8 toys to encourage and empower girls in STEM this summer
For one reason or another, there are not enough girls taking part in STEM subjects – that’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths to you and me! It’s a bit of a national issue, if truth be told, that needs rectifying report today.com.
When parents of 1,000 school-aged children were asked about their perceptions of engineering, they used words such as “skilled,” “important,” and “creative,” according to a recent study by the UK’s Institution of Engineering and Technology. But if the parents had a daughter, they were more likely to describe engineering as “difficult, “messy,” and “dirty.”
But how can teachers, and parents, help bridge the gap? Well, there’s loads of toys on the market that can do so, like these American ones – but I’m sure you’ll catch onto what we’re saying here…
An updated version of the classic building toy, this set gives toddlers a chance to create without taxing their motor skills with small pieces. Children can choose from the eight models pictured on instruction cards or build their own.
Kid K’Nex Group Set, $49.99
Great for backyard explorers, this kit’s tweezers and magnifying lids turn bug catching into big-kid science. “We did a lot of bug exploring,” says Adamick of his daughter Emmeline, now 9. “She liked to go into the backyard and collect rollie pollies, and put them into her little [container] and just examine them.”
BugWatch Boxed Set, $15.95
Kids are fascinated by this box of “boring” rocks that turn out to contain beds of beautiful crystals. Although it’s best for Mom or Dad to break open the geodes with a hammer, children will have lots of discovery to do on their own. Plus, there’s nothing that says “science is cool” like a rocking geode collection!
Discover with Dr. Cool Explorer Geode Science, Set of 7, $29.99
Microscopes are a great scientific tool, but they’re also perfect for kids with tons of natural curiosity. Tired of answering endless “But, why?” questions about your environment? Point your children towards the easy-to-use “My First Microscope,” the more advanced “Duo-Scope Microscope” or the specialized“Forensic Microscope Kit” (all June “Best of the Month” toys on Amazon.com) and watch them discover what makes up their world.
Educational Insights My First Microscope, $21.99
My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope, $79.99
My First Lab Whodunnit? Forensic Microscope Kit, $114.99
Designed by two female engineers from Stanford University, this wired dollhouse building set gives free range to kids’ imaginations while providing them with role models. “It’s really fun to see what my kids come up with, what they create,” says Dr. Ito, mother to a 2-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy. “And it’s encouraged me, to be honest, to spend more of my free time engaging in making and creativity.”
Roominate Architect, $19.99
Another June “Best of the Month” pick on Amazon.com, this kit takes learning about crystals and geodes to a whole new level. In addition to growing three different kinds of crystals, children can make crystal-covered shapes and create their own geode. It’s the type of kit that makes parents wish they were kids again, too!
Thames & Kosmos Crystal Growing, $39.95
Developed by a female engineer, littleBits is a fun, invention-based introduction to electronics. Children can build their own projects or choose from thousands online, from a texting doorbell to a homemade synthesizer. It’s also “gender-neutral” and “age-agnostic,” so it can remain a treasured toy all the way into adulthood.
littleBits Base Kit, $99.00
Not technically a toy, but this UK book series bills itself as “science with all the squishy bits left in,” and is sure to charm even the most reluctant of readers. Full of kid humor (think educational fart jokes) and clever illustrations, these books are guaranteed to get your children excited about science.
Horrible Science Bulging Box of Books, $35.00