As 2016 draws to an end it is tempting to focus on looking back at the year that was. Remember 6 months ago when everyone suddenly started playing Pokemon Go. Grown men and women were walking at all hours trying to, “Catch ‘em all!” In education there has been a lot of excitement around different movements and ideas too.
The concept of STEM education has been with us for a very long time but in the past 12-18 months the term has become ‘mainstream’. You often hear politicians and experts now talking of developing a STEM economy.
As we look back at 2016 it is a good opportunity to reflect and observe where the shining stars are and who will be adding to the narrative of STEM education in the future. With that goal in mind here is my ‘Top 5 STEM Toys and Tools to Watch in 2017!’
5-Gyrobot: With a simple kit, build a gyroscope then a robot that can balance on two wheels and move along a tightrope!
4-Code-a-pillar: Fisher Price has entered the pre-schoolers coding market that toys like cubetto opened up. This looks like an easy to use toy that lets pre-schools develop their computational thinking. Check out the video of how it works:
3- The Solar Robot: The Solar Robot is the same robot made in 14 different ways. Powered entirely by the sunshine, this bot reaches two levels of builders. And beginners can increase their skills by inventing and building new robots. I like this because of the price. This is very cheap and affordable for most families unlike some more expensive robots.
2- Lego Wedo 2.0: Santa has been very generous because it seems like he will be dropping of a kit to test out over the Christmas break. I haven’t played with Lego Wedo yet but I’m super excited to get a look at it. I know Eleni Kyritsis has been lucky enough to use a set in her lessons already, so contact her for more info on how that went. Basically you get to build a lego robot, wire it up, write a code and watch your robot do as it is told. The only draw back here is the price. It is clearly more for school than home.
1- Kiwicrate: Actually, Kiwi crate has been around for awhile and if you check out their awesome STEM kits you will fall in love straight away as I did. I definitely wanted them to take my money! Problem; they don’t deliver Australia. They are based in the US (I was fooled by the company name and assumed they were in NZ). I have emailed them a few times and I am hoping that they will ship here in 2017. Check them out at: http://www.kiwicrate.com/
You’ve got to love their motto: Tinker, Create, Innovate