Fostering creative thinking and problem-solving skills at a young age can enhance learning comprehension and plant the seed for a budding engineering career. At In Compliance, perhaps like some of you, we all have young ones in our lives and over the past year we have been impressed with the range of toys available for aspiring young electrical engineers.
We rounded up the top gift picks that will encourage and foster a love of engineering for the kids in your life.
Experiment Kits with Working Circuits
Several companies now offer kits for kids to build their own electronic robots, cars, wired dollhouses, or whatever else the mind can imagine. Components such as batteries, sensors, and wires are included in pieces that snap together with magnets to make it easy for kids to learn about circuitry and experiment with creative designs. (Many adults would enjoy these, too!) Some excellent options: Roominate, Littlebits, Light Up Edison Kit, Snap Circuits. Thames and Kosmos even has kits for building devices that are powered by sustainable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and water.
Circuit Scribe is a pen that uses conductive ink to build circuits for basic electronic components. Brilliant. It eliminates the need for cumbersome breadboards and wires and is a relatively low-tech way to teach kids about electrical engineering. Kids can use the pen to draw circuits on paper and then cut them out to be used in their creative inventions. The silver ink is non-toxic but the pen is recommended for kids ages 8 and older.
Robots are just plain exciting, and future engineers will feel especially empowered when they build their own toys from scratch. Some robotics kits, such as this one from Brookstone, come with everything you need, while others let you turn household objects into working robots.
Find robotics kits in the gift shop of your local science museum, at most toy stores, and of course there is also a wide range of options online.
Especially for the youngest kids on your list, you can’t go wrong with simple toys that get kids excited about basic engineering concepts. While they might not be flashy, classic toys entertain kids and build the foundation for skills they’ll need later. Wooden building blocks, Tinkertoys, and Legos are fun, but they also promote motor skills, creativity, and problem solving, all skills that will be helpful for aspiring engineers.
Construction sets are a fun way to teach kids simple engineering concepts and provide a baseline for the skills and comprehension they will need as future engineers. Putting together these kits will help children develop fine motor skills while also building their confidence as they solve problems and successfully complete challenges.
GoldieBlox is a toy company that makes a series of books, action figures, and construction sets starring a young inventor. The company’s mission is to inspire a new generation of female engineers. Similarly, the Kids First line from Thames and Cosmos includes stories that come with kits for building models of cars, aircraft, and other machines that the stories’ characters encounter in their adventures.
While hands-on toys are great for building engineering skills, books are also a great way to encourage kids to embrace their knack for tinkering. Rosie Revere, Engineer is a picture book about a quiet girl who secretly builds gadgets and dreams of becoming an engineer. In the end, she learns to embrace her natural abilities and loses her fear of failure.
This Kickstarter-funded coloring book is 30 pages filled with Tesla quotes and illustrations. It just became available on December 14! Kids can learn about the life of Tesla as they stay engaged coloring the pages.