What are STEM toys? Suitable for children aged 3-12

The American Toy Association released a report: "STEM/STEAM FORMULA FOR SUCCESS" through interviews with dozens of industry experts and a survey of more than 2,000 parents. The report proposes that a good STEM/STEAM toy needs to have 14 characteristics, including 2 must-have characteristics and 12 enhanced characteristics, for the production and sales of STEM/STEAM-related products by related companies in the industry, as well as consumer purchases. guide.
1. Explore an aspect of STEAM

Products should lead children to explore the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, or engage in the scientific method, which involves exploration through experimentation and observation to gain new knowledge, solve questions, and answer questions.

2. Fun (FUN)

It engages children, sparks their interest, stimulates them to explore and never tires of it. This prerequisite is a more subjective feature and, frankly, more elusive.

A good STEM/STEAM toy can stimulate the left and right brains. When a toy or play experience makes children think about science, technology, engineering or math, the left side of the brain, the logic and reasoning part, is activated. When the gaming experience produces a sense of fun, the right hemisphere that processes emotions is triggered.
3. Open-Ended

Encourage your child to find his or her own way to play with the toy. In addition to the must-have features, this is the most important attribute of a good STEM/STEAM toy. The product should have multiple ways to play, not one correct way to play. This includes toys that provide various pathways for solving problems, building structures, creating designs, or completing tasks.

4. Related to the Real World

Toy industry experts point to the need to help children and/or parents understand how the play experience of a toy relates to STEAM and the surrounding environment. STEAM skills should be similar to literacy, connecting children with things that relate to them. This way, children can understand that science, technology, engineering, and math have an impact on their world and their lives, regardless of whether they pursue a STEAM-related career or not.

5. Allows for trial and error

A child's ability to learn to admit and accept failure is the key to success.

6. Hands-On

Science has repeatedly confirmed that children's hands-on ability can promote brain development. The tactile and tangible input that children get from their hands is especially important today, because the frequent use of electronic screens makes children get less and less physical feedback in their lives.

7. Child-Led

This feature is about building a child's intrinsic motivation and cultivating the ability to make independent decisions. A good STEM/STEAM toy should be able to convey this part of the idea, which means that the child should lead the play experience.
8. Problem-Solving

Problem solving, a key element taught through toys and games, is a highly transferable thinking skill that can be applied to other areas of a child's life.

9. Include Curriculum

A good STEM/STEAM toy should have matching courses that meet the needs of the age, so that parents or teachers have the confidence and ability to guide children's game experience in line with the purpose of STEAM learning.

10. Gender Neutral and Inclusive

It is recognized that participation in STEAM games should be more inclusive, including: neutral products, toys based on children's personal preferences, brands that include cultural differences, etc. This inclusivity is critical to using different perspectives to address the complex issues of the 21st century.
11. Supports Parents

Parents' attitudes depend on their knowledge of STEM/STEAM. Parents are the gatekeepers of children's toys, especially young children. Supporting materials can be provided to parents in different ways such as videos to help them become familiar with STEAM topics, increase product value, and encourage parents to participate.

12. Builds Confidence

Children tend to label themselves like products are labeled, and this idea can become a limitation on STEAM toys if the child is intimidated or not ready to learn STEAM. STEAM toys can help children build confidence as they explore different topics, and that confidence then transfers to various parts of a child's life.

13. Encourage Creativity

In the context of teaching kids to think outside the box or to color without the need for lines, we added A(art) to STEM to create STEAM. Most creative people have proven that creativity takes practice and courage, and toys can play a role in both.

14. Social and Emotional Skills

Emotional intelligence, social and emotional learning (SEL), and emotional management are all skills that kids are trying to master right now. When it comes to STEM/STEAM, these social skills are blended with career aspirations and collaborative needs for successful problem solving.

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