More and more parents are looking for ways to spark their children’s interest in science, technology, engineering, or math (collectively referred to as STEM fields), and it’s not hard to understand why.
Job opportunities in STEM have grown at a much faster rate than non-STEM jobs over the last decade (24.4 percent versus 4.0 percent, respectively), and STEM jobs are projected to continue growing by 8.9 percent between 2014 and 2024, compared with 6.4 percent growth for non-STEM jobs, according to a Commerce Department study.
- Enhancing divergent thinking
- Enhancing creativity
- Develop hand-eye coordination capabilities
- Promoting spatial skills
Preparing for the Future
According to education experts, the most important thing isn’t to focus on teaching kids content. These days, knowledge changes so rapidly, particularly in STEM, that most information is quickly out-of-date. Instead, we need to help kids become “creative problem solvers,” which, according to Harvard education expert Tony Wagner, is what 21st-century employers really need—and struggle to find.
- Developing skills such as “collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creative innovation, and confidence” will help them become adults who can adapt to new circumstances and tackle unfamiliar problems.
- The good news is that the best way to help young children acquire these skills is simple—just sit back and let them play.
- According to evolutionary psychologist Peter Gray, “free play,” where children play on their own with limited adult intervention, allows them “the freedom to test their limits, discover new things, figure out how to interact with others, fail and bounce back, and solve problems.”
- As children do these things, they’re developing the neural pathways that will compose their adult brains.
When you consider that the skills that STEM toys aim to develop—creativity, logic, problem solving, experimentation, and collaboration— are skills that will help your child succeed in all types of academic and professional pursuits, in STEM and beyond, it’s hard to lose. Plus, they’re fun — research suggests that toddlers actually prefer toys that help them learn.
STEM toys alone probably won’t turn a reluctant child into a miniature scientist, engineer, or programmer. But wherever your child’s interests take her, the skills STEM toys provide—creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and confidence—will serve her well throughout her education and future career, regardless of what field she chooses.
As recent research has found, kids naturally choose toys that help them learn, and their brains are built to automatically extract information about the world from any toy or game they play with. As a parent, one of the most important things you can do for your child’s growing brain is encourage play—and lots of it—knowing that every challenge and puzzle he’s forced to overcome during play is helping him build valuable skills that will help him become a more successful student, worker, and human being.
Looking for a kit? Try the Challenge Kit.
The Revolution Robotics Challenge Kit is a revolutionary new STEM robotics kit empowering kids to build, code, and drive custom robots in under 10 minutes! Take your robotics and coding skills to the next level as you complete a series of story-based learning challenges and missions included with the free mobile app. Our completely mobile programming interface makes it easy to code and wirelessly control your robot creations via your smartphone or tablet.
The STEM Robotics Challenge Kit includes 524 structural parts (plus ping pong balls, challenge cups, and rubber bands), a hackable brain powered by RaspberryPi supports bluetooth & WiFi, 5 powerful smart motors, 4 sensors (distance, touch, gyroscope & accelerometer), and more. All batteries and chargers are included; there are no hidden costs! Build, code, and drive a robot in a matter of minutes! Full Bluetooth Functionality Unlimited possibilities with the kit: build and re-build! Super easy and intuitive to build, code, and control custom robot creations All batteries and chargers are included - no hidden costs!