STEM is one of the most talked-about topics in education, toy manufacture, and sales, as well as among parents, but what exactly does the term mean? The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. That’s it, my work here is done, thanks for reading!
Jokes aside, it’s a longer story than merely explaining the words behind the word. In the last few years, STEM has grown to represent a unique approach to teaching, learning, and playing; an approach that centers on individual students’ learning styles and interests. In theory, this means STEM-based education should have something to offer each child based on their particular needs, unlike a more traditional educational approach which focuses separately on each subject, STEM integrates subjects and emphasizes technology in order to relate different disciplines to each other and connect them in an organic way.
So, what is so unique about this approach? Why is STEM getting so much attention? Since we’re focusing on the world of education, for the time being, we can explain it like this – STEM attempts to move beyond traditional and straightforward ‘test performance’ and focuses on the development of higher-level creative thinking skills by connecting classroom learning to the real world. It emphasizes communication, collaboration, problem-solving, research, creativity and critical thinking, which we can all agree are skills that children are going to need to be successful in today’s world regardless of career goals or interests.
Proponents of this approach to learning believe that the future of the world will be built on our children’s capacity for innovation, invention and creative problem-solving, and STEM is a direct response to that realization.
Now that we’ve described STEM as a concept, it’s time to start talking about the topic proper of this article – STEM toys. If you’ve been paying attention so far, it should be clear that these toys focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), and are focused on curiosity, education, and learning. Just like with any ‘genre’ of toy, there is a wide variety of STEM toys on the market. Some focus on coding, others on mechanics or chemistry. What’s most important to remember is that these toys are a remarkable way to underline the importance of learning to your child in a fun and accessible way, because when kids are having fun, they don’t even know that they are learning.
Growing up, there’s always that one kid in the class or on the block who seems to be a creative genius, making toys and gadgets out of things that were not originally intended to be used as toys – like plastic bottles, paper clips or rubber bands. Maybe you were that kid, and you remember that type of activity being the most fun thing in the world. And even though this way of playing is probably the most beneficial in terms of creative development, it’s important to remember that not every child is going to have the imagination or willpower to engineer toys out of things they find lying around the house. This is where STEM toys come in. They allow you to focus your kid’s attention on a particular subject or make it easier for them to get started at an earlier age, for example.
STEM toys are particularly important in the early stages of development because they develop not only problem-solving skills but also spatial awareness and general confidence. This will allow your child to understand the mathematical and scientific concepts they will run into later in their education. As mentioned earlier, aside from strengthening science and math abilities, these toys bring out the creative genius in your little one. Many parents worldwide are beginning to recognize the tremendous potential of STEM education and are taking action to involve this type of content into their children’s curricula to best prepare them for a career of problem-solving and innovation. Some parents are starting to enroll their kids in STEM programs, while others have decided to turn towards the toy marketplace for some innovative ideas. One thing’s for sure – kids nowadays have a wide variety of options when it comes to STEM education.
The focus of toys in the last decade or so has shifted from ‘just plain fun’ to ‘educational and fun.’ The STEM section of the market has been experiencing incredible growth worldwide, be it through traditional brick and mortar stores, Amazon online shopping, or the latest craze of subscription services. This new way of shopping is not reserved for the STEM toy market. There’s a subscription service covering almost anything from shaving products to geeky T-shirts, but the system has worked particularly well in the section of the market we are covering today. If you’ve been living under a rock, the idea is simple: parents are expected to pay a fixed monthly subscription fee, and their kid gets a different STEM kit or toy each month.
All of this means that the market for STEM toys is rapidly growing and that all kinds of retailers are rushing to capitalize on that opportunity, so it’s vital to make sure to do your research thoroughly and look for toys that offer hands-on, dynamic experience, rather than just pretending to teach your kid. To make this research more manageable, you can take a look at some of our articles on educational toys on funtastictoy.com/educational-toys/.
Before your little one becomes an engineer, it’s crucial for them to get as near as possible to the real-life experience by engaging in solving problems. When it comes to STEM, fun is easily transformed into hard work and essential learning experience without your child even noticing. And don’t think this kind of toy is just for future engineers; we’re sure you’d agree that problem-solving, creative thinking, and innovation are critical parts of any profession.
So be on the lookout for toys that offer a mix of excitement and meticulousness, while generating curiosity, and your child’s interest in science will flourish. Happy learning!