Need a last minute gift idea for kids? Speak With A Geek shares their favorite toys to help kids gain skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Links to the toys below:
1. Mattel’s Barbie® Game Developer Doll (ages 3+)
Far from the Barbie’s traditionally limited career prospects, pink, and frills, the Mattel’s Barbie Game Developer Doll presents young children, girls in particular, with an opportunity to imagine themselves in the world of technology, now a viable career prospect for women. She’s casually dressed, donned in jeans and a graphic t-shirt and a laptop and tablet in arm. A survey conducted by the International Game Developers Association notes that of over 2200 active game developers, only 22 percent were women. This doll presents an opportunity for girls to start dreaming young about the career possibilities that lay in their futures.
2. littleBits Gizmos & Gadgets Kit (ages 8+)
Touted as “The Toolbox That’s as Big as Your Imagination,” littleBits’ Gizmos & Gadgets Kit allows children to explore using a combination of STEM and art. The kit encourages children, boys and girls alike, to use their imaginations and the tools at hand in pursuit of invention. This toy offers kids the opportunity to explore the worlds of technology and engineering, and even better, the littleBits app allows children to share ideas and to inspire and get inspired via their community pages. With a 17% growth in demand for STEM jobs between now and 2024, toys that encourage imagination, creativity, STEM exploration are highly important.
3. Kano Computer Kit (all ages)
4. Ruby Rails Skydive Action Figure by GoldieBlox (ages 4+)
Encouraging women and minorities into STEM fields continues to be an important pursuit and Ruby Rails is here to help young girls get interested early on! Targeted towards young girls, Ruby Rails presents children with a foray into the tech world that is adventure-filled and rich with learning opportunities. A name sake of Ruby on Rails programming framework, Ruby Rails encourages children to build problem-solving and spatial skills, while learning about aerodynamics.
5. Think and Learn Code-a-pillar™ from Fisher Price (3-6 years)
Experts agree that STEM learning in the early years is best absorbed through active play and investigation. This learn-how-to-code-through-play toy targets a younger audience, getting kids started on the tech track earlier. The Code-a-Pillar™ comes with a number of segments, each with their own command (left, right, straight, sound), that can be assembled in various ways to make the little critter come to life, taking different paths depending on the sequence of it’s segments. The toy allows children to play while challenging them to hone in on their problem solving and critical thinking skills, as well as to begin to develop their capacity for planning and sequencing.
6. Dash from Wonder Workshop (ages 5+)
On the higher end of the price spectrum, Dash, a robot, from Wonder Workshop will spark your children’s interest in Artificial Intelligence. Outwardly, the toy itself appears fairly basic. It’s the four corresponding apps that allow you to move and direct Dash, to compose and loop original music, and to program Dash remotely (the apps are Go, Path, Xylo, and Blockly, respectively). The apps are age-rated with differing levels of complexity and functionality. Your kids will love learning how to control a seemingly sentient being, and as they get older might take an interest in the coding and programming at play that allows them to do just that!