Like A Girl

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STEM gifts are for Kids (small and Big)

In case you are wondering “STEM” is short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. That said, have you ever thought of giving a kid a STEM gift?

I haven’t. I have always thought of gifts for kids in terms of toys, video games, bikes, etc. I enjoy shopping for gifts for kids as there is nothing like witnessing the awe and joy that exudes from a kid who just got the gift they wanted or the one they did not even think of. As a big kid myself, I get to look at the latest toys which is an added pleasure.

But what if I could buy a gift that opened up the world of STEM to a young boy or girl? Something that was fun but also useful in terms of conveying the power of STEM. Now that would be something, but where would I get these STEM gifts?

Fortunately there is Google, which provided me with a Santa’s bag of exciting possibilities. Here are some that I liked:

  • Bloxels by Mattel allows kids to build their own simple video games. They do this by creating bloxels (which are like pixels) on a board which they can scan with their smart phone or tablet camera, and then see their work come to life as a video game. This teaches kids to build their character and then role play as that character using the companion app on their smartphone. Through play kids learn the basics of coding and it only costs about $42.
  • The Magic School Bus — Chemistry Lab is the kind of chemistry kit that I would have loved to have as a young kid. It allows young scientists in training to create sticky ice, measure pH, make bubble sculptures, form a bouncy ball, explode a volcano, etc. — now this is the stuff I would have enjoyed creating as a kid! Also Ms. Frizzle and her students are there to help take the kid on a personal science field trip. The kit costs around $60 to $70 depending on where you buy it.
  • LEGO Chain Reactions is a kit that allows your kid to build amazing moving machines using their LEGO blocks. It is a two for one in that it makes use of an old toy and sparks the imagination for new self-made toy machines that can toss a gum wrapper into the trash, deliver a message or ring a bell. You can get all of this for approximately $21.

One possibility that I came across during my research that is great but only available in the U.S. is Amazon’s STEM Club subscription service. Launched in the U.S. in January of this year, it provides monthly STEM-related educational toys that aim to entertain and educate a kid in the fields of STEM.

This service is not a one age fits all as there are three different versions: one for children aged 3–4 years old, one for those aged 5–7 years old, and one for those aged 8–13 years old. Once you sign up, the toys arrive each month as an automatically renewing monthly subscription that is similar to Amazon’s automatic Subscribe & Save service. If, like me, you are an empty nester, you can gift a STEM club membership — great gift for the grandkids too. To see customer reviews, please click here.

There is an accelerating need for STEM graduates — The Information Communications Technology Council expects that Canada will need to fill 182,000 positions for information systems analysts and consultants, computer and network operators, web technicians, software engineers, and other technical specialists by 2019!

STEM jobs are generally secure and provide better than average pay, so helping your kid discover the wide world of STEM through STEM gifts can be good for their future. I think that STEM gifts are absolutely for kids, small and big like me.

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