Make playtime, STEM time!
Today, it’s more crucial than ever for boys and girls alike to develop a keen interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). That’s because the pace of scientific and technological advancement over the coming decades is expected to continue climbing at an exponential rate. And that means bringing an increased demand for STEM related careers along with it.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM jobs have already increased by 14 percent since 2008, while non-STEM jobs have grown only 1.7 percent. So it’s smart for parents to prepare their kids for this changing job market — even at an early age.
But on a broader scope, STEM education offers great value by helping kids develop critical thinking and problem solving skills — competencies that go a long way in any career and in life.
So how do you help your child develop an appreciation for these subjects and boost their knowledge and understanding in these areas? Play is often the best way for children to learn where they can apply concepts and skills. Fortunately, there are numerous games, toys and kits on the market that make learning STEM lots of fun.
1. Qurious Space for ages 3+. This 4-in-1 family card game teaches kids about the solar system, Milky Way galaxy and more. Kids will learn simple strategy and creative problem solving skills, while developing vocabulary and enhancing their memory.
2. Magformers for ages 3+. These magnetic geometric construction kits come in a variety of choices. Kids can build 3-D structures such as houses, pyramids and balls out of colorful magnetic triangles, diamonds, trapezoids and squares.
3. MuddWatt STEM Kit: Clean Energy from Mud! for ages 8+. Kids will love conducting experiments with soil by adding ingredients from the fridge to build a living fuel cell. A free app will then allow kids to measure the power and track microbe growth.
4. Snap Circuits for ages 7+. More than 100 projects will keep kids busy and learning with these electronics discovery kits. Snap Circuit kits have won numerous awards and come in several variations. Contents of various kits include phototransistors, LEDs, resistors, ICs, DC motors, flying propellers, electromagnets, lamps, switches and much more. Projects kids can make include an AM radio, burglar alarm, doorbell, flying saucer and voice recorder, to name a few.
5. Sequence for Kids for ages 4 to 7. In this strategy-building card and board game, the goal is to be the first to place four chips in a row. The challenge is to think strategically and finish before their opponent uses a unicorn card to remove a chip.
6. Gravity Maze for ages 8+. Kids will use spatial reasoning skills to arrange towers that create a path for a marble to go from its start position to its target tower. It includes 60 challenge cards ranging from beginner to expert.
7. Osmo Genius Kit for ages 5 to 12. This kit boasts five games that turn an iPad into a hands-on learning experience. Osmo, on the iPad, interacts with every real-live move. This kit enhances kids’ visual thinking and creative problem solving skills and self-expression.
8. ThinkFun Rush Hour for ages 8+. Winner of a national Mensa award, Rush Hour is a game of logic that sharpens kids skills in planning and sequential reasoning. In this traffic gridlock game, there are 40 challenges from beginner to expert. The goal is to move cars through the puzzle until the red car can escape the traffic jam.
9. IQ Fit for ages 6+. This spatial reasoning and problem solving game boasts 120 challenges in which kids must fill the board with the missing 3-D pieces. It’s a compact travel size game and a great value.
10. DoughLab STEM Kit: Bake and Learn for ages 6+. This yummy bread making experimentation kit includes five experiments in which kids discover the perfect recipe and learn about the power of yeast.
11. Rock On! Geology Game for ages 5+. Kids will explore earth’s geological treasures in this fun science game. It comes complete with a nice assortment of rock and mineral specimens.
12. Big Bag of Science for ages 8+. More than 70 fun activities can be performed with this kit in the areas of chemistry, physics, biology, geology, magnetism, weather and flight. Kids will use the real scientific tools that are included in the kit in their experiments to amaze family and friends.
13. ETI Toys Lil’ Engineers Engineering Blocks for ages 3 to 6. This box of colorful various size and shape blocks, screws, nuts, plates, wheels and connectors will keep kids engrossed for hours. Kids can build 12 different toy designs while developing their motor skills, hand-eye coordination, logical thinking and problem solving skills.
14. Prime Climb for ages 10+. Learning to add, subtract, divide and multiply is a breeze with this award winning mathematics board game.
15. Goobi Construction Set for ages 3+. Kids will learn about magnetism while constructing 3-D structures out of colorful plastic bars, iron balls and tripods. Children will develop a sense of proportion while improving eye-hand coordination, problem solving skills and learning the basics of physics, geometry and architecture.
16. Green Kid Crafts, Rainforest Discovery Science Box for ages 3 to 10. This kit embraces kids’ creativity while providing scientific exploration. Kids can conduct a rainforest pollution experiment, create a rain stick and build a rainforest terrarium, among many other activities.
Have an avid STEM enthusiast in the family? Then you might want to consider Amazon’s top rated STEM Club. It’s a program that delivers a box of quality, handpicked STEM toys right to your doorstep. Delivered every month, two months or three months (depending on your preference), these boxes are specifically crafted for three age groups: 3-4 years, 5-7 years and 9-13 years. $19.99/box; amazon.com.