If you haven't heard about STEM toys yet, they are a class of toys considered to be educational as well as fun to play with, and they generally provide some useful principle along the lines of Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM). With the ever-growing emphasis on technology in our world, providing children with a headstart in those areas of knowledge would seem to have great value, both for the individual and for the eventual benefit to society in general.
Over the past few years, sales of STEM toys have enjoyed rapidly growing numbers, and that trend is expected by industry analysts to continue rising, as parents and educators become more aware of the educational value being built into such toys. Children's natural curiosity about the objects they come into close contact with provides a tremendous opportunity to begin educating them at a young age about skills which they may need later in life.
Why STEM is so important
It is estimated that nearly half of all jobs currently being worked in this country are at risk of being replaced in the future by some kind of automation or robotics process. By contrast, jobs which require STEM skills are set to enjoy explosive growth, as the demand for employees with skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math skyrockets in order to support the needs of a technology-crazed public.
While behavioral experts proclaim that STEM toys will not on their own, develop children into something they simply do not have inside themselves, they also concede that being exposed to these kinds of toys can have a significant effect on them. Playing with educational STEM toys can spark interest in whichever aspect of STEM was built into the toy, and that interest can easily be extended into a hobby during later years. Any hobby acquired as an adolescent can then morph into a full-blown career choice as an adult.
Filling a need
Apart from their potential to springboard youngsters into careers in technology-related areas, STEM toys and the whole focus on STEM overall, is one very important to the U.S. role in general among countries of the world. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development annually conducts a Program for International Student Assessment, in which representative students from around the world are tested in STEM areas to determine their proficiency.
Over the past five years, U.S. students' ranking in Math has consistently placed near the bottom of all countries tested, and their science ranking has been in the bottom third as well. From these results, it can be reasonably concluded that American students are well behind the proficiency of their global peers in STEM learning. Given the fact that the future will certainly become even more based on science and technology than it is currently, any help for young Americans in the STEM areas could provide tremendous benefits in later life.