Letting children tinker their way around an alarm clock is no doubt a more engaging and hands-on approach to keeping them interested in the science of things that asking them to simply memorize what each gear does.
Toy manufacturers, as well as retailers, have lately been moving towards developing worthwhile skill building games that require kids to use their mental processes to create, assemble and play with their toys, but all of it amidst fun and games. The trend has been a marked improvement from simply handing children stuffed dolls or action figures, and trying to keep them away from the everyday household gadget, albeit for safety hazards.
However, till date, most STEM-based electronic maker kits have been targeted towards boys – from DIY helicopters and cars to Transformer action figures. Most DIY toys for girls involve creating jewelry out of beads and ribbons, which while engaging children in creative activities, do nothing for the STEM-related fields, a sector grossly underrepresented in terms of girls.
MIT professor Maria Yang, hence, went and developed Jubilite, an engineering kit that masquerades as a craft project: a fully functioning lamp that any middle school-aged kid can build.
“There’s research that shows girls, around middle school age, their participation in STEM classes and curriculum starts to drop off," explained Yang. “What we want to do with Jubilite is get girls back on the STEM train by engaging their interests.”
The kit comes with detailed instructions to guide kids through the assembly of the 20 electrical components. Once the circuits are connected, kids can then move on to decorating the lamp with reusable ornaments, stickers, and dry-erase markers also included with the package.
The kit costs $39.95 for the basic version and $59.95 for the deluxe edition and is aimed at kids age 8 to 12. The Kickstarter campaign launched by Yang and her partner Tony Hu has already crossed its $25,000 goal, demonstrating the high demand for STEM-based toys in the market right now.