https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news.atom CircuitMess - CircuitMess News 2024-02-15T12:43:57+01:00 CircuitMess https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/teach-stem-middle-school-students 2024-02-15T12:43:57+01:00 2024-04-12T11:55:47+02:00 STEM for Middle Schoolers: A Guide for Teaching STEM at Middle School Albert Gajšak Ever wondered how to captivate middle school students with STEM education? Dive into our guide to discover the core principles and engaging activities that make STEM fun and relevant.

From fostering a STEM identity to hands-on projects like coding and robotics, we provide everything you need to inspire your students and prepare them for a bright future in science and technology.

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With STEM education becoming increasingly prominent, it's vital to understand the theory behind it so that you can effectively implement the best practices in your classroom.

In this article, we'll show you both: the core principles of successful STEM education for middle school students, along with practical tips for integrating these concepts. So, let's see how you can teach students about scientific concepts through STEM hands-on learning!

Understanding STEM Education

Mathematical concepts and formulas? Check. Engineering projects? Check. Circuit diagrams? Check.

These are all important elements covered in middle school STEM programs. However, understanding STEM education goes beyond mastering individual subjects.

The ultimate goal is to connect these disciplines to inspire kids to innovate, help them solve complex problems, and prepare students for future success. After all, STEM occupations are on the rise, making it more important than ever to start preparing students early.

Science and engineering occupations

Image source: National Science Foundation

For middle school students, STEM classes are the pivotal places that prepare these younger students for their academic and career-oriented future, and you as an educator play a crucial role in this journey.

In other words, if you engage your middle school students in fun STEM activities today, you'll help them develop into well-rounded critical thinkers tomorrow.

Throw in some problem-solving skills development, overlapping STEM disciplines, and creative thinking strategies, and you'll get not only skilled workers, but also innovators.

Developing a STEM Identity in Middle Schoolers

Of course, younger kids like elementary students and middle schoolers don't like being forced to conduct experiments, or do any learning activity for that matter.

You can transform this resistance by fostering a STEM identity in middle schoolers, where they start to see themselves as capable and enthusiastic participants who complete assignments with joy.

Building internal motivation in this way not only makes learning more enjoyable for them but also makes the educator's task easier. When students are self-driven by curiosity and discovery, teaching becomes less about pushing information and more about guiding exploration.

We'll now see how you can help your middle school students find scientists within themselves.

Tips for fostering a positive STEM identity

Fostering a STEM identity isn't a one-size-fits-all endeavor. You have to consider the diversity of your students, as they most likely come from different backgrounds and have their own unique experiences and perspectives.

For instance, here's an overview of identity constructs of middle school girls of color, according to Kang et al.

STEM identity developing in middle school students

Image source: Wiley

As you can see, factors like parents having science-related jobs and out of school participation in STEM activities influence how students form their STEM identities.

That's why it's vital to create inclusive and supportive learning environments that acknowledge and value the diverse experiences students bring to the classroom. You can do that by following these tips:

  • Emphasize diversity: Highlight the contributions from scientists of all walks of life to show students that STEM welcomes everyone.

  • Celebrate effort: Acknowledge students not only for their accomplishments but also for their efforts, problem-solving skills, and creativity. STEM is about experimentation and discovery, so valuing the process is essential.

  • Keep it stereotype-free: Stay alert to avoid any hints of stereotypes and make sure every student knows they belong and can excel in STEM.

Role models and mentorship in STEM

Exposing students to diverse role models in STEM fields and facilitating mentorship opportunities can highly impact their STEM identity.

A good idea here is to talk about inventors and scientists who overcame obstacles on their path to success.

Sharing stories about financial challenges, cultural barriers, or lack of access to resources, can be incredibly inspiring. It shows students that resilience and determination are key components of success in STEM.

For instance, Katherine Johnson faced segregation and discrimination, and yet she managed to make groundbreaking contributions to NASA's space program, remaining an inspiring role model for budding scientists.

STEM role models

Image source: NumberWorks’nWords

Now, don't forget to include yourself as a role model and a mentor!

Remember that your daily interactions, advice, and expertise play a significant role in shaping your students' perspectives on STEM, so be sure you're present and actively engaged in your middle schoolers' scientific explorations.

Engaging Middle School STEM Activities

By now, you're probably excited to challenge students to explore chemical reactions, math concepts, and more through fun STEM activities.

But before we dive into STEM projects, let's first establish some criteria to ensure that the activities you select are both engaging and educational.

Criteria for selecting STEM activities

Seeing as middle school STEM programs should be engaging, interesting, and educational at the same time, we suggest that the STEM projects you choose meet the following criteria:

  • Real-world applications: Select the activities that connect with real-world problems and scenarios, allowing students to see the relevance of their work beyond the classroom.

  • Engineering design process: Activities should integrate the engineering design process, which means encouraging students to identify problems, brainstorm solutions, design prototypes, and test their outcomes.

  • Collaboration skills: When possible, find activities that encourage teamwork and communication.

  • Embracing failure: There should be room for trial and error, teaching students that failure is a valuable part of the learning process.

To help you out, we've gathered the best STEM projects that tick all these boxes. Let's see what they are.

Hands-on projects to spark interest and learning

We'll start with some classics that are great for introducing students to the world of scientific principles and fostering creativity.

#1 Egg drop engineering

This fun STEM challenge lets middle schoolers explore their engineering skills, as they use various materials to protect an egg from a high fall.

Egg drop challenge

Image source: Green Kid Crafts

#2 Bridge building contest

STEM challenges like bridge-building contests help students learn the basics of structural engineering and physics in a fun way.

If you turn this STEM activity into a contest, you can also teach students about the value of teamwork and strategic thinking, keeping the students engaged.

Bridge building for middle school students

Image source: The Learning Hypothesis

#3 Coding a story or game (with Scratch)

Scratch, a block-based programming language, is a great way to introduce students to coding.

Even middle schoolers with no previous programming experience can code stories, animations, and simple games, which is great for developing critical thinking skills and an understanding of logical sequencing and computational thinking.

Scratch coding platform for middle school students

Image source: Scratch

Innovative STEM Project Ideas

If you're looking to take STEM learning up a notch, you'll also want to consider fresh, innovative STEM projects for middle school students. Here's a list of four fun STEM activities that will help you teach kids about electronics, programming, robotics, problem solving, and critical thinking.

#1 Wearable technology (Clockstar)

There's no better way to get kids interested in wearable technology than letting them create and program devices they will actually wear and use daily.

Assembling Clockstar is one such STEM activity in which kids create their own DIY smartwatch.

Clockstar DIY smartwatch project for middle school students

#2 DIY gaming console (Nibble)

If your middle school students enjoy playing games on their phones, they'll absolutely love getting to assemble and code their own game consoles. With Nibble, a DIY game console, they can learn the basics of programming and customize their gaming experience.

Nibble DIY gaming console for middle school students

#3 Robotics challenge (Armstrong)

Next on our list is another engaging engineering activity that consists of assembling a real, functional robotic arm. Armstrong is a DIY robotic arm that you can build, code, and then use to perform various tasks.

Armstrong DIY robotic arm project for middle school students

#4 DIY music machine (Synthia)

For those who want to combine STEM projects and music, Synthia is the perfect option. You can also use this DIY sampler as a drum machine, sequencer, and synthesizer. In other words, you can create unique beats, all while learning about software and hardware.

Synthia - DIY music machine project for middle school students

Resources and Tools for STEM Educators

Alright, now you have ideas for both classic and innovative middle school STEM projects. As STEM activities usually involve more than baking soda and paper towel rolls, the next step is to explore resources and tools that will support your program.

Online platforms and communities for STEM educators

Chances are that you're not the only educator in your area trying to bring STEM projects to your middle school students.

That's why you should connect with peers and exchange ideas, which you can do on online platforms and communities such as Edutopia and National Science Teaching Association. Even local Facebook groups are worth checking out!

Grants and funding opportunities for STEM projects

It goes without saying that it's hard to implement quality middle school STEM projects without financial support. If you want to learn more about navigating grants and funding opportunities, check out our post about getting STEM programs funded.

For now, here's a quick overview of common funding opportunities:

  • State funding

  • Federal grants

  • Corporations

  • Foundations and non-profit organizations

Overcoming challenges in teaching STEM to middle school students

Unfortunately, teaching middle school students is not all fun and games. There are often challenges like resource limitations, lack of training opportunities, and difficulties in recruiting specialized STEM educators, as research on challenges in STEM learning finds.

STEM teaching challenges

Image source: Semantic Scholar

Addressing such challenges is often beyond the control of educators. However, there are challenges that educators themselves can address, and these are the challenges dealing with student engagement and motivation.

We'll now see some tips for keeping the students engaged, even those who may at first be reluctant to participate in STEM activities.

Tips for engaging reluctant learners

Remember, STEM skills can't develop on their own; they require active participation and a genuine interest from students. Here's how you can plant seeds of curiosity:

  • Vary topics and interests: Incorporate a wide range of subjects and themes in your STEM curriculum to encourage creativity and cater to the diverse interests of middle school students.

  • Create real-life scenarios: Choose STEM projects that mimic real life so that middle school kids see the practical applications of their learning and understand the relevance of STEM in everyday life.

  • Use gamification: Implement game-based learning principles in your teaching approach to make complex STEM concepts more accessible and enjoyable for students.

  • Implement interactive technology tools: Use digital simulations, coding platforms, and virtual labs to create a hands-on learning environment.

Effective methods for assessing student progress in STEM

Once your middle school kids actually start learning, it's vital to conduct assessments so that you can check their grasp of the subject matter and identify areas that need further development.

One effective method of assessment is self-assessment, which encourages students to reflect on their learning experiences, evaluate their understanding, and identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Assessment in STEM is a bit particular because it involves not just recalling information, but also applying it creatively to solve problems. In case you're not sure how to approach self-assessment in STEM, you can use the following rubric that guides students through assessing their performance across key areas like following instructions, effort, and problem-solving.

Other methods include formative assessments, such as in-class activities or group discussions, which serve as checkpoints to estimate the students' understanding.

Summative assessments, on the other hand, are often carried out as final projects or exams. They synthesize and evaluate what students have learned and how well they can use that knowledge.

Feedback mechanisms for continuous improvement

Instead of waiting after a unit is finished, you can also check on the progress the students are making along the way.

Quick, informal feedback sessions will help you get real-time updates on where your students stand and see if they need any help to achieve the educational goals you've set.

By providing continuous feedback throughout a project or unit, you can address any misunderstandings or challenges early on, ensuring that students stay on track. That's also an opportunity to adjust your teaching strategies to ensure they're matching your students' current needs.

How to start a STEM program in middle school

Now that you know the why and the how, all that's left for you is to start a program that incorporates STEM activities for middle school students.

Of course, the program itself depends on the subject you're teaching, but there are common elements to successful education applicable to all STEM areas. We've already mentioned some, so here's a handy recap.

Create a supportive environment for STEM learning

To start a STEM program in middle school, begin by creating a supportive learning environment that nurtures curiosity, where students are encouraged to try as many times as it takes to understand something. The supportive environment should teach students that every failure is a stepping stone to success.

Encourage collaboration among students

Next, you should emphasize teamwork by encouraging collaboration among students. When students work together, they combine their diverse strengths, which leads to more innovative solutions.

STEM collaboration with middle school students

This also prepares them for the real-world dynamics of jobs in STEM industries, which brings us to our last pro tip.

Connecting STEM education to real-world applications

It's crucial to bridge the gap between theory and practice by connecting STEM education to real-world applications. For instance, exploring how electronics or math concepts are used in creating smart devices will help students see the tangible impact of their learning, making the subject matter more relevant to their everyday lives.

Preparing for the future

As a result of your (and your students!) efforts, your classes consist of more than formulas they'll forget over the summer.

Rather than that, you're equipping young minds with the skills and knowledge needed for succeeding in our rapidly evolving world, whether they choose careers in STEM or not.

The role of STEM education in career readiness

STEM education is crucial for getting kids ready for their future careers. Younger learners in middle schools and older kids alike benefit from STEM education, as they get to develop their critical thinking and technological literacy, which are essential in today's job market.

STEM projects are also a fun way to open the students' eyes to all sorts of career possibilities, from engineering to saving the planet with environmental science.

As an educator, you're a guide in their journey, so it's amazing that you're looking for ways to enhance the education of future scientists and engineers!

Teach your middle schoolers with CircuitMess

All in all, STEM projects can do wonders for middle school students and their education, especially if they're carried out through comprehensive, well-planned programs.

If you're looking to bring such an enriching experience into your school, and if you happen to be teaching classes about technology, robotics, or programming, we invite you to take a look at our CircuitMess Educators Program.

CircuitMess DIY STEM kits have already found their way into classrooms worldwide, sparking creativity and innovation among students. With workshop organizer materials and special discounts for educators, you can make it possible for your students to explore the exciting world of electronics while learning about hardware and software engineering.

Send us an email, and we'll be glad to find the most suitable STEM projects that align with your middle schoolers' knowledge level and your educational goals.

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/stem-homeschool-curriculum 2024-02-13T12:09:34+01:00 2024-04-12T11:56:51+02:00 STEM Homeschool Curriculum: How to Teach Your Kids STEM at Home Albert Gajšak Are you new to the homeschooling world and eager to include STEM into your curriculum? Peek into our newest blog post, where we chat about effortlessly blending science, technology, engineering, and math into your homeschool adventures.

We'll walk you through the best strategies to spark a deep-rooted passion for STEM in your kids, covering everything from playful preschool experiments to challenging middle school projects. Let's make learning at home not just educational, but thrilling!

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Getting into homeschooling, especially with a focus on STEM careers, might seem like navigating through a maze without a map.

But guess what? It's more about igniting curiosity, unraveling mysteries, and revealing the wonders of how the world works.

Through years of exploring and teaching with STEM toys, we've found the best ways to teach STEM at home. It's all about hands-on learning that sparks kids' love for discovery and innovation.

This blog is your friendly guide to weaving a STEM curriculum into your home learning setup that's not just educational — but incredibly enjoyable. We're here to help you pick the best projects, bring engaging lessons to life with CircuitMess STEM kits, and offer tips to keep your kids' eyes sparkling with curiosity.

Just imagine turning your kitchen table into a physical science lab where learning meets fun.

Ready to make education an adventure your kids will love? Let's get started!

What is STEM and how important is STEM education

Ever wondered what STEM really stands for?

Imagine combining the magic of Science, the innovations of Technology, the wonders of Engineering, and the logic of Mathematics into one giant, exciting playground. That’s STEM for you!

It’s not just a bunch of subjects taught in middle and high school either; it’s a way to see the world, solve puzzles, and create things that didn’t exist before.

Why is STEM so crucial, you ask? Well, think about it. We live in a world where technology is in our pockets, science fiction becomes science fact overnight, and problems are complex and global.

STEM is like the training ground for the superheroes who will tackle these challenges head-on.

It teaches kids not just to know stuff, but to think critically, be creative, and work through problems until they find solutions.

STEM is about making sure everyone gets to play. It’s about showing girls and boys from every background that they have a place in STEM. Diversity breeds innovation, and by welcoming different perspectives, we’re setting the stage for breakthroughs we can’t even imagine yet.

So, in a nutshell, STEM education is about equipping our children with superpowers. It’s about preparing them for jobs that haven’t been invented yet and teaching them that they can change the world. Pretty awesome, right?

Teaching kids STEM skills in a homeschool environment

The rising trend of homeschooling in STEM

Lately, there's been a noticeable shift towards homeschooling, especially when it comes to STEM education.

It's like parents everywhere are having a lightbulb moment, realizing that the traditional classroom might not be the only place where their kids can explore the wonders of science, technology, engineering, and math. And why not?

Homeschooling in STEM offers a personalized learning experience that can adapt to a child's unique pace, interests, and learning style.

This trend is catching on for a bunch of reasons. For starters, parents are eager to dive deeper into subjects that often get a skim-over in conventional settings due to time constraints or curriculum limitations.

Then there's the appeal of practical learning — turning the kitchen into a chemistry lab or the backyard into an archaeological dig site. Who wouldn't love that? It's about making learning tangible, engaging, and, most importantly, fun.

Starting STEM education early is crucial because it taps into children's natural curiosity and their developmental stage of rapid learning. According to TeachYourKidsCode's recent article, 92% of boys and 97% of girls will lose interest in STEM learning if they are not immersed before 5th grade.

With resources like online courses, educational apps, and interactive STEM kits from companies like CircuitMess, parents have an arsenal of tools at their disposal to bring STEM to life in exciting and innovative ways.

The beauty of homeschooling in STEM lies in its ability to tailor education to real-world applications. This makes it easier to encourage your kids to solve actual problems, think critically, and innovate.

It's an approach that not only prepares them for future academic and career pursuits but also instills a lifelong love of learning and curiosity about the world around them. And we love it!

How many kids are homeschooled in the U.S.? Growth by school district

Image source: Washington Post

So, it's clear that homeschooling in STEM isn't just a fleeting movement. It's a testament to parents' commitment to providing their children with a rich, dynamic, and comprehensive education that's fit for the future.

Benefits of including STEM into homeschooling

Crafting a STEM homeschool curricula is like adding a secret ingredient to your teaching recipe that brings everything to life. It creates a completely new layer of knowledge over your traditional projects and experiments. 

Here are some of the standout benefits of including STEM projects into your homeschool curriculum:

1) Unleash your kids' creativity and innovation

STEM subjects are inherently about exploration and innovation. When kids engage in hands-on projects, they're not just following instructions; they're inventing, designing, and testing their own ideas. This creative freedom helps develop critical thinking skills and fosters an innovative spirit that's invaluable in any future career.

2) Personalize your kids' learning 

One of the beauties of homeschooling is the ability to tailor the learning experience to each child's interests and pace. Incorporating STEM allows for even greater personalization.

Whether your child is fascinated by the stars, obsessed with robots, or intrigued by how things work, STEM education can be customized to spark their enthusiasm and keep the kids engaged.

3) Prepare your little ones for the future

Today, a solid foundation in STEM is essential for almost any career path.

Integrating STEM into homeschooling ensures that children are not just prepared for the jobs of today but are also equipped with the skills they need to thrive in the jobs of tomorrow.

4) Enhances kids' problem-solving skills

STEM education is all about solving complex problems, whether it's figuring out how to code a website, design a bridge, or conduct an experiment.

These activities teach kids to think logically, approach problems methodically, and not be afraid of making mistakes. After all, in STEM, every mistake is just another step toward finding a solution.

5) Encourage children to become lifelong learners

By making learning engaging and relevant, STEM education instills a love of learning that goes beyond the homeschooling years.

Kids who are exposed to the joys of discovering and understanding the world around them are more likely to become lifelong learners, always curious and always ready to explore new things.

6) Foster teamwork and communication

Many STEM activities, such as robotics clubs or science fairs, involve collaboration, giving younger students a chance to work in teams, share ideas, and communicate their thoughts effectively.

These social skills are just as crucial as academic knowledge, preparing children for the collaborative nature of most modern workplaces.

STEM projects for homeschooling - which one should you choose?

Choosing the right STEM projects for your homeschool curricula can feel a bit like being a kid in a candy store everything looks exciting, and it's hard to know where to start.

The key is to select projects that not only align with your educational goals but also spark your child's interest and curiosity.

Here are some tips on picking the perfect STEM projects for your homeschooling adventure.

Consider your child's interests

Start by thinking about what fascinates your child. Do they dream of space exploration, or are they more interested in how computers work? Maybe they're passionate about wildlife or love building things.

Choosing projects that align with their interests will keep them engaged and eager to learn more.

Look for age-appropriate challenges

It's important to select projects that are challenging but not so difficult that they become frustrating. For younger kids, simple experiments or building projects can introduce basic STEM concepts.

Older children and teens might be ready for more complex coding projects, advanced robotics kits, or detailed scientific research.

Encourage real-world connections

Choose projects that have real-world applications. This not only makes learning more interesting but also helps children understand the importance of STEM in everyday life. Projects that solve a problem, improve something, or explore current scientific questions can be particularly rewarding.

Don't forget the fun factor

Ultimately, the best STEM projects are those that feel more like play than work and are easy to understand. Look for projects that have a fun element, whether it's creating something cool, experimenting with something unusual, or achieving a surprising result. Remember, the goal is to foster a love of learning.

Some project ideas to get you started:

  • For young learners: Simple kitchen science experiments, basic coding games, or constructing simple machines from household items.

  • For middle schoolers: More advanced coding projects, DIY electronics kits, or beginner robotics projects.

  • For Teens: Complex robotics kits, app development, or in-depth scientific research projects.

Remember, the best STEM project for your homeschooling curriculum is one that matches your educational goals, fits your child's interests and skill level, and, most importantly, is fun and engaging.

Homeschooling kid learning STEM skills

With the right projects, you can turn your homeschool curricula into an exciting journey of discovery and learning.

Create your STEM homeschool curriculum with CircuitMess

Let's get hands-on with CircuitMess’s coolest STEM kits. Each one is a mini-adventure, packed with fun and learning. And each one will teach your kids invaluable STEM skills simply through play.

Here’s the scoop on four awesome kits that’ll jazz up your homeschool STEM game.

Synthia — DIY Music Machine

Got a music lover at home? Synthia is their chance to dive hands-first into the world of electronic music.

They’ll build their own synth and discover the joy of creating tunes from scratch—no prior tech skills required, just a love for beats!

CircuitMess STEM kits - Synthia DIY music machine STEM toy

Cool factor: Synthia isn’t just a synth; it’s your ticket to becoming a sound wizard. It's perfect for the music-loving, curious kid who wants to mix beats and learn electronics.

What’s inside: Build your own synthesizer and dive into the world of electronic music. It’s all about crafting sounds, understanding waves, and maybe composing your next ringtone.

Who’s it for: Ideal for kids 11+ who dig music and are eager to uncover the tech behind the tunes. Great for blending creativity with STEM and coding skills.

Wheelson — AI robot car

Imagine turning your living room into a robotics lab with Wheelson. This nifty AI robot car makes coding a blast, allowing your kiddo to see their programming come to life.

It’s perfect for sparking a love for tech in a super fun, super accessible way.

CircuitMess STEM kit - Wheelson AI robot car

Cool factor: Meet Wheelson, your AI-powered buddy on wheels. It’s like bringing a sci-fi movie to life, teaching you to code while dodging obstacles and following lines.

What’s inside: This kit turns coding into a game, letting you teach Wheelson to navigate mazes and understand signals. It’s robotics in action, showing how machines learn and move.

Who’s it for: Tech enthusiasts and robot fans will love getting their hands on Wheelson. It’s a blast for anyone into gadgets and gizmos, ready to tackle a coding challenge.

ByteBoi — DIY gaming console

ByteBoi is where gaming meets making. Your child gets to build their own game console and then code their own adventures.

It’s the ultimate project for young game enthusiasts eager to learn how their favorite games are made—and then make their own.

CircuitMess STEM kit - Byteboi DIY gaming console

Cool factor: ByteBoi is more than a game console; it’s your DIY gateway into game creation. Build it, code it, and then play your own games. It’s learning, with a high score.

What’s inside: You get to build your handheld console and then jump into designing games. It’s coding meets creativity, where your imagination is the limit.

Who’s it for: Perfect for future game developers and creative coders. If you love playing and want to start creating or simply learn more about game consoles in general, ByteBoi’s your best pal.

