Having grown up in a Russian household, science and math were ALWAYS stressed as top priority subjects. I was often the sole girl in classes such as Honors Algebra and AP Chemistry so it was no surprise to my teachers and family I went on to receive a Bachelor’s in Neuroscience and an MBA in Finance.ย The only difference between now and 30 years ago are the amazing STEM toys that are available for children to play AND simultaneously learn from.

So what exactly is STEM?

It’s an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; below I’ve summarized each category’s main objectives.

Science: observing, experimenting, making predictions, and asking questions.
Technology: being inventive, making things work, identifying issues, and using computers and other smart devices.
Engineering: solving problems, using materials, designing, creating, and building.
Math: pattering, sequencing, exploring shapes, numbers, volumes, and size.

Why is it so important all of a sudden?

In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.

STEM based jobs are growing at a pace exceeding 20% per year compared to non-STEM which are increasing at 4%. Also STEM based occupations out earn their counterparts often 2:1 according to a recent PEW study.

Who benefits most from a STEM based education?

STEM education helps to bridge the ethnic and gender gaps sometimes found in math and science fields (remember the part above when I mentioned I was often the ONLY female in my science and math classes?).

Initiatives have been established to increase the roles of women and minorities in STEM-related fields. STEM education breaks the traditional gender roles. In order to compete in a global economy, STEM education and careers must be a national priority.

Shop STEM Toys for Ages 4-7

Shop STEM Toys for Ages 8-12

Shop STEM Toys for Ages 13+

And if you’re thinking that some of these are entertaining for adults as well, you’re right. One of my favorite things to do is play with my daughter’s Marble Run game; it distresses and entertains me while simultaneously teaching her about physics and engineering.