STEM activities are a fun way to get children interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and many schools around the world have introduced it into their curriculum. But what is it? STEM is a problem-based approach to learning that combines knowledge in four areas: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
I get annoyed when I see articles or hear people referring to it as a recent trend or a hot topic because it has actually been around since 1957. The launch of Sputnik, Russia’s first satellite, into space placed a rocket (awful pun) up the US’ butt, putting them on the path to technology and innovation. Because of their competitive spirit and need to win the space race that Americans were encouraged to become leaders in the field.
I get even more annoyed when a school claims to be STEM-centric because they’ve introduced an earthworm into a Biology class or LEGO building as a subject. STEM is, and can be, so much more than that.
If you want to nurture a love of these subjects in your children there are a plethora of games and STEM activities to suit all ages. I only have space to highlight 11.
Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit
Scientific Explorer Mind Blowing Science Kit
LeapFrog LeapStart Pre-Kindergarten Activity Book: Pre-K STEM and Teamwork
AMSCOPE KIDS 52-Piece Microscope Kit
Educational Insights Design & Drill BrightWorks
Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar
Coding Games in Scratch
Bloxels: Build Your Own Video Games
GoldieBlox and the Dunk Tank
Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit
11 STEM Activities to Encourage and Nurture a Love for Technology and Innovation
1. Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit
Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit is a fun and exciting introduction to the world of electronics. The proud winner of the National Parenting Center-Seal of Approval award, Dr. Toy 100 Best Children’s Products and Dr. Toy Best Educational Products, it has over 30 color-coded, real circuit components that kids can snap together to create working electronic devices and circuits. With 101 DIY projects, it gives your child a concrete understanding of how electronics work. A word of caution, you might need to get a set for dad too.
Recommended Age: 8 years and older
2. Scientific Explorer Mind Blowing Science Kit
The STEM activities in this kit are a fun introduction to the wonderful world of science and exploration, and includes mind-blowing experiments that will entertain the whole family. The Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit teaches children about the natural world with loads of interactive experiments like creating a sunset in a test tube, a colorful volcano or their very own crystals. It includes red cabbage powder, baking soda, three color tablets, vegetable oil, 3 test tubes with a stand, plus a whole lot more. An activity guide is also included.
Recommended Age: Children ages 4 and up with adult supervision
3. LeapFrog LeapStart Pre-Kindergarten Activity Book: Pre-K STEM and Teamwork
The LeapFrog range of educational toys usually make most ‘best of’ lists and I’m 100% sure you and your little one will love the Pre-Kindergarten activity book. It’s an interactive learning system that gets kids excited about everything from counting to problem-solving with fun activities, while having an absolute blast with the talking, singing book. There are over 400 activities across 16 books (not included) with more than 50 skills per level.
Recommended Age: 2–4 years-old
4. AMSCOPE KIDS 52-Piece Microscope Kit
Nurture a love of science with the AMSCOPE KIDS 52 microscope kit, the winner of 2016’s “Top Pick of Microscopes For Beginners” award. The compound microscope has a monocular viewing head with LED and mirror illumination as well as a built-in color filter wheel, a forward-facing rotating turret. Perfect for budding scientists, it comes with a 52-piece accessory kit with brine shrimp eggs and hatchery, and a hard-sided plastic carrying case. The LED light is powered by two AA batteries, which are included.
Recommended Age: 6+
5. Educational Insights Design & Drill BrightWorks
Proving just how much fun STEM activities can be, budding designers can build their own glow-in-the-dark creations or follow the patterns that are included with the Design & Drill BrightWorks. Use the real working, kid-friendly drill with the translucent bolts, you can turn on the sound activation mode and see the lights respond to music or your voice. You and your children will love this multi-award winning toy from Educational Insights.
Recommended Age: 3–12
6. Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar
They’re never too young for STEM activities. Get your little ones interested in coding from an early age with the Code-a-pillar from Fisher-Price Toys. The idea is to ‘program’ a path using problem-solving skills, as well as planning and sequencing skills. This little guy also helps develop critical thinking skills—by ‘programming’ different combinations your future computer whiz will send the code-a-pillar in different directions.
Recommended Age: 4–8
7. Coding Games in Scratch
The best-selling book Coding Games in Scratch is for children between the ages of 8 and 12 with little or no coding experience. By using fun graphics and easy to follow instructions children will learn how to build their own computer projects using Scratch, a popular free programming language. In no time at all they’ll be able to build single and multiplayer platform games, race through mazes, add animation plus a whole lot more. Along with the book, they will need a laptop or PC with Adobe 10.2 or later and an internet connection to download Scratch 2.0.
Recommended Age: 8–12
8. Bloxels: Build Your Own Video Games
Just one of the many fun STEM activities is Bloxels, a game that lets kids create their own video games in a cool and retro arcade style. With easy-to-use physical and digital tools, they get to decide what the game looks like, and how it works; they create the characters, the obstacles and the power-ups. They can play the game once they’re done ‘building’ it as well as share it with their friends for more fun and content remixing.
Recommended Age: 8–13
9. GoldieBlox and the Dunk Tank
How cute is Goldie Blox, the world’s first girl engineer character? With this particular kit Goldie needs to give her dog, Nacho, a bath. But Nacho hates water and Goldie needs a plan. This fun set introduces hinges and levers while developing spatial skills and confidence in problem solving. Gold winner of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Toy it comes with 55 pieces, including a 10-page storybook and 2 additional build ideas. There are loads of kits to choose from and all the GoldieBlox toys are intercompatible.
Recommended Age: 4+
10. Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit
Put those thousands of LEGO bricks to good use with the Klutz Chain Reactions Kit. With this kit, and LEGO blocks, children get to build awesome machines that can be combined to make loads of different chain reactions. The kit comes a 78 page book, 33 LEGO elements, 6 LEGO balls, Comes with: 78 page book, 33 LEGO elements, 6 LEGO balls, 6 feet of string, 8 paper ramps, 2 paper pop-up signs, 1 paper funnel ramp, 1 paper flag, 1 paper bucket and 1 platform.
Recommended Age: 8+
11. Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears!
Recommended Age: 3+
As a teacher or parent, what do you think of these STEM activities? Have you discovered any other standout activities you would like to share with us? Let u know below.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, jaycodyLab.