Chatter — DIY walkie-textie

Chatter takes the mystery out of wireless communication, transforming it into an exciting, hands-on project.

Your child will send messages without a Wi-Fi signal in sight, exploring the fascinating world behind digital connectivity. Perfect for curious minds ready to connect in a whole new way.

CircuitMess STEM kit - Chatter DIY walkie-textie

Cool factor: Chatter lets you send messages the high-tech way, without Wi-Fi or cellular. It’s all about secret messages and understanding the magic of wireless communication.

What’s inside: Dive into the world of radio frequencies and digital communication. Build a device that chats over long distances, exploring how modern tech keeps us connected.

Who’s it for: Young techies curious about how gadgets talk to each other. If you’re into exploring new tech frontiers, Chatter is your kind of challenge.

No matter if your kid wants to rock out with Synthia, code with Wheelson, create games on ByteBoi, or message through Chatter, CircuitMess has a STEM adventure tailored just for them. It’s all about fun, discovery, and tapping into that endless curiosity—perfect for any young explorer eager to learn and create.

Teach your kids STEM with CircuitMess STEM kits

In the quest to provide an engaging and effective STEM education at home, CircuitMess STEM kits emerge as a game-changer. These kits aren't just boxes of parts; they're gateways to understanding, creativity, and the joy of making something with your own two hands.

Here’s why CircuitMess STEM kits should be part of your homeschool science curriculum and how they can transform the way your kids learn about STEM.

Hands-on learning at its best

CircuitMess STEM kits take learning out of the textbooks and into the real world. Each kit is a hands-on project that guides your child through building and understanding their own electronic device.

Whether it's a robot, a gaming device, or a communication tool, kids get to see the principles of STEM come to life in their creations.

CircuitMess sparks a passion for STEM in kids

No experience? No problem!

One of the best things about CircuitMess kits is that they're designed for all skill levels. You don't need to be an engineer or a tech whiz to help your child build their project.

Each kit comes with detailed instructions and educational content that explains the science and technology behind the project, making learning accessible and fun for everyone.

A curriculum that grows with your child

CircuitMess offers a range of kits that cater to different ages and interests, making it easy to find something that fits your child's current skill level and curiosity. As your kid grows and their understanding deepens, you can move on to more complex kits.

This means that your homeschool STEM curriculum can evolve over time, keeping pace with your child’s development and interests.

Encouraging creativity and problem-solving

What sets our STEM kits apart is our emphasis on critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving.

Each project challenges kids to think critically, troubleshoot issues, and apply their knowledge in practical ways. These skills are invaluable, not just in STEM fields but in any area of life.

Sparking a passion for STEM

Perhaps the most important benefit of incorporating CircuitMess STEM kits into your homeschooling is the passion for STEM they can ignite in your children.

By completing a tangible project that they can play with, show off, and even customize, young minds develop a deep sense of accomplishment and an eagerness to learn more.

It’s this excitement for discovery and creation that lies at the heart of STEM education.

CircuitMess STEM kits are perfect for hands-on learning

How to integrate CircuitMess projects into your lessons

Integrating CircuitMess projects into your STEM curriculum for homeschool students can transform learning into an interactive, self-paced experience. Follow these steps to seamlessly blend these projects into your lessons:

  • Start with the basics: Choose a kit that matches your child's age and skill level to ensure a positive and encouraging start.

  • Build together: Make it a family activity, where everyone can contribute, learn, and have fun.

  • Incorporate theory: Use the educational material provided with each kit to discuss the underlying principles and theories of the project.

  • Encourage exploration: After completing a kit, encourage your child to experiment with it, ask questions, and explore further applications of what they've learned.

  • Celebrate success: Celebrate the completion of each project to reinforce the joy of learning and achievement.

Teaching your kids STEM with CircuitMess STEM kits transforms your homeschooling experience.

It's not just about equipping them with STEM skills — it’s about opening their minds to the wonders of science, technology, engineering, and math in a way that's engaging, hands-on, and downright fun.

It's about building not just circuits, but curiosity, confidence, and a lifelong love of learning.

Raise little STEM superheroes with CircuitMess

Turning your home into a STEM superhero training ground is an adventure with CircuitMess STEM kits. These kits aren't just about learning; they're about empowering your kids to invent, explore, and solve problems, transforming them into the innovators of tomorrow.

By integrating these practical projects into your homeschool curriculum, you're giving your children the tools to unlock their potential and the confidence to tackle the challenges of the future. With every new project they build and code, they'll feel proud, knowing that they tackled their challenges head-on — and won!

Excited about the future of learning? We are too! And we're making sure it looks awesome. Join our community and makers and innovators and dip your toes into STEM with our specialized DIY STEM kits.

Whether you're looking for STEM kits for your middle- and high schoolers — or looking for a STEM toy for your younger kids — we've got you! 

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/project-based-learning-stem-classrooms 2024-02-12T12:29:21+01:00 2024-04-12T11:59:09+02:00 Project-Based Learning in STEM Classrooms: A Complete Educator's Guide Albert Gajšak Looking to shake up your STEM classroom with something innovative? Our guide dives into project-based learning, a dynamic approach that turns students into active participants, not just passive listeners. We cover everything from the initial planning to the finale, offering practical tips for educators. Let's explore how project-based learning can be your key to unlocking a world of creativity and critical thinking.

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The essence of project-based learning in STEM

Rote memorization? A strict reliance on textbooks?

No more!

The essence of project-based learning (PBL) in STEM is a shift from these traditional educational paradigms. Instead, the focus is on immersing students in an active, hands-on learning process where they gain knowledge through experience, discovery, and exploration.

Rather than being passive recipients of information, students become active learners, engaging directly with scientific and real-world problems.

And it's not just about jumping into projects without thinking, either. In order to solve problems, students first have to strategically define the problem.

Researching, comparing, and executing potential solutions are the next steps, which are followed by a critical evaluation and reflection on the outcomes and processes.

6-step process of project-based learning

Image source: Magnify Learning

This systematic approach ensures that learning is meaningful and comprehensive. It also enables students to apply critical thinking while developing skills that are essential for their future careers.

Much better for turning students into critical thinkers than relying only on traditional models or teacher-centered tasks, don't you agree?

Advantages of project-based learning in STEM

Although the PBL teaching method certainly is more interactive and enjoyable than traditional instruction, having fun isn't its greatest advantage.

One of the most important advantages of project-based learning is the active role that the student takes. Such a student-centered approach is often listed as the number one benefit of PBL.

Project-based learning (PBL) key characteristics

Image source: Evelyn Learning

Next, bringing PBL into your classroom will help your students hone their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. PBL encourages students to think critically as they confront real-world problems that demand innovative solutions.

Cookie-cutter solutions from textbooks just don't cut it anymorestudents are challenged to think outside the box.

Speaking of real-world situations, it's worth noting that project-based learning mimics the collaborative dynamics of real-life workplaces, where clear communication skills are essential for success.

While it sure is important to know how to work independently, the ability to effectively collaborate with others and communicate ideas is as vital for the small groups in which PBL is usually carried out.

In fact, a Pew survey has shown that people see communication as one of those essential skills that students should be working on regardless of their future education or career paths.

Communication in schools

Image source: Pew Research Center

All in all, project-based learning is a powerful tool that helps students gain not only a deeper understanding of the subject area or content knowledge at hand, but also ess@ential life skills they'll continually hone throughout their further education and careers.

Given that STEM teachers may not always have the opportunity to extend learning beyond their main course subject areas, PLB is a valuable framework to implement. It allows students to develop skills in contexts that mirror real-world applications, ensuring a well-rounded educational experience.

Challenges of implementing project-based learning in STEM classrooms

By this point, you might be asking yourself why aren't all schools adopting project-based learning in their STEM classrooms. PBL is easier said than done, and we'll now see an overview of common challenges of implementing PBL so that you prepare effectively and navigate these obstacles with informed strategies.

  • Resource availability: PBL often requires specific materials, technologies, and spaces that might not be readily available in all schools, leading to potential resource constraints.

  • Teacher training: Implementing high-quality PBL requires teachers to have a specific set of skills and comfort with more open-ended projects, which can be a shift from traditional teaching methods.

  • Student motivation: Greater autonomy and independence in learning may not resonate with all students, potentially leading to challenges in participation for those used to more structured learning styles.

  • Sustaining momentum: Keeping students consistently engaged and motivated throughout longer-term projects requires ongoing effort and creativity from educators.

As you can see, among the challenges listed, only one is directly about studentstheir motivation.

If you feel confident about addressing the other areas, such as resource availability, teacher training, and sustaining momentum, then you shouldn't let concerns about student motivation hold you back.

After all, there are so many interesting project-based learning ideas that can spark your students' curiosity, transforming even reluctant learners into engaged participants.

Step-by-step implementation of project-based learning

If you've liked what you've seen so far, you might be considering giving project-based learning a try in your own classroom.

To help you get started, we'll guide you through some crucial steps for implementing PBL. Keep in mind that PBL thrives on flexibility and adaptability; the exact sequence and specifics of the steps will vary based on your context, preferences, and the needs of your students.

Still, whatever approach you choose, it will probably start with planning and preparation, so that's the topic we'll see first.

Planning and preparation

Planning and preparation are vital for the successful implementation of project-based learning in your classroom because they set the stage for everything that follows.

Of course, your preparation process should start with choosing the project, i.e., the real-world problem your students will work on.

Miguel Guhlin, an expert educator, suggests asking the following questions to determine the value of a project idea:

  • "What do we want them to learn?

  • Why is it important they learn this?

  • What problems or issues would they be able to resolve with the information?

  • What process do we want them to follow?"

Not every cool idea translates into a meaningful project. In the preparation phase, you have to connect each exciting concept with clear educational objectives, ensuring that what seems engaging also serves a purpose in your students' learning journey. The questions above can help you do precisely that!

The planning phase is also the time to organize groups of students who will work together and define the project scope. You don't want any surprises down the line, so it's crucial to set clear expectations and constraints from the start.

The rest of the process will depend on the project type you choose. Still, examples and other experiences are always welcome, so you can find a possible outline of the following PBL steps below.

Problem-based learning PBL steps

Image source: Issuu

Lastly, your prep stage has to cover the materials and resources your students will need for their activities. This means identifying and securing the necessary tools, information, and equipment.

Having everything on hand before the project starts can help maintain momentum and keep students focused on learning, so it's best to tackle this step in advance!

Leveraging technology

Now, with the abundance of tools available, it would be a missed opportunity not to integrate these resources into your PBL strategy. We're not only talking about cool gadgets you can use to teach electronics or science (although these are incredibly useful, too!).

We're talking about including technology tools, apps, and platforms in the process, as they help with collaboration, research, increased engagement, and project management.

For instance, if you're looking for a specialized project-based learning digital platform, you could check out Cura.

The platform allows teachers a complete overview of the project, from start to finish. The curriculum, resources, tasks, tests, feedback—it's all in one place.

PBL platform example

Image source: Cura Education

Students can also submit their work using the platform, where they can see their progress. It's a modern way to polish those project management skills!

However, some teachers prefer not to put all their eggs in one digital basket, so to speak.

Alternatives like combining Google Docs for collaborative writing or research projects, Canva for brainstorming, and employing Kanban boards for task tracking can offer a more flexible and customizable approach.

using Canva for project-based learning

Image source: Canva

These platforms can be incredibly beneficial for PBL, as they mimic the digital tools students will likely encounter in the workplace, promoting the development of real-world skills and tech fluency.

Essentially, technology in PBL is your friend, so you should encourage students to embrace it. Ask the students to download an app or two, and watch classroom engagement and knowledge retention go up.

Securing funding

Here comes the obstacle that unfortunately often arises when implementing project-based learning—securing funding. Many schools and educators face challenges due to budget constraints. However, there are several possible solutions to this issue:

  • Grants: Look for grants designed to support project-based learning in STEM education. Organizations and foundations often offer grants to schools that want to implement innovative teaching methods.

  • Sponsorships: Explore the possibility of partnering with local businesses or corporations. Some companies are willing to sponsor educational activities, especially those that align with their values or industry.

  • Resource sharing: Collaborate with other educators or schools to share resources and reduce costs.

  • Educator programs: Look for educator programs and associations that offer discounts or grants for STEM tools and resources.

  • Advocacy: Be vocal about the importance of project-based learning to school administrators, school boards, and parents. Sometimes, increased awareness can lead to increased funding.

Exploring these options can help you overcome the funding challenge and make project-based learning a reality in your STEM classroom.

Best STEM and project-based learning ideas for your classroom

Okay, now you're ready to try out a project-based learning exercise or two. We'll show you four awesome project ideas that will make your students work collaboratively, think critically, and apply their STEM skills to real-world challenges.

Weather station project

Let's start with a true STEM classic—the weather station project. In this project, students set up their own weather stations to monitor variables like temperature, humidity, and wind speed.

You could go for a more complicated version and build the station yourself, like in this Raspberry Pi Foundation project.

Project-based learning ideas: weather station

Image source: Raspberry Pi Foundation

If there's a community garden nearby, why not show off your creation there?

For a less DIY, and a more approachable version, you can also choose one of the station designs that grab the weather info from the internet. You can find a list of possible projects here, and pick one that matches the knowledge level of your students.

Weather station project for kids - different options

Image source: Instructables

Either way, this project fosters critical thinking and problem-solving skills as students learn about technology and weather patterns.

By observing and recording weather data over an extended period, they can see how weather patterns impact our ecosystems and daily lives, while also learning about environmental sustainability.

In essence, students learn about environmental science, engineering, technology, and data interpretation; all in one project.

3D printing

If you're looking for hands-on projects that allow you to see how your students work on something that requires equal parts STEM knowledge and creativity, consider 3D printing.

This project is perfect for integrating art, design, and technology, encouraging students to think creatively as they bring their ideas to life.

3D printing lets you go in so many directions: from creating detailed architectural models and functional gadgets to printing parts for robotics, or even creating custom tools for other scientific experiments.

InkSmith offers some great STEM-related 3D project ideas that you can carry out in almost all grade levels.

3D printing projects for kids

Image source: InkSmith

A unique aspect of this project is that rather than using ready-made components, students work with their own designs, bringing a personal connection to their creations. It doesn't get more student-centered than that!

Bridge-building contest

There's another twist that you can use to elevate the education experience in your classroom: introducing a contest.

bridge-building project for kids

Image source: Brookhaven National Laboratory

For instance, you could organize a bridge-building contest, where students have to put their research skills to the test and find the most efficient designs that can withstand the greatest weight.

Then, it's problem-solving o'clock.

Students will apply skills and develop a better understanding of the principles of engineering and physics, experimenting with different materials and construction techniques.

bridge-building project competition for school students

Image source: Garrett's Bridges

Since there's a contest involved, they'll also get to exercise public speaking while describing their designs.

As you can see, this is a well-rounded project that combines the best of traditional models and fresh approaches to teaching and learning.

CircuitMess robotics project (Armstrong)

As our final idea, we suggest doing a bigger project that will help your students learn soldering and hardware assembly, along with coding in Python and embedded programming. We're talking about project-based learning as robotics as the star of the show!

Don't worry; you don't have to build absolutely everything from scratch. Instead, you could go with Armstrong, an age-appropriate DIY robotic arm.

Project-based learning ideas: robotic arm project

Armstrong is equipped with a sensor and servo motors, which allow it to perform various tasks, like recognizing colors and picking things up.

The fact that you can code the robotic arm in Phyton or with block coding also means that you can use it as an intro to beginner-friendly programming languages.

This combination of hardware and software challenges makes this project a great opportunity for students to dive into mechanics, electronics, and programming.

CircuitMess robotic DIY arm project - Armstrong

We hope that this list of project-based learning ideas has helped you find projects suitable for your students' grade level, your subject, and your educational goals!

Effective assessment in project-based learning

This guide to project-based learning wouldn't be complete without the element that few educators like: grading and assessment.

You likely already have your assessment system in place, so we'll only add a few tips on how to adjust it to fit PBL.

  • More than the end product: While the final product is important, the learning process (collaboration, research, presenting the solution) should also be evaluated.

  • Balance individual and group assessment: In group projects, find ways to assess individual contributions as well as the group's collective output.

  • Self and peer evaluations: Encourage students to engage in self-assessment and peer review as part of the assessment process.

  • Set clear criteria: Develop detailed rubrics that outline specific criteria for both the process and the final product. This ensures that assessments are objective, transparent, and aligned with the learning objectives of the project.

Building a project-based learning community

If you'd like to make an impact in education beyond your classroom, don't forget about the power of building a project-based learning community.

You could use online platforms and communities to share your PBL experiences with other educators. These can be great places to talk about successful projects, challenges you've faced, and innovative solutions.

Communities are no less important for learners, so you could also encourage students to collaborate across projects and levels, sharing expertise and learning from each other.

Lastly, it's a good idea to involve the wider community. Host fairs or online galleries where students can present their projects to the community that celebrates their hard work. This is also a nice opportunity to see how different cultures approach PBL.

Also, connecting with local business ventures and industry professionals can provide students with real-world insights, which helps increase the relevance of their projects.

PBL can produce great results, so don't be afraid to share yours with the world!

Introduce project-based learning in your classrooms with CircuitMess

So, are you ready to help your students take their learning experience to the next level? If you are, you probably don't want to spend weeks gathering electronic components and drafting instructions, and that's something we can help with.

Our CircuitMess educators program provides STEM educators with an array of educational projects that teach students about electronics and engineering through building real, functional robots and gadgets.

The program makes it easier and more affordable to incorporate hands-on, project-based learning into your curriculum.

With our ready-to-use kits, comprehensive guides, and spare components, you can focus more on engaging with your students and less on the logistics of materials and planning.

We know that the concept of DIY robotics may sound intimidating, but we've got you sorted. Our kits don't require students to have previous coding knowledge, so you can find projects that are suitable for older and younger students alike.

See you in class!

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/secure-stem-program-funding 2024-01-29T17:19:49+01:00 2024-04-12T11:59:32+02:00 How to Get Your STEM Program Funded: Step-by-Step Guide Albert Gajšak More

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So you want to enhance the STEM learning experience of your students, but the money is tight?

Welcome to the world of STEM grants, funds, and awards.

We'll guide you through everything you need to know to fund your scientific programs and start supporting education of your little scientists straight away. You'll see that access to funds helps fill potential educational voids, whether you're teaching in private schools, public education, summer workshops, or in afterschool programs.

The main challenges of STEM funding

Quality STEM education requires up-to-date materials and technology to be effective. You can't keep teaching science, technology, engineering, and math using outdated resources and expect students to be prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the modern world.

However, computer science equipment, engineering kits, and scientific tools cost money, which not all primary and secondary schools have readily available.

And for educators teaching low-income students or kids in underserved communities, the struggle is even tougher.

Yet, with the growing awareness and support for STEM education, there's a wave of opportunity for securing funding. Let's see how you can bring top-notch scientific programs to your school!

Understanding the STEM funding landscape

Whether you're looking for ways to fund high-tech classroom equipment or innovative afterschool programs, you have to know what options are there. We'll now walk you through the types of STEM program funding opportunities and show what criteria you have to meet to get them.

Types of STEM programs funding opportunities

Remember, your funding opportunities depend on your location. We'll list information for the United States here, but there are similar opportunities available worldwide. If you're outside the USA, it's a good idea to check with your local education authorities for region-specific funding options tailored to your STEM program's needs.

That said, let's see what options there are.

State funding

Many states offer specific grants for STEM education. These can range from supporting science fairs to integrating technology in classrooms. For example, a state might offer a grant to implement robotics programs in middle schools.

Not sure what your state has to offer?

Then you should check out this STEMfinity tool that lets you click on your state and see all the grants and funding options available specifically for your area.

Find STEM grants in the US by map

Image source: STEMfinity

Federal grants

The U.S. government, through agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Education, provides substantial funding for STEM initiatives. These grants often focus on large-scale projects or research, like an NSF grant for developing new engineering curricula.

The Department of Education federal grant program encourages providing students with "high-quality STEM education for all students from PreK to higher education, regardless of background."

US department of education's STEM program "You belong in STEM"

Image source: U.S. Department of Education

Federal grants like these are particularly important for fostering inclusivity and equity because they often prioritize underrepresented groups and underserved students.

Corporations

Big tech and engineering companies often offer STEM funding as that encourages students to possibly explore a future career in the industry. This is not just about one-off donations—many corporations work with non-profits to secure long-term investments.

For instance, the automotive manufacturer General Motors has partnered with DonorsChoose, AI4ALL, Benetech, and others to provide immersive STEM learning activities and curricula to diverse groups of students.

General Motors offers STEM learning activities to diverse groups of students

Image source: General Motors

Don't forget that you don't necessarily have to turn to giant corporations for funding. There may be local tech companies in your area that also offer grants, equipment, or mentorship programs.

Foundations and non-profit organizations

Numerous private foundations are dedicated to advancing STEM education. The Simons Foundation, the Amgen Foundation, and the Gates Foundation are just some of the big names that contribute to the cause.

Amgen Foundation offers STEM funding for nonprofit organizations

Image source: The Amgen Foundation

Note that foundations often award grants to non-profit organizations dedicated to education, rather than funding individual schools or educators.

Eligibility and requirements for STEM education grants

Not all STEM education grants follow the same set of rules and requirements, so you'll have to explore the specifics of the ones you're interested in applying for.

For example, the Society for Science requires applicants to be mission-driven nonprofits aligned with STEM education, advocate for public STEM understanding, and serve at least 25 people in the U.S. with their programs.

Society of Science STEM grants applicant criteria

Image source: Society for Science

Other common criteria include:

  1. Organizational eligibility: Often, grants specify the type of organizations that can apply, such as K-12 schools, colleges, public schools, charter schools, or non-profits.

  2. Program focus: The focus of your STEM program should match the grant's focus, whether it's general science education, computer technology integration, engineering research, or math initiatives.

  3. Geographic restrictions: Some grants are specific to certain regions, states, or communities, so location can play a big role in eligibility.

  4. Target audience: Many grants aim to support specific groups of students, like underrepresented groups, racially diverse student populations, girls, or low-income students.

  5. Project goals and outcomes: Grants often seek programs with tangible, impactful outcomes, so it's best to plan your program's objectives and how you plan to measure success.

  6. Budget and financial need: You might need to provide a detailed budget and justify the financial need for your project.

Making sure you're eligible for the STEM education grants you're applying for before you actually apply will prevent you from wasting hours writing applications in vain. So, read each grant's requirements carefully!

Identifying the right STEM grants

Of course, the varying requirements of different grants will narrow down your selection. But don't worry!

That's a good thing, as it will allow you to focus on pursuing grants that have the greatest potential to support your STEM education goals effectively.

Identifying the right STEM grants for you should start by defining your objectives. What are your goals, and what specific outcomes do you aim to achieve? Knowing your program's purpose will guide you to grants that share similar aims.

Studying the requirements in detail should be your next step.

Then, it's a good idea to explore past awardees. Fortunately, most funding providers are proud to display their previous grant recipients, making your journey easier.

STEM grant recipients of Society for Science

Source: Society for Science

Understanding who has been successful in securing funding can show you what kinds of programs and initiatives resonate with grantors.

This knowledge can help you fine-tune your grant applications to align more closely with the preferences of funding organizations, increasing your chances of success.

