Our tech gift guide lets you know where to find the best STEM gifts for kids in Singapore
If you were inspired by the Girls in Tech post, and wanted to put a few STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) toys under the tree, let us walk you through some of the hottest gifts around and where to find them with our 2015 tech gift guide as recommended by experts. While a few of these are geared toward girls specifically, most are equally fabulous for boys and girls, mama — just as they should be!
Building toys are one of the most important toys you will ever give your child. They promote creative, visual/spatial skills, and grow the imagination. Building toys grow skills that are necessary in fields ranging from Mathematics to Computer Science to Architecture.
Whether it’s DUPLOs for your toddlers or LEGOs for your primary+ children, LEGO are the top recommended toy by STEM professionals. Get a LEGO mat and a box of loose LEGOs and build your own creations. Or buy a set—the instructions help children develop good visual/spatial skills.
Build with your children. Help them learn how to follow the instruction manuals for the kits, and buy a challenging set for the whole family to do together. I anticipate that Santa will be leaving some sophisticated Star Wars: The Force Awakens LEGO under our tree. (Don’t discount Star Wars as only for boys—don’t forget, Leia, Rey, and Phasma are all women!)
LEGO are widely available in Singapore.
Other recommended building toys include Mega Bloks (available at Toys R Us), Magna Tiles (available at The Children’s Showcase, Straws and Connectors (available at Rysel Toys), and Goldieblox (available at Toy Station and online at Amazon with global shipping)
Perhaps, rather than building static items, your daughter wants to motorise or programme them. Or maybe she wants to conduct experiments with electronics? These toys are right up her alley:
Our top recommendation is Roominate—a building/electronics toy. Roominate has modular pieces that connect to wires and motors. Build a dollhouse with working lights! A Ferris wheel! Download their app and control the lights and motors from a smartphone or tablet. There’s also an online community for “roominators.” Sets are available at Wonder Toys, Playhao, and for the widest variety of kits—on Amazon with Global Shipping.
Each Nancy B’s Science Club kit encourages hands-on learning with kits that come with tools, experiments and a journal to record findings. Whether it’s exploring Astronomy with the Moonscope or using a black light to learn about forensics and encryption codes, your budding scientist will enjoy recording her observations and sharing them with you. I bought the “Stir-it-up-Chemistry Lab and Kitchen Experiments Journal” for my young primary student at The Collector at Great World City. Also available on Amazon.
Also recommended—sets by MC2 including the Bubble Gum Lab Chemistry Kit, the Soda Pop Science Kit, and Project MC2 Ultimate Lab Kit, all available through Amazon. MC2 is a brilliant Netflix series, although you don’t have to have seen the show to use their kits.
Technology is everywhere, including in your pocket—literally. Why not add some educational STEM-focused apps for your children?
If your child has access to an iPad or Android tablet, download Scratch Jr for them. It introduces coding to children ages five to seven and allows them to create their own stories and games.
Also recommended (apps vary in terms of devices and OS with with they are compatible)—My First Tangrams, Math vs Zombies, Tinker Box, Star Walk, Move the Turtle (which uses LOGO), Sid’s Slide to the Side, Leo’s Pad, Alchemy—Genetics, and The Elements: A Visual Exploration for a start.
Older girls will find “CodeGirl,” a documentary chronicling the 2015 Technovation Challenge, inspiring. Technovation is a competition for all-girl teams to create an app that addresses a real-life problem in their community, and the winning team receives $10,000 USD to develop their app and put it in the marketplace. Follow teams as they develop their ideas and either advance or leave the competition at each level. What better way is there to understand, on a visceral level, that coding is something that girls and women can do than actually see them doing it?
Despite centering around a male lead, we still recommend the science fiction blockbuster The Martian for older primary/secondary students. Much of the science is sound, and as Neil deGrasse Tyson (the most prominent astrophysicist of our time) says, “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are highly developed characters unto themselves.” Women are in prominent positions, though, including the lead astronaut. Unfortunately The Martian will not be available on DVD until January—but you can always issue an IOU in kiddo’s stocking.
Other movies (with varying degrees of Scientific accuracy) for children of all ages include Fergully:The Last Rainforest (which makes the issues of deforestation accessible to young children), Free Willy (a fictional movie for younger children) or Blackfish (for those old enough for a documentary) — both of which tackle the morality of keeping whales in captivity, and The Social Network (a fictionalized account of the founding of Facebook and the controversies around who actually invented it).
There are so many great STEM-related books that we couldn’t just recommend one. Here’s a list of biographies of famous female scientists. Historical Fiction fans might like these. Younger girls might like the titles recommended by A Mighty Girl, while this list by School Library Journal is full of YA recommendations for teens.
“When I was growing up, I thought I had no interest in probability and statistics, but it turns out that I had no interest in poker or baseball. People have disparaged the idea of getting girls interested in chemistry by explaining the chemistry of makeup, but makeup does not seem less frivolous than baseball. It seems like the main difference is that one is associated with men, while the other is associated with women.” — Dr Jean Yang, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University