This past summer, I bought Rory a YOXO Helicopter construction toy (for only $10 at Chapters!). As soon as we got home, he was dying to dig into it, but I said no (…after watching Shonda Rhimes’ TED Talk I might have answered differently)! I wanted him to wait until I had time to help him with it; after all, he was only 4 and a half and couldn’t possibly make a helicopter all by himself!
When we finally did open it, I realized I needn’t have bothered; it is designed so that little people can intuitively build things on their own! Rory looked at the pictures and quickly figured out how to build the helicopter all by himself. He dismissed me immediately and insisted that he didn’t need (nor want!) my help. “I can do it myself!!!!” resonated throughout the house…and the yard…pretty sure even the neighbours up the street heard his proclamations!
After building the helicopter, he proceeded to tear it apart so he could create something else. This continued until we finally had to put the toy away after he pummeled his brother for trying to destroy his new inventions!
YIPPEE FOR YOXO!
If you’re looking for something to do over the holidays, THIS IS IT!! YOXO is an amazing first step to engaging your child (boy or girl) with STEM. Children gain experience engineering their own creation using the material provided, or by improvising with their own. Unlike Lego, that can only fit other Lego pieces, YOXO is built to incorporate many items – boxes, toilet rolls, even Lego bases can fit into the hatch marks on a YOXO piece. As a result, the possibilities are endless and there is no limit to what can be engineered.
It is appropriate for all age groups. Oliver, only 3, was proud of his creations. Rory, almost 5, wanted more challenge. The colour-coding helped when my 3 year old wanted to follow the instructions, while my older son used the numbers to follow the steps. Other age groups may skip the instructions all together (hmmm…sounds like my husband)!
STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or STEAM (includes arts in the acronym) by definition, is experiential; it is taking those subjects, integrating them and then applying them in a meaningful way. If you google STEM, you will find a plethora of lessons or materials that are pushing STEM education right now. The idea of a transdisciplinary curriculum that weaves subjects seamlessly together is not new; for years, educators have recognized the benefits of an integrated curriculum.
What is new, is the finding that the majority of the jobs in the future will be in STEM fields, so whatever we can do now to prepare our students for then is important.
“Employment in occupations related to STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022. That’s an increase of about 1 million jobs over 2012 employment levels.” Dennis Viloria, 2014
To me, STEM is more than the sum of its parts, it’s a way of thinking. At a STEM conference, my colleagues and I quickly realized that we wished the acronym STEM didn’t exist because it turns away all those kids with aversions to science or math. We thought a more appropriate name should be DESIGN THINKING. Regardless of what you want to call it, there are lots of things you can do to aid in its development and get children excited about it, even in the early years. YOXO is just one way.
Here are a few other suggestions, so you too can move: Full STEAM ahead!
- Little bits
- Transport toys from Battat
- Maker space
- Design Challenges
- Tinker toys
- Clipo by Playskool or Funskool
Have more suggestions? Leave them in the comments section!