Crafting a winning proposal

Once you've chosen the grant to pursue, the next crucial step is crafting a proposal. Your proposal is your opportunity to convince the grantors that your STEM education program deserves their support.

Ideally, it will be followed by a formal grant application, as outlined in the grant writing process diagram you can find below.

The structure of an ideal grant writing process

Image source: University of North Carolina

As you can see, by the time you're in the proposal writing stage, you should have your needs and budget already figured out. These are the bases that clearly communicate the value of your program to potential grantors.

However, sending a sheet with estimates won't cut it. To make your grant proposals worth accepting, you need to follow strict formatting rules and include the right content, sprinkled with a bit of storytelling. We have some great tips for you in the next section.

How to write a compelling grant proposal to get your STEM program funded

Just like with the question of eligibility, each grant has its own unique requirements when it comes to the proposal format.

To provide you with a specific, real-life example, we'll examine the proposal preparation instructions from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Essential components of a grant proposal

It all starts with knowing what you have to prepare. Below, you'll see an NSF-prescribed checklist of the essential components of grant proposals.

You can also apply it to other grants that don't have specific requirements, so that you don't have to freestyle your proposal.

  1. Project summary (1 page)

    • An overview of your proposed activity

    • Statements on its value and broader impacts

  2. Project description (up to 15 pages)

    • What you want to achieve

    • Why it's important

    • How you plan to accomplish it

    • How you will measure success

    • Potential benefits if successful

  3. References cited

    • Bibliographic citations related to your project

  4. Documents required for senior personnel

    • Biographical sketch (3 pages) outlining qualifications

    • Current and pending support for ongoing projects

    • Collaborators and affiliations

  5. Proposal budget and justification

    • Detailed budget by category

    • Justification for each budget item (up to 5 pages)

  6. Facilities, equipment, and resources

    • Description of available resources

    • Both internal and external support for the project

  7. Data management plan (up to 2 pages)

    • Explanation of how research results will be shared

While writing these specifics, you can't get creative just yet. In fact, many grants have strict rules about formatting, spacing, fonts, and other technical details, like in this bit here:

Rules for submitting and writing a grant proposal

Image source: NSF

However, it would be wrong to take a formulaic approach to writing the body of the proposal. The way you present your STEM program can greatly enhance your proposal's persuasiveness.

Building a strong case

Remember, there are many science teachers across school districts, and only a limited number of grant opportunities. That's why your proposal has to stand out.

An effective way to achieve this is to simply tell your story.

Instead of listing facts, you should describe how your STEM project came into existence, the challenges it aims to address, and the vision you have for it. An anecdote or two will make your proposal more personable, so don't shy away from describing past student success stories or even an odd classroom mishap.

Next, keep in mind that your program sounds more plausible when you acknowledge possible challenges transparently. So, list some, and say how you plan to overcome them. Grantors appreciate honesty and well-thought-out solutions.

Lastly, remember to visualize your message. Use images, charts, graphs, or infographics strategically to illustrate key points and data.

While these strategies can't turn a bad proposal into a successful one, they certainly can elevate a strong proposal and increase its chances, so make sure you apply them!

Strategies for success in getting your STEM education grants

Okay, now you know how to nail formatting and writing a proposal. But there are two additional elements that can help you secure funding, and you should be careful to include both in your proposal.

Collaborating with community partners

As we've mentioned earlier, some national institutes and foundations only award grants to non-profits that aim to improve education.

Whether you're applying for such a grant or not, it's wise to build partnerships with other organizations dedicated to the same goal.

Partnering with elementary schools, secondary schools, organizations in local communities, or experts in youth education can strengthen your proposal. Therefore, you should highlight how these collaborations enhance the impact of your STEM program.

Focusing on outcomes

Nobody likes giving away money just because of it. Funders want to see results and positive impacts from their investment, which is why you should emphasize the specific outcomes of your program.

So, when describing an outcome, you should be specific, detailed, and measurable in your description. Avoid vague statements like "improving student performance in tech summer workshops" and instead use concrete metrics, timelines, and clear goals.

With this approach, you'll be on your way to getting the funds that will help you enhance curriculum and increase student engagement in your classes.

How to manage and utilize grant funds effectively

Let's say that you've secured the funds by this point. Yay! Now it's time to ensure that you're managing them effectively.

Post-award best practices

We've prepared another practical checklist to help you make the most of your grant funds.

  1. Budget management: Carefully track expenses and stick to your budget. You don't want any financial surprises down the line!

  2. Transparent record-keeping: Maintain detailed records of all financial transactions and program activities.

  3. Compliance: The grant agreement has likely set certain terms and conditions, so you always have to adhere to those. For instance, be mindful of the compliance with funding objectives and timelines.

  4. Evaluation: Continuously assess the impact of your STEM program to measure its success and make improvements as needed.

  5. Acknowledgment: Show appreciation to the grantor through acknowledgment in your STEM curriculum materials, events, or publications.

Essentially, post-award best practices boil down to adhering to the grant terms you've signed. As long as you follow those in your STEM programming and learning activities, you're good!

Reporting and accountability

The fact that many grants specify reporting in their requirements tells us that this is an element to take seriously. In line with that, you should prepare regular, detailed reports that show you're using the funds appropriately.

Depending on the grantor, you can use the prepared report templates or create your own. Either way, be prepared to provide detailed financial statements.

Describe the impact of your STEM program using qualitative and quantitative data. Highlight success stories and describe how the grant has contributed to your program's goals.

Lastly, don't forget to state any unplanned changes. If you encounter unexpected challenges or deviations from the original plan, be sure to communicate these to the grantor. They may provide guidance or flexibility in such situations.

And that's it!

Now you know how to fill potential educational voids with grant opportunities for STEM programs, how to write proposals, and how to use the funds once you get them. Ready to start applying?

List of STEM education grants you can apply for today

Whether you're teaching in distance learning programs, after-school programs, private schools, or even summer programs, there are various STEM grants available to suit your specific needs.

The list of the grants we'll now see is by no means exhaustive, but it provides a starting point for educators seeking STEM funding opportunities.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) focuses on biomedical science, computer science, and engineering. The project offers different programs and grants in different states, so it's best to explore if there's a grant for you while applications are open.

STEM grant opportunities from Project Lead The Way

Image source: Project Lead The Way

Next on our list is Rural Tech Fund, which works with schools and libraries in rural areas, with low-income students, and in high-poverty areas.

The fund helps introduce students to computer technology, so it's best to explore this fund if your classes revolve around computer science, programming, and robotics.

Rural Tech Fund grant opportunities for non profit organizations

Image source: Rural Tech Fund

Now, here's something for high-school chemistry teachers. The American Chemical Society provides grants to buy lab equipment, instructional materials, and student-led field studies.

You can also use the funds for job training, as these grants also cover professional development and other educational opportunities.

American Chemical Society offers several grants for STEM teaching

Image source: ACS

These are our top picks, but you can find even more grant and award opportunities below:

Keep in mind that new grants and opportunities may become available, so make sure you stay updated!

Partner up with CircuitMess for innovative STEM education in your classroom

Browsing the funds, writing the proposals, waiting for the responses—the end result is worth it, but the process does take time.

If you want to enrich your scientific programs and computer science classes now, you should consider implementing CircuitMess STEM education kits. These kits teach students hardware and software engineering skills in a hands-on way, making your classes more educational and engaging than ever before.

And as we have an entire program dedicated to educators and science teachers, you can access these innovative STEM education kits at a more affordable price, along with some additional perks.

Sounds good, but you aren't exactly sure which science kits fit best with your STEM programming? Don't worry! Feel free to contact us, and we'll find the best projects for you and your students.

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/choose-diy-stem-kit-classroom 2023-12-20T18:10:52+01:00 2024-04-22T15:12:48+02:00 How To Choose a DIY STEM Kit for Your School Classroom? Albert Gajšak Discover the key to selecting the best DIY STEM kit for your school in our latest post. Learn about the benefits of STEM kits, how they enhance learning and creativity - and get practical advice on choosing the right kits for different educational levels.

Perfect for educators looking to invigorate their STEM curriculum with hands-on, innovative projects. Dive in and transform your classroom with the power of DIY STEM kits!

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By this point, the buzz around DIY STEM materials in educational spaces has likely reached your ears, especially the talk about specialized kits that help students learn science while having fun.

They may seem too good to be true, or may even look like just another educational fad. However, these kits come with tangible benefits.

Join us as we discuss what these benefits are, how to select the perfect DIY STEM kit, along with STEM activities for your classroom, and how to effectively integrate them into your existing curriculum. Let's dive in!

What are the benefits of using STEM kits in the classroom?

You're likely already familiar with some of the frequently discussed benefits of STEM toys and projects, such as boosting fine motor skills, improving problem-solving skills, or discovering a passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

That's why we'll focus on something different; how these kits enhance the retention of complex concepts and spark creativity in students.

Benefit #1: Better retention of concepts

As we've mentioned when talking about the best science kits, the University of Chicago found that physical experiences enhance STEM learning.

Hands-on experiments can help students internalize complex concepts more effectively, which leads to deeper understanding. Better test scores are just an added bonus!

Whether you decide to enrich your classroom with science kits, pieces of modern technology, or real-world engineering tools and supplies, you'll provide an immersive learning environment where the knowledge stays with the student for good.

Benefit #2: Fostering creativity

The beauty of STEM kits lies in their ability to turn conventional classroom practices around. Learning doesn't have to revolve around dry lectures—the kits let students roll up their sleeves and dive into science and engineering experiments, transforming them from passive recipients of information into active creators.

This way of hands-on learning encourages students to engage differently, practice problem solving, develop design thinking, and invent their own solutions to STEM challenges ahead.

Importance of hands-on learning

Image source: Miracle Recreation

By encouraging your students to embrace creativity in their learning journey, you're also making STEM subjects more approachable and enjoyable.

Not everyone likes textbook-based lessons, but most kids enjoy experimenting with STEM kits. So, a creative outlet for learning may very well be the key to unlocking a student's full potential, and all of that is possible by taking on an innovative approach to STEM teaching.

How to choose the right STEM kit for your classroom

Are you on board yet?

If you are, you may be getting ready to select the right kit for your students. Besides some obvious criteria, such as topics and price, we'll list three other crucial factors to consider before committing to a seller.

Customizing STEM kits for different educational levels

First, remember that educational kits are not one size fits all. That's the reason why it's important to tailor your selection to the educational level and ages of your students.

For instance, our own kit lines are divided into two categories: our simpler kits are suitable for kids aged nine and beyond, while more complex projects are designed for learners ages eleven and above.

CircuitMess DIY robotic arm

Your choice should be age-appropriate, meaning that it's challenging enough to stimulate curiosity and learning, yet not so complex that it becomes frustrating.

Innovative STEM classroom activities using DIY kits

When you hear the phrase STEM experiments for primary school, your mind likely springs to classic activities like creating DIY catapults or baking soda/vinegar volcanoes.

Since you're already investing in new materials for your students, you may as well ensure that they fill your classes with innovation and imagination. In other words, you need kits that allow students to approach STEM topics in new ways, and complete projects that they haven't seen before.

This approach will keep your lessons, fresh, fun, and engaging. No more lemon batteries, please! Just kidding—we love ourselves a classic, but you get the point.

Project-based learning with STEM kits

As defined by the Buck Institute for Education, project-based learning (PBL) is

"a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects."

What does that mean for you when choosing your kit seller?

Well, there are many kits out there that offer cool STEM experiments, but they don't necessarily connect with real life and the skills that students would actually use.

It's essential to choose kits that go beyond just being cool and focus on projects with practical applications. Look for those that allow students to build and explore technology they can interact with daily, like smart devices or electronic gadgets.

Girl using her DIY voice assistant from CircuitMess

By choosing PBL-friendly kits, you'll ensure that the STEM activities you assign are not only hands-on and fun, but that they also help kids see the practical side of their learning, making connections between their projects and everyday life. The themes you work on in class should also matter in the real world, too.

How to integrate STEM kits into your existing curriculum

Of course, teachers don't want the new materials disrupting their carefully planned curriculum.

The key is to seamlessly weave these kits into the existing lesson plans in a way that complements the core subjects, enriching the teaching process without overtaking it.

However, the situation is not as straightforward as just sprinkling kit-related activities every few lessons. You'll also have to overcome certain challenges, and measure whether the projects are effective in helping students learn. Let's see how.

Overcoming challenges in STEM kit integration

To keep it simple, let's break down the integration process into a checklist of the top three common problems and their solutions.

  • Challenge: Budget limitations

    Solution: Explore cost-effective kits, apply for educational grants, or partner with local businesses for sponsorships.

  • Challenge: Curriculum alignment

    Solution: Identify key areas in your curriculum where STEM kits can naturally enhance learning, and integrate them into those segments. You don't need a kit for each and every lesson!

  • Challenge: Lack of support and resources

    Solution: Select a kit provider that offers multiple kinds of educational resources, clear instructions, tools, and responsive customer service.

Assessing the impact of STEM kits on learning

Once you've successfully integrated STEM kits into your curriculum, the next crucial step is to assess their impact on student learning. Are these kits truly enriching the educational experience? Do they make STEM concepts more understandable?

To help you evaluate this effectively, here's another checklist focusing on key areas of assessment and actionable solutions.

  • Measuring student engagement: Use surveys, discussions, and observation to check on your students' interest and participation levels during kit-based activities.

  • Tracking academic performance: Sure, having fun is important in class. But you should also compare test scores and project results before and after integrating STEM kits to identify any significant changes in academic achievement.

  • Evaluating knowledge retention: Conduct periodic quizzes or assessments specifically on topics covered through kit-based activities, even a few months after the initial lessons. This will help you determine if the students are able to recall and apply the concepts they learned long-term.

Real-world examples and success stories

STEM educators are often naturally prone to taking things with a grain of salt, critically looking for empirical evidence before fully embracing new teaching strategies.

There are many success stories about integrating STEM kits into classrooms, and we'll now see two particularly inspiring examples so that you can see how exactly kits complement traditional teaching.

First, let's go back to the pandemic times, when teachers quickly had to adjust to remote classes.

Science education professor Michael McCoy of the University of Regina used the transition as an opportunity to try out STEM kits and bridge the gap between hands-on classroom experiences and at-home education.

Simple DIY STEM kit used in classrooms

Image source: University of Regina

The students were happy with the approach, and they even looked forward to science classes, knowing that each lesson would let them experiment, discover new findings, and put theory into practice.

Our next story goes to show that STEM kits are also beneficial beyond traditional class structures, as seen in a workshop hosted by Zoran Černja of the Kanfanar Innovators Association.

CircuitMess STEM kit workshop

Here, STEM kits were not just accessories or supplementary materials—they were the core around which the entire workshop was structured.

Both the instructors and the primary school students loved the experience, in which students learned about electric components, soldering, and printed circuit boards.

As you can see, these kits can be resources for hands-on learning regardless of the structure of classes you're teaching, and they lend themselves to a variety of scenarios.

Additional resources you should further explore

We know that as an educator, you're always on the lookout for more information and ideas. We've got you; here's a list of additional resources you can browse and find more about the benefits of these innovative STEM materials.

Revolutionize your STEM lessons with CircuitMess STEM kits

And just like that, you're equipped with the knowledge to integrate STEM kits into your classroom. Depending on the subject area you teach, your next step is to look for the kit provider that best aligns with your curriculum.

If your teaching focus is on areas like robotics, computer science, physics, math, or engineering, CircuitMess could be the perfect fit for your needs. Our Educators program is packed with a variety of perks, such as special discounts for STEM kits, a supply of spare parts, a collection of workshop materials, and more.

These perks are designed to make integrating STEM kits into your lessons easier and more effective, enriching both your teaching experience and your students' learning journey.

So, why not take the opportunity to discover what CircuitMess has to offer? Get ready to find electronics kits that provide everything needed to build and complete exciting, educational projects.

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/diy-stem-kit-in-classroom 2023-12-20T16:32:20+01:00 2024-04-12T11:59:58+02:00 Integrating DIY STEM Kits into Classroom Learning: A Guide for Educators Albert Gajšak Dive into our guide tailored for educators on how to integrate DIY STEM kits into your school classrooms. You'll discover effective strategies to captivate students' interest and deepen their understanding of science and technology. Find out exactly why every school should use DIY STEM kits as one of the teaching methods - and how to do it within your budget.

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Hello, STEM educators and innovative teachers! Looking to bring a fresh, hands-on approach to your classroom? You're in the right place! Today, we're diving into the exciting world of DIY STEM kits and how they can transform your teaching experience and captivate your students' imaginations.

Imagine a classroom buzzing with excitement, where students are not just passive listeners but active creators, thinkers, and problem-solvers. This is the power of integrating DIY STEM kits into your curriculum. 

These kits aren't just about building gadgets; they're about building futures, igniting passions, and opening doors to a world of possibilities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Whether you're a seasoned STEM educator or a curious teacher eager to explore the practical science and technology, this guide is tailored for you. 

So, grab your lab coats and let's dive in.

Evolution and impact of electronics in STEM education

Let's rewind and take a trip down memory lane, back to the days when electronics in education were more of a novel concept than a classroom staple. 

The evolution of electronics in STEM education is a fascinating story, beginning with the bulky vacuum tubes of the early 20th century and evolving into the sleek microprocessors we use today. 

This transformation has been nothing short of revolutionary, reshaping not only the technology we use but also how we teach and learn about it.

In the past, electronics were often taught theoretically, with students learning about circuits and currents from textbooks. 

Fast forward to today, and the situation has dramatically changed.

Modern technology has helped us bring these concepts to life through hands-on projects. Just imagine the thrill of students as they connect wires and components, seeing their theoretical knowledge light up right before their eyes. 

Girl soldering an electronics gadget

This practical approach has made electronics more tangible and relatable, bridging the gap between abstract concepts and real-world applications.

Enter CircuitMess, a game-changer in educational electronics (we’ve been called that a few times and we proudly wear that badge of honor). 

With our DIY kits, has made it possible for students to not just learn about electronics but to create and experiment with their own devices. From building their own smart devices to programming robots, these kits offer a hands-on experience that is both educational and immensely engaging. 

And if you’re looking to introduce your students to electronics with projects they’ll truly never forget – look no further than CircuitMess. When designing new projects, there’s one checkbox that needs to be ticked - it needs to be cool and unforgettable.

For example, how cool is it to build your own game console from scratch? Or build and code an AI-powered RC car? It’s hard to forget such an experience. 

Wheelson - a DIY RC robot car by CircuitMess

The integration of modern electronics into the STEM curriculum is more than just an educational trend; it's a necessity in preparing students for a tech-driven future. By engaging with electronics hands-on, students develop a deeper understanding of the technology that powers our world. 

They're not just passive consumers of technology – they become creators and innovators, equipped with the skills and knowledge to shape the future.

View more details on our Educators program and make sure your students master the skills of tomorrow – while having a blast! 

With the advent of innovative tools like CircuitMess kits, we're entering a new era of engaging STEM lessons, where students are empowered to explore, create, and innovate. The impact of this shift is monumental, setting the stage for a future where our students are not just ready for technological advancements but are at the forefront of creating them. 

From theory to practice: The shift in teaching electronics

Gone are the days when teaching electronics meant a one-way lecture with diagrams on a blackboard. We're now in an era where hands-on STEM activities are not just an add-on but the core of learning electronics. 

This shift from a predominantly theoretical approach to a more practical, experiential method has revolutionized the way electronics are taught and understood in classrooms across the globe.

Kids building STEM gadgets with STEM educator

Concepts are brought to life

Imagine a classroom where instead of just reading about circuits, students are building them; where instead of memorizing the functions of a transistor, they're using it in a project. 

This is the essence of practical STEM learning. 

By engaging directly with the materials and tools, students can see the immediate impact of their actions, turning abstract concepts into tangible outcomes. This approach not only makes learning more engaging but also deepens understanding, as students can directly observe the principles they've learned about in action.

Best way to learn is – to experience it

Experiential learning in electronics goes beyond just understanding how to connect wires or program a microcontroller. 

It fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. When students are given the freedom to experiment, they learn to think like engineers, developing solutions and troubleshooting issues in real-time. 

This hands-on experience is invaluable, as it prepares students for real-world scenarios and challenges.

Kids assembling their DIY electronics gadgets

Benefits reach beyond the classroom

The benefits of this practical approach extend far beyond the classroom walls. Students who engage in hands-on electronics projects gain confidence in their ability to manipulate and understand technology. 

This confidence is key in a world increasingly dominated by tech. By providing students with a solid foundation in practical electronics, we're equipping them with the skills they need to succeed in various future career paths, whether in engineering, technology, or any other field where these skills can be applied.

Curriculum design and project Ideas

When it comes to integrating electronics into the STEM curriculum, one size does not fit all. Different grade levels require different approaches, both in terms of complexity and engagement. 

Let's explore how we can design curriculum and project ideas that are age-appropriate yet challenging, ensuring that every student's journey into electronics is as enlightening as it is exciting.

Curriculum idea for elementary school students

Let's introduce our young explorers to the whimsical world of Wacky Robots

These quirky DIY kits are perfect for sparking a love for electronics in kids as young as 9 years old. With characters like Bob, Capacitron, and Mr. Bee, students will embark on a hands-on journey, learning about vibration sensors, electric motors, and more.

The beauty of Wacky Robots lies in their simplicity and fun. You can use the collectible cards and easy-to-follow instructions to guide the students. No prior knowledge is needed, so assembling these robots is perfect for beginners. Encourage the kids to personalize their robots and share their creations, it will help foster a sense of accomplishment and excitement.

Kids assembling their DIY robots - CircuitMess Wacky Robots

Curriculum idea for middle school students

Middle schoolers are ready for a deeper dive into the world of STEM – and what better way than with the STEM Box

This kit offers a range of projects that touch on advanced tech concepts in a fun and engaging way. Whether it's learning about AI and computer vision with a DIY smart robot car or exploring Bluetooth technology, the STEM Box is an ideal tool for practical learning.

Try to encourage students to experiment and modify their designs. The STEM Box is designed to be beginner-friendly but also offers enough complexity to challenge and engage middle school minds. You can try highlighting the real-world applications of each project to connect classroom learning with outside-the-classroom thinking.

Girl assembling a DIY electronics gadget

Curriculum idea for high school students

High school students can tackle the more complex projects within the STEM Boxc, delving into the intricacies of AI, coding, and microcomputers. These projects offer a comprehensive understanding of the integration of hardware and software, preparing students for future technological challenges.

And just a tip – try challenging students with problem-solving tasks and encourage them to think critically about their designs.

The STEM Box projects are perfect for stimulating advanced learners, offering opportunities to customize projects and delve deeper into programming concepts.

Kid playing with a DIY robotic arm

Cross-grade curriculum idea to promote teamwork

Organizing a school-wide electronics fair where students from different grades collaborate on various projects can be a hit! This could range from simple circuit designs by younger students to more complex robotics or environmental monitoring systems by older students.

Such activities not only foster a sense of community but also allow students to learn from each other – so think about a mentorship program too! Older students could lend a helping hand to younger ones, and that’s always a beautiful way to learn and make new friends. 

In crafting these curriculum designs and project ideas, remember that the goal is to ignite a passion for learning and discovery in electronics. 

Hands-on STEM activities should be engaging, relevant, and challenging, pushing students to think creatively and critically. By providing a variety of projects tailored to different educational levels, you can ensure that your students not only learn valuable skills – but also develop a lifelong interest in electronics and technology. 

