As an industrial designer dad and tinkerer, I actively seek to introduce big ideas to my son Enzo at an early age. I remember playing with Lincoln Logs, Construx, and of course — LEGOs — and was inspired by architecture, physics, and engineering long before I knew it would be useful. These Science, Technology, Math, Engineering (STEM) concepts are important for new learners, and I’m recognizing how Enzo’s curiosity leads him to explore how things work. Here’s a short list of great products we’ve both tested and still play with together.
The Hoberman Sphere
The Hoberman Sphere shows how structures can collapse and expand in amazing scale. You can see how the mechanical and architectural skeleton relates to buildings like the Epcot Center, and molecules like a “bucky ball”. These have gotten a lot of use and stood the test of time even with all the moving parts! The Hoberman Sphere ($34.99)
Magformers Rainbow Magnetic Construction Set
Simple in form, Magformers are popular magnetic toys that offer tons of opportunities for kids to create and discover. This toy is great because I can toss it into my KINBUILT bag and whip them out to keep Enzo busy. They come in different shape kits and sizes, and the pieces are large enough so you won’t easily lose them. Magformers are a bit pricey (I found a 14-piece set for $24.99 and it goes up from there) but can teach your child about magnetic attraction, construction and geometry. Magformers 14-piece set ($24.99)
Mindware Marble Run
I’m nostalgic about this toy as I remember playing with an earlier version when I was little. The modern version of Marble Run introduces kinetic motion, speed, gravity and many other principles related to space and astronomy. This is a classic toy, and the combinations and interaction between the marble and the obstacles are endless. Unfortunately, you will for sure be digging marbles out from behind the couch and refrigerator but that’s a small sacrifice for the awe and joy you witness when your little ones play with this toy. Marble Run Extreme Set ($59.99)
Are there any STEM toys that you and your kids love? Leave us a comment!