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Today's Family Magazine

Toys to boost your child's knowledge, understanding, and interest in STEM

By Kimberly Blaker

Today, it's more crucial than ever that boys and girls alike develop a keen interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  Over the coming decades, the pace of scientific and technological advancement is expected to continue climbing at an exponential rate.  As a result, STEM fields will see continued growth while blue collar jobs, among other professions, decline.  So it's essential kids are well prepared for a drastically different job market.

STEM offers kids other benefits as well.  It stimulates and teaches critical thinking and problem-solving skills – competencies that go a long way in any career and in life.
So how do you help your child develop an appreciation for STEM and boost their knowledge and understanding in these subjects?  Play that provides opportunities to apply concepts and skills is one of the best ways for kids to learn.  There are numerous games, toys, and kits on the market that make learning STEM loads of fun.

Qurious Space (Ages 3+)
This four-in-one family card game teaches kids about the solar system, milky way galaxy, and more.  Kids learn simple strategy and creative problem-solving skills while developing vocabulary and enhancing their memory.

Snap Circuits (Ages 7+)
Keep kids busy and learning with these electronics discovery kits that provide kids more than 100 projects to do.  Snap Circuit kits have won numerous awards and come in several variations.  Contents of various kits include phototransistors, LEDs, resistors, ICs, DC motors, flying propellers, electromagnets, lamps, switches, and much more.  Projects kids can make include an AM radio, burglar alarm, doorbell, flying saucer, and voice recorder, to name a few.

Magformers (Ages 3+) 
These magnetic geometric construction kits come in a variety of choices.  Kids can build 3D structures such as houses, pyramids, and balls out of colorful magnetic triangles, diamonds, trapezoids, and squares.

Sequence for Kids (Ages 4 to 7)
The goal in this strategy-building card and board game is to be the first to place four chips in a row.  The challenge is to think strategically and finish before your opponent uses a unicorn card to remove a chip.

Gravity Maze (Ages 8+)
Kids use spatial reasoning skills to arrange towers to create a path for a marble to go from its start position to its target tower.  It includes 60 challenge cards ranging from beginner to expert.

Osmo Genius Kit (Ages 5 to 12)
This kit boasts five games that turn an iPad into a hands-on learning experience.  On the iPad, Osmo interacts with every real-life move.  This kit enhances kids' visual thinking, creative problem-solving skills, and self expression.

ThinkFun Rush Hour (Ages 8+)
This national Mensa award-winner is a game of logic that sharpens kids planning and sequential reasoning skills.  There are 40 challenges from beginner to expert in this traffic gridlock game.  The goal is to move cars through the puzzle until the red car escapes the traffic jam.

IQ Fit (Ages 6+)
This spatial reasoning and problem-solving game boasts 120 challenges in which kids must fill the board with the missing 3D pieces.  It's a compact travel size game and a great value.

DoughLab STEM Kit: Bake and Learn (Ages 6+)
This yummy bread making experimentation kit includes five experiments through which kids discover the perfect recipe and learn about the power of yeast.

Rock On! Geology Game (Ages 5+)
Kids explore the earth's geological treasures in this fun science game.  It comes complete with an assortment of rock and mineral specimens.

Big Bag of Science (Ages 8+)
More than 70 fun activities can be performed with this kit in the areas of chemistry, physics, biology, geology, magnetism, weather, and flight. Kids use real scientific tools, which are included in the kit, to do their experiments that will amaze family and friends.

ETI Toys Lil' Engineers Engineering Blocks (Ages 3 to 6)
This box of colorful, multi-size and multi-shape blocks, screws, nuts, plates, wheels, and connectors keeps kids engrossed for hours.  Kids can build 12 different toy designs while developing their motor skills, eye-hand coordination, logical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Prime Climb (Ages 10+)
Learning to add, subtract, divide, and multiply is a breeze with this award-winning mathematics board game.