Pro tip – read our article on STEM teaching strategies for the classroom and find out how to best approach electronics education!

The Impact of CircuitMess on STEM Education

We’ve been sparking curiosity and igniting passion in classrooms across the globe, transforming the way students and educators approach electronics and programming. And we’ve had some great success!

Kanfanar Innovators Association uses CircuitMess kits to teach electronics

In the quaint town of Kanfanar, CircuitMess has been a game-changer. Here, children got their first taste of electronics, not through textbooks, but by getting their hands on real components, soldering, and bringing their creations to life. 

The joy and pride in their eyes when their consoles whirred to life for the first time? Priceless!

Kids learning electronics and soldering with educators


Math Thru Music – a perfect mix of music and electronics

Picture this – kids learning math not just with numbers on a board but through the art of DJing! CircuitMess kits have been instrumental in this innovative program, blending music with mathematics, and coding. 

It's not just about beats and rhythms; it's about building a bridge between passions and education.

STEM educators with CircuitMess DIY STEM kits

Robokacija teaches kids robotics with our STEM kits

Over at Robokacija, a thousand workshops and counting, kids have been diving into the world of programming and electronics, thanks to CircuitMess. 

Soldering? Check. 

Understanding electronic components? Check. 

Realizing that creating sophisticated electronic devices isn't just for super-smart engineers? Double check!

Kid soldering a DIY video game console


How you can transform your classroom into a STEM-learning haven?

Imagine a classroom where the buzz isn't just from the fluorescent lights but from the excitement of students soldering, coding, and problem-solving. CircuitMess kits have turned traditional classrooms into dynamic labs where learning is hands-on, minds are switched on, and the possibilities are endless.

CircuitMess isn't just about teaching kids how to build a gadget; it's about empowering them to be the innovators and problem-solvers of tomorrow. 

With every resistor they solder and every line of code they write, students are not just learning – they're preparing to take on the world.

To all the educators out there, it's time to supercharge your STEM curriculum with CircuitMess. Whether it's through building a DIY game console or mixing beats with Jay-D, the opportunities for engaging, practical learning are limitless. Together, we're inspiring a whole new generation of creators, thinkers, and innovators. 

Let's make some noise, let's make some mess, let's make some magic with CircuitMess! 

Kid programming a DIY mobile phone on a laptop


How to overcome challenges in implementing electronics projects

Let's face it, not every school has a Silicon Valley budget, but that shouldn't stop us from bringing engaging electronics projects to our students. The key is to get creative and tap into community resources.

Explore grants and partnerships

Dive into the world of grants specifically for STEM education. There's a treasure trove of opportunities out there waiting to be discovered – and this should be your first stop when trying to secure a budget for kid-friendly electronics projects. 

Also, don't underestimate the power of community – local businesses and tech companies often have resources to spare and are usually more than willing to support educational initiatives.

Training and workshops for educators

Not every teacher is a born electrician, and that's perfectly okay. The goal is to bridge any skill gaps with effective training and a dash of teamwork.

Organize workshops where teachers can learn the nuts and bolts of electronics. It's like a mini-boot camp for educators, turning them into confident guides for their students' explorations into the world of electronics.

Pair up teachers with different strengths. Imagine a biology teacher and a computer whiz joining forces – it's like the Avengers, but for STEM education.

This approach not only enriches the learning experience but also makes it more dynamic and diverse.

Embrace modern tools and technologies

Bring in user-friendly tech tools like Arduino or Raspberry Pi. These gadgets are not just cool; they're gateways to making electronics accessible and fun for students.

Plus, CircuitMess STEM kits can help both you and your students better understand the intricacies of modern technology – by building everyday gadgets. From voice assistants to bluetooth speakers and gaming consoles, there’s much to learn from each of our projects.

The best part – you build everything yourself, from scratch. Of course, we already have all the guides, tutorials, and support staff on the ready, but the credit for building a new piece of technology is all yours! 

Pro tip – read our guide on introducing AI to kids to learn about the best kid-friendly teaching methods – from using educational apps to working on simple coding projects.

Kid assembling a DIY bluetooth speaker


Safety needs to be a top priority

Electronics and safety go hand-in-hand. Ensuring a safe learning environment is paramount, and it's something we take seriously. Each component and part we produce comes with a 2-year warranty, meaning – it’ll take a lot of beating for one of our parts to fail you. 

And what can you do to avoid any unwanted safety situations?

Well, first, establish a set of non-negotiable safety rules for handling electronics. It's like the rulebook for a safe and successful electronics adventure. Leaving a full classroom of kids with soldering kits – unsupervised – may not be the best option. The rules need to be establish and respected.

Next, try creating a learning environment where supervision is key. This not only keeps safety in check but also ensures that help and guidance are always at hand. And even if your educators aren’t 100% confident in their electronics knowledge – we’ve got super-detailed guides and curriculums you can follow. This will enable you to provide help to your students – even when you feel like you could use some help. 

Keep it fresh and interesting

The world of technology is always evolving, and so should our electronics projects. Regular evaluations and updates are crucial.

From introducing new STEM kits to introducing completely new product lines – we’ve been challenging this issue for years now. You can have your students work on the same boring 4 electronics projects for an entire year, and sure, they will learn about electronics. But how much do they retain? 

When we (humans) have fun while learning something, it seems to come to us naturally.

Imagine having an entire set, an entire curriculum filled with various DIY electronics projects that range from – DIY RC robot car to a DIY DJ mixer. Imagine working each month on something completely different and unique.

And each time you build (and code) something new, your confidence skyrockets. From connecting your very first circuit to building a DIY robotic arm, now that’s something. And that learning journey can happen so quickly – with the right guides, instructions, and learning environment.

Programming DIY Batmobile on a laptop


Establish a feedback loop with your students

Set up a system for continuous feedback. This could be through student surveys or project evaluations. It's like having a conversation with your curriculum – what's working, what's not, and how can we make it better?

Be ready to tweak and evolve your curriculum.

As new technologies emerge and student interests shift, our teaching methods and projects should also adapt to stay relevant and engaging. And you can count on CircuitMess to always come up with something fresh and exciting – we’ll never stop! 

With a dash of creativity, a commitment to safety, and a focus on engaging and practical learning – we can transform these challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation. Let's gear up to empower our students with the skills and experiences they need for a tech-savvy future! 

Unleash the power of hands-on learning with CircuitMess STEM kits

As we wrap up this guide, it all seems crystal clear – these projects are not just a part of the curriculum; they are the heartbeat of innovative learning. 

The impact of bringing practical electronics into the classroom is monumental. It transforms not just the way students absorb knowledge – but how they see and interact with the world around them.

To all you amazing educators out there, this is more than just a call – it's a rallying cry. Embracing hands-on electronics projects in your STEM curriculum is a game-changer. You're not just imparting knowledge; you're igniting a spark. 

Now, we're turning the spotlight on you. We're all ears and can't wait to hear your stories. 

Have you brought hands-on electronics into your classroom? What triumphs and challenges have you encountered along the way? What victories have you celebrated, and what wisdom have you gathered?

And if you still haven’t – explore our Educators program and get in touch with us to ensure your students get the best possible hands-on educational experience available!

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/learning-electronics-beginners-guide 2023-12-14T14:34:21+01:00 2024-04-22T15:12:35+02:00 Essential Guide to Learning Electronics: How to Master The Basics Albert Gajšak More

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Whether you're a curious beginner, a DIY enthusiast, or an electronics hobbyist looking to refresh your knowledge, our guide to learning electronics is your perfect companion. 

Electronics is not just about circuits and soldering; it's a gateway to understanding the tech-driven world around us. It's a skill that opens doors to innovation, problem-solving, and an endless realm of possibilities. 

And the best part? It's much more accessible and enjoyable than you might think!

In this guide, we'll start from the very basics, ensure you have a solid foundation for your electronics adventure. We'll explore the fundamental concepts in a way that's easy to grasp and fun to learn. 

You won't just be reading about resistors and capacitors; you'll be getting your hands dirty (figuratively, of course!) with exciting projects that bring these components to life.

So, whether you're looking to build your first circuit or dream of creating your own electronic gadgets, this guide is tailored for you.

Let's dive in and demystify the world of electronics together. 

Understanding the basics of electronics

Let’s dive into some electronics basics which you’ll encounter in every stage of your electronics journey. 

Currents: The flow of electricity

Imagine electricity as a river. Just as water flows through a river, electrical current is the flow of electrons through a conductor, like a wire. 

This flow is what powers our devices, lights up our homes, and runs motors. The strength of this flow is measured in amperes, commonly known as amps. 

Just like a river can have a strong or weak current, so can an electrical circuit.

 Electric current in a circuit

Image source: https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/electric-current/ 

Circuits: The pathway for current

A circuit is like a looped track for the electrical current to travel around. It starts from a power source, like a battery, flows through various components like lights or motors, and then returns to the source. 

If this loop is broken at any point, the current stops, and the circuit is said to be 'open'. When it's complete and unbroken, it's a 'closed' circuit. 

Think of it as a train track; if a section is missing, the train can't complete its journey.

Connected electric circuit

Image source: https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/electric-circuit/ 

Voltage: The push behind the current

Voltage is the force that pushes the current through the circuit. It's like the gravity that pulls the river water down the mountain. 

Measured in volts, voltage is the difference in electrical potential between two points in a circuit. It's what makes the electrons move from the negative end of a battery (or power source) to the positive end.

Electricity - water hose analogy Image source: https://www.freeingenergy.com/understanding-the-basics-of-electricity-by-thinking-of-it-as-water/ 

Resistance: The control on current

Resistance is the obstacle in our river of electricity. It's what resists the flow of current. Every component in a circuit offers some resistance, and it's measured in ohms. 

Think of resistance as rocks in a river; the more rocks, the harder it is for water to flow. 

In electronics, resistors are used to control and limit the flow of electrical current, ensuring that our devices operate safely and efficiently.

The importance of foundational electronics knowledge

Understanding these basic concepts is crucial in electronics. It's like learning the alphabet before trying to read a novel. 

These fundamentals are the building blocks for everything you'll do in electronics. They help you understand how and why things work, allowing you to troubleshoot problems, design your own circuits, and truly appreciate the magic of electronics.

By grasping these basics, you're not just memorizing facts; you're gaining a lens through which you can view and understand the electronic world around you. 

It's a step towards thinking like an engineer, where every problem is an opportunity to apply your knowledge and creativity.

Remember, these basics are not just stepping stones but the very foundation of all your future electronic adventures. Let's keep this excitement and curiosity alive as we dive deeper.

P.S. If you’re a STEM educator, we’ve prepared several effective STEM teaching strategies for you. 

4 steps to learning electronics as a beginner

We’ve condensed the entire electronics learning process in 4 simple steps. But even though they seem simple on the surface, things can get complicated later on when you dive into some complex electronics concepts.

But let’s start from the very beginning. 

Step #1: Learn about basic electronics concepts

Before diving into building circuits, it's essential to get comfortable with the core concepts of voltage, current, and resistance. These are the ABCs of electronics. 

Think of them as the grammar rules in the language of electronics

Voltage (electical pressure)

Start by exploring voltage, the driving force in any circuit. Think of it as the pressure that pushes electrons through a conductor. Engage in activities like measuring the voltage across different points in a simple battery-LED setup using a multimeter. 

This practical approach helps you understand how voltage varies across components and influences the overall functioning of a circuit.

Current (flow of electrons)

Current is the rate at which electrons flow through a conductor. Visualize it as the flow of water through a pipe. Experiments like creating a simple circuit with a battery and a light bulb can illustrate how current works. 

Measure the current with a multimeter and observe how it changes with the addition of resistors or other components.

Resistance (flow restriction)

Resistance determines how much current will flow through a component. Use resistors of different values in a basic circuit and measure how they affect current flow. 

This hands-on experience with resistors will solidify your understanding of how resistance controls and stabilizes the flow of electricity in circuits.

Step #2: Mastering circuit diagrams

Once you get the hang of the basics, it’s time to move on to circuit diagrams. This part is extremely important to nail, since you’ll have to follow circuit diagrams when building circuits, both simple and complex. 

Decoding symbols and connections

Begin with identifying and understanding the symbols used in circuit diagrams, such as those for batteries, resistors, and capacitors. 

Practice drawing simple circuit diagrams yourself and then progress to interpreting more complex ones.

 Electric circuit diagram symbols and meaningsImage source: https://www.edrawsoft.com/read-circuit-diagram.html 

From diagrams to real circuits

Transition from theory to practice by building circuits on a breadboard based on the diagrams you’ve learned. Start with basic circuits and gradually increase complexity. 

This step is crucial in bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. And if you’re more interested in learning how to read circuit diagrams, here’s a comprehensive guide for you! 

Step #3: Hands-on projects with breadboards

Huzzah! It’s time to build a circuit! Once you’ve mastered the basics and circuit diagrams, it’s time for some fun. 

Building basic circuits

Use a breadboard, a tool for constructing a temporary circuit without soldering, to start assembling basic circuits. Projects like blinking LEDs, simple sound generators, or basic sensors are great for beginners. 

These projects will enhance your understanding of how different components interact in a circuit.

 Basic circuit built with a breadboard

Image source: https://www.elecrow.com/blog/how-to-use-a-breadboard-for-beginners.html 

Experimentation and troubleshooting

Encourage experimentation by modifying these basic circuits – change component values, add new elements, and observe the outcomes.

This process is vital for learning effective troubleshooting and problem-solving skills in electronics.

Step #4: Deep dive into key components

The best way to learn is by doing it. And that’s exactly what this step refers to. Here are the most important components you’ll get to play with. 

Resistors: Understand the role of resistors in regulating current and protecting components from excessive current. Try experimenting with different resistor values in a circuit and observe the changes in current and voltage.

 Resistor parts

Image source: https://www.circuitbasics.com/what-is-a-resistor/ 

LEDs: LEDs are more than just light sources; they are excellent for learning about diodes and polarity. Create circuits that light up LEDs and go crazy experimenting with series and parallel configurations.

Parts of a LED diode Image source: https://commercialledlights.com/blog/lighting-articles/led-technology/ 

Capacitors: Explore how capacitors store and release energy. Use them in timing circuits, like a basic flasher circuit, to see how they can delay actions in a circuit.

Capacitor parts (anatomy) Image source: https://www.wellpcb.com/do-capacitors-have-polarity.html 

Transistors: Dive into the world of transistors, the building blocks of modern electronics. Start with using transistors as switches in simple circuits and then as amplifiers to understand their versatile roles.

 Transistor parts (anatomy)

Image source: https://builtin.com/hardware/transistor 

Remember, each step is an exciting journey in itself, filled with discoveries and learning opportunities. Let's embrace this adventure with enthusiasm and curiosity.

Tools of the trade - Essential electronics tools you’ll need as a beginner

Without a proper set of tools, your dreams of becoming an electronics engineer could be thwarted. 

Here’s what every electronics beginner needs to have in the toolbox. 

Multimeter - your diagnostic best friend

A multimeter is an indispensable tool for anyone dabbling in electronics. It's your go-to device for diagnosing and troubleshooting circuits. Multimeters can measure voltage, current, resistance, and sometimes even more complex parameters like capacitance and continuity.

 Multimeter - basic electronics tool for beginners

Image source: https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/tools/a28084082/how-to-use-a-multimeter/ 

How to select a multimeter?

For beginners, a basic digital multimeter is a great start. Look for features like auto-ranging, which simplifies measurements, and a clear digital display. 

As you advance, you might consider multimeters with additional functionalities like frequency measurement or temperature sensing.

How to use a multimeter?

Start with basic measurements - voltage of a battery, current in a circuit, or resistance of a resistor. Always start with the highest measurement range to avoid damaging the multimeter. Remember, safety first: never measure resistance in a powered circuit and be cautious when measuring high voltages.

Soldering irons - the magic wands of electronics

Soldering irons are used to join components together permanently, making them a staple in electronics. They heat the solder (a low melting point alloy) to create a strong electrical connection between components and the board.

 Soldering iron - basic electronics tool for beginners

Image source: https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/tools/a41977866/best-soldering-iron/ 

How to choose a soldering iron?

For most hobbyists, a simple, pencil-type soldering iron with a power rating between 15 to 40 watts is sufficient. Look for one with a replaceable tip and adjustable temperature control for more versatility.

How to master soldering?

Practice is key. 

Begin with soldering simple joints on a practice PCB. Focus on heating the joint adequately and applying the right amount of solder. 

A good solder joint looks shiny and smooth. Remember, a clean tip is crucial for effective soldering, so keep your iron tip tinned and clean.

Breadboards - your playground for experimentation

Breadboards are used for prototyping and experimenting with circuit designs. 

They are great for beginners because they don't require soldering - components and wires can be easily inserted and removed.

 Breadboard circuit with electronics components

Image source: https://www.planetanalog.com/breadboards-evolve-to-keep-up-with-diverse-prototyping-needs/ 

How to select a breadboard?

Most breadboards are similar, but a good one has a durable back and a clear layout with marked rows and columns. Some come with power rails which are handy for supplying power to different parts of your circuit.

How to use a breadboard?

Start by placing your integrated circuits (ICs) or other components in the middle section. Use the rows and columns to make connections as per your circuit diagram. Use jumper wires for interconnections. Keep your layout neat for easy troubleshooting and modifications.

A few tips for using these tools

  1. Always put the safety first: When using a soldering iron, work in a well-ventilated area and consider using a fume extractor. With multimeters, always start with the highest setting and work your way down to prevent damage to the meter or the circuit.

  2. Keep it organized: Keep your workspace organized. Label components and tools, and store them properly. This not only saves time but also prevents accidents and loss of components.

  3. Never stop learning: Each tool has its quirks and best practices. Don’t hesitate to watch tutorials, read manuals, and most importantly, learn from your experiences. The more you use these tools, the more proficient you’ll become.

Every great inventor and engineer started with these basics. 

Embrace the learning curve, and enjoy this journey of becoming an electronics wizard!

Integrating technology in your learning process

Ready for the real deal? From hardware to software, this is the part where we talk about how to approach complex projects - the simple way. 

Embracing microcontrollers - The heart of modern electronics

Here’s what you need to know about microcontrollers - plus some cool project ideas you can work on with some basic platforms, like Arduino.

 Microcontroller parts (anatomy)

Image source: https://www.circuitbasics.com/introduction-to-microcontrolleres/ 

Get introduced to Arduino and microcontrollers

In the world of electronics, microcontrollers are like the brain of your projects. Arduino, a popular open-source platform, is a fantastic starting point. 

These small but powerful boards can be programmed to perform a wide range of tasks, from simple LED control to complex robotic operations.

Advance with Arduino

Start with basic Arduino boards like the Arduino Uno. These boards are user-friendly and have a plethora of online resources to guide you. 

Arduino Uno - microcontroller for beginners Image source: https://store.arduino.cc/products/arduino-uno-rev3 

As you grow more comfortable, you can explore other microcontrollers with different capabilities, like the ESP32 for WiFi projects or the Arduino Nano for compact designs.

Cool electronics project ideas

Begin with simple projects like temperature sensors or automatic night lights. 

Gradually, move on to more complex ones like building your own weather station, a DIY game console (start by building and coding our DIY game consoles), or even a smart home system. 

The possibilities are endless, and each project will deepen your understanding and skills.

What role does software play in electronics?

The entire point of software - is to bring hardware to life. Let’s learn how to do it. 

Understanding the software ecosystem

In electronics, software is what brings hardware to life. Learning to program your microcontroller is crucial. Start with the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment), which is beginner-friendly and has extensive community support.

 Overview of Arduino IDE 2

Image source: https://docs.arduino.cc/software/ide-v2/tutorials/getting-started-ide-v2 

Learn basic programming concepts

Familiarize yourself with fundamental programming concepts such as variables, control structures (like loops and conditionals), functions, and libraries

Start with simple sketches (Arduino programs) to blink an LED and gradually move to more complex codes controlling multiple components.

Software-hardware integration

Learn how software interacts with hardware. Practice writing programs that read sensor data, control motors, or even communicate with other devices. This integration is key to creating interactive and responsive projects.

Some tips before you start integrating technology into your electronics learning journey

  • Start small and expand: Begin with small, manageable projects and gradually incorporate more complex elements. This approach helps in building confidence and understanding.

  • Utilize online resources: There's a wealth of information available online, including tutorials, forums, and project guides. Platforms like GitHub also offer open-source codes that you can study and modify.

  • Experiment and iterate: Don’t be afraid to experiment with your code and hardware. The trial-and-error process is a valuable learning experience in electronics and programming.

  • Join a community: Engaging with a community can greatly enhance your learning. Join online forums, local clubs, or hackathons to share ideas, get feedback, and learn from others’ experiences.

Integrating technology into your learning journey in electronics not only makes the process more engaging but also prepares you for the future of electronics. Keep exploring, keep experimenting, and watch as your ideas come to life! 

Practical projects to enhance learning (they’re really cool)

Here are some cool projects you can try working on. These projects will help you fully master the basics of electronics and get that satisfaction from building your very first, fully-working electronics project! 

Project #1: LED Blinker

Our goal here is to create a simple circuit to blink an LED using an Arduino. 

For this project, you’ll need: 

  • Arduino Uno
  • LED
  • 220-ohm resistor
  • Breadboard
  • Jumper wires

 LED blinker electronics project connected in a circuit with Arduino

Image source: https://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/BuiltInExamples/Blink 

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Set up the breadboard: Insert the LED into the breadboard. Connect the longer leg (anode) to one of the digital pins on the Arduino (e.g., pin 13) using a jumper wire.

  2. Add a resistor: Connect the shorter leg (cathode) of the LED to one end of the resistor. This resistor prevents the LED from burning out due to excessive current.

  3. Complete the circuit: Connect the other end of the resistor to the GND (ground) pin on the Arduino.

  4. Program the Arduino: Write a simple code in the Arduino IDE to turn the LED on and off in intervals. Upload the code to the Arduino board.

  5. Observe and celebrate: Watch the LED blink in the rhythm set by your code.

Project #2: Temperature sensor

Our goal here is to build a circuit that measures and displays temperature readings. 

For this project, you’ll need:

  • Arduino Uno
  • TMP36 temperature sensor
  • Breadboard
  • Jumper wires

 Temperature sensor electronics project connected in circuit with ArduinoImage source: https://randomnerdtutorials.com/guide-for-ds18b20-temperature-sensor-with-arduino/ 

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Sensor setup: Place the TMP36 sensor on the breadboard. Connect its left pin (facing the flat side) to 5V on the Arduino, the right pin to GND, and the middle pin to A0 (analog input).

  2. Programming: Write a program in the Arduino IDE to read the voltage from the sensor, convert it to temperature, and print the result to the Serial Monitor.

  3. Calibration and testing: Upload the code to the Arduino and open the Serial Monitor. Test the sensor by warming it gently with your hand and observe the change in temperature.

Project #3: Simple burglar alarm

Our goal here is to create a basic security system that triggers an alarm when a sensor is activated. 

For this project, you’ll need: 

  • Arduino Uno
  • Buzzer
  • Photoresistor (light sensor)
  • 10k-ohm resistor
  • Breadboard
  • Jumper wires

 Simple burglar alarm electronics project connected in a circuit with Arduino

Image source: https://www.hackster.io/asmodeus_eous/burglar-alarm-with-arduino-417a32 

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Circuit assembly: Connect the photoresistor and the 10k-ohm resistor in a voltage divider configuration on the breadboard. Connect one end to 5V, the other to GND, and the middle point to A0 on the Arduino.

