All sorts of gift giving celebrations are rapidly approaching, but don’t worry we have you covered with all sorts of ideas to give gifts that give in meaningful ways. Here are some educational and/or moment making ideas to help you inspire those you love or make lasting memories.
For our first TOP TEN LIST, we present 10 STEM gifts. These gifts have the potential to inspire, educate, and perhaps encourage the BIG KIDS in your life to consider going BIG PLACES.
These ideas are my own. This post was not sponsored, but if you click the Amazon links and buy something, you can help me keep this site up and running. Thanks!
What is STEM? STEM is an acronym for Science Technology Engineering and Math. As the nation becomes more reliant on science, technology and improvements are made by engineers across many realms, from chemical to mechanical to industrial and so forth, the nation’s workforce is expected to need to be comprised of workers who are knowledgeable in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Due to the emergence of New Media, Americans will increasingly need to exhibit the ability to think critically and base their thinking on the content of the STEM subjects as they become digitally literate individuals. In addition to critical thinking, kids benefit because at the heart of the STEM movement is an emphasis on curiosity, inquiry, creativity, exploration, and collaboration. Instead of being taught bits and pieces of these content areas, kids being taught through an integrated STEM approach benefit from the connections they are able to make across the content areas simultaneously in addition to the value of experiencing real world problem solving. Students who can see the connection to what they are learning and how that learning can be used in STEM vocations may encourage some students to pursue post-secondary STEM education and careers.
These gifts range in price. Those that are more expensive might work for joint or combined gifts. We think they are worth it!
10. MAKE Magazine – Everyone loves getting mail. But the awesome thing about this magazine is it gives you all sorts of fun ideas for how to make stuff! Not just any stuff, but fun stuff where kids are learning things while they make projects. These projects are great for bonding with a grown-up in their lives. Check out fun projects such as a pop-up snowflake card or reuse the guts of a quadcopter to make a mini-strandbeest.
9. Fizzbits – A funded Kickstarter campaign that is in production and shipping in Dec. You and your kids will have a blast printing and cutting out paper figures to design your own rechargeable robot. Get creative and make a cookie into a robot or invent your own game or sport with a few of the robots! The little vibrating bots will bring hours of entertainment and encourage creativity!
8. MindWare Q-Ba-Maze Big Box – (Amazon Affiliate link) Lots of room for creativity and innovation with this one. I know a person who would spend hours and hours playing this. OKAY, maybe its me. It’s a modular marble run kit. There are even stunt kits for added fun and excitement.
7. The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists (Amazon Affiliate link)
New York Times bestselling author and self proclaimed ‘Geek Dad,’ Ken Denmead brings us a fun way to learn scientific concepts. This book will help scientists-in-the-making discover how our world works with creative project ideas. I haven’t read through it yet, but I think it looks like a great way to create meaningful moments and both you and your kids can learn some great science.
6. Musical Instruments
Musical instruments, like a ukulele, are great affordable way to improve math performance, and they sound pretty great even if you don’t know how to play one (Ahem, I’m looking at you brass and violins!) Music lessons are a great accompaniment (pun totally intended!)
5. Hackerspace/Makerspace Membership – If you are lucky enough to have a hackerspace in your area. They are packed with all the cool tools and the people who know how to help the kids use them are right there too. Kids can unleash their creativity and surround themselves with like-minded individuals who might just inspire them.
4. MakeyMakey – Ever wanted to make a banana into a piano? take a selfie of your cat when he goes for a drink of water? play MarioKart with a playdoh controller? MakeyMakey can do that and soooo much more! It has two alligator clips that turn anything into a controller. Have fun with the kids coming up with wacky ways to use it.
3. Littlebits – Electronics gizmos and gadgets kit for your little or big inventor-to-be. It comes with instructions for 12 projects, but don’t let that stop you! Motors, wheels, lights, switches, servos, buzzers even a remote control – snap it all together to spark creativity and fun. Kids (and their grown-ups) can make a remote controlled race car that draws pictures if they want to! Color coded and loaded with possibilities for endless creations.
2. Drones – Drones and drone kits seem to be on so many wishlists this year. We may not have flying cars in 2015 like in the Back to the Future movie, but these drones are pretty cool. They range widely in cost and do all sorts of cool things like shoot HD video and teach kids about all sorts of science (especially if you get them the parts and they have to figure out how to put it together, soder, etc…). If you need ideas or a description of what all the letters and numbers mean, check out this resource. You can learn more by checking out this great resource for how to fly them at Jen Reviews’ – How to Fly a Drone – The Ultimate Guide
1. Colt Express(Amazon Affiliate link)
Colt Express won the 2015 Game of the Year (Spiel des Jahres). Dr. Jane McGonigal, who studies games and the important effect they may someday prove to have on the world, tells us that playing a game with someone builds a bond. You must trust the people you play games with to take the time to play the whole game, to follow the rules, value the same goal, and not stop until the game is over. This is true even if you are beaten, really, really badly by your opponent! Talk about meaningful moment making!
BONUS: Here’s a bonus idea: This one won’t be here by Christmas, but it looks super fun. It’s a Kickstarter project that is LEGO compatible and helps kids learn to code while they play with a fun robot. Kids can work on the 21st Century Skill of Problem Solving. PHIRO is meant for kids from 4-18. It’s already been funded so you can just jump on board for what looks like it will be hours of fun. As with any Kickstarter project, you will need to be patient and plan ahead for giving this meaningful gift.