"I grew up in Cambridge in England, and my love of mathematics dates from those early childhood days." - Andrew Wiles.
Childhood: the time to grow, the time to see, the time to explore. So many of my childhood memories revolve around my toys, from Barbie doll tea parties in the mud, to playing hide and seek and all sorts of fun! Never did I know how to generate a child's interest in STEM fields with mere toys!
There is no doubt that the fortunately blessed among us have had a lovely childhood where our minds were relaxed and we engaged in an array of childish play. Today however, the challenge that presents itself is to combine fun and education. I personally like to call it ‘fun-ducation’; not unlike the merging of two polar opposites such as broccoli and cheese, education and fun can also be harmoniously paired.
Children are incredibly fond and therefore evidently attached to their toys. In retrospect when adults look back at their childhood, most are not likely to remember the food they ate, the words they spoke or even the friends they made. No, most children remember the toys they had, and that is because as adults most of us keep our toys. Even if they become raggedy, old and unrecognizable we keep them for sentiment. We keep them because they remind us of a time that was inexplicably innocent, and yet came to pass too quickly.
In recent years many studies have brought to light the notion that a child’s interest in science should be established at an early age. And what better method to achieve this than giving your children toys that stimulate and nurture a child’s innate interest in the world around them; and henceforth science.
However, before our readers can be enlightened as to what toys are best suited and most fun for establishing a child’s early interest in science, it is of pivotal importance that adults and parents alike understand the countless benefits that can be gained from such a collaboration.
According to schoolatoz and various other educational institutions, the benefits of incorporating science from an early age into a child's life are substantial towards their socialization process. Let us observe some of the many benefits to be achieved from inculcating science into a child’s life via STEM related toys.
NUMBER 1 - CURIOSITY
Firstly, scientific or S.T.E.M related toys aid a parent in answering those tough questions children are prone to ask after the age of four. Such as “where does the moon come from?” and “what are the stars made of?"
Children are wired to be curious about the world and the surrounding environment they reside in. It is only through their creative and artful curiosity that a child learns, grows, and develops. And what better way is there than to nurture such thoughts, and ignite a child's interest in STEM areas of thought through toys.
NUMBER 2 - COMMUNICATION
Secondly, science opens up a gateway of communication between the parent and child. This is beneficial for both as it results in establishing open communication between the pair, which later builds into trust. It becomes even more advantageous for the child as he/she develops the basic tools required for communication. Additionally, the child’s thirst for questions is quenched through answers.
NUMBER 3 - BUILD CHARACTER
Thirdly, patience and perseverance are two personality traits that are very hard to achieve, let alone master, especially at an older age. The great thing about science based toys is that they prepare children by allowing them to indirectly understand the importance of such values. For example, the pressed flower collection kit engages the child simultaneously, in the worlds of nature, art and science. Given the fact that it is not easy and that it is a time consuming process to make a herbarium, it also instills patience into both boys and girls.
NUMBER 4 - INTEREST IN STEM FIELDS
Lastly, my personal favorite reason for using toys to generate an interest in science is because it teaches children that the world is bigger than just you and I. This is a lesson many adults still have trouble accepting, let alone learning. Thus, I would consider that it is not just “learning” but a “gift” granted by science that teaches children to understand and explore the world around them. So many children are inquisitive about the man in the clouds, the holes in the moon, the starry stars in the sky and the galaxies and planets so far and wide.
Now, some of our readers may feel that these “scientific toys” are expensive and cannot be found or be of use to children in Pakistan. And yes, it is true, that such toys and kits for children are relatively pricey, however, it is for this precise reason that I have come up with a list of fun, functionally useful toys that parents can buy for children here in Pakistan or simply make at home. Hopefully, this list helps you put light to your child's interest in STEM, who knows he/she might grow up to become a world class space explorer or Nobel Prize winner in Physics!
As you can see from the list above there exists quite an array of toys one can make and/or buy for their child to generate an interest in science. Though, in my personal opinion the ideal toy for both girls and boys would be combining the “grow a maze” and “kids backyard bug” kit. For girls in particular I would suggest the scientific Barbie doll and for boys the robots/ or aircraft engine.
The toy insider mom and I agree on the point that children growing up in the in the 21st century need to be especially equipped with knowledge and understanding of science, engineering, mathematics and technology based ideas. This is because that is the world that surrounds them and there is no better or more creatively fun way to achieve this than through “fun-ducation”, and the pathway to it is paved with science based toys. You may have to beg and plead with a child to do their homework but you will not have to ask them twice to play with their toys!
Here is a link to websites that can assist parents in buying toys for their children that generate an interest in science and it’s not too heavy on the wallet either:
Check out these cool videos to help with S.T.E.M Toys at home;
And some AMAZING science experiments to do at home:
Vivacious. And making waves.