  2. Add the buzzer: Connect the buzzer to one of the digital pins (e.g., pin 8) and the other end to GND.

  3. Alarm code: Program the Arduino to read the light level. Set a threshold value below which the buzzer is activated, simulating an alarm.

  4. Test your alarm: Cover the photoresistor to simulate darkness (as if a burglar covers a window). The buzzer should sound, indicating the alarm is triggered.

Before you start building your electronics gadgets

The biggest tip we have for you is - try dipping your toes in electronics with our DIY STEM kits! We’ve got a ton of electronics projects already prepared for you - from DIY gaming consoles to DIY smartwatches and DIY voice assistants. 

You’re guaranteed to love it. And every single one of our projects will take you under 4 hours to fully build and code. 

Our usage, coding, and build guides will make sure that you easily overcome every obstacle on your road. 

CircuitMess DIY game console and CircuitBlocks coding platform

And if you’re, by any chance, looking how to introduce electronics and AI to your kids, you’re in the right place. We’ve prepared a detailed guide on how to do exactly that. 

Don’t worry - it works even if you’re an adult. We know that these are hard areas to get comfortable working in. You’ve got our unyielding support. 

Start on your electronics journey (and never look back!)

From understanding the basic concepts of voltage, current, and resistance, to mastering the art of soldering and PCB design, each step is a building block towards a deeper understanding and appreciation of electronics.

It's a path filled with exciting discoveries, creative challenges, and endless opportunities for personal and professional growth. 

So, keep experimenting, keep learning, and most importantly, enjoy every step of this fascinating journey. We’re with you on this one, from start to finish. Get one of CircuitMess STEM kits and start learning electronics – the super cool way.

Finally, here's to all the future projects, innovations, and adventures that await you in the wonderful world of electronics! Let’s do this thing. 

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/stem-teaching-strategies 2023-12-14T10:49:57+01:00 2024-04-12T12:00:20+02:00 STEM Teaching Strategies for Your Classroom: How to Elevate the Education Experience Albert Gajšak More

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If you're reading this, the chances are that you're looking for ways to make the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum in your classroom more engaging.

You're in the right place—we've prepared a brief (we know you're busy!) overview of STEM education, its challenges, and proven strategies for success.

STEM education: what does it really mean?

As you've probably seen with your students, memorizing formulas does not a successful STEM lesson make.

Instead, STEM education should aim to make STEM concepts understandable and less abstract. Let's say you were teaching a lesson about fluid conductivity, for example.

A good approach would be to accompany the theory with visual aids like the one below.

Ions releasing from salt

Image source: Atlas Scientific

But it would be even more effective to let the students see firsthand how the concept works in practice.

Salt, water, wires, an, LED, and a few other materials are all the students need to construct a basic circuit that demonstrates the conductivity of saltwater. Much better than merely showing a presentation about positive charge, ions, and electrical current theory, right?

Salt water conducting electricity experiment

Image source: Circuits Gallery

It's STEM activities like these that truly engage students. They help learners visualize problems, develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as understand the STEM subjects at hand better.

Real-world applications of STEM education

To continue with our example, such a vivid demonstration of fluid conductivity could be an excellent way to warn the students about why we need to be careful with electricity around water.

Such relevant, real-life applications of science concepts are always more memorable when they connect classroom learning with the students' own experiences.

Ultimately, when students develop a sense of how things taught in STEM lessons are applied in real life, it can show them the potential impact of their knowledge in everyday situations, possibly inspiring future innovation and an interest in STEM jobs.

Wouldn't it feel amazing to know that your classroom might be where a student first thought, "Hey, this stuff actually matters!"?

What are the main challenges in STEM teaching?

If it was up to educators, all students would have access to well-designed STEM programs, complete with the latest technology and fully equipped labs to experiment and explore.

But the reality is often different.

A lot of schools have to juggle tight budgets and limited resources, which can make it tough to give students that high-tech, firsthand learning experience every STEM teacher dreams of.

The lack of relevant materials, in turn, frequently results in demotivated students who struggle to see the connection between their classroom STEM experiences and the real world.

You can see how this creates a cycle where a lack of quality STEM education leads to limited engagement. Luckily, there are multiple ways to break this cycle and enable students to explore the world of STEM, even with limited resources.

How to face them?

The first factor that you can change is the learning environment itself. In fact, the research staff at Accelerate Learning considers the environment one of the main factors that teachers can control, even with budget constraints.

Challenges of STEM education for teachers

Image source: Accelerate Learning

So, how do you change the environment in your class?

You could start by reorganizing the classroom to facilitate teamwork. This simple shift can turn your class into a place of collaboration, where students develop interpersonal skills, solve problems together, and feel more involved.

The next element to consider is the choice of materials used for teaching.

Sure, you can get creative with everyday items for experiments (you can find some great ideas here and here). But even baking soda or AAA batteries can add up over time, which isn't the cost you'd want to bear, especially given that most teachers spend their own money on school supplies.

An average public school teacher spends $673 of their own money per year on school supplies!

That's where finding a STEM kit provider who offers educator discounts can be a game changer. This approach introduces students to tools and technologies that might otherwise be inaccessible, taking their learning experience to a new level.

You can find educator-friendly suppliers for different STEM activities across chemistry, computer science, engineering, and more. Most likely, there's something for your area, too, no matter how niche your STEM lessons are.

Now, whether you decide to work with specialized kits or improvise with available resources, the key is to apply effective teaching strategies that resonate with your students. Let's see what these are.

Best STEM teaching strategies you should consider

Remember, the strategies we'll see aren't mutually exclusive. If anything, your students can benefit from a bit of mixing and matching, so don't hesitate to experiment and find the combination that works best for you.

Hands-on STEM learning

Simply put, hands-on STEM learning means getting your students directly involved in the learning process through physical activities and experiments.

Whether you're mixing acids and bases to observe chemical reactions or creating 3D models in computer science courses, hands-on learning will enhance comprehension, spark curiosity, and encourage students to ask questions in real time.

Project-based learning

Project-based learning takes STEM to the next level because it requires students to apply their skills and knowledge from start to finish.

Rather than just participating in segments of lessons, it's a comprehensive approach where students dive into extended projects, such as building a robot, designing an app, or conducting a scientific research study.

Girl learning STEM skills via CircuitMess project

To do such projects, students need to carefully plan, research in depth, design, execute, and then evaluate their projects.

In addition to applying their classroom knowledge to real projects, project-based education also helps students learn time-management skills. And as they move through multiple stages of a project, they are taught focus and persistencequalities that are crucial in school and beyond.

Collaborative learning

Numerous studies, like this one for example, have shown that collaboration in learning brings multiple benefits. Increased communication and social skills, problem-solving abilities, and enhanced creativity are just some of them.

So, why not engage students with this approach in your next lesson? Math, computer science, robotics, and other subjects from different STEM fields lend themselves perfectly to collaboration.

Integration of technology

Technology in the class isn't just about sneaky TikTok sessions or distracting text messages.

It's a powerful tool that we as teachers should embrace and use to engage students, considering how integrating technology into lessons can transform the way students interact with STEM subjects.

Students are already immersed in the tech world, which gives teachers an opportunity to connect with them on familiar ground. By using apps or gadgets, we can incorporate technology, making STEM subjects more relatable and accessible.

Best STEM teaching success stories

Often, we think it's just kids who might struggle with motivation, but trying out new ideas can be daunting for adults, too. To give you a little nudge of inspiration, we’re going to share two success stories.

These aren't just tales of triumph; they're real-life examples of what can happen when you embrace creative STEM strategies in education.

STEM success story #1

Meet Marianne Green, a computer science teacher to grade levels two to eight. Below, you can see a balloon-powered car and a paper roller coaster, which are some of the projects that her students have created in class.

STEM teaching success story

Image source: Science Buddies

What do these engineering-based projects have to do with computer science, you might be asking.

Well, Green's approach is all about contextualizing the engineering design process used in CS. That's why the teacher creatively linked these analog activities to CS topics such as troubleshooting, computational thinking, iteration, and collaboration.

Clearly, Green's story shows how in the world of STEM, you're not confined to just one discipline. With some creativity, you can build bridges, resulting in an interdisciplinary way to teach students STEM subjects.

STEM success story #2

Similarly, our next story describes how music can come together with technology, engineering, and math to create a truly innovative learning experience.

We know that this may sound like an unusual combination. However, Joseph Kharige from Math Thru Music witnessed firsthand how STEM topics, like mathematics and coding, become much more engaging with the right tools.

In collaboration with CircuitMess, Math Trhu Music used Jay D kits, allowing students to discover for themselves that the art of DJing has a big overlap with STEM.

STEM teaching success story with CircuitMess kits

This approach made learning more interactive, while also allowing students to creatively explore and understand the technical aspects behind music production. In other words, students became creators rather than consumers, which is a core value of both organizations.

The combination of science and music also supported Math Thru Music's mission to demonstrate the origins of DJing in the context of social justice, along with the entrepreneurial potential of DJing.

As you can see, STEM kits can do much more than simply teach technical skills. They're the starting point, but it's the way you use kits that brings these STEM sidekicks to their full potential.

Integrate CircuitMess kits in your STEM lessons

So, do STEM kits sound like something you'd want for your students?

If you'd like to provide students with exciting and engaging learning experiences related to engineering and robotics, check out our Educators Program.

Partnering with CircuitMess will help you teach hardware engineering, computer science, and encourage your students to create pieces of real technology.

Not sure whether we'd be a good match? Fill in the contact form, and we'll happily discuss how our kits can align with your teaching goals. Here's to you and your students engineering many amazing projects!

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/best-science-kits-for-kids 2023-12-11T13:30:02+01:00 2024-04-22T15:12:26+02:00 10 Best Science Kits For Kids to Learn STEM Skills Albert Gajšak Searching for a perfect science kit for kids? Look no more - we've rounded up our 10 favorite science kits any kid would absolutely love to have. 

Best of all - each one of them will help your little ones learn STEM skills and gain the upper hand in this new, tech-dominated world. 

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So you've heard that kids love science kits and decided to get one for your kid? Excellent!

We'll tell you what they are, what makes them so popular, and then give you a list of ten best science kits to spark your child's curiosity. Let's dive in!

What is a science kit?

First things first, you can't choose quality science kits unless you know they are, right?

Well, think of a science kit as your kid's own science lab where they explore different scientific concepts and conduct their own experiments in an extremely engaging and fun way.

With gadgets like a magnifying glass, test tubes, safety glasses, and other real science tools commonly included in kits, little scientists get to dive into a world of discovery. These kits turn complex scientific principles into exciting, hands-on activities.

And it's not just about observing chemical reactions!

Many science kits focus on other areas like engineering, electricity, robotics, and even environmental science. They offer a range of experiences, from building simple machines to designing electrical circuits.

The variety of options ensures that you find science kits that align with your kid's interests, helping them grow and learn—and that's the topic we'll cover next.

Why are science experiments and kits beneficial for kids?

They say that repetition is the mother of learning. We'd like to add active participation to that, because when kids get hands-on with science experiments and activities, the learning experience becomes much more powerful and memorable.

Need a piece of evidence?

Sure, we've got you. Or, the University of Chicago has.

According to a UChicago study, learning by doing "helps students perform better in science". Alright, but how exactly?

Well, the study found that students who took a hands-on approach to learning had activation in sensory and motor-related parts of the brain when they later thought about concepts such as angular momentum and torque.

Brain scan after different types of learning

Image source: University of Chicago

This finding tells us that it's better to allow kids to directly experience the concepts they're learning about, rather than just reading about them.

And since you can't really fling your kid into space to learn about gravity and planetary motion, science kits are the next best thing.

Besides brain activation, hands-on experiments help kids develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as they learn to hypothesize, experiment, and independently evaluate results.

All in all, when you combine active participation with the natural curiosity of children, you get a powerful mixture that transforms learning into a brain-boosting adventure. Sprinkle some kits into the mix, and you have the perfect recipe for sparking a lifelong passion for science and exploration.

Fun, hands-on way to acquire STEM skills

By now, we've established that there are tangible benefits to science kits for kids.

Unfortunately, just because something is good for kids, it doesn't mean they like it. Broccoli, bedtime, and brushing teeth are just some of the examples.

The great news is that, unlike the reluctant acceptance of broccoli and bedtime routines, science kits fall into the category of educational activities that kids actually enjoy and look forward to.

In fact, kids are really into this hands-on learning style. Research shows that an impressive 73% of students would prefer their science classes to be taught only through experiments, which shows us their enthusiasm for active and engaging educational experiences.

So, what are you waiting for? Educators love them, kids love them, and now you will, too.

Let's find the most engaging ways to introduce science to your little one.

10 best science kits for kids: Our top picks

Ready to see what's out there? We'll help you find the perfect science kit for your kid, starting with a true classic, the MEL STEM collection.

Science kit #1: MEL STEM

MEL STEM is one of the three lines created by MEL Science, a company renowned for its engaging and educational science kits for kids.

As its name suggests, the line focuses on STEM learning by walking kids ages five to ten through projects such as building a printing press, a gyroscope, a hydraulic jack, and more.

MEL Science - science kit for kids - parts and components

Image source: MEL Science

Why it's a good pick

If your kid is easily bored, you'll like this option because it's packed with versatility from project to project. This means that no two boxes follow the same STEM theme, providing a diverse learning experience with every new box.

Pros and cons

Although versatility is usually a desirable feature, constantly changing themes might be a bit of a challenge for kids who want to focus on one area.

This approach may be exciting, but also slightly overwhelming for those who love to stick with one subject and really explore it.

Unique features

Unlike most other kit providers, MEL Science lets you mix and match the kit lines. For instance, you can sign up for both STEM boxes and physics boxes and alternate between them monthly. Just remember what we said about the twofold quality of versatility, and let your child be the guide.

Price

If you decide to pay for the subscription monthly, you'll pay €34.90 per month. The yearly billing option reduces the monthly price to €29.90 per month.

Science kit #2: CircuitMess STEM Box

The STEM Box subscription is a kit service designed by CircuitMess, and it's here to help your budding scientist explore the world of electronics and programming.

With exciting projects like a robotic arm, a DIY smartwatch, and AI-powered self-driving cars, these boxes are among the best science kits for introducing real-world STEM and scientific concepts to kids.

Girl soldering CircuitMess Spencer - science kit for kids

Why it's a good pick

The CircuitMess STEM box demystifies different concepts related to electronics and technology, such as end-to-end encryption, microprocessors, artificial intelligence, and more. These loaded topics become approachable and understandable for kids, thanks to the hands-on projects and step-by-step instructions included in each kit.

Pros and cons

Your kid wants to get into robotics? Then look no further. STEM box always includes hardware components and software elements in its projects, providing essential building blocks for any robotics journey.

From building the physical structure of robots to programming their actions, these kits offer a full spectrum of skills necessary for budding roboticists.

However, despite the clear instructions, the combination of hardware and software learning might be challenging at first, so your kid should brace themselves with patience.

Unique features

While many science kits for kids help little scientists create cool toys, STEM Box goes a step beyond. It allows kids to build real, usable devices that they can use in everyday life. How's that for practical learning?

CircuitMess Wheelson science kit - fully assembled

Price

If you want to try out a kit and aren't yet ready to commit to subscribing, you can purchase a single box for $89. Four boxes shipped quarterly are priced at $65 per box, and eight boxes shipped over two years are priced at $63 per box. Keep in mind, these prices include a special Christmas discount, so act fast and get your kit while this festive deal is still around!

Science kit #3: Smithsonian Mega Science Lab

Next up, here's a kit that charmingly explores classic, old-fashioned science experiments: the Mega Science Lab by Smithsonian.

Smithsonian Mega Science Lab kit for kids

Image source: Amazon

Why it's a good pick

This Smithsonian kit is an excellent choice for kids eager to explore topics such as geology, meteorology, paleontology, and a few more -ologies. There's even the reusable volcano experiment, a classic science fair project that never fails to amaze.

Also, if your kid is interested in similar basic chemistry experiments, you might want to check out this article for more ideas.

Pros and cons

The kit includes absolutely everything you'll need to conduct multiple fun experiments, so you don't have to worry about a last-minute run to the store for extra supplies.

On the flip side, this means that the kit is quite structured and doesn't leave much room for open-ended play or creative improvisation.

Unique features

Many kits focus on one or two projects at a time, which isn't the case here. The Mega Science Lab contains six different science experiments, offering hours of fun and diverse learning opportunities.

Price

You can find this kit for kids available at multiple retailers, each offering it at different prices, varying around $19.

Science kit #4: Snap Circuits: Beginner Electronics Exploration Kit

What if your little scientist wants to get into electronics but isn't quite ready for the complexities of traditional circuitry?

The Elenco Snap Circuit Beginner Kit is a great choice in that case. It's designed with safety as a top priority, making it perfect for young scientists.

Kid playing with Snap Circuit Beginner science kit for kids

Image source: Discount School Supply

Why it's a good pick

The Snap Circuit Beginner Kit makes learning electronics easy and fun. With no tools or prior knowledge required, kids can build cool projects such as AM radios, burglar alarms, and more.

Pros and cons

The kit's components snap together easily, making the creation of electronic devices intuitive.

The disadvantage of such a simplified approach is that it doesn't fully replicate the real-life circuit design, which means that your kid won't be able to experiment with more complex aspects of electronics, like detailed wiring or soldering.

Unique features

Simple components usually mean simple projects, and cool projects often require more complex parts. However, this kit has a unique combination of easy-to-use parts that allow for the creation of complex devices.

Price

The official website lists this kit for sale at a price of $32.

Science kit #5: Kids Beginner Microscope AmScope 120X-1200X

When it comes to science experiments, a microscope opens up a whole new world of discovery. The AmScope Kids Beginner Microscope is the perfect tool for this, helping budding scientists explore the microscopic world around them.

DIY microscope science kit for kids

Image source: AmScope

Why it's a good pick

As this kit is developed by AmScope, a leading retailer of professional microscopes and accessories, it offers a balance between professional-grade quality and kid-friendly design. This means that you get a top-quality tool that's both educational and easy to use.

Pros and cons

The set contains 52 pieces, including prepared slides, materials for a lab shrimp experiment, and many more components needed for an immersive learning experience that shows kids the world that we can't see using only our eyes.

However, considering that this microscope is a serious piece of equipment, first-timers may find handling all those zoom levels and focus knobs a bit tricky.

Unique features

Kids love science and microscopes, but many microscope kits for kids are low-quality and plastic. The AmScope Beginner Microscope is a standout here because it has a metal body, providing robust construction and high-quality optics. It's a piece of equipment a real scientist would use!

Price

The kit is available at the official AmScope website for $50.

Science kit #6: Doctor Jupiter Ultimate Science Kit

Your kid enjoys observing chemical reactions? Alright, how about 135 of them? With the Ultimate Science Kit by Doctor Jupiter, your child can put on their lab coat and conduct experiments for months on end without running out of projects.

Doctor Jupiter Ultimate Science kit for kids

Image source: Amazon

Why it's a good pick

The sheer quantity of experiments to conduct makes this kit an excellent pick for the most curious kids who can never get enough of exploring. Over a hundred projects guarantee that you won't have to buy multiple science kits to keep your kid occupied.

Pros and cons

Besides classic activities like mixing colors by making different elements react, the kit also lets you do more interesting projects, like creating a glow-in-the-dark lamp, or practical ones like making soap that you can actually use to wash hands.

Bear in mindwith all the measuring cups, baking soda, and test tubes from this chemistry set, you can expect a bit of mess. It's all part of the learning process, but might require some extra clean-up.

Unique features

From fizzy potions to soap making, the Doctor Jupiter chemistry set has it all. While most other kits focus on one or two categories, this one truly explores the wide spectrum of chemistry.

Price

The price of the kit depends on the retailer you choose to get it from, but it's usually around $35.

Science kit #7: Wacky Robots

Robotics can sound intimidating, but with the help of Wacky Robots, this area of the science world becomes approachable and fun.

Wacky Robots with parts on a soldering mat

Why it's a good pick

Decade counters. Voltage regulators. Potentiometers.

The terms like these may deter some children from trying their hand at electronics and robotics. Luckily, the Wacky Robots science kit breaks down these concepts into simple, engaging steps. The goal of the kit is to build adorable little bots, all while learning the basics of electrical engineering in the process.

Pros and cons

The kit requires kids to use soldering equipment, pliers, and other tools, offering an authentic experience in robotics. Isn't that much more engaging than merely snapping parts together?

Still, the fact that there are real tools involved means that adult supervision is necessary, which may limit the independence in exploring the kit.

Unique features

The Wacky Robots kit offers just the right amount of challenge to keep kids learning and applying their problem-solving skills while still having fun. The easy-to-follow instructions are there to ensure that the process remains enjoyable even if some hiccups occur.

Price

The kit is available as a subscription. A single set of three robots is priced at $99, a yearly subscription of four sets is priced at $87 per box, and a two-year subscription lowers the price of a box to $79.

Science kit #8: KiwiCo Kiwi Crate

KiwiCo is a well-known name in the kit-for-kids community, and Kiwi Crate is one of their kits that focuses on innovative science projects.

KiwiCo's Arcade Claw science kit for kids

Image source: KiwiCo

Why it's a good pick

The Kiwi Crate is much more than a kit with components for STEM learning through simple projects. Each kit includes additions such as Kiwi's scientific magazine and related DIY activities, inspiring kids to explore beyond the crate.

Pros and cons

In a sea of flimsy, plastic kits, Kiwi Crate caters to parents looking for safer, more sustainable materials. That's why Kiwi's products are often made of wood, cardboard, or other environmentally conscious materials.

However, it's important to note that these eco-friendly projects might not be as durable as plastic ones and may need more careful handling during playtime.

Unique features

In an age where kids—especially older kids—might be tempted to spend all day indoors, Kiwi Crate brings a refreshing change.

Some activities from this line, such as building and flying kites or creating arcade claws, encourage kids to step outside, combining the fun of physical play with scientific discovery.

Price

Depending on the length of your subscription, you'll pay between $24 (one month) and $19 (twelve months) per box.

Science kit #9: 4M Magnet Science Kit

The next science kit on our list explores physics. More precisely, it deals with its prominent field: magnetism. With the Magnet Science Kit by 4M, your kid can dive into the world of magnetic forces through engaging experiments and games.

KidzLabz 4M magnet science kit for kids

Image source: Amazon

Why it's a good pick

Magnets are often overlooked and used simply as a means of completing other activities in science kits for kids. With a specialized kit like this one, your kid gets to see firsthand how magnets work and experiment with their unique properties.

Pros and cons

Rather than just slapping a magnet souvenir onto the fridge and calling it a day, with this kit, you can explore the wider capabilities of magnets through ten experiments.

Note that the kit contains many small pieces, which can be easily lost or pose a choking hazard for younger children. So, your kid should be careful in their magnetic adventures!

Unique features

In addition to pre-defined activities, the kit contains components for building a magnetic sculpture, encouraging your kid to get creative and explore their artistic side, which is a feature that frequently falls out of focus when it comes to science.

Price

You can find this kit in multiple stores, with its price ranging from $12 to $16.

