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The Important Needs of Stem Toys: Education and Entertainment Needs

stem toy needs

Children have a much wider choice of toys, and a good educational toy should be a combination of hands-on skills, logical thinking, judgment, communication skills and decision-making and negotiation skills, and creativity. Playing with toys is a way to enhance the development of your child’s abilities. Toys that are too easy will not challenge your child, and toys that are too difficult will cause frustration.

This is why it is important to choose age-appropriate toys according to the age group. While most toys will be forgotten and discarded sooner or later, it is the creativity that comes from using hands and brains that will influence children for the rest of their lives.

Creativity is one of the most valuable and rarest things that people have, and it is also the quality that parents need to focus on cultivating in their children in the 21st century. In the era of STEAM for all, the focus of educational planning for preschoolers and youngsters is to enhance their creativity, thinking, logic and language skills in a holistic manner.

What is STEM?

STEM is a combination of the initials of the four disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. 1986 saw the publication of the National Science Board’s Report on Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education for Undergraduates, which for the first time explicitly stated this report was the first to make explicit recommendations for “science, mathematics, engineering and technology” education, and is regarded as the beginning of STEM education.

science, technology, engineering, mathematics

STEM education emphasizes the development of inquiry, practical skills, communication skills and critical thinking skills, focuses on practice and process, advocates the development of systematic learning habits through “learning by doing”, enhances the scientific literacy, innovation The program aims to cultivate comprehensive talents for the future who can adapt to the development of the new era.

  As the concept of STEM education develops, people are beginning to realise the importance of art and believe that adding art to STEAM will make the concept more complete.

Overview of the development and status of Stem toys

The development of the modern toy industry has gone through the following stages: after World War II, plastic toys replaced wooden toys as the mainstream of the market; in the 1970s, electronic toys became prevalent; by the end of the 1980s, the unprecedented popularity of electronic game consoles.

Companies have begun to focus on the field of STEM educational toys, to achieve the transition and transition to STEM toy production, STEM educational toys will lead the new trend of future toy development.

North American International Toy Fair has a long history and is the largest toy showcase event in the Western Hemisphere. Given that the U.S. is a major toy consumer, with toy sales accounting for about 30% of the world’s total sales, and the show is held in the first quarter of the pristine year, many toy companies often choose to release their latest products during the show in order to usher in the new-year’s opening.

As the STEM concept continues to grow in popularity around the world, STEM educational toys have become a new focus and growth point for the global toy industry, and have ushered in a period of opportunity for vigorous development. Many old toy leaders and emerging toy manufacturers are taking STEM educational toys as the most important development direction.

When talking about STEM educational toys, the person in charge of Ravensburger can’t hide his joy because GraviTrax, Ravensburger’s STEM educational toy tentative work, has already received a large number of orders even before it was launched. Other STEM educational toy companies such as My First Lab, Circuitcubes and Modular Robotics also had their booths crowded with visitors to discuss cooperation.

During the exhibition, in addition to STEM educational toy leaders such as LEGO, Learning Resource, Knex, Thames&Kosmos, etc., which are still riding high on the STEM banner, established companies such as Guidecraft, Ravensburger, etc. have also started to move closer to the STEM concept and upgrade and transform their products.

The role and significance of Stem toys

Stem toys are generally entertaining, highly logical and somewhat educational. They can stimulate brain activity, develop intelligence, and allow children to grow in wisdom during the process of playing, helping children to grow up better and healthier.

The parents of the new generation of children are very young, they have high quality, high income, they put their hopes on their children, hope that children can receive a good education, so for children’s education investment accounted for most of the family spending.

And stem toys play an important role in the development of children’s imagination and creativity, helping children grow up with education, learning and awareness of the outside world. In the process of children playing with toys that to highlight the autonomy of children, social, to provide services to meet the process of children playing to carry out quality education function.

The characteristics of stem toys

The Swiss psychologist Piaget pointed out that: cognitive activity initiates play, and play in turn strengthens cognitive activity. He believed that the developmental stage of children’s exposure to toys is consistent with the stage of intellectual development. In particular, preschool toys meet a variety of needs for children’s growth.

The stem toys are different from ordinary toys in that they enable children to exercise their logical thinking skills, memory, endurance, and willpower in the process of playing with educational toys, achieving the effect of fun and education. And, children in different stages of development have different physiological and psychological development characteristics.

An important function of stem toys is to help children grow up healthily and happily by using suitable stem toys to develop brain thinking ability according to their different ages and developmental characteristics.

STEM toy design

The distinctive feature of stem toys is that children can play with them to promote the play of imagination, exercise finger dexterity, and promote brain development and thinking ability. stem toy research mainly has the following directions:

First is the science and safety issues, because the design of any product must be scientific and safety principles, especially for children’s design. stem toys so that children in the process of playing to exercise memory and logical thinking skills, in different developmental stages with different physiological and psychological development characteristics. The design of any children’s toys should meet the corresponding safety standards before entering the market. For example, focus on the size and volume of the disassembly part of the design and the firmness of the toy, which are related to the safety of toys.

 Then there is the interactive nature of the experience. The basis of interaction is technology development and application. How to apply two or more elements in a product requires a combination of approaches to create new ways of interaction to enhance the user’s interactive experience. Due to the development of social and economic, technological and conceptual changes, interactive communication is bound to be the development trend of toy design.

stem toys
the focus of stem toys

Emphasis on the feelings of consumers is bound to become the core requirement of the design strategy, this is because interest is the driving force of learning and innovation, guiding children to learn in joy, learning and cognition in play is the eternal theme. Only in the interaction with the surrounding environment can children gradually exercise and demonstrate their abilities.

