Disclaimer: may be mildly addictive once you start!
STEM is a topic that is buzzing in the education world and today’s focus is on the E in the acronym: “Engineering”. For children, who are naturally inclined and curious about the world around them, engineering principles can and should be introduced early. This can be done through the right toys. Such toys should enable kids to construct and deconstruct models either inspired by their own imagination or following staged instructions, which is a skill in itself.
‘STEM-inspired toys can help foster confidence in designing and building, while reinforcing existing interests.’
Thinking about how systems have been designed is an important component of engineering and this can be facilitated by experimenting with toys that have gears and motors, which form components of a system. Children are able to ask themselves questions such as, ‘how was this structure put together and what happens if I leave one part out?’ When it’s hands on and children can see for themselves how one part impacts another element in the system they come to understand how the man-made world functions. Regardless of whether your child decides to become an engineer further down the track or not, learning what does and doesn’t work when you’re building utilises design thinking skills that are useful in later life.