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Home Education: What Exactly is a STEM Toy?

If you’ve done absolutely any research about home education or educational toys, you’ve come across this label: STEM. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and we all know that this is a good thing because that’s where the jobs are going to be and our kids need to be more competitive in the workforce. Plus, math and science are smart people things and we want our kids to have smart people things, right?

But do you really know what a STEM toy is? Is it strictly a toy that teaches you equations or can it be any toy with numbers? A telescope seems like a STEM toy (science!) but is a model of the solar system a STEM toy? What about a sticker book that has a picture of the solar system on it?

It turns out that a STEM toy is something that teaches kids how to apply the scientific method to everyday life. So it’s not enough to just show them science – they need to actually get involved and problem solve or create something new using science and math processes (think building, not reading). The toys lightly guide kids toward the kinds of occupations found in science, technology, engineering, and math fields but they make the “work” engaging so kids develop an interest on their own and associate those fields with having fun.

Love this idea.

I’m really hoping this trend sticks around because the kids have had a great reaction to the STEM toys we’ve intentionally mixed into our home education rotation so far. They’re very comfortable working with their hands and breaking down things that seem complicated at first until they can understand them, which is going to help them on so many levels!

We recently got the chance to have a sneak peek at a new STEM toy from Educational Insights called the Design and Drill Robot. It’s a construction toy that lets you use a screwdriver and some plastic bolts to design and assemble/disassemble a little robot friend. I was afraid it wouldn’t be enough to hold the kids’ attention because it didn’t have any other buttons or functions but it’s been a great way to keep Calvin occupied and he’s already gotten so much more comfortable using the screwdriver.

I’ve been filming the kids more because they’ve gotten so funny and Calvin and I made a video to share this robot toy with you guys. At one point I set the camera down because I had to go change the baby and it was so cute to come back and see how focused and happy he was just working away. Anything that keeps him that quiet and occupied while I’m changing diapers gets two big fat thumbs up from the mom.

If you want to see more of our homeschool videos and other toy/gear reviews, please subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss anything. As for the Design and Drill Robot, you can learn more about him (her?) right here on the Educational Insights website.

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