STEM TOYS: Educational Toys Helping Children Learn
When children are small, it is difficult to prognosticate what they will be fond of as adults, but it is still possible to predict what might be useful for them. This is true in particular when talking about professions related to STEM. Knowledge in this field will be useful indeed, since the need for skilled technicians is constantly growing and the trend is unlikely to change in the next couple of decades. By 2020, the number of vacancies in the field of STEM will have increased by 9.2 million in the US; with 4.6 million vacancies associated with programming. Keep in mind that the average hourly wage rate of STEM-workers in the US is $37.44, while employees in other areas receive an average of $18.68 per hour.
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Education, Mathematics.
The very notion of STEM and the idea of focusing education on science and technology have become so popular in recent decades that they led to the popularity of educational toys, that is, STEM toys. The main goal of educational toys is to help children develop the skills they will need to succeed in studying at school and university or even building a brilliant career. Speaking of school, 75% of the Nobel Prize winners in Science state they got their passion for science out of school.
We have prepared a selection of the best educational toys for children over 2 years of age.
Wooden Construction Sets
If your children are two years old, you can give them wooden construction sets with large components.
Wooden block construction sets often consist of color blocks of three or four different sizes with various forms of Velcro and other fasteners. These blocks can form different constructions: from simplest houses to more complex ones.
Construction sets develop a variety of skills: creative thinking, color perception, combinatorics, spatial imagination, and the tactile perception of objects.
At the age of 3 to 5, you can supplement the block constructor set with another – more sophisticated – construction set consisting of smaller parts. As your child grows, the dimensions and complexity of construction sets will change; therefore, a set with an unlimited number of assembling options will stay relevant for a long time and can replace a huge number of toys your child will be quickly bored with.
Science & Experiment Kits
Does your child need astronomy? In fact, regardless of their future profession and field of activity, children need to understand the astronomical phenomena occurring in everyday life, that is, day and night, seasons, solar and lunar eclipses, or meteors and meteorites. All of these are incredibly interesting!
Whether we take science, economy or defense, you can notice that all developed countries invest in space research, as well as satellites, space communications systems, satellite monitoring, and similar projects.
Science and experiment kits are designed for young researchers and explorers who have already started asking questions to their parents. Performing simple experiments, children get new knowledge in the fields of natural history, astronomy, and physics. On top of that, didn’t most of us dream of having a solar system model when being children?
Sets of this series also inculcate environmental thinking in children teaching them how to find a new use for objects that have been used and have already performed their main function. For example, using a plastic bottle, newspapers, and parts from the set one can assemble and launch a rocket, thus putting physical laws to the test. Besides, the child’s interest in science may later develop beyond the school curriculum.
Mechanical 3D puzzles are a great toy for children and a hobby for adults who love model based simulations. These are not construction sets; they are puzzles since one can assemble models only according to instructions. The assembling process enhances developing motor skills, raising attention, and improving perseverance.
3D puzzles are functioning models of specific devices. Having assembled the model, you can use it as a decor element; what is more, you and your child can play with it because boxes and safes you assembled can be opened, trams can travel on rails on their rubber motors, and the timer can notify you with a bell that the time has come :)
Electronic Construction Sets
If you want your children to choose engineering or science-intensive fields, try to instill their interest in robotics, microprocessor-based systems, mechanics, and programming from early childhood – these are not only promising but also incredibly exciting fields. Having been engaged in robotics from an early age, a child will be well prepared for school courses in physics and computer science, whose study begins in the middle school.
Electronic construction sets for students are a great opportunity not only to assemble models, but also to program them. These sets have everything you need: both mechanical parts and electronics. When working with construction sets children get comprehensive development: the perception of shapes is improving; tactile and motor skills are developing, and spatial thinking is advancing.
Latest electronic construction sets are compatible with Arduino and Scratch, learning platforms aimed at teaching the basics of programming to children. When assembling hardware with their own hands and downloading software from the Internet, children will learn the basics of engineering and programming easily and with pleasure; it will help them better understand the new concepts of mathematics and computer science and use them in practice. Electronic construction sets also allow you to create virtually any device by making mechanical parts from scrap material and writing the code yourself.
Universal electronic construction sets are a perfect way to unlock the creativity of children and young inventors who have no experience with electronics. These construction sets are collections of electronic modules and are suitable for both boys and girls. The range of devices you can assemble from modules is unlimited, as is children’s imagination.
You can now create, play and share your inventions via a special smartphone application; it is all possible! What is more, a synthesizer construction set will help you assemble your own analog musical instrument capable of being endlessly tuned and extended.
Modern parents need to realize that their children have a good chance to become innovators, scientists and leaders in the sphere of engineering, and be instrumental in solving vital issues of humankind, both present and future. However, not all children have access to quality science and technology education. Therefore, few students see technical disciplines as a starting point for their future career. In fact, educational toys are intended to complement the school curriculum, to support the technical component of education and to boost children’s interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as early as possible.