Today I’m exploring some of the Top STEAM Toys that are currently available at Best Buy. Read on to learn what STEAM Toys are, and specifically what the “A” in STEAM relates to.
What does the “A” in STEAM stand for?
If you’re familiar with STEM and STEAM toys, then you’re already aware that the “A” in STEAM stands for ‘Arts,” whereas the rest of the acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Well, today I’m primarily concerned with that “A” and how to find great, creative, and imaginative toys for kids with an artistic bent. But first let’s take a little time to better understand what each part of the full acronym means:
Science: “Science” toys are those that pertain to Science & Technology—how scientific know-how leads to technological breakthroughs that enhance our everyday lives. Science also refers to the scientific method, which is the means by which hypotheses are put forth, tested by experimentation, and ultimately either rejected or accepted as official theories. Thus, toys within the scientific realm are connected to experimentation and technological advancement, meaning they promote scientific research and experimentation as part of the play experience.
Technology: Technology is easier to explain than science. Almost any high-tech toy can satisfy this criteria of the STEM toy definition, such as the Ubtech Jimu FireBot Robotics Kit shown above (note that I’ll have more to say about this toy further down the page as relates to its creative component). Technology included in today’s STEM & STEAM toys may include anything from electronic components, servo motors, display screens, computer microchips, and more. In other words, toys comprising high-tech components fit within this category.
Engineering: Engineering has to do with the design and building of complex projects, such as buildings and railroads. In terms of STEM toys, anything where building (whether from a blueprint or one’s own imagination) easily qualifies as an engineering toy. The most obvious and popular example of a class of engineering toys would probably be LEGO Building Blocks, but there are other fine examples as well—most of which would also qualify as Arts toys based on the creative component.
Arts: Arts toys are those where imagination and creativity are the driving forces of the play pattern. Any toy involving drawing, designing, making music, or creativity of any kind may quality. For instance, kids that are musically inclined may enjoy the all new Shifu Plugo Tunes Augmented Reality Music Learning Kit. We hope to be hearing a whole lot more about this mini keyboard that’s designed to help kids learn about and appreciate music very soon. In the mean time, I’ll discuss a couple of other artsy toy examples further down the page.
Mathematics: As we all know, math is about working with numbers: adding, subtracting, multiplication, division, etc. Some of us are better at employing these skills than others. For those with a strong interest in math (as well as those requiring extra help with it), any toy that exists to promote learning and a better understanding of this difficult field of study must be considered a mathematics toy. Examples include everything from counting games for tots first learning their numbers to far more advanced problem solving toys and games such as those that teach physics and algorithm building.
Some fun & popular examples of STEAM Toys
One of the most creative toys out there right now, and also one of the most popular creative toys, is the Osmo Creative Starter Kit.
The first thing you need to know about this kit is that an iPad is required to play, and you’ll have to supply that yourself. Beyond that, the kit consists of an app featuring 3 fun and creative games: Masterpiece, Monster, and Newton. These games challenge kids in areas such as problem solving and artistic creation. In fact, it encourages them to draw pictures that then spring to life right before their eyes and move about the tablet screen. I’ve never tested or played with the Osmo Creative Starter Kit myself, but it sure does sound fun!
Another interesting option is the Ubtech Jimu FireBot Robotics Kit (the dragon shown further up the page), which is just one of several great built kit sets from Ubtech Jimu. Included with this kit is a whopping heap of parts that kids can use to build the robotic dragon themselves—or they can build something purely from their own imagination! Whatever they concoct, included motors allow the creation to move in various ways, such as walking around or moving its wings. Kids then use the Blockly coding platform to put their creation in motion by programming in command codes for it to follow. It’s super creative, and super cool!
Another example that’s great if your child wants to create his or her own 3-D art is the 3Doodler Start Essential Pen Set. This kit consists of a hand-held “pen” that heats up to melt several included plastic rods that come in a variety of different colours. The objective here is to use the plastic “ink” to create 3-dimensional drawings that rise off the page in a truly incredible way. One thing that kids will need to enjoy this kit is patience. But if they can master the difficulty of the Doodler, the creative possibilities here are endless! I’ve reviewed several 3Doodlers myself in the past, and they definitely have the potential to be a lot of fun—or frustration! For talented and patient users, the 3Doodler can make magic!
As you can see, the “A” in STEAM offers a world of creative possibilities that are also fun for kids and even educational. What’s more, artistic expression can build confidence and set kids on a path of lifelong enjoyment. If you want to give the gift of creative fun to your child, check out the Top STEAM Toys at Best Buy and see what you can find that might inspire them.