasoning skills