The spotlight is currently shining on STEM right now. If you’re not familiar, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – four areas that educators and employment professionals are pushing for young people to take an active interest in, particularly women and other minorities that have shied away from getting into these areas in the past. One strategy? Get ’em interested in early. Today I’m highlighting a collection of toys that tap into one or more of the STEM sectors.
Sector 18 Game – $35 @ Discovery Toys
First up, a fun and challenging game to build up your child’s math skills. The premise is pretty simple. Roll three dice and figure out all of the mathematical combinations you can use – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – to cover up the numbers in your sector (or a competitor’s sector). For example, rolling 1, 3, and 5 could let you cover up 3, 4, 5, 8, 15. The game is quick to learn and addictive to play, making it a great choice for all ages.
Goldie Blox and The Builder’s Survival Kit – $59.99 @ Amazon.ca
The Goldie Blox series of toys are literally designed with STEM in mind and are generally targeted toward girls. This latest set is designed for kids aged 7-12 and encourages them to take an interest in mechanical engineering. Like all Goldie Blox products it includes a story to help activate your child’s imagination and make them more engaged in the building activities. There’s 190 pieces in this massive set, and as the kids read Goldie’s journal, they’ll be inspired to create several different quirky inventions, from a drum set to a dog house to a spinning tea cup ride. It’s a great kit that packs in hours of fun – and years of learning!
Lab in a Bag Test Tube Discoveries Kit – $24.99 @ Scholar’s Choice
For the budding Einstein in your household, this fun kit encourages them to take an active interest in chemistry. Kids will take an active hand in 20 different activities, from growing fake ice to creating garbled marbles and more. Not only will they undertake the experiments, the kit explains the science (or magic) behind each one, so they’ll learn while they’re playing.
littleBits Synth Kit – $189 @ Robot Shop
This is one of many items produced by littleBits, which specializes in analog-style tech to give kids a hands-on experience with the same technology they love to use to play games or browse the internet. Their various kits do different things, this one turns into an 80s-sounding synthesizer that can be wired into a range of products, whether a keytar, a turntable or one of the other projects highlighted on the littleBits site. I’d recommend this set for older kids – at least in their teens – but you can always team up with a little one to help them get the hang of it.
Wonder Workshop Dash and Dot Robot Pack – $289.95 @ BuyaPi.ca
What kid wouldn’t want their own robot? Now they can have two of ’em, with this cute set of interactive, programmable robots that grow up right alongside your kids. These cool robots teach children the basics of programming and the fact that computers aren’t really much of anything without our human brain power telling them what to do. It’s easy to get engaged off the hop with a basic proprietary coding system your kids will use to customize their robots’ behaviours, but as they grow older they can learn to create more complex algorithms and interactions. It’s an ambitious choice to be sure, but one that’ll reward your kids in the long-term by giving them an appreciation for computers and technology at a young age.
Magformers Magnets in Motion Sets – From $14.99
If your child has an interest in building toys – which help develop dexterity, spacial intelligence, and yes, engineering skills – then they’ll definitely want to check out Magformers. These building toys are ultra sturdy and can be connected in infinite ways to create towering structures or smaller components. One of their newer innovations are Magnets in Motion kits, which include a rechargeable power generator to give your creations some mechanical movements, lights, and power. The kits range in size and price from $14.99 USD for an accessory expansion kit to their base lines, all the way up to $179.99 for a massive set of over 80 pieces. No matter which collection you choose, the Magformers Magnets in Motion sets can be used in tandem with your existing Magformers collections, which themselves come in a massive range of colours, functions, and special features. It’s a cool way to get kids engaged in building something with their own two hands, and using technology in a very different, interactive way.
The Magformers Magnets in Motion 22-piece kit you see in the photo above can be found in Canada for about $79 – but I’m giving away one for free here on the Canadian Gift Guide. If you’d like to win it, here’s how to enter:
1) First of all! You must be a Canadian Gift Guide subscriber to enter this giveaway. Just find the ‘Gift of Gab’ box on the righthand side of this page and either hit ‘Follow’ or enter your email address. Once you’ve done that, leave a comment below telling me what your favourite STEM toy featured in this post is, AND what your favourite kit is from the Magformers website. You have until June 18, 2015.
2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around June 19, 2015 to select the winner(s), who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.
4) Bonus Entry: There’s a few ways to rack them up. For each bonus entry, visit the Magformers social account and interact with them (by leaving a comment on their page / Tweeting, etc.) Then link back to your social interaction (i.e to your Tweet, pin or wall post) in a separate comment per bonus entry.