To sum up, when developing and designing stem toys, attention should be paid to combining educational concepts with stem toys to help broaden children’s thinking and development mode of programming design, adding some emotional elements on the basis of design, so that they can better combine the knowledge learned from books and practice. In the modern education model, it effectively sets and passes on various knowledge structures, cultivates and sets new theoretical thinking skills, helps to solve some problems, and enables children to face the future with more confidence.

How to view stem toys?

With the deepening of the penetration of STEM concept into toy products in recent years, the combination of toy products and educational culture to enhance the added value of products, many companies have focused their attention on the R&D, production and sales of stem toys.

Children’s science education toys can develop children’s skills and cognitive abilities in all aspects, and there is a mutually supportive, complementary and co-developmental relationship between science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is based on real-life practical problems, led by the engineering design process, and presents its own solution ideas.

The STEM toy education concept focuses more on the process of learning rather than the outcome.

The launch of a STEM toy subscription service is another factor supporting the growth of the toy’s market share, including Amazon. Amazon has launched a STEM Toy Club subscription service focused on working parents for a monthly subscription fee. These STEM toys are carefully selected by experts to ensure safety and compatibility for age groups (3-5, 5-7 and 8-13). The launch of this service is expected to increase awareness of them and educational toy products. This will provide suppliers with the potential to expand their customer base.

  • In the past, U.S. toy companies rarely deliberately promoted the educational function of toys until recent years when social anxiety piled up and anxiety about the future boosted the market demand for educational toys. The educational function of toys has gradually been emphasized.

The turning point occurred at the beginning of the 21st century. 2001, the U.S. National Science Foundation introduced the concept of STEM [covering the four major fields of science (S), technology (T), engineering (E) and mathematics (M)].

2005, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released the report “Rising Above the Storm” and pointed out that the trend of integration among the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is becoming increasingly evident. And the national prosperity of the U.S. is dependent on science and technology knowledge-intensive industries and continued innovation.

At the same time, the report criticizes U.S. students for not achieving as well as other countries in related disciplines; and predicts that if this situation continues, it will affect the future global competitiveness of the United States. Therefore, STEM education should be strengthened and elevated to a national strategic level.

In 2006, the U.S. ranked 21st out of 30 participating international student competency assessment programs of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. This could almost be considered a disgrace for the United States as a superpower. This news has drawn widespread public attention to the quality of U.S. student competencies.

  • For teachers, if STEM toys are used as teaching aids, it will allow students to hear different views, try out different ideas, identify problems, analyze them and solve them in a continuous trial and error process as children play.

It requires children to use their hands and brains, which makes children focus on hands-on and process, but enhancing hands-on practice is not the same as enhancing creativity.

Based on a sense of innovation, combined with hands-on practice and exploration, toys can truly awaken a child’s innate creative potential. And many STEM toys enhance children’s ability to guide cooperation and problem solving among peers. In the society we live in, most of the work is team oriented.

  • For parents, who believe that the school curriculum is behind the times, especially at a time when digital technology and the Internet are evolving quickly. The outdated curriculum content cannot train their children to become capable of adapting to the future needs of society.

As a result, they looked beyond the classroom and STEM skills became a top priority, with new fields such as robotics and programming receiving unprecedented attention. These fields, however, did not receive much attention from schools at the time.

Starting around 2012, a large number of connected, programming toys emerged on the market, becoming trendy and starting in the U.S. and radiating globally.

According to the Nielsen e-commerce research team, including toys, including a variety of mother and baby products,95% of the buying public is the post-80s and post-90s women, including 39% of the post-90s parents of one child,76% of the post-80s parents of two children.

Most of these consumers are the new generation of mothers, they have experienced the rapid economic growth of the 1990s and 2000s, with the progress of the Internet and the popularization of knowledge, this group of young mothers in the purchase behavior, usually take a more open and rational attitude, but also they usually have a certain pursuit of quality and expectation when purchasing.

  • For children,”play” is the nature of children. Driven by this instinct, children have a desire for toys, and the pleasurable feeling of play can promote the body to secrete adrenaline and dopamine, forming the driving force for further action. Playfulness is the most popular and effective way for children to teach and learn.

STEM toys transform those profound scientific and technological knowledge into fun and never boring games, fully explore the curiosity of children, encourage them to explore the rules of the world, and understand how technology is changing the world and our lives, through the game let babies love to think, love science, to put it bluntly.

STEM science education toys with its own intuitive, enlightenment and other characteristics, so that Children feel science and technology, broaden their horizons, enlighten their wisdom, and are loved by young children.

The development of collaborative environments in educational institutions will drive the growth of the science, technology, engineering, and math toys market size. Many countries are increasingly focusing on STEM education and are gradually implementing new standards in primary and secondary education that encourage students to better understand learning content through practical examples and designs in the classroom rather than rote memorization. This increases student engagement and learning in STEM subjects and helps students develop their overall skills.

The science and technology industry is a major trend in society, and STEM toy is the best choice to build the foundation of learning for young children. Facing the era of rapidly changing technology, STEM toy is a must for young children and parents, and cultivating young children can also teach parents a lesson in creative thinking.

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