The Best STEM Toys for Kids This Holiday Season (Time)

These gifts could help kids fall in love with science and math.

The Maker Movement, which is all about hacking together DIY gadgets and gizmos, started here in Silicon Valley, but has since spread across the world. Originally focused on technology projects, Makers now tackle all kinds of products, from beekeeping to quilting. To celebrate the Maker Movement, annual events called Maker Faires have sprung up in cities everywhere. Among the Maker Faires’ goals is to get kids interested in STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math.

I recently had a chat with Dale Dougherty, the founder of the Maker Faires. He brought up the point that STEM toys would make excellent holiday gifts for kids this year. Dougherty’s drive to get gets kids interested in STEM is infectious. As a grandfather, I’ve made sure to get at least one STEM-type gift for my granddaughters for the past few years, and now they look forward to these presents every year.

I asked Dougherty for some STEM toy suggestions. Here’s the list he sent, along with the companies’ descriptions:

  • mBot: “An all-in-one solution for kids and beginners to get hands-on experience with robotics, programming, and electronics.”
  • MaKey MaKey: “An Arduino-based device that lets you turn nearly anything into a computer key.”
  • Bare Conducive Paint: “Bare Paint provides a dramatically different method of interacting with electronics as it can be applied to almost any surface, including cardboard, paper, wood, wallpaper, walls, textiles, and some plastics.”
  • Handheld 3D Printing Pen: “Use the 3Doodler to create all types of ‘doodles,’ from flat forms that can be peeled off a piece of paper, to freestyle 3D objects, to separate parts that can be joined together.”

And on Maker Media’s site, these are the Best-sellers for young makers:

Melinda Gates, the wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, has written that the gift of an Apple III when she was young helped take her down a path of math and science. For this holiday season, she suggests gifts that help kids learn as well as play, including:

  • littleBits Gizmos and Gadgets: “Make a remote-control race car, a mischief machine, or create your own one-of-a-kind electronics projects.”
  • Stem Box: “A subscription service that delivers mostly experiments for young scientists with an emphasis on getting girls interested in STEM.”
  • Wonder Works Dash Robots: “The most fun way to foster coding skills through robotics.”

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Nov. 23, 2015

 

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