Don’t Get Steamed About STEM, Christmas Should Be Fun

Christmas is here and for people with kids, it’s time to drop what you’re doing and fret about the future – a future when up to 90 per cent of the jobs folks will be doing are not yet actually regarded as paid employment.

Luckily our toy manufacturers are on top of this – with an array of products that – if nothing else will look awesome under the tree and perhaps keep the kids occupied and away from their smartish phones for a while.

So, what are the best gifts to steer kids into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) - the fields people generally agree might be around in 20 or so years, and can you please break them down into age groups?

Don’t mind if I do …

Zero to three. First off, if they’re really, really young, as in playing-with-the-box-instead-of-the-present young, then buy some colourful wooden blocks. They’re cheap and they’re great for motor skills and imagination.

Three-plus: I’ve got just one word: crystals.

Kids love to grow crystals, and this Mega Crystal Growing Lab from National Geographic will teach kids about crystal formation. The kit includes an LED base to display five of their favourite creations when they’re all done.

From four to seven, try a KIBO robot kit, for $200 on Amazon, KinderLab has been making screen-free programmable STEAM (the ‘A’ is for arts – something we may have need for in the future) robotics kits since 2014. The latest offering allows kids to play and learn by plugging sensors into ports on the wheeled robot. Another add-on, is an art platform, which lets kids  customise the robot by designing paper hats for their contraption.

Five plus: An old favourite has been given an upgrade , the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B for $35. The single-board computer, the Pi 4, dials up memory, speed and power, packs plenty of ports and boasts onboard wireless networking and Bluetooth.

Pi Foundation's philosophy may look daunting and it won't suit every child -- but if you want to challenge a capable young mind that's already showing a talent for digging into detail and figuring things out the Pi 4 is a low budget, option compared with the many more basic but expensive plug-and-play devices which have piled into the market.

GoldieBlox DIY Floating Cloud Light
Image Credit:

Finally, something fun. For eight-plus try a GoldieBlox DIY Floating Cloud Light for $30 from Amazon.  Technically another STEAM offering, you can see kids assemble this DIY cloud light in this video.

The box includes all the necessary parts to put the lamp together, plus cards offering STEM facts. It’s more a fun craft project, which kids love.

Because, when all’s said and done, fun should be what Christmas is all about.


Lead Image: Mega Crystal Growing Lab.
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