What the Tech: STEM toys for the holidays

Just don’t tell them they’re educational.
Just don't tell them they're educational.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 9:41 AM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Toys will be under millions of Christmas trees this year and many of those gifts will be played with for a few weeks, and then forgotten. If you have kids, you know that happens every year.

6-year-old Emily Stout doesn’t know it, but she’s learning how to write computer code. She’s playing with the Osmo Coding Starter Kit on an iPad. Osmo toys have a camera that sees how kids interact with pieces or tiles. On this one, each tile moves the character on the screen one space. The goal, or challenge, is to move this character from one place to another. It’s fun and it’s computer coding 101 - Emily just doesn’t know it yet.

Osmo has games for all ages. With this one, you draw on a pad and the camera captures and then casts the drawing to a character on the screen. Emily’s sister, 9-year-old Cora uses the Coding Starter Kit to effectively write computer code to create music, one note at a time.

3-year-old Jude and brother James who’s 6, play an Osmo detective game. Using clues, a magnifying glass, and world maps to solve a case. The Osmo teaches problem-solving and geography - to a 3-year-old. His mom Christine, a former teacher, says he’s learning important skills while he’s just having fun.

“I think they’re great for his age to start out with for communication and problem solving,” Christine says.

Another popular STEM toy is this Boolean Box. Aimed specifically at young girls, it teaches how to build their own computer. The GoCube, a techy Rubik’s cube that teaches them the right way to think and solve the puzzle.

There are similar toys for all ages. Just don’t tell them they’re educational.

Sales of traditional toys have dropped in recent years, but statistics show that sales of STEM-related toys will reach more than $140 billion over the next several years.

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