STEM Toy Ideas for the Younger Set
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

I don’t know about you but I’ve got an adorable 8-year-old nephew who loves Legos and computer games. I’ve toyed with the idea (no pun intended) of signing him up for one of those STEM gifts that arrive every month, but haven’t tried it yet.

Although the STEM games and gadgets listed below may not be from black-owned companies (Black Enterprise is promoting 12 Days of Black Christmas this year to encourage our audience to buy black), they look pretty interesting and as if my nephew would be thrilled to see one of these for him under the tree, along with Legos, of course!

Here’s an excerpt from The 74 Million, an education website, to learn more.

What sort of gifts do teachers wish for their students? This holiday season, STEM is the big draw — and not just computer-science-related toys, but also simple games involving blocks that can lay the groundwork for coding skills.

Here are some of the top educational gifts for the budding scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in your life, courtesy of Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit that promotes K-12 STEM education:

 

 

Tower of Hanoi

 

(Image: Amazon)

 

An ancient strategy puzzle with many levels, ranging from simple shifting of rings among three towers to intricate solutions requiring 255-move maneuvers. Arranging the rings in specific ways takes logical thinking that is essential to understanding computer science.

 

 

Gears! Gears! Gears! Super Building Set

 

(Image: Amazon)

 

 

Simple mechanics and science — including physics — power this toy that encourages problem-solving and creativity as children design and build using colorful gears. The simple act of construction teaches important concepts like “push and turn” that are needed to understand how gears work. The play can be as simple or as advanced as children make it.

 

 

 

Think & Learn Code-a-pillar

(Image: Amazon)

 

Kids can arrange the eight parts of Code-a-pillar in numerous combinations to move the cute multicolored caterpillar forward, left, or right. Programming a path for the toy opens the door to problem-solving using planning and sequencing skills. And with endless paths and segment connections, there’s always a new challenge to conquer.

 

 

 

Jenga

 

(Image: Amazon)

 

 

Jenga’s stackable wooden blocks come crashing down at some point in every game — but delaying the collapse as long as possible takes more than just a calm hand under pressure. This classic tower-building game helps students understand loads, cantilevers, and physics as they study the growing stack of teetering blocks and decipher where science allows for the safe removal of the next piece.

For more STEM toy ideas, go to The 74 Million.

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