from the Laurel Center for Research on Girls
With the holidays approaching, it’s the perfect time to think about gifts that engage and encourage girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Research shows that girls feel more excited about pursuing STEM topics when adults highlight the place of collaboration, tinkering, role models, and meaningful objectives in STEM fields. We’ve compiled some suggestions of STEM gifts that incorporate these principles. Remember, it’s never too early to introduce girls to STEM toys and activities!
Research shows that girls prefer and persevere more in collaborative STEM work. Teachers promote collaborative STEM work by pairing girls with varied or complementary skill sets, using small groups (no more than 3-4 girls) and mixing up groups and pairings often. To promote collaboration in free play, consider toys that lend themselves easily to playing together with a friend or two.
LCRG recommends: Roominate, Robot Turtles, Quirkle
Girls are less likely than boys to tinker with building materials, mechanical objects and computers. By tinkering less, girls miss out on opportunities to practice important skills such as spatial awareness, mechanical reasoning and critical thinking. Tinkering toys abound for girls of all ages.
LCRG recommends: LEGO, Rubik’s Cube, MagnaTiles, littleBits
A dearth of female STEM role models may limit girls’ engagement in STEM activities. When girls lack exposure to female STEM role models, it reinforces negative stereotypes that some girls hold about STEM fields. New research shows that having girls write and reflect about their own female STEM role models increases their “sense of fit” in STEM. Consider some of the resources below to increase girls’ connection to female STEM role models.
LCRG recommends: Rosie Revere, Engineer, Women in Science Rule!, Black Stars: African American Women Scientists and Inventors, Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions, LCRG’s Famous Women of STEM Playing Cards
Girls value STEM work that holds clear and purposeful ties to everyday life. Female college students report a stronger desire than male college students to use their technical skills to help others. Toymakers have recently started incorporating this idea into STEM toys; here are some to consider:
LCRG recommends: GoldieBlox, K’NEX Investigating Solar Energy Set, StemBox
For more fantastic gifts for girls, check out these sites:
A Mighty Girl
Fat Brain Toys
LCRG is found at https://www.laurelschool.org/page.cfm?p=625&LockSSL=true
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