STEM Gift Buying Guide 2019!
I've been disappointed by the general quality of the STEM gift buying guides that I've seen so far this year, so I wanted to create a simple list of products that I've personally curated and used with my students. These are not arranged or ordered in any given way and I do not receive any compensation for referring you to any of the products listed! I'm pressed for time with some projects I am working on, so this list will just act as an introduction (with links) for you to use when shopping for the budding scientists in your life! In most cases, I have included links to the original websites as some items are not available on Amazon.
1. Fairy Tale STEM Kits (Lakeshore Learning): These engineering kits are based on familiar stories and come with everything the user will need to practice their problem solving skills. These are really easy to use and there are also DIY versions you can put together, but I've used these particular sets with ages 4 through 12 very successfully! (Buy Online Here)
Play Impossible Game Ball: This is one of the hottest new products that I've been using over the past few months. Kids (and adults) can compete against themselves, friends, and the forces of nature, using this clever physical science / technology integration product. This can be played either inside or outside and carries weight in various educational and therapeutic settings. (Buy Online Here)
Specdrums (Sphero): Aside from liking clever product names and enticing tag lines, I have been loving the new batch of products that bridge sensory information with technology. By assigning sounds to different colors and slipping on these rings, kids can create beats and music by touching various objects in their indoor/outdoor surroundings. Sphero also makes some pretty cool robots! (Buy Online Here)
Rock Tumbler and Refill Packs (MindWare): There are dozens of these out there to choose from and I don't necessarily think this model by MindWare is any better than other models, but I like MindWare as a company and linking to their site may lead you to some other amazing products in the STEMosphere. My students have enjoyed making necklaces, key chains and other gifts out of polished rocks, and this acts as a fantastic geology teaching tool to boot. Buyer beware.. rock tumblers are not silent machines and they must run through several weeks of tumbling to polish rocks. Maybe this can be that crunchy, bumpy night time noise-making machine you've been looking for! (Buy Online Here)
Marble Run (MindWare): This is another product that is made by a variety of companies, so you can search for the best pricing if you are interested in it. This is another fantastic tool to use for creative engineering in your force and motion units. My students have enjoyed using these sets on their own, in groups and with me. I typically apply gamification principles with these kits by creating challenges based on roller coaster height and/or the speed at which the marbles will travel from the top to the bottom. Finished products are mesmerizing to watch in the same way that Rube Goldberg machines and domino rallies are. (Buy Online Here)
Suspend Family Game (Melissa and Doug): Lately I've been using some mathematical reasoning puzzles with my students that resemble hanging mobiles with numbers added to help them create balanced equations. This product is a similarly simple, but effective and fun way to introduce some foundational physics concepts to kids. I love the concept and design. It may not be as iconic as other games in the dexterity category (like pickup sticks and Jenga), but in your house, it could be! (Buy Here Online)
Air Burst Rockets (Spangler Science): Forget about stomp rockets...and forget about tinkering with combustion engines. These rockets use a brilliant propulsion technology that only requires a strong bicycle pump to launch rockets up to 1000 feet into the air. These aren't made by Spangler Science, but that is where I purchase them. (Buy Online Here)