What STEAM toys and tools do the young women in your life use?

girls in tech

Did you know that a surprisingly large number of species – from squid to lizards to humans – engage in play? But why? In Dr. Sam Wang and Dr. Sandra Aamodt’s book Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College, the authors explore how play enhances brain development in children. “Play activates the brain’s reward circuitry but not negative stress responses, which can facilitate attention and action. Through play, children practice social interaction and build skills and interests to draw upon in the years to come.” (Source: National Library of Medicine)

Last month we wrote an article about how we would like to tap into our community to spotlight the next generation of women changemakers in technology. We asked you to tell us who you see in your communities as young women you’d like to see profiled for their amazing work in STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math). And we heard back from some of you.

Today, we want to dig into the concept of play as it relates to learning, particularly for the teen and tween young ladies in our lives. We’d love to shine a light on the products that are powering the next generation of women in STEAM! Particularly the things that fall under the umbrella of play.

In our experience, more ‘learning toys’ are becoming gender neutral (though still arguably distinctinctly geared to boys) and a majority of them focus on STEM with not nearly as much in the market that incorporates the area of the arts. Three products caught our attention in different areas of STEAM education. We can’t wait to see more crop up. Please do us a favour and drop us a comment on others that you have seen. We’d love to hear from you!

STEAM educational collaborations (LEGO x NASA)

We spoke earlier of a collaboration between LEGO, NASA and Canadian Schools in the form of the Artemis education project. Source: Government of Canada LEGO, went on to create a STEAM learning series called Build to Launch, an interactive digital learning adventure simulating the lives and days of NASA engineers, scientists, and astronauts on the Artemis I team preparing to launch, along with the figurines to match.

STEAM Storytelling (QuestFriendz)

QuestFriendz is a STEAM educational children’s book publisher, “founded by Dr. Thomas Bernard and Lisa Moss, parents, who found a lack of options available especially for children younger than 8 years old and felt it was time for all young children to see that STEAM is something for them regardless of gender, ethnicity or abilities. They self-published a children’s book in 2020 to do just this – The Adventures of Lillicorn. The concept was so well received by retailers, teachers and readers that they are now working with a Publishing team to adapt this idea and develop a new series of children’s books – think PJ Masks meets The Magic Faraway Tree with a questing, STEAM-learning twist for 4-8-year-olds. As well as books and teaching resources, QuestFriendz creates a wealth of free resources to help young children develop their STEAM skills in a fun, screen-free way.” Source: CIO Africa

Engineering for girls – GoldieBlox

Debbie Sterling, a Stanford engineer is on a mission to show young women that engineers are not nerdy! They build nearly all the important things we use daily. “The scary truth is that only 11% of engineers are women and girls start losing interest in science as young as age 8!  This is our chance to change that statistic.” she says on her early Kickstarter page of a product that ended up catching the attention of many people. GoldieBlox is a construction toy + book series starring Goldie, the kid inventor who loves to build. As girls read along, they get to build what Goldie builds. (Source: Kickstarter archives)

Help us spotlight the tools, toys, and products the young women in your life use! Please drop us a note. Thank you.

Enjoyed reading this piece? Stay in touch and learn more about women in tech – https://www.linkedin.com/company/womenintechtribe