Science kit #10: Thames & Kosmos Nanotech

The last item on our list is something you probably haven't considered before: a nanotechnology kit. Created by Thames & Kosmos, this kit aims to introduce young learners to advanced science.

Thames & Kosmos nanotechnology kit for kids

Image source: Thames & Kosmos

Why it's a good pick

If your kid has already dabbled in the worlds of biology, chemistry, or astronomy, they will be intrigued by a new field to explore. This kit is an excellent introduction to a field that's shaping our future, providing a fresh learning experience beyond traditional science subjects.

Pros and cons

The Nanotechnology Kit contains both scaled-up models and real nanomaterials, making abstract concepts tangible and understandable.

However, because of the sophisticated nature of the materials and concepts, it may be more suitable for older kids with a strong interest in science.

Unique features

Simply put, the topic of this kit is what makes it unique—not many kits (if any!) explore nanotechnology.

Price

The science kit is sold at around $125.

Which science kit for kids is the best one?

Picking the best science kits for your little one can be as tricky as lab experiments themselves. Seeing as your kit of choice should make science fun and engaging, it's vital to follow your child's interest.

If your kid is all about robots, then go for a robotics kit. For those who love variety, select a kit that's jam-packed with different scientific disciplines.

Remember, the perfect kit is the one that gets your kid so excited about learning and exploring that they can barely sleep at night!

So, whether your kid is dazzled by the mysteries of the solar system or intrigued by the idea of growing their own crystals, listen to what they have to say, and you'll have your answer.

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/diy-christmas-gifts-for-kids 2023-11-30T13:24:19+01:00 2024-04-22T15:12:06+02:00 10 DIY Christmas Gifts For Kids That They Can Build From Scratch Albert Gajšak Step into the enchanting realm of creative gift-giving with our newest blog post! Uncover 10 delightful DIY Christmas gifts for kids, from personalized LEGO trays to functional smartwatches. These projects promise lasting memories and skill development. Unwrap the joy of hands-on creativity this holiday season. Explore the full article for a magical experience and find the perfect fit for your kids! 

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Christmas gift-giving is somewhat of a puzzle each year, especially when it comes to finding the perfect present for kids who are known for their fickle interests.

This year, you could go a different route and try out DIY Christmas gifts. Why?

The real charm of DIY gifts is that when kids engage in the creation or assembly of their presents, they develop a deeper appreciation and connection to them. It's not just about the end product, but the journey of making something with their own hands.

So, are you ready to explore the gift ideas your kids will enjoy making? Let's dive in!

What kind of Christmas gifts can your kids build from scratch?

Of course, you shouldn't gift your kid with an IKEA TV bench kit that just happens to be the perfect size to fit into your living room. Although completely DIY in nature, that's not a way to ignite their excitement.

Instead, think about simpler, fun, and more engaging projects that inspire creativity.

Options like holiday season ornaments or fun edible gifts are always great. They allow your kids to explore their artistic side, perfecting their fine motor skills along the way.

On the other hand, tech-oriented projects nurture a different set of skills, such as problem-solving and critical thinking. Simple robotics kits, DIY electronics, or basic coding projects can be both fun and educational, offering a perfect introduction to the world of STEM.

Before we start exploring our homemade gift ideas, let's remember the true essence of these projects.

Each one offers a unique opportunity for your children to learn, create, and explore new skills, all while making unforgettable memories.

10 best DIY Christmas gifts for your kids

Some of the gift ideas we'll see are 100% DIY, meaning that you'll use household items for your materials.

Here, you have an opportunity to turn DIY activities into something truly special. Rather than letting your kid scavenge for materials, you can prepare and beautifully package everything they'll need.

This thoughtful approach turns a simple project into a cute, personalized gift that they'll be excited to open and create.

For those who prefer a more streamlined process, we've also included ready-made kits on the list. These are great because everything's already in there, ready to roll. Perfect for when life's a bit hectic, which is pretty much the norm around Christmas!

No matter which way you go, these homemade gifts will be a wonderful surprise for the kids to find under the Christmas tree.

Gift #1: DIY LEGO tray

We'll start our list with something fun yet practical.

If your child enjoys building with LEGO, you probably constantly have stray bricks scattered around the house.

A DIY LEGO tray is a fantastic way to keep those tiny pieces organized, and it also adds a special touch to your child’s play area.

DIY LEGO tray Christmas gift for kids

Image source: Somewhat Simple

It's a great opportunity for a family crafting session, creating a unique gift that's both thoughtful and useful.

For the basic version, you'll need a base plate and a picture frame that match in size. That's it!

However, we encourage you to include some glitter or stickers in this practical gift to transform it into a canvas for your child's art, letting them personalize the tray.

Pros and cons

The main advantage of practical gifts like this one is their dual purpose.

You can use the tray to stack LEGO bricks, making it a neat storage solution.

The other option is to use it as a display platform for your child's LEGO creations, like a bustling LEGO city or, a spooky castle, or other fun designs.

Now, there's a potential hurdle in finding a base plate and picture frame that match in size. But with a little bit of searching, you can certainly find a great pair or even adapt what you have to fit together nicely.

Gift #2: Build a fort kit

If you've ever draped blankets over chairs and tables to build your own little world, congratulations; you've actually participated in one of the classic engineering activities for kids.

Creating a fort-building kit takes that classic playtime activity to the next level.

You can find many fort kit suggestions online, some of which cater to boys who love playing the roles of young tacticians and adventurers, like this DIY fort kit.

DIY build a fort kit - parts of a build-a-fort kit

Image source: Pretty Purple Door

Combine a fort like this with some boyish educational toys, and you're in for days of imaginative play and learning.

There are also kit ideas that are perfect for little readers and dreamers, which include cozy blankets, reading lights, and of course, books.

Additional components for the DIY build-a-fort kit

Image source: Our Daily Craft

Such reading forts are a fantastic way to encourage a break from screens and foster a love for stories.

Either way, a fort-building kit should contain some sheets, clips or ties for construction, and maybe even some whimsical elements like fairy lights or glow-in-the-dark stars to spark the imagination.

Pros and cons

Most other gifts are quite sedentary in nature.

However, the structures built with a DIY fort kit will get your kid moving, lifting, and crawling. That's excellent physical exercise, especially in the season of binging indulgent treats and Christmas Hallmark movies (don't worry; we won't tell anyone!).

On the flip side, having a huge fort in your house may mean that your living room might temporarily transform into a bustling construction zone, with less room for regular activities.

Gift #3: DIY Snow Globe

Is there a more festive homemade gift than a snow globe? We think not.

If you're looking for a creative and fun craft to do this Christmas, consider making a kit with all the materials needed for making snow globes, such as a mason jar or two, figurines, glitter, glycerin, and hot glue.

decorated DIY snow globes in a jar

Image source: Martha Stewart

DIY snow globes are precious keepsakes that you can display year after year, making this a wonderful piece of home decor.

Pros and cons

The best thing about making these DIY ornaments is that you can create an assembly line, and craft several globes at once. This means that grandparents, mom, dad, family, and friends are sorted when it comes to gift-giving.

On the downside, the globes need to dry and settle, which can test the patience of young crafters. A sweet opportunity to practice patience and focus!

Gift #4: DIY Gingerbread House

When it comes to gingerbread houses, there are two routes you can take.

The first version of this lovely gift encompasses assembling a kit containing biscuits, gingerbread, candies, candy canes, and salt dough ornaments. The end result of such a crafts-related, fun gift may look something like this:

decorated DIY gingerbread house

Image source: Kidspot

Alternatively, you can go for a pre-baked gingerbread house kit.

And for those who prefer zero mess, buying a foam gingerbread house kit is the perfect gift.

parts needed to build a DIY gingerbread house

Image source: Oriental Trading

These options vary in the building difficulty and the time they take, but all of them let you and your child upgrade your Christmas-themed home decor.

Pros and cons

Younger kids and older kids alike enjoy crafting and decorating, so putting up a DIY gingerbread house kit is a good option for children of all ages.

However, if you decide to go with pre-baked pieces, remember that they can sometimes be fragile and break during assembly.

This means that adults could be the ones who end up building the house to help prevent damage.

Gift #5: DIY V8 Engine

In the case your little one is a budding engineer, chances are that you're constantly hearing about high-speed trains, jet turbines, and other engineering marvels.

Sounds like your kid?

Then we know the perfect gift for them: a DIY V8 engine kit!

fully-assembled DIY V8 engine

Image source: EngineDIY

This V8 kit consists of 270 pieces, including actual, moving cylinder pistons. Building a functional engine model may sound challenging, but the detailed instructions make the assembly super easy.

Pros and cons

It's easy to forget about learning during holidays, when school's out. Luckily, DIY Christmas gifts like this V8 engine kit can keep the educational momentum going, blending play with STEM learning.

There's one thing you should keep in mind, though.

While most reviewers are satisfied with the product, a number of them complain about the annoying sound that the engine makes when running.

So that's one more sound to add to the Christmas cacophony, but think of it as the sweet symphony of learning in action!

Gift #6: DIY Smartwatch

Okay, now that we've stepped into the territory of DIY Christmas gifts that get the brain gears turning, there's no stopping.

The next on our list is Clockstar, a DIY kit with all the components you need to build a real, functional smartwatch.

Girl coding her Clockstar DIY smartwatch

After your child assembles the watch (there's some soldering involved, too), they can use it to mirror notifications from their phone, play games, or even play theremin. We bet that's a first!

You can also code the watch and add your own apps to make it even more unique.

In case your kid isn't too proficient in Python, they can still code with CodeBlocks, an intuitive block programming language.

Pros and cons

Clearly, this is a great gift idea for kids interested in electronics, as the DIY smartwatch offers a real-life application of basic software and hardware skills. Plus, your child will sure have a blast making a piece of wearable tech that they can use long after the holiday season ends.

A possible downside of this kit is that it requires a soldering iron, a tool not commonly found in every household.

If you don't have one, you can get it in a hardware store, or include a separate tool pack in your Clockstar purchase.

Gift #7: DIY Game Console

Most kids like playing video games, so much that the excessive screen time sometimes becomes a concern.

Fortunately, this Christmas, you can capture the excitement of gaming in a more engaging way by gifting toys that require kids to build their own game console.

And if you're going all in, why not get a bundle of three DIY game consoles?

3 CircuitMess DIY gaming consoles as gifts for Christmas

Nibble, ByteBoi, and CircuitPet are three CircuitMess game consoles with different exciting abilities.

Each of them comes with several pre-loaded games, and even lets you code your own, creating an opportunity to learn the basics of coding and game design.

Pros and cons

Problem-solving, a deeper understanding of technology, and preparing for potential future careers are just some of the benefits of STEM toys like these. Essentially, a DIY game console of any sort is bound to bring equal amounts of joy and learning opportunities into your home.

Again, since building these toys is a bit more complex than assembling a, say, snow globe, you may need some specialized tools. Make sure you gather everything ahead, so that your kid can start building as soon as they open this super fun gift.

Gift #8: DIY Music Machine

Music is arguably one of the most cherished parts of the Christmas holidays, filling our homes with joy and warmth.

With that in mind, we have a real treat for aspiring young maestros, and it comes with a twist: you can get your kids a musical instrument they can build themselves!

Kids playing with their DIY music machine

Image source: A2Z Science

The DIY Music Machine by Smartivity is a fantastic gift for kids who are fascinated by both music and mechanics.

It's not just about playing melodies; it's about understanding and creating the very instrument that brings those tunes to your child's life.

Pros and cons

This fun DIY Christmas gift is designed for easy assembly. The wooden parts are secured by rubbers instead of glue, making for a cleaner and more straightforward building experience.

However, while it's a fantastic educational tool, the music machine has a limited range of notes, which might not satisfy children looking for a broader musical experience.

Gift #9: DIY Birdhouse

Most of us spend the Christmas Day nibbling on cookies, so why should the chirping birds out there be left out from the festivities?

In line with that, the next idea on our list is a DIY birdhouse that kids can make, decorate, and provide shelter to birds—all on their own.

kids playing with their DIY birdhouse

Image source: Amazon

If you're into homemade gifts, you can prepare the craft kit by yourself: you'll need some scrap wood, screws or hot glue, and a template to follow.

The other option is to get a DIY kit that contains all the materials.

Either way, your kid will get involved in an activity that combines crafts with a lesson in responsibility, as they learn to build a cozy home for birds.

Pros and cons

Just like other arts and crafts projects, the DIY birdhouse opens the world of endless creativity. There's no "right" way to decorate the house, which encourages kids to add details and express themselves freely.

Unfortunately, not every environment is bird-friendly, so it's important to check if your area is a suitable habitat for birds. You wouldn't the fruits of your child's effort to remain empty!

Gift #10: DIY Wacky Robots

When you hear the phrase "homemade gifts", your mind likely springs to photo mugs or knitted mittens. But don't forget that in this technologically advanced era, you and your kids can make almost everything from scratch, including robots!

We're guessing that you don't want to spend the days leading to Christmas running around, gathering FR4 sheets, resistors, and capacitors, so we suggest that you streamline the process with a DIY robot kit.

Wacky Robots can become your best friends here.

Full collection of DIY Wacky Robots with the silicone workmat

These palm-sized robots are a cool idea for any young roboticist looking to explore the fun world of robotics in a hands-on way.

Pros and cons

The hands-on exploration is precisely what makes DIY robots a great gift.

Rather than watching videos about robots on YouTube, your kid has the opportunity to try their hand at building functional robots, learning about various hardware and software topics along the way.

Naturally, building robots is more difficult than watching media about them, so the process may sometimes seem challenging. However, the challenge makes the experience so rewarding, so all the struggles are worth it.

Find the best Christmas gift for your kids with CircuitMess

Some hot glue, an X-acto knife, and a bit of Mod Podge can go far when it comes to crafting the perfect DIY Christmas gift that kids can make themselves.

Still, if you're looking to complement DIY activities with modern technology, CircuitMess offers a variety of electronic STEM kits you'll love.

With CircuitMess STEM kits, children can learn about different technologies like AI, programming, microcomputers, and so much more. So, if you know you want to go in the direction of DIY Christmas gifts, but aren't sure what exactly to get, check out what CircuitMess offers.

See you under the Christmas tree!

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/christmas-science-experiments 2023-11-29T14:14:26+01:00 2024-04-22T15:12:00+02:00 7 Festive Christmas Science Experiments Your Kids Will Love (2023 Edition) Albert Gajšak Immerse your family in the holiday spirit with our curated collection of 7 fun Christmas science experiments, perfect for kids in 2023. From spellbinding reactions to educational wonders, this collection adds a touch of magic to the holiday season. Unwrap the joy of learning and make this Christmas truly special for your little ones. Dive into the blog post now to explore the world of festive science activities that will spark curiosity and create cherished memories for years to come!

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Do your kids love science experiments they can do at home? And are they excited for the Christmas activities that the holiday season brings?

If so, they're going to love these fun Christmas science experiments we've gathered for you. Without further ado, let's explore the magical world of holiday science activities.

The magic of Christmas and science

From ice ornaments, jingle bells, Christmas tree decorations, and Mariah Carey, to the anticipation of Santa's arrival, Christmas brings a special kind of enchantment into our lives.

But what if we told you that this magic extends beyond the realm of fairy tales and into the world of science? That's right; Christmas and simple science can go hand in hand to create unforgettable moments of discovery and joy for your kids.

Child with mom decorating a Christmas tree

For instance, imagine explaining to your child the science behind how Santa's sleigh can defy the laws of physics to deliver presents to every home, or why snowflakes are all unique.

These are just a couple of fun examples of how the holiday season offers a unique opportunity to spark curiosity and ignite a love for science in your children.

Why do these Christmas-themed science experiments with your kids?

Christmas science experiments for kids are a fantastic way to enrich the holidays with educational activities. During this time of the year, you get a chance to turn ordinary learning into super fun adventures that teach kids how the world around them works.

After a science experiment or two, your little ones will start reaping the following benefits:

  • Increased interest in STEM activities: Formulating hypotheses, observing chemical reactions, and practicing other STEM-related skills can open your kid's eyes and help them find the joy of discovery. As they work on more science projects, they'll develop a sense of curiosity for STEM, which is simply awesome.

  • Learning through hands-on activities: Traditional classroom learning can sometimes be abstract, but these fun science experiments for kids offer a hands-on approach. When children see and feel scientific concepts in action, they gain a deeper understanding of how the world works.

  • Encouraging problem solving: Each classic science experiment presents its own set of challenges and questions to explore. By encouraging your kid to think critically and find solutions, you'll help them develop essential problem-solving skills that are valuable in all areas of life.

  • Creating lasting memories: A candy cane will dissolve, Christmas slime will lose its stretch, and the twinkling lights of a homemade circuit may dim over time. However, the experiences and memories formed during these fun Christmas science experiments are the enduring gifts your family will cherish for years.

So, why not squeeze in a Christmas science session between festive movie marathons? It will be engaging, educational, and bring so much fun into your home!

7 most festive Christmas science activities for your young ones

Whether your kid is in preschool, in first grade, or in middle school, they'll enjoy working on these science experiments with a festive twist.

We'll guide you through seven of our favorite Christmas science experiments, give you lists of all the materials you'll need, and show what scientific concepts your kid will learn. Let's go!

#1 Instant Snow

Regardless of the weather out there, you can always turn your home into a winter wonderland. Using just a few materials, you can create fluffy, white snow in an instant, adding a touch of holiday magic to your festivities.

Instant snow - Christmas science experiment for kids

Image source: Elf on the Shelf

And if you're into minimalistic DIY activities like this one, make sure you check out this treasure trove of no-prep STEM projects, too.

Now, back to instant snow.

Materials needed

  • Baking soda

  • Shaving foam or hair conditioner

Step-by-step instructions

Pour some baking soda into a bowl and slowly add shaving gel or conditioner until you've reached the consistency you like.

Don't have any toiletries on hand? No problem; you can use water instead, but note that your snow will be a bit less fluffy.

And that's it, you're ready to decorate your home!

The science behind this experiment

The instant snow science project is a fun intro to Christmas chemistry.

Your kid will learn about solubility, which is a substance's ability to dissolve in another substance. In this science experiment, baking soda dissolves in the conditioner or shaving foam, demonstrating the concept of solubility and how it can lead to the formation of a new substance with unique properties.

#2 Fizzy Candy Canes

For the next experiment, your kid will have to raid your Christmas tree to grab a couple of candy canes.

But don't worry; it's all in the name of science, and the result is a fizzy, colorful, and fun experience that's perfect for the holiday season. We're trying out fizzy candy canes!

Kids making fizzy candy canes as a Christmas science experiment

Image source: Teaching Mama

Materials needed

  • A tray

  • Candy canes

  • Baking soda

  • Vinegar

  • Food coloring

  • A squeeze bottle

Step-by-step instructions

Sprinkle a layer of baking soda onto a tray and put candy canes on top. Next, take a cup and combine vinegar with food coloring. Red or green are wonderfully festive!

You'll then put the liquid into a squeeze bottle, and squirt colored vinegar over the canes.

Immediately, you'll see a fizzy reaction of vinegar and soda, but the canes won't change much. But within 30 minutes or so, the candy canes will gradually start to dissolve and exhibit a unique pattern of colorful streaks.

The science behind this experiment

When you combine colored vinegar with baking soda, a chemical reaction occurs. Baking soda reacts with vinegar to produce carbon dioxide gas. This gas creates a fizz that you can immediately see.

Also, since the candy canes dissolve gradually, your kid can learn about reaction rates—how quickly (or slowly) chemical changes take place.

Lastly, this science experiment lets your kid observe color mixing, watching how different colors blend and interact.

#3 Dancing Popcorn Kernels

Most of us associate popcorn with movies, but now it's time to make popcorn kernels dance. The next item on our list of Christmas science experiments for kids involves creating a lively performance where the dancing popcorn kernels take the stage.

Demonstration of dancing popocorn kernels experiment

Image source: LAB 360 on YouTube

Materials needed

  • A clear jar or glass

  • 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels

  • Two cups of water

  • Half a cup of vinegar

  • 1/4 cup of baking soda

Step-by-step instructions

Fill the jar with water. Add a tablespoon of baking soda and mix it thoroughly. As the Little Bins blog suggests, now is a good time to talk about which solids dissolve in water.

Then, add a spoonful of kernels to the jar. The next part is crucial for the experiment: you'll add your vinegar to the jar. Be prepared; there will be an eruption as vinegar and soda react.

After the eruption has settled, you'll see gas bubbles rising kernels to the top of the jar. When they reach the surface and the bubbles pop, kernels will sink down again, but new bubbles will lift them again. The cycle continues for quite some time!

The science behind this experiment

Similarly to the previous experiment with candy canes, this one also shows kids how a chemical reaction between two elements generates carbon dioxide.

And since gas bubbles adhere to the rough surface of kernels and make them float, you also have an opportunity to explore the concept of buoyancy, demonstrating how gas can lift objects.

#4 DIY Christmas Lights Circuits

What's Christmas without Christmas lights? If you want to get your little one interested in electronics, these sparkling decorations are the perfect opportunity to do so.

It's as easy as building DIY circuits with old, half-broken lights you've been meaning to throw away (and everyone seems to have these, whether we like it or not!)

Fully-assembled DIY Christmas lights circuit

Image source: Nitty Gritty Science

Materials needed

  • Old Christmas lights (fairy lights)

  • Sticky tape

  • Batteries (2 AAA batteries or one 9V battery)

  • A piece of paper

  • Aluminum foil

  • Scissors

Step-by-step instructions

Start by preparing the lights. You'll cut the cords a few centimeters below each light, and strip a centimeter of the plastic insulation from each of the two exposed wires at the cut end of the light cord. Three or four lights are enough for this fun science activity.

Then, cut two strips of foil and fold them in half. Tape them to the piece of paper so that they are parallel.

You'll next tape the exposed ends of Christmas light wires to the foil strips.

Now, it's time for the source of power. Tape the two AAA batteries together so that the positive end is touching the negative end.

Fold the ends of the aluminum strips (these are your conductors), lifting them from the paper, and place the ends of the battery pack against the aluminum strips. You've closed your circuit, and you'll see the lights shine!

The science behind this experiment

By connecting old Christmas lights to a simple circuit, you're closing the circuit and allowing electricity to flow, illuminating the lights.

This hands-on exploration helps kids understand electrical conductivity, circuit completion, and the basics of electronics in an engaging and fun way.

#5 Christmas lava lamp

DIY lava lamps are so simple and fun that they often make it to lists of the best science experiments for kids. However, have you ever thought about adding a Christmas flair to this classic science activity?

If not, now's the time to make a Christmas-inspired lava lamp.

DIY Christmas lava lamp experiment

Image source: Beyond the Playroom

Materials needed

  • A clear jar or glass

  • Vegetable oil

  • Water

  • Food coloring

  • Fizzy tablets / effervescent tablets

  • Glitter (optional)

Step-by-step instructions

To a jar, add three parts oil and one part water. The oil will float above water. Pour a few drops of green, red, or any other festive food coloring, along with some glitter, if you want.

Now comes the fun part: break a fizzy tablet into pieces and drop them into the jar one at a time. Bubbly, colorful blobs will appear and float up! If you have a flashlight, shine it through the bottom of the jar for an enchanting glow.

The science behind this experiment

The lava lamp experiment beautifully demonstrates the principles of density and chemical reactions. The vegetable oil and water, being different liquids, have different densities, which causes them to separate.

