Little Engineers: STEM Themed Toys for Kids

Anyone who has ever witnessed a child curiously take apart a Tupperware drawer should know that many children are inborn engineers. Your job as a parent is to grab the opportunity and nurture their creativity, and well, clean up the mess afterwards.

In the recent years, STEM toys for all ages have flooded the educational reserves, making it a little difficult for the enthusiastic guardians to pick the right set for the kids in their lives. A skilled team of engineers, though, have come together to give parents an idea on gifting their child the most thoughtfully designed stem-toy on the market.

 Little Engineers: STEM Themed Toys for Kids

Much thought and planning go into designing and making the right toy available for parents to guide their children through with. After all, working on young potential is not as simple as it sounds. Thank fully, the experts are continuously at work to make the process better every few years. Every 12 months Purdue University’s INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering becomes a testing laboratory as the students and faculty come in with toys, guides and games to run them through their paces. The highest rated products earn a spot in the Engineering Gift Guide ranking which is currently in its seventh year.

According to Tamara Moore, the executive director and professor of engineering education at INSPIRE, play is one of the valuable spaces where we can catch a child’s imagination. For a child to get interested in pursuing a stem career, you want to capture their fancy. And being able to play freely is one of the important ways for this to happen.

Stem Stats and Figures

The infographic above was taken from a survey conducted in May 2019 where more than 1000 parents were asked questions about the STEM toys they purchased for their children. Around 60% of parents saw their children with a new boosted confidence in STEM while 39% said they saw their children play with the toy for months.

More and more parents are digging into ways to spark their child’s interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and it is not surprising to think of the whys. STEM jobs have taken a quick rise in the work market and according to a Commerce Department study, are projected to grow by 8.9 percent till 2024 compared to a 6.4 percent for non-STEM jobs. And not only there are more job opportunities in STEM but engineering workers earn higher wages compared to other job workers, too. The same Commerce Department study talks about STEM degree who do no work in STEM earning more still than their non-STEM counter parts. You guessed it right. STEM is indeed the new world order.

STEM Toys: The Vitality

The idea of helping kids learn while they play is not new but toys with a focus on STEM are becoming the new trend. While the great LEGO land and Rubik’s Cube have been around for many years, parents are now on a lookout for something different, peaking the child’s interest in particularly these subjects and supplementing what they learn in school.

Beyond inculcating the basics of STEM subjects, the toys also help develop spatial awareness in children while improving focus, creativity, imagination, problem solving and most importantly, team work. The drive to play and have fun is an inherent one for all of us, and so instead of solely focusing on task-oriented educational learning, combining STEM with play has proved to be very effective. The core idea of work-play time is to make sure the child’s mind does not bog down to one route or written rules. That helps open more pathways for absorbing engineering skills. In the contemporary academia, there is no one or wrong answer to a question or intense memorization of grades to worry about.

What can go off as a STEM Toy?

Be it chemistry kits, number games, robotic toys, building blocks or construction sets, any plaything that gives a child hands-on learning with technical creation can easily qualify as a STEM toy. While the toys are mostly designed for toddlers up to teens, there is no age limit at which a person can find a STEM toy interesting. The main aim is to encourage children in active and engaging play, leading them to discover more about the world, and themselves – two of the most essential things in the age of excessive screen time and passive play.

STEM Kids are the Future

According to educational and academia experts, the most important thing to teach students these days is not content. In the current learning sphere, knowledge is changing so quickly, particularly in STEM, that most information becomes outdated way too soon. Therefore, as parents and guardians, we need to switch gears and helps kids become “creative problem solvers,” which according to the Harvard Educationist, Tony Wagner, is what the 21st century employers really need but struggle hard to find.

Developing the keen sense for critical thinking, innovation, collaboration and communication will help the little ones adapt to new circumstances easily and tackle unfamiliar problems. And the good news is that the best way to assist young children in acquiring these skills is sitting back and watching them play to their heart’s content. Peter Gray, an evolutionary psychologist, talks about “free play” allowing kids to play independently with limited adult intervention and freedom to test their limits. If they fail once, they will bounce back next time all by themselves. When you consider the skills that STEM toys mean to develop, it is hard to lose. Plus, they are fun so it is a one hundred percent win-win situation.

All in all

The underlying STEM-thinking is the dire need to identify real world thinking and solving problems in real time. This is particularly required for the quickly evolving society we live in and the subsequent direction it takes, having implications for future work force and economies. Yesterday it was Apple and the IOS device for solutions we did not realise we needed. Tomorrow, who knows? The world is ever-altering and technology even more mysterious. With the importance of STEM toys spreading on amongst parents and children, the future is hopeful, seeming more in control.