What is STEM?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, core subjects that give kids the skills for future success in fields like robotics, computers and natural sciences. These toys are “learning” toys or “educational” toys because they promote creativity, logic, problem solving, collaboration, experimentation and other aptitudes that are relevant in all types of learning. STEM toys are open-ended, adaptive, flexible, provocative, and, most importantly children can have fun.
When were the first STEM TOYS created?
While the themes that make up the STEM acronym are not new, the grouping of these subjects - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - into a pedagogical approach emerged before the 2000’s, but the “trend” took place after the 2000’s. Today, as the movement has gained momentum throughout the world, more parents take action when dealing with traditional curricula that do not offer their children the content and pedagogy that will best prepare them for a career of innovation and problem solving. many families support better courses or enroll their children in out-of-school STEM programs, while others are turning to the market to find the answer they are looking for.
What is the main purpose of STEM TOYS?
These games are ideal for school but also for home as they have a teaching purpose and at the same time an entertaining purpose. Τhis does not mean that these games will make the children to future inventors, programmers or poets, but surely through them they will learn more about science, technology and other areas that have been developing over the last few years.
In fact, some child development research has shown that children have more fun with toys that help them learn. a developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik described how children learn through the game: "New studies of “active learning” show that when children play with toys, they act a lot like experimenting scientists. Preschoolers prefer to play with toys that will teach them the most and play with these games in a way that will give them more information about how the world works. "
What are the criteria for a good STEM TOY?
1. Open-ended: Whether a simple set of building blocks or a coded robot, the toys proposed are these can be played, disassembled, reconstructed and interact in a variety of ways. Many of the games do not have a single solution and require players to cooperate. These qualities encourage children to creativity, exploration and deeper understanding of rules, patterns, logic, and how things work.
2. Accessible: We need to focus on games that will not require extensive adult help or supervision. Toys do not have to force children to follow a specific set of instructions, but rather to encourage play through experimentation, exploration and testing and bugs. "It is very important that we let the children separate things from each other," according to Howland.
3. Reproductive: Toys should be enjoyed by all ages. It is important to offer different ways or levels of difficulty and allow for ever more complex interactions in order for the player to create skills. This means that children of multiple ages can play together and that a game can grow up with a child.
4. Fun: Another criterion, perhaps even the most important of the above, is the "fun factor". All games should be attractive in a positive way for children and each child must play and enjoy the game.
Are all STEM TOYS helpful?
A trend that stands out clearly in the game market is the subscription services. The Amazon's STEM TOY CLUB, launched in 2017, is probably the most visible big company offering such a choice, but e-commerce juggernaut is not the only retailer involved in STEM TOYS. A recent piece in Retail Dive makes it clear that many other major companies, such as Walmart and Target, also offer STEM subscription services. The idea is simple: Parents pay a flat rate per month and their children receive a different STEM or kit every month. This does not mean, therefore, that all games are helpful but that retailers are looking to capitalize on this opportunity.