When the tablets react with water, they release carbon dioxide gas bubbles. These bubbles attach to the water, causing it to rise through the oil. When the bubbles pop at the top, the water sinks back down.

That's how you get a holiday display that's both educational and festive!

#6 Building a Gingerbread House

One of the most cherished Christmas activities is gingerbread house decorating. While it may seem like a purely artistic activity, it's actually a fantastic way for young kids to explore engineering and fundamental architecture principles.

Kids building a DIY gingerbread house for Christmas

Image source: People

Materials needed

  • Gingerbread panels (or Graham crackers)

  • Royal icing

  • Food coloring

  • Sandwich bags for icing

  • Decorations of choice (sprinkles, candy canes, cinnamon sticks, edible crystal ornaments, candy pebbles)

  • Scissors Pencil and paper for sketching the house

Step-by-step instructions

The scientific method here starts with planning. Use pencil and paper to sketch your gingerbread house design. If you need some ideas, you can find lovely templates here.

Take the gingerbread panels and use the royal icing in piping bags as glue to construct the gingerbread house according to your design.

Once the gingerbread house is standing, it's time for decoration. Use sandwich bags filled with colored icing to decorate the house's exterior. Before the icing dries, you can glue candies and decorations onto the gingerbread walls.

The science behind this experiment

Just like that, you've seen the principles of structural integrity in action. By building a gingerbread house, you've unwittingly tackled the subjects of load distribution, stability, and structural support.

What's more, assembling the walls, the roof, and gluing them together helps your kid's little hands develop fine motor skills. It's a win-win project across all domains.

#7 Homemade Snow Globe

The last item on our list is a super cool combination of crafts, science experiments, and maybe even Christmas gifts for your kid's grandparents—we're talking about homemade snow globes!

DIY snow globe in a jar for Christmas

Image source: Brisbane Kids

Materials needed

  • A jar with a lid, if possible with a rubber seal

  • Water

  • A few tablespoons of glycerin or baby oil

  • Glitter

  • Waterproof glue

  • Christmas ornaments, figurines, or a mini Christmas tree

Step-by-step instructions

Take a figurine and glue it to the inside of the jar's lid. Allow it to dry completely.

Pour water into the jar almost all the way to the brim, add glitter, and a few tablespoons of glycerin. Gently place the lid with the upside-down ornament onto the jar.

Close the lid. Bear in mind that there should be some spillage; you want your snow globe completely full. It's better to have an overflow (that you can clean up) than to have a gap at the top of the globe because it wasn't filled with water entirely.

And that's it: you can flip the jar, shake it, and watch glitter snow gently swirl and settle.

The science behind this experiment

This fun science activity teaches kids buoyancy and the suspension of particles in a liquid.

When you shake the snow globe, the glitter becomes suspended in the water-glycerin mixture due to the difference in density. As they slowly settle, they create the illusion of falling snow.

There's also a lesson in kinetic energy. As you vigorously shake the snow globe, you transfer kinetic energy to the liquid and the glitter, causing them to move and collide. When the energy decreases, the glitter particles lose their momentum and start settling due to gravity.

Aren't these great examples of fun, easy science experiments?

The best time to play and bond with your kids

There's no better time to engage in fun and educational activities with your kids than during holidays when everybody's feeling jolly.

These Christmas-themed science experiments provide the perfect opportunity to not only have a great time together but also learn and explore the wonders of science. As you dive into these hands-on projects, you'll create cherished memories and nurture your child's sense of wonder. So, why not make this holiday season extra special by mixing science with festive fun!

Create long-lasting memories with CircuitMess

The Christmas science projects we've seen are bound to show your kids how fun and easy science can be.

Be prepared; they'll probably want to continue their exploration. In that case, CircuitMess can help you keep your kids engaged while they play and learn with our STEM kits.

Our DIY robots and smart devices are designed to create an exciting learning experience for kids, making STEM activities enjoyable instead of intimidating. So, if you're looking for science experiments that are a bit less "vinegary" in scent but still packed with fun and learning, consider the CircuitMess kits.

We promise there won't be any unexpected kitchen eruptions, just a whole lot of innovative and fun STEM adventures for your curious young scientists. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/kiwico-alternatives 2023-11-28T18:46:37+01:00 2024-04-22T15:11:51+02:00 5 KiwiCo Alternatives You Should Consider in 2023 Albert Gajšak Join us on a thrilling exploration into 2023's top KiwiCo alternatives with CircuitMess! Our curated guide displays a lineup of engaging learning kits, expert comparisons, and insightful tips. Discover the unique features that set each alternative apart and gain valuable insights for choosing the perfect fit. Elevate your child's educational journey beyond KiwiCo - with CircuitMess! 

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Join us as we explore the best subscription alternatives to KiwiCo boxes that will educate and entertain your child throughout the year!

Looking for a KiwiCo alternative?

The fact that you're looking for subscription boxes like KiwiCo is telling us something: you're a great parent! Clearly, you're searching for ways to keep your kids engaged and learning, and that's awesome.

Without a doubt, KiwiCo has set the bar pretty high with its cool range of subscription boxes for kids, such as Panda Crate, Koala Crate, or Kiwi Crate. Still, you should keep in mind that the fun doesn't stop there.

There's a whole bunch of other subscription boxes you can explore, packed with everything from arts and crafts to robotics experiments.

So, whether you're looking for a craft box, a science box, or something that covers a broader range of educational activities, the market has plenty to offer, and we'll help you find the perfect subscription box for your child.

What to look for when choosing an alternative?

Before you commit to a subscription box, you should consider a few important criteria to make sure you're getting the best fit for your kid.

Think about it this way: you wouldn't gift generic tea bags to a tea lover just because you know they're into oolong leaves.

Similarly, choosing the right subscription box for your child means not just going for any "educational" label, but finding one that truly matches their interests and developmental stage.

It's all about getting that perfect blend! Let's explore the key things to consider.

Age groups and target audience

While younger kids generally feel more confident with subscription boxes that focus on fundamental skills and creative arts, older kids enjoy more complex science kits or problem-solving activities.

Beyond the age range, it's important to consider your child's specific interests.

Is your kid a budding environmental scientist, or perhaps a future engineer? Knowing your child's passions and curiosities will help you choose the subscription box that resonates with your child and enriches their learning experience.

Subscription options and pricing

While you don't want your monthly box to break the bank, remember that the price isn't the only factor that determines the value of a subscription. As Erica Carranza, VP of consumer psychology at Chadwick Martin Bailey, puts it:

"The appeal of subscriptions is found in value, access, and convenience."

This means considering not only the cost but also the unique experiences and ease of access these boxes provide.

The benefit of having all the materials delivered to your doorstep saves you time and hassle, adding to the overall value of the subscription. It's this combination of affordability and convenience that truly defines the worth of a subscription box.

Also, don't forget that ordering a longer subscription often comes with the perk of a discounted rate!

Reviews and testimonials

Reviews from other parents or educators provide real-world feedback on the box's theme, the quality and variety of the materials, and the overall educational value.

For instance, does a subscription box with reviews like these inspire confidence?

Cratejoy product reviews - Kiwico alternative

Image source: Cratejoy

Although some customers are satisfied with the box, the reviews above weren't cherry-picked; this particular product currently holds an overall rating of 2.8 out of 5 stars. Thankfully, the internet allows us to find honest reviews before purchasing.

Besides the material quality, you should also look for comments on how much kids love the activities, how the boxes encourage kids to create and problem-solve, and whether the final product of the projects keeps children engaged.

Just look at this next set of reviews and compare them to the ones you've seen above. It's not hard to see which box is the clear winner, right?

CircuitMess subscription positive reviews - KiwiCo alternative


With so many monthly subscription boxes out there, unbiased reviews can be your guiding star, helping you navigate through a sea of options to find the perfect one.

5 best KiwiCo alternatives you'll want to consider

Now that we've explored the key criteria for choosing the right subscription box, let's dive into the alternatives that tick all these boxes and more.

KiwiCo vs. Little Passports

KiwiCo isn't the only provider of subscription boxes for kids that offers multiple topic lines. Little Passports does that too, helping kids learn about animals, craft projects, scientific concepts, cooking, and more.

Depending on your little one's interests, Little Passports lets you choose between the following lines designed for different age ranges:

  • Early Explorers (ages 3-5)

  • Animals Wild (3-5)

  • HOMER Early Learning Kits (3-6)

  • Craft Discovery (5-8)

  • Science Junior (5-8)

  • Space Quest (6-8)

  • World Edition (6-10)

  • Kitchen Adventures (7+)

  • Science Expeditions (8+)

Such a wide variety of options allows you to find the best box that aligns with your kid's interests.

Another fun thing about Little Passports is that each box includes not only materials needed for projects, but also cute collectible items. These collectibles are far from random trinkets; they allow your kid to track their progress through their learning journey.

Kid playing with Little Passports box - KiwiCo alternative

Image source: Little Passports

Adding to the flexibility that Little Passports offers, it's worth noting that they also provide the option to pause your subscription.

This feature is incredibly helpful for families who might need to take a break due to vacations, busy schedules, or simply want a pause in the flow of new boxes.

What makes Little Passports stand out?

Unlike most other subscription boxes, Little Passports doesn't focus only on specific subjects like science or art. So, if you're looking for a fun way for your kid to learn about different aspects of the world that surrounds them, Little Passports is the way to go.

KiwiCo vs. CrunchLabs

Does your kid enjoy some carefully allotted screen time, perhaps diving into the world of YouTube for both fun and learning? If so, they're in for a treat with the next subscription box option on our list.

We're talking about CrunchLabs, a STEM box subscription founded by Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer who's now a famous popular science YouTuber.

Inspired by the DIY engineering contraptions like those Rober creates in his videos, he founded a kid-friendly engineering box subscription that lets kids ages 8 to 12 create fun DIY toys each month.

The monthly subscription to CrunchLabs guides children through STEM principles in an engaging way. Momentum transfer, projectile motion, and light refraction are just some of the exciting concepts they'll explore, turning complex theories into hands-on activities.

Kids playing with CrunchLabs subscription box

Image source: CrunchLabs

In addition to the materials, the clear instructions, and bite-sized illustrated physics lessons, this subscription box also unlocks exclusive Rober's videos, complementing the learning process.

What makes CrunchLabs stand out?

CrunchLabs is a unique subscription box because of its direct connection to the fascinating world of YouTube science and engineering.

Kids who have watched and been inspired by Mark Rober's videos will find a similar sense of wonder and discovery in these boxes. The projects are designed to be engaging and educational, often mirroring the creativity and problem-solving skills that Rober showcases in his videos.

KiwiCo vs. CircuitMess

You've probably heard of Kiwi Eureka crate; the one that teaches kids ages 14 and beyond about principles of science and math. Well, what if we told you that there's another brilliant line of subscription boxes focused on STEM that's designed to be more approachable for younger age groups?

That's right; CircuitMess now steps into the picture, offering an engaging way for kids aged 9+ and 11+ to dive into electronics and programming.

CircuitMess offers two subscription lines. The Wacky Robots subscription is made for the age group of nine to eleven, providing just the right level of challenge and engagement for those new to electronics.

Delivered every three months, each box contains three mini robots.

Kid playing with CircuitMess Wacky Robots

This approach allows kids to either dive into constructing all three robots for a weekend of focused activity or spread the fun out, building one robot per month and steadily exploring the world of electronics.

Also, each Wacky Robot teaches kids about different electronics concepts, such as photoresists, sound synthesis, circuits, and more.

For the age group of eleven and beyond—or for those ready to tackle bigger challenges—there's the STEM Box subscription.

STEM Box is shipped every three months, providing your kid with a unique project in each delivery. The projects revolve around building smart devices or robots, teaching kids about AI, coding, soldering, and microcomputers.

For instance, one of the subscription boxes in this line includes Wheelson; a hands-on lesson in object recognition and autonomous driving.

Kid coding his CircuitMess Wheelson STEM toy

So, in case your kid is ready to move beyond unplugged STEM lessons, CircuitMess subscription boxes offer a dive into real-world, modern electronics, providing practical applications of the STEM concepts they've learned.

What makes CircuitMess stand out?

You can find multiple subscription boxes that explore STEM topics out there, which is amazing—kids deserve fun opportunities that complement traditional education.

However, CircuitMess offers a truly unique experience because it occasionally partners with big names from the realms of entertainment and science. For example, did you know that the CircuitMess Batmobile is an officially approved and trademarked product by DC?

This means that kids aren't just building any toy car; they're creating an authentic piece of the Batman universe, bringing a beloved superhero's gadget to life. There's also a NASA-approved space rover kit, ideal for young engineers.

In other words, this level of endorsement speaks volumes about the quality and educational value of CircuitMess projects, which not many subscription box companies can boast about!

KiwiCo vs. We Craft Box

Kiwi Crate is Kiwi's subscription box that revolves around inspiring curiosity and creativity in kids. If you're looking for an alternative that explores the artsy aspect of child development, We Craft Box is a fantastic option.

This subscription service focuses on inspiring creativity and imagination through arts and crafts projects, with a different monthly theme arriving each month.

Kids playing with their WeCraftBox DIY crafts

Image source: We Craft Box

We Craft projects are generally on the simpler side, and they're geared for the age range between three and nine.

However, this doesn't mean that all boxes boil down to basic materials.

For instance, some boxes let kids explore the world of dinosaurs in an age-appropriate way: by making DIY salt dough fossils.

Kid making DIY salt dough fossils with We Craft Box

Image source: We Craft Box

Each project is designed to let a child's unlimited imagination run wild, offering a canvas for creativity and self-expression. Still, there are photo instructions for those moments when a little guidance is needed.

The instructions help kids complete their crafts, blending the freedom of imagination with the structure needed to bring their artistic visions to life.

Also, this kids' subscription line is all about qualitysomething we know you value just as much as the fun factor. This box often includes supplies from established brands like Faber-Castell, ensuring that your little artists are working with the best tools.

What makes We Craft Box stand out?

What makes We Craft Box stand out is its unique approach to crafting that caters to the whole family.

Unlike most subscription boxes that are designed for a single child, We Craft Box provides enough crafts in a single box for two kids.

This makes it an excellent choice for families with more than one child or for parents who want to join in on the fun. So, if you're looking for a box suitable for multiple kids, look no further.

KiwiCo vs. WompleBox

We'll end our list with a lovely alternative to KiwiCo's Atlas Crate, the WompleBox by Womple Studios.

This box subscription is designed for the age group of 6 to 11. Younger kids can explore with the help of their parents, while older kids can do so independently.

Kid playing with WompleBox DIY subscription box

Image source: Womple Studios

As you can assume from the comparison with the Atlas Crate, WompleBox is a ticket to a global expedition, in which children explore a different country each month.

Each new box includes two STEAM projects that foster learning, critical thinking, and creativity. In addition to the materials used in projects, you'll also get an illustrated book and a fold-out map that guides you through each new country.

And seeing as most kids love collecting stuff, you'll be glad to know that every box also contains a collectible keychain that reminds the young explorers of the countries they've visited with the box.

What makes WompleBox stand out?

Most other subscription boxes involve screens in some capacity, be it through instructional videos or online resources. And there's nothing wrong with that!

However, if you're looking to keep your kids engaged with screen-free activities, WompleBox is your go-to choice.

WompleBox takes a different approach, focusing on a more tactile and traditional learning experience.

This subscription box encourages kids to disconnect from digital devices and immerse themselves in practical activities to explore, learn, and grow without screens.

Which KiwiCo alternative is your go-to choice?

As you can see, the best subscription boxes for kids range from world-exploring adventures to STEM-focused projects, each offering its own unique take on learning and fun.

Whether your child is fascinated by art, intrigued by science, or excited about technology, there's a subscription box out there that perfectly matches their different interests.

We've presented you with the best alternatives to KiwiCo, and now it's up to you to pick the subscription that will spark your little one's joy.

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/introduce-ai-to-kids 2023-11-08T13:32:16+01:00 2024-04-22T15:12:57+02:00 How to Introduce AI to Your Kids? Albert Gajšak Embark on a journey into AI with your kids. In this post, we simplify AI into fun, relatable examples and showcase how it can boost your child’s creativity and problem-solving skills. Explore educational apps, games, projects, and classes for all learning levels.

Don't miss out on the opportunity to inspire your young innovator. Click to read the full blog post and discover the playful side of AI with CircuitMess!

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You've heard of the phrase, you've interacted with this rapidly transforming technology—it's artificial intelligence (AI).

Although artificial intelligence is now an integral part of our lives, it can be challenging to explain it to younger kids. Much like tap water, it simply is there, and most of us take it for granted.

However, you can expect your children to become curious about AI at some point. We want to help you feel prepared to satisfy their young, inquisitive minds. So, let's explore ways to introduce AI to your kids in an engaging and understandable manner.

A quick overview: artificial intelligence explained for kids

Collins Dictionary defines artificial intelligence as:

"A type of computer technology concerned with making machines work in an intelligent way, similar to the way that the human mind works."

Essentially, it's about teaching machines to think and make decisions like humans do.

Computer scientists have made great strides in this field over the past few decades, and now AI has become so intertwined with our daily lives that Collins Dictionary chose the word "AI" as the Word of the Year for 2023, highlighting its significance and impact on our world.

Collins word of the year - AI - artificial intelligence

Image source: Collins Dictionary

Now, most children and young students prefer specific examples of use over abstract definitions. We've got your back; you can find a whole section dedicated to kid-friendly AI examples below.

But for now, let's say that AI is a tool that can help us find information on the internet, play games with us, or even power self-driving cars. It does that by machine learning.

Engineers create machine learning models, which is like teaching computers to get better at something over time. It's a bit like how your kid gets better at their favorite video game by practicing.

These models learn from lots of information. For instance, if you want a computer to "recognize" cats and dogs, you train it by showing it loads of photos.

AI model recognizes cats and dogs through training

Image source: ZDNET

The computer then looks at these images, studies them carefully, and starts to notice little clues. It might learn that cats usually have pointy ears and dogs have floppy ones, or that cats often have whiskers and dogs have big, wet noses.

The more pictures the computer sees, the better it becomes at telling who's a cat and who's a dog.

While recognizing cats from dogs may sound like a straightforward task, AI can do much bigger and more complex challenges.

We're not talking just about improving the efficiency in grown-up endeavors like healthcare or finance. If used thoughtfully, artificial intelligence can be a fantastic educational tool for young learners in school, applied to subjects from arts to coding classes.

How can artificial intelligence help your kids & why is it beneficial for them?

For starters, AI can help your child unleash their inner artist. But, "How could AI be beneficial when it does all the work instead of kids?", you might ask.

It's all about how you use AI.

Imagine your kid writing a fantastic story. Then, they could use QuillBot, one of the most popular AI tools, to check their grammar. Lastly, they could use an image generator to complement their story with stunning visuals.

AI-generated image in Bing Image Creator

Image source: Bing Image Creator / DALL·E

In this creative collaboration, your child remains the mastermind. They decide what to write and how to write it. AI only adds a touch of polish.

Activities like this one are excellent for middle school or high school students who need a little additional motivation to explore their talents.

Next, tinkering with AI-powered gadgets, kits, or apps can foster STEM skills, which are crucial for today's students.

For example, your child can build and program their own AI-powered robot using a DIY kit. Such a hands-on activity shows them how AI can be applied to real-life situations.

Kid coding CircuitMess AI RC car

Of course, coding a robot is no small feat—it requires kids to use their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Even programming in Scratch or other kid-friendly coding languages can challenge them to think logically, creatively, and systematically.

In the same manner, exploring AI-related projects and coding also turns mathematics into a practical, engaging adventure. Young students can discover that math is not just about numbers and equations on a page but a powerful tool to unlock the secrets of the latest technology.

There are also AI reading tools, like www.luca.ai, that help your kids improve reading skills and take personalized reading to the next level by analyzing your child's interests, creating custom stories, and making reading more interesting and engaging.

When you consider these benefits and their interaction, you'll find that when kids start learning about AI, they're not only gaining valuable new skills. They're also boosting their career potential for the future!

Easy examples for explaining AI to your kids

Now you know the theory, but let's not forget about the kids. At an early age, children prefer learning about the world through tangible examples.

Rather than diving into complex theories, it's better to explain AI in a simple and fun way, using examples they can relate to, like the ones listed below.

Voice assistants

Siri, Alexa, or any other assistants that your kid has on their smart devices all work in a similar way. They use artificial intelligence to understand and respond to voice commands.

Siri using AI and ML to respond to voice commands

Image source: X

More precisely, Siri records frequencies and sound waves from a voice and translates them into code. The code is then broken down to identify particular patterns and keywords.

That's how your voice assistant can chat with you, play your songs, and answer your questions.

YouTube and Spotify recommendations

Have you ever noticed that when you watch YouTube videos, the platform suggests more videos you might like? Or when you're listening to music on Spotify, it magically knows just the right song to play next?

Whether you're into unboxing videos or DIY experiments such as the egg-drop challenge, AI recommendation systems have got you covered. They use your past choices to guess what you might enjoy next.

Face filters and effects

Next time your kid is playing around with quirky filters that turn their face into a scuba diver, tell them they have AI to thank for the fun.

Kids using AI photo filters that use computer vision and face recognition

Image source: Vox

Filters and effects use computer vision and face recognition, which are areas of machine learning.

When you open a face filter app, it uses machine learning to quickly learn what your face looks like. It has seen lots of faces before, so it knows where your eyes, nose, and mouth should be. This way, it can apply the filters or effects you choose in real time.

How to teach your kids about computer science and AI?

Now you're armed with explanations and examples, and it's time for your kid to explore computer science and AI in a hands-on way.

Note that building real AI models is not as easy as showing cat and dog pics to a computer. The machine learning processes involve large amounts of data science, coding, and using specialized tools.

However, there are ways to learn how AI works suitable for students and kids of different ages. Let's see what they are.

Method #1: Educational apps & games

There are plenty of quality online resources that help kids learn how to code and understand the basics of artificial intelligence and data science through engaging apps. These apps often come in a user-friendly, gamified format, making the learning process more fun and interactive.

One such tool is called Quick, Draw!, developed by Google.

Example of using Google's Quick,Draw app that uses neural network

Image source: Quick, Draw!

The program asks you to draw an image. A neural network then tries to guess what you've drawn based on thousands of previous attempts from other people.

This can give kids insight into how AI algorithms learn from data and improve their accuracy over time. It's a great way for kids to understand that AI isn't just about doing tasks but also about learning from experiences.

Ambitious students looking for more advanced resources can check out another web-based tool developed by Google, called Teachable Machine.

Teachable Machine capabilities - Google's web-based tool for students

Image source: Teachable Machine

If you want to train AI, you have to provide images or sounds, depending on your project. These can be hard to get by. Luckily, Teachable Machine lets you quickly create your own machine learning models.

That way, you can teach computers to recognize your images, sounds, and poses, and use them to build games or apps.

Method #2: STEM kits

All right, now this is where things get more engaging. A virtual approach to artificial intelligence may be fun, but do you know what kids love even more?

It's holding something they've created in their hands and watching it come to life.

With STEM kits that incorporate AI, your kids can do just that. Remember how we mentioned Siri and Alexa as prime examples of AI usage?

Well, there's an exciting STEM kit available that lets your kids create their very own DIY voice assistant, Spencer.

