Everywhere you look these days, educators are constantly talking about STEM and how important STEM skills are to a child’s development and future. A strong education includes not only learning facts; it includes learn fundamental skills that can be carried forward. That is where STEM comes in.
Read on to understand what STEM actually is and how STEM toys and STEM puzzles, classes, and other activities can set your child up for a lifetime of discovery.
What is STEM?
STEM is a term tossed around with the assumption that everyone knows what it means. Unfortunately, educators often fail to explain a system, or core educational program completely to parents. STEM is an acronym S.T.E.M. Each letter representing a fundamental piece of a larger concept for learning; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Science and math are rarely new concepts for parents, and the understanding of how the concepts can be used beyond the classroom for these subjects is not the hardest to comprehend. Anyone who has purchased something or followed a recipe has some real-world understanding of both subjects.
Where many parents get derailed is in the Technology and Engineering concepts; the most undervalued and under-taught core concepts of STEM. There have been some improvements in recent years, as many public schools are implementing exposure to technology and even more hands-on engineering concepts in some cases. However, there is still a way to go.
Kids Love of STEM
Most kids really enjoy STEM concepts when given the opportunity. Encouraging a child early can open up an entire world of possibilities for them. STEM concepts, when taught properly can lead to a wide range of abilities, talents, and even build a love of learning like no other program. Take a look at some of the things your child can gain from STEM education.
Learn Important Skills
The skills a child can learn through STEM are going to help them now and in the future. The core concepts of any STEM-related education, toy, or program are designed to build useful skills, rather than rote memorization of facts. Here are just a few of the specific skills that STEM can improve:
• Problem Solving
• Critical Thinking
• Tech Literacy
• A Sense of Belonging
• Challenge and Success
Love of Learning
Most children excel with STEM. The processes offer through STEM are engaging, and fun sparking a hunger for more in most children. Developing a love for knowledge can boost a child’s self-esteem, confidence, a lead them to want to know more and more.
Interactive Learning Environment
The best part of most STEM learning is that it is interactive. Children learn much faster by doing than by reading about an activity. Getting a child involved makes the learning process fun, more like playing. Even adults admit that STEM concepts can be fun, so everyone wins.
Creativity and Imagination
Having a great imagination can be a powerful tool throughout your entire life. STEM promotes a child’s natural creativity and imagination by allowing them to use their imagination in real-world scenarios. Not only do children’s creativity bloom, but the practical processes also stay with them instead of being forgotten like so many other things we learn as kids.
Many STEM concepts allow a child to learn at their own pace. This means that children of all ages and skill levels can find their own path through STEM without the need for competing against other children. It is simply a building process of their own design.
Technology is everywhere and in every part of our lives these days. Children have to learn how to use technology the right way to remain safe and keep up with the ever-changing world. A child that is kept out of the technological loop will quickly fall behind, not only in STEM-related areas, in all areas. Using technology in a positive way allows a child to grow as the technology grows.
Why STEM Toys?
STEM is not just for the classroom. More and more, parents are discovery new and exciting ways to implement STEM concepts in their everyday lives. One of the easiest ways to introduce STEM to your children is with STEM toys. These are toys that are specifically designed to engage the same skills as other STEM programs. Using toys gives parents and easy way to help bolster ideas and concept their children will be introduced to, or may already have.
STEM for Babies and Toddlers
You may be surprised that there are several ways to introduce even very young children to STEM. Before the age of two, brains are developing at an amazing rate. This is also the time in every child’s life when they are developing traits and habits that may last their whole life. The STEM focus at this age would be curiosity. Look for toys that can be used in many different ways, like a Block Set. This will allow a young child to build their imagination and learn some cause and effect.
STEM for Kids (5 to 12 years old)
Elementary age children will be introduced to some aspects of STEM in their regular school curriculum. However, parents can improve on that learning by moving the same concepts out of the classroom and into their own environment. For example, if your child is learning about fractions, using real-world examples, like slices of pizza, supports what they are learning at school and broadens their understanding. STEM Toys like 3D Models and Strategy games build on visual learning and problem-solving skills, core STEM concepts.
STEM for Teens
Where many teens excel is using broad concepts and being able to apply them to a specific situation, problem, or event. Teens today have been using STEM puzzles & Games concepts in school for some time, but may not always be encouraged to incorporate that learning into other areas of their life. One of the best things you can do for your child is to spend time with them playing games that allow them to use strategy, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills they may be introduced to in theory from school.
Where to Start
Parents often run out to buy their kids the trendiest toy only to discover their child quickly becomes bored with them, resulting in a waste of money. Instead of getting your child yet another toy they will either become bored with or fail to learn anything of value, give your child the gift of promise. STEM-related toys, puzzles, and games promise them a brighter future while providing hours of challenge, fun, and entertainment.
3D puzzles may appear like a simple set of shapes put together to form a familiar structure. In reality, 3D Puzzles offer a wide range of options for developing and improving STEM skills. Not only do 3D puzzles require critical thinking, but an understanding of cause and effect as well as practical skills related to size and construction. A 3D puzzle needs to be put together correctly, or it will topple. A child will use a number of STEM skills to erect the puzzle properly.
Mechanical puzzles work your brain using problem-solving skills in hands-on manipulation of the puzzle. Younger children can improve fine motor skills, while older children improve their thinking and planning skills to successfully conquer the puzzle. STEM skills are enhanced each time the child attempts the puzzle. When they have solved the puzzle, they can still improve skills by improving their time or finding alternative solutions in some cases. Mechanical puzzles come in all shapes, sizes, and difficulties to match any child.
Tangrams, Soma and Pentomino Puzzles
Tangram, Soma and Pentomino puzzles are amazing geometric shape STEM toy puzzles that can provide a huge array of opportunities to improve STEM concepts, such as creativity, analysis, problem-solving, and even critical thinking. Geometric shape STEM toy puzzles like Tangrams, Soma and Pentomino challenge your child mind to work in both two-dimensional perspective and a three-dimensional perspective. This is a skill that even many adults fail to gain. The ability to transfer the information from one to the other and then reproduce them is a fascinating concept that really cannot be improved in very many ways. Making Tangram Soma and Pentomino puzzles a must for any STEM toy collection.
Logic Board Games
These games are available in a wide range of designs and provide children (and adults) a wide range of STEM skill-building opportunities. Whether you are taking on the challenge of our Mastermind - Code Breaking Game or relaxing with Colored Sudoku, these Logic board games give a tangible way to improve mathematical skills in a fun way. Many children get frustrated with mathematical concepts, shutting down way before they get to the harder stuff. Using these easy to learn logic board games can help them build core math skills without the fear or stress that math can be in school. Work with them to challenge their self-defeating ideas and learn to love math and other STEM concepts.