Short review of a STEM learning toy that can teach kids about robotics.
Man, I have tried to get my nieces into these sorts of kits all to little avail. I wonder which are the most “sticky”. Little Bits had a pretty good run. I really like how the snap together to form little circuits. A trip to Target now reveals dozens of such STEM learning toys.
Anyone else have any favorites?
Speaking of Little Bits, seems like everyone wants in on the Star Wars game
The “Force Drive” feature where they appear to smoothly allow time-of-flight sensors to move the robot is pretty neat!
@Ben, how old are your nieces? We’ve had pretty good luck with our female child on some things but not others. Every kid is different. Depending on their ages I may be able to make some useful recommendations…
They range from like 9 to 15 now. But we’ve been trying this for years
Rule 1: It’s always good to look for entry points to STEM for kids that are aligned with their existing interests.
Rule 2: Spend time with the child doing the STEM activity or playing with the toy. It is very common for kids not to initially be interested in STEM unless there is a friend or friendly adult doing the activity with them. STEM is just not puppies. It’s like reading… first you read to the child and show how cool reading is, then they read to you, then they read on their own.
Things we did:
- We played Legos (both gender neutral and “girl” sets) first with our daughter, starting from about age 2.
- Then we played STEM foundational games – math and science stuff.
- We talked about STEM topics (again, math and science) in daily life and watched videos that supported those topics.
- There were electronics kits that we did with her, but she was never super enthused about those.
- We put her in STEM summer camps – very fun, lightweight stuff initially, that moved on to weightier topics as she got older. She loved those.
- We did various code things: Hour of Code, various graphic programming tools, actual programming languages, and she was good at them, but not wild about it.
- Finally we found a biotech hackerspace that had classes for middle-school and up, and she loved that a lot.
Now, as a high-schooler, she’s still not super excited about SW and electronics, but she loves math, physics, chem, and bio and is thinking about going into biotech. So there you go!