STEM is an approach to learning and development that integrates the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
STEM and educational toys are available for every age group, from babies and toddlers, elementary school right through high school.
Through STEM Kids develop key skills including:
- Problem solving
- Critical analysis
- Independent thinking
- Digital literacy
Why is STEM important?
The global economy is changing. Therefore, current jobs are disappearing due to automation and new jobs are emerging every day as a result of technological advances.
The continual advances in technology are changing the way students learn, connect and interact every day. Skills developed by students through STEM provide them with the foundation to succeed at school and beyond.
Employer demand for STEM qualifications and skills is high, and will continue to increase in the future. Currently, 75 per cent of jobs in the fastest growing industries require workers with those skills. To be competitive, the Australian workforce needs people who can adapt to a changing workplace.
Above all, STEM empowers individuals with the skills to succeed and adapt to this changing world.
What are STEM toys?
STEM Toys are Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math based toys geared towards learning, curiosity, and education. There are a variety of different toys focusing on core disciplines in coding, engineering, chemistry, mechanical toys and more. In addition, STEM educational toys teaches kids to focus in on the four subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These Toys are a great way to reinforce the importance of learning in a fun way. At Moms Arena, we offer you products reviews, mostly for STEM educational Toys.
What is important to know about STEM toys?
How can parents determine which of the new crop of STEM toys are actually beneficial and which are just getting in on a trend? Tech firm Technavio, which released a report forecasting the growth predicted in the STEM toy industry, breaks down educational toys into three categories: academic, cognitive thinking and motor skills.
Cognitive thinking toys for younger children can include puzzles and construction sets that require children to think logically and apply reason. On the other hand, Cognitive skill-building toys for older students include classics like the Rubik’s Cube, as well as more advanced construction sets from companies like LEGO, which require older students to apply concepts of both geometry and engineering.
Motor skill-building toys are a growing subset of STEM toys and primarily apply to the youngest of learners. Toddlers and preschoolers can benefit from workbench sets or even simple, well-designed building blocks, which allow young learners to develop the physical skills they need to move and manipulate objects.
Buying Guide for STEM Educational Toys
Hopefully, you now (or already) see STEM as more than just a buzzword. More so, the value in the idea of STEM education. That’s great! It is vital to understand something before deciding to implement it, especially when it comes to our children.
So now you may be wanting to get those little hands busy. But, where to even begin? Is it as simple as searching for ‘STEM Toys’ on amazon and buying the first thing that shows up?
Unfortunately, there is no governing body verifying the viability of a self-proclaimed STEM toy. It’s why almost every other toy you see out there comes with the term slapped on there, merely as a marketing ploy. It is up to us to distinguish high-quality educational STEM toys from the sea of noise.
What to know before buying a STEM toy?
Here are some questions to ask when looking at a potential toy for your child. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to check all the boxes. I’d say if it satisfies at least half of these requirements then go for it!
- Does it encourage hands-on activity? A key characteristic and the heart of STEM as a whole is its hands-on learning approach.
- Is it age-appropriate? Getting an advanced chemistry set with small parts for a 3-year old is probably not a good idea.
- Is it open-ended? Encouraging free play without any constraints builds their creativity.
- Does it incorporate one of the STEM topics? This is less of a requirement for toddlers and infants.
- Does it promote trial and error? Letting kids make mistakes and coming to their own solutions builds their problem-solving skills.
- Is it fun and engaging? This is a big one, as these terms are quite subjective. You know your child better than anyone, so get something that will pique their interest and keep them engaged for longer periods of time.