Science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, has been talked about a lot over the last couple of years. This is mostly because the U.S. trails behind almost every other developed nation in STEM-related knowledge. As consumers though, we’re doing the damn thang. We line up for days and camp out overnight to buy the latest tech but have no idea of even the basics of how they work.
The educational community recognized November 8 as STEM Day in which all things dealing with the sciences was celebrated. As a nerdy dad that intends on bringing up a nerdy son, this struck a chord with me. One of the things I love to do in order to encourage scientific thinking is finding ways to make it fun. I can remember how boring some of it was in school, so if I can find a way to drum up excitement at a young age in Liam and your kid, then hip, hip hooray. Just in time for Black Friday deals, here are a few really fun toys that encourage STEM skills.
Dash and Dot
Price: $49.99 (Dot), $149.99 (Dash) $199.95 (Both together)
Ages: 5 and up
Buy it HERE:
There are quite a few toys out on the market that deal with robotics and the basics of engineering, but Dash and Dot takes a much different approach by introducing the fundamentals of coding. The set delivers its lessons in a colorful presentation that’s familiar and attractive to young kids. Dash is a wheeled robot that can be programmed to travel, react to sound and sense obstacles. Dot is a stationary device that can do much of the same, including controlling its counterpart.
The magic is in the apps that allow you to learn the steps of how programming works. Kids arrange blocks of commands that Dash and Dot translate into actions like changing colors, playing sound effects or play instruments like an optional xylophone attachment. The robots come together as a set or individually, depending on how much you want to spend. Apps are free with a purchase and can be used on Apple or Android devices. They’re really good for elementary school aged kids but the basic app which allows basic movement, light and sound functions is more than enough for preschoolers.
Stepping Into Science
Ages: 5 and up
Buy it HERE:
In our instant-everything world, it’s all too easy to forget that it’s important for kids to learn simple life concepts like where food comes from or how things work. That’s where the Stepping Into Science kit comes in. Aimed at kindergarteners and above, the kit contains 25 experiments that range from showing how colors mix to how evaporation works. For $40, the Stepping Into Science kit has more than enough projects to keep young minds busy. If there are multiple kids in the family, everyone has a chance to learn and do something cool.
Leapfrog Epic Tablet