BY SAMANTHA MURPHY KELLY
NEW YORK — Among the piles of plush toys, dolls and cars on display at the 2014 International American Toy Fair this year, there was a new standout category: STEM toys.STEM — an acronym that refers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics — is becoming increasingly popular as parents opt for educational toys that instill these basics at an early age.
This year, we saw a
board game that teaches programming to kids, Lotti Dolls that come with accessories for building robots and of course, engineering blocks from GoldieBlox, whose ad set to the tune of The Beastie Boys’ “Girls” song went viral earlier this year.
Who needs a
Barbie Dreamhouse when you can be an architect and build your own?
Thames and Kosmos Gyrobot
This kit allows users to build motorized robots that make use of a gyroscope. This one can balance on two linear wheels and move along a tightrope.
Move along, Barbie. The Lottie Doll collection promotes STEM learning, like building your own robot. The doll’s body type is also designed to reflect that of a typical 9-year-old girl, unlike Barbie’s unrealistic figure.
GoldieBlox — the company behind the
viral ad that urges young girls to become inventors — has a collection of toys that teach building, construction and the basics of engineering.
It’s never too early to turn your child into a computer programmer. Designed by a former Google engineer, the
Robot Turtlesboard game teaches kids ages 3 and up the basics of writing code.
The child has to direct — or write code (via a deck of cards) — for the adult to follow and get a turtle to its corresponding jewel, placed elsewhere on the board.
littleBits consists of tiny circuit-boards with specific functions engineered to snap together with magnets. Each bit has a specific function (light, sound, sensors, motors, etc.) and can be used to create anything from speakers, a dancing robot to even a playable guitar.
Thames & Kosmos Smart Car Robotics Kit
Kids can build and steer this high-tech car via a tablet or smartphone app. With the use of QR codes, the car drives through a virtual augmented reality cityscape on the screen.
Founded by two Stanford engineering graduates, Roominate has a variety of construction kits for girls, including this one that lets them build a dream house of their own.