Otherwise known as STEM toys, these devices appear on school desks masked in different shapes, displaying varied functionalities.
Fascinated by the benefits of these STEM-based sidekicks, The Toy Association (TTA) decided to conduct research into the current role that these toys play in the classroom, and how they may benefit schools in the future. In their white paper, TTA revealed that problem-solving skills, creativity and socio-emotional skills were all boosted by the integration of STEM gadgets and learning in the classroom.
But from the parental perspectives of STEM toys, there were mixed reviews.
“Parents get that STEM/STEAM is important with an impressive 91 percent recognising the value of encouraging the development of science, technology, engineering, art, and math skills in their kids. That’s why a whopping 88 percent either have encouraged or plan to encourage the development of these skills in their children,” says TTA.
However, the research also unveiled parental concerns such as an overload of screen time and their lack of tech knowledge, as 72 percent of parents in the research agreed that their child’s better understanding of technology made it difficult for them to help their kids learn. Nonetheless, if teachers are enjoying the addition of STEM gadgets in their lessons, TTA has suggested a few that they have labelled as “Good STEM/STEAM toy examples.” littleBits Kits Providing alternative lesson plans, littleBits have various STEM and STEAM learning kits on offer.
For instance, the Kano Computer Kit taps into the big emphasis on computer science and programming today, allowing students to build their own computer to understand how it functions and works.
Or there’s the Avenger Hero Inventor Kit, that cultivates creativity by encouraging learners to design their own hero. VEX Robotics VEX Robotics has gained notoriety for its IQ starter kits.
Endorsing collaboration in the classroom, these kits have 80 instruction manuals so that students can build an alligator, dinosaur, a working farm and then they get to programme with it.
“Any kid who is into coding can zone in on it and see the physical payoff of what he or she coded. Then if they love it, they can use the same kit and go on to compete – similar to sports and group play. Kids can work together to accomplish a goal,” says VEX Robotics.
Makeblock Building confidence through robotics and coding, Makeblock tailors its curriculum to suit all age groups; from children in kindergarten, through primary to secondary school.
Right now, their “mTiny” early childhood education robot is in demand for children growing up in the digital age.
By using physical blocks and various theme-based story maps to provide engaging simulation, students can receive immediate life-like feedback and generate more creative ideas during their problem-solving processes.