Kid playing with and coding CircuitMess DIY voice assistant - Spencer

After assembling the assistant, your kid gets to code it, and ask it question after question. From the standard "What's the weather?" to "Tell me a joke!", Spencer knows it all and looks way cuter than your average voice assistant.

By exploring this STEM kit, kids learn about the Internet of Things, AI, voice recognition, and speech synthesis.

Depending on your child's skills and interests, you can find different varieties of STEM kits, each of which opens a world of possibilities to interact with AI.

Method #3: AI Classes

If you think your child is ready to explore AI on a more structured level, AI classes are an excellent choice. They are designed to provide in-depth knowledge and practical skills related to artificial intelligence.

For instance, Udemy classes like this one teach children how to create and code AI models using Scratch. Over the course, students code several smaller AI projects. The final project involves developing an AI chatbot!

There are also classes designed for children with less coding experience.

This Outschool class, for example, uses Scratch and guides students while they train a Pac-Man that avoids the ghost on its own.

Regardless of your child's coding background, there are AI classes available to match their knowledge level.

Method #4: AI-related books and videos

Of course, some children prefer studying the theory before diving into projects. If that's the case with your little one, you could suggest exploring resources such as books and videos about artificial intelligence.

The choice of media is up to you because there are so many subcategories of the field.

Is your child interested in the ethical aspect of artificial intelligence? The technical aspect, perhaps? Or do they want to be guided through specific projects?

Depending on the answer, you can find helpful books and videos that cater to your kid's particular interests.

Method #5: Coding projects

Lastly, once your kid has grasped the foundations, it's time to move to coding projects. These projects encourage children to put their coding skills to the test while exploring AI concepts in a practical manner.

Your kid can start with small, simple projects and gradually work their way up to more complex challenges as their coding abilities improve. This progression allows them to learn at their own pace and steadily build their AI skills.

Here are a few coding project ideas to consider:

  • Simple gesture-controlled video games (think Flappy-Bird-level simple)
  • Dish classifier
  • Toy recognizer
  • Face filters
  • Handwriting recognition app

By developing such programs, your child can apply their creativity, problem-solving skills, and decision-making ability while gaining a deeper understanding of AI.

So, let their skills grow, one line of code at a time.

Teach kids about AI and machine learning models with exciting CircuitMess kits

Although it's hard to beat human intelligence, artificial intelligence is here to stay, so it's good to prepare kids for the future.

Your kid may not be ready to build real self-driving cars just yet, but they certainly can start working on simpler projects with the help of carefully designed classes or STEM kits. At CircuitMess, we're passionate about empowering children for the technologies of the future, and a number of our STEM kits explore AI.

Your kid can build and program robots, make them perform tasks, and learn AI-related skills, all while having fun.

So, pick a kit, and watch your future tech innovator evolve!

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/tech-savvy-moms-dads-trust-circuitmess 2023-11-07T14:57:04+01:00 2024-04-22T15:11:45+02:00 Parent-Approved! Why Tech-Savvy Moms and Dads Trust CircuitMess Albert Gajšak Step into the future of STEM with CircuitMess! Join the ranks of tech-savvy parents who trust us to enrich their children's education. Embrace hands-on learning, spark creativity, and build unforgettable moments with our top-quality STEM kits. Ready to nurture your child's potential?

Click now to explore our innovative world and become part of a thriving community committed to growth and fun in learning!

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You’re wondering how best to arm your kids for the techy future ahead? You're not alone. We've been hearing buzz about CircuitMess from all the plugged-in parents at the playground, and it's got us curious. Why are we the go-to for the tech parent crowd? 

In this post, we’ll spill the beans on why CircuitMess is the buddy for parents who want to give their kids a leg up in STEM. So, grab your favorite snack, and let’s dig into how this cool community is sparking a love for science and tech in our little ones. They're not just playing—they're preparing to take on the world!

Significance of parent involvement in kids’ STEM education

Ever wondered what gives that extra zing to your kid's learning journey? It's you! Yes, your involvement is the secret ingredient in the grand feast of their education, especially when we're talking about STEM. 

Now, why's that so important? Let’s break it down.

Picture this: You're on the living room floor, piecing together a LEGO spaceship with your kid. As you both ponder over the best way to make it space-worthy, there's more happening than meets the eye. You're not just playing with blocks; you're launching a lifelong love affair with learning.

Parent involved in the kids' STEM education

Here’s why your role is awesome

Early exposure to STEM: Getting cozy with STEM stuff right from the get-go means science and tech become like second nature to your kids. They’re sponges, right? The earlier they soak up this knowledge, the better they get at figuring out the world as they grow.

Be the hero they copy: Kids are like little copycats, and guess who they’re watching? You! When you're jazzed about STEM, they catch the excitement too. And hey, it's never too late for you to pick up a new party trick (or science fact)! 

DIY for the win: Rolling up sleeves and diving into STEM projects with your kids is like the ultimate 'learning by doing' adventure. It's about getting those hands busy and brains buzzing.

Puzzle masters in training: Every STEM challenge is a brain teaser waiting to be solved. You're there to show your little champs that giving up is not on the menu. Problem-solving skills? Check!

The bond that builds bridges (literally): It's not just about the nuts and bolts or the facts and figures. It's about those precious moments of togetherness, building not just projects but memories.

CircuitMess is all about this — creating those golden opportunities for you to dive into a world of wonder and discovery with your kids. Because, at the end of the day, it's not just about what they learn—it's about loving the ride there. And that, dear parents, is the magic we're after.

Trust is the most important factor when choosing STEM products

Alright, let's talk about the big 'T' – Trust. It's the most important factor when you're on the hunt for that perfect STEM gem for your kiddos. And it's huge, right? It's not just a thumbs-up for a product; it's about the whole experience – the brand's dedication to your little one's growth.

Here’s the deal: You're not just looking for playthings. You want the real McCoy – kits that aren't just about fun, but are dynamite learning partners. They’ve got to fire up those neurons and turn your cute couch potatoes into mini masterminds.

One more thing – trust isn't just handed out like free candy. It's all about safety and top-notch stuff for your kids. Think 'age-perfect', think 'tough-as-nails'. With our STEM kits, your kids won't just fiddle around – they'll flourish.

Parent watching their kid enjoy with CircuitMess kits

Earning your trust is serious business. It’s like a badge of honor, earned with sweat, smarts, and a track record that shines. It’s what makes parents give CircuitMess the nod – because you know we're all about cooking up the most engaging, awesomely fun learning escapades for your little adventurers.

Parents across the globe place trust in CircuitMess

It turns out that no matter where we call home, from the skyscrapers of Tokyo to the shores of Sydney, we've all found a common friend in CircuitMess. It's heartwarming to see parents from every corner of the planet, each with their unique way of life and learning, unite in their trust for what we're doing here.

And, oh boy, the stories you share about our STEM kits! They're like little love letters from around the world. Here's the scoop on what folks have been saying that's got us blushing and totally humbled.

Positive customer reviews and testimonials of CircuitMess customers

 

CircuitMess works closely with schools and educators

Big shout-out to the heroes in the classrooms – the teachers and schools who are daily turning the gears of innovation in young minds. At CircuitMess, we're not just shipping boxes of STEM goodies; we’re teaming up, rolling up our sleeves, and getting down to the nitty-gritty with educators everywhere.

Here's the lowdown on how we're joining forces with the education superheroes:

Tailored tech tales: No two classrooms are the same, and we get that. That’s why we’re all about customizing our STEM kits to fit right into the unique tapestry of each school's curriculum. It's like having a STEM kit designed just for your lesson plan – because, well, it is!

Teacher tech-boost: We've got the backs of our teacher pals. Through thick and thin, our comprehensive training is there to ensure they’re wielding our STEM kits like the wizards they are, bringing magic to every lesson.

Sharing is caring: We’re not just about the gadgets; we're the whole library of know-how with guides, videos, and all the trimmings to help educators amp up their STEM game.

Curious minds unite: Our kits are like the secret passageways for students to wander into the world of STEM and explore every nook and cranny, turning 'What's this?' into 'Aha!'

Teamwork makes the dream work: We love a good group project, and so do the schools we work with. Through projects that have students buzzing with excitement, we're putting the cool in school and the edge in education.

Kids in school learning STEM with CircuitMess STEM kits

By joining forces with the educational frontline, we at CircuitMess are on a mission to sprinkle a little more STEM magic into the learning mix. Here's to creating a future as bright as the sparks of curiosity we see in every student!

We have thousands of success stories

Roll out the red carpet because we've got stars in the making! Our adventure at CircuitMess is dotted with a galaxy of success stories – each one shining bright with the can-do spirit of STEM learning. These aren't just feel-good moments; they're the real deal – showing just how much value our kits pack when it comes to sparking young imaginations.

Kids learning how to succeed with CircuitMess STEM kits

Dive into these success stories and watch as 'I think I can' turns into 'I knew I could.' 

These stories are the very reason why parents with a knack for tech are giving CircuitMess two thumbs up for being the perfect sidekick in their kids' quest to conquer STEM challenges.

Tech-savvy parents enjoy building our STEM toys with their kids

At CircuitMess, we believe that the best way to learn is by doing, and what better way to embark on a learning journey than alongside your children?

Our STEM kits aren't just educational tools; they're bridges that connect generations. Tech-savvy moms and dads across the globe find delight in building these projects with their children, creating lasting memories while imparting essential skills.

Join the league of tech-savvy parents who enjoy every moment of building STEM toys with their kids, and find out why this hands-on adventure is winning hearts worldwide.

Perfect opportunity to bond with your kids

Who says screen time has to be the only game in town for family fun? Not us at CircuitMess! We're handing you the golden ticket to some prime, quality bonding with your little ones – all while ditching the digital for some good old-fashioned hands-on fun.

Picture this: You and your mini-me, tinkering away, turning bits and bobs into something awesome. It's about those high-fives when the gears click into place, the 'aha!' moments when a lightbulb pops on (literally), and those beaming smiles that say, 'We did it!' This is the stuff memories are made of, folks.

And the cherry on top? Watching your child's confidence rocket to new heights with each project. We're talking about more than just creating cool gadgets here – we're talking about crafting lasting legacies of learning and laughter.

So hey, if you're that parent who loves tech and treasures time with your kids, CircuitMess is your playground. Let's build some memories!

Parent bonding with kids by building a CircuitMess STEM kit 

A quick look inside our STEM kits

You're about to peek behind the curtain of CircuitMess’s world of wonder. It’s like opening a treasure chest in your own living room – what’s inside these kits that has tech enthusiasts and bright-eyed kids equally enthralled?

Lean in, because we’re about to lift the lid on the magic box and show you the goodies that make our STEM kits the talk of the town.

We use only high-quality components

Let's talk about what really matters in a CircuitMess kit – the heart and soul of every little inventor's dream. For us, 'quality' isn't just a fancy label; it's our promise to you and your curious kids.

Inside each kit is a trove of the finest components that have been handpicked and carefully crafted in our office to go the distance. Why fuss over quality, you ask? Here's the lowdown on why top-shelf parts are game-changers:

Tough stuff: Our bits and pieces are like the superhero of components – they’re in it for the long haul. No matter how wild the learning gets, these parts are ready for action, over and over again.

The real deal: These aren't your average, run-of-the-mill parts. We're talking about the genuine article – real-deal electronic components that show kids the ropes of how tech ticks in the big, bold world out there.

Safety first: Hey, we're parents too, and nothing trumps the safety of our little ones. Rest easy knowing that every component passes the 'mom and dad' test, for a worry-free play that’s all about discovery and zero about hazards.

Smooth operators: It’s simple – better parts mean better performance. So when your child's latest creation starts beeping, blinking, or broadcasting, it's all systems go, just as expected.

Smart parts for bright sparks: Quality bits lead to quality learning. We’re talking about deep-dives into STEM that turn 'huh?' moments into 'eureka!' moments.

When you crack open a CircuitMess kit, you're not just opening a box; you're unlocking potential. Because with the right tools in those tiny hands, who knows what they’ll create next? Here’s to building a love for STEM, one quality component at a time.

Everything you need is in the box

Imagine a treasure chest that has it all – that's a CircuitMess kit for you. We're all about giving you and your kiddos the whole nine yards of STEM fun without the runaround.

Pop open a CircuitMess box and voila! You're looking at a mini-laboratory, packed with every gizmo, gadget, and whatchamacallit your child needs to dive into their STEM escapade. No extra shopping lists, no 'oops, we forgot the thingamajig' – just straight-up, ready-to-roll fun.

Parts and components of CircuitMess STEM Box

Here’s the kit rundown:

Gadget galore: From the tiniest resistor to the smartest sensor, every tool and component is tucked in, waiting to jump into action. It's organized, it's complete, and it's all yours.

The navigator: Our instruction booklet is like the trusty map that guides young explorers through the jungles of electronics and coding. Simple, friendly, and straight to the point – it’s learning made easy.

Virtual sidekick: And for the digital-savvy bunch, we’ve got online tutorials and build guides that are like having a mentor over your shoulder – minus the peering. Click, learn, and conquer with extra online support that brings STEM to life.

Zero hassles, all learning: With everything in one box, you're cutting straight to the chase – learning. No detours, no delays; just your child and their curiosity, geared up and ready for adventure.

The family’s in: We’re all about making this a family affair. Our kits are a breeze for anyone to jump in and help out, making for some prime family time. It's the CircuitMess promise – simplicity for you, pure discovery for them.

So there you have it – CircuitMess kits are your one-stop-shop to a world where learning is as easy as pie and twice as fun. We're delivering not just pieces and parts, but an entire universe of STEM exploration, right to your doorstep.

How do we produce our STEM kits?

Ever wondered what goes into making the STEM kits that inspire young minds around the world? At CircuitMess, we believe in transparency, and we're excited to give you a glimpse into our production process.

Here are some behind-the-scenes videos of Albert, our CEO, showing you how we produce our STEM kits - and what kind of tech! 

We love and support hands-on learning

At CircuitMess, we're all about getting those hands busy and brains buzzing! It's our belief that the nitty-gritty of building, making, and doing is where the real learning happens. This isn't just our job; it's our passion, and it's baked into every inch of our STEM kits.

Let's get into the 'why' of it all. Hands-on learning isn't just fun (though, trust us, it's a blast); it's a powerful way to wrap your head around those sometimes-tricky STEM concepts. It’s about turning “I can't” into”'I can” and “I did”! This approach lets kids not just learn, but experience the wonders of science and tech.

How have we woven this into our kits, you ask? It's simple: every piece, every component, and every instruction is a stepping stone to discovery. We're not just talking about learning – we're talking about learning with gusto. So, let’s gear up and get hands-on!

Tangible learning has incredible value

We believe that when kids get their hands on the gears of learning, they're not just picking up facts – they're absorbing the very essence of STEM.

Think of tangible learning as the bridge that takes curious minds from "I read about it" to "I made it happen!" It's about swapping the sidelines for the driver's seat. With every wire they connect and every code they crack, kids are unlocking a deeper layer of understanding.

Let's count the wins of getting tangible:

Deep dives: By touching and seeing the science in action, concepts click into place – no memorization required!

Master problem-solvers: There's no puzzle too tricky for our young learners. Hands-on means they get to solve real challenges in real-time.

Thinkers turned tinkerers: This is where curiosity meets critical thinking. If plan A doesn't work, the alphabet has 25 more letters – time to experiment!

Creative champions: Our kits aren't just about following instructions; they're a canvas for innovation. Kids get to invent, to play, to create.

Sticky learning: When kids do the learning, they remember. It’s learning that lasts and stories they'll tell.

Kids showing off their finished CircuitMess STEM kits

CircuitMess is all about that tangible, touchable, unforgettable way of learning. With our kits, STEM isn't just a subject; it’s a world to explore. We’re providing the map, the tools, and the little nudges along the way to ensure that every build, every project, every 'aha!' moment is a treasure trove of learning. So let’s get those hands busy, brains fired up, and watch the magic happen!

What kind of resources do we have for parents? 

Embarking on a STEM adventure with your kiddo is a team sport, and we’re your eager teammates here at CircuitMess. We’re not just about mailing out kits; we're in the business of building a powerhouse of parent-child duos, all ready to conquer the world of science and tech.

Here's the playbook we provide to make sure you're the MVP of this educational game:

Comprehensive instruction booklets: Our instruction booklets could be your new best friend – they’re clear, friendly, and totally tech-babble-free. We’ve crafted them to make the learning journey a walk in the park for both you and your mini genius.

Online tutorials and build guides: Besides our nifty manuals, we’ve got a digital library of video tutorials and guides. They're like having a personal coach for every project, perfect if you or your child learn best with visuals.

Help at the ready: Stuck or just want to brag about what your child has created? Our customer support team is all ears and always ready to cheer you on. With us, you’re never flying solo.

Community cheerleaders: Join the CircuitMess family, a buzzing network of parents and young innovators, all sharing this STEM-tastic journey. Our forums and social spaces are your go-to for advice, high-fives, and shared victories.

The growth continuum: Your child’s curiosity is ever-growing, and so is our kit collection. From newbie to pro, we’ve got the tools to keep the learning fresh, challenging, and fun.

The lowdown on STEM: Stay in the loop with our blog and newsletters. They’re your digest of the latest and greatest in STEM, filled with insights to fuel your child’s passion.

Parent helping kids assemble their CircuitMess STEM kits

Dedicated customer support is our greatest strength

With CircuitMess, you’re signing up for more than a STEM kit; you’re gaining a lifelong membership to a club that champions your part in your child's learning odyssey. We’re here to arm you with all you need to guide them to greatness. Let’s craft the innovators of the future, one exciting project at a time.

Need a helping hand on your STEM voyage with the kiddos? At CircuitMess, our customer support isn't just a service – it's the superhero team ready to swoop in! We get that questions and 'aha' moments don’t have a schedule, which is why our support squad is here for you 24/7.

Always on call: Day or night, whenever a question pops up or a hurdle appears, we're just a message away. Sleep tight knowing we're on watch!

Your friendly STEM sidekicks: Our team isn’t just smart; they're like your next-door neighbors who happen to be whizzes at STEM. They're here to chat, explain, and guide with a smile.

Quick on the draw: Long waits? Not on our watch. We’re quick to respond because your child’s seamless learning experience is our top priority.

Troubleshooters galore: Got a glitch? No sweat. Our crew is ready to tackle any snags with your STEM kit, so you can get back to the fun bits pronto.

A community affair: Reaching out to us means you're tapping into a collective brain trust of parents and educators. Your experiences add to a rich community wisdom that lifts us all.

Your two cents counts: We're all ears for your feedback and bright ideas. After all, you're the co-pilots on this journey, helping us fine-tune the flight path for all our STEM explorers.

CircuitMess is on a mission to make customer support synonymous with a partnership – because we're in this together, nurturing the innovators of tomorrow and making sure the road to discovery is as smooth and joyous as can be.

Invest in your kids’ future STEM skills and join our community

Ready to unlock a universe of possibilities for your child? By teaming up with CircuitMess, you’re not just picking out a STEM kit—you’re planting a flag in the fertile ground of their future. It’s a place where a community of forward-thinking parents, budding geniuses, and guiding educators thrive and grow together.

Armed with our top-notch gadgets, your sidekick status is secured as you and your child navigate the exciting world of STEM. Imagine the pride as you watch them crack codes, solve puzzles, and light up with understanding—these are the moments that build a confident, curious, and creative innovator.

The future is an open road, and there’s no better time to start this adventure than now. Join the ranks of our passionate STEM family. Let’s fuel the fires of imagination and cheer on the next wave of world-changers. The journey ahead is dazzling, and with CircuitMess, every step is a joyride in learning!

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/subscription-box-for-8-year-old-kids 2023-11-02T13:47:06+01:00 2024-04-22T15:11:38+02:00 8 Best Kids’ Subscription Boxes Designed for Your 8-Year-Old Albert Gajšak You're looking for a perfect gift for your 8-year-old kid? We know that buying a gift for kids of this age can be tough. But what if it doesn't have to be? 

We're here to help you make your decision a lot easier. Check our list of 8 best subscription boxes designed for 8-year-olds and choose the one your kids will love to play (and learn) with! 

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Welcome to the world of subscription boxes, where your kid gets a monthly dose of excitement, education, and endless opportunities for growth and discovery right at their doorstep.

If you're new here, we'll show you around, and tell you how to choose the perfect subscription box that aligns with your child's age range and interests. Let's start by seeing the different types of subscription boxes for kids available on the market.

What kind of subscription box to get for your 8-year-old?

Is your child an aspiring chef? Or a future engineer, perhaps? Regardless of their interests, the subscription box options are diverse.

The industry of subscription boxes is continually expanding, offering a wide array of choices designed for various customer groups, including subscription boxes crafted for 8 year olds.

In fact, the number of box categories might seem overwhelming, so we've compiled a list of popular subscription box categories you can consider.

Play kits

Play kits usually come in the form of a themed story, providing kids with a world of imaginative play and hands-on exploration. Whether your kid wants to be a doctor, architect, or a world-famous musician for an afternoon, there's probably a play kit subscription that lets them do that. Younger kids are especially fond of play kits, which is why many such kits are made from baby-safe plastics or even organic cotton.

Craft boxes

If you have a kid with a never-ending supply of creativity, a craft box subscription is the perfect way to channel their imagination and skills. With all the materials and inspiration you need packed inside each craft box, your kid can explore their artistic side through painting, sculpting, or making DIY projects.

STEM subscription boxes

STEM kits are a box category that caters mostly to older kids, ages 8 and above. They're here to spark your child's curiosity about science and engineering topics. By turning learning into an adventure, STEM kids subscription boxes make complex concepts easy to understand in an engaging way.

Culture and geography boxes

Younger children don't have to wait for their graduation trip to get to know the world. With subscription boxes that explore history, geography, and traditions, your kid can go on exciting journeys without leaving home.

How subscription boxes for kids can help them grow?

It's worth noting that the best subscription boxes for kids offer more than a few hours of playtime during a rainy afternoon. An age-appropriate and well-designed monthly subscription box can serve as a trusty companion throughout each crucial developmental stage of your child.

More precisely, monthly subscription boxes for kids bring the following benefits:

  • Routine and responsibility: Receiving a regularly scheduled subscription box creates a sense of routine. Your child learns to anticipate and manage their special delivery, teaching them valuable life skills such as time management.
  • Organization: A typical 8 year old doesn't really have the organizational skills of Marie Condo. However, a growing collection of subscription boxes will teach them how to manage their inventory and organize materials. No more pencils and scissors lying around the house!
  • Consistent learning: Think of subscription boxes for kids as a steady stream of educational content and activities, promoting continuous learning. With new challenges arriving each month, your child's discovery journey never takes a break.
  • Confidence building: Completing art or science projects can boost your child's confidence and self-esteem by showing them that they are capable of tackling challenges and achieving their goals.

Beyond these valuable skills and personal growth, subscription boxes for kids also offer an added bonus for parents.

Subscriptions often reduce the monthly cost of educational and entertaining products compared to individual purchases, helping families save money while fostering their child's development. What's not to love?

8 best subscription boxes for 8-year-olds

We know—there are so many subscription boxes out there that it might make your head spin.

To spare you from headaches, we've selected the top eight best subscription boxes designed for 8 year olds, ensuring that you find the perfect fit for kids of this age group. Receiving a clothing box is so passé; let's see what active and engaging adventures await your kid.

#1 Wacky Robots

Somehow, the best subscription boxes for kids are always those that allow them to create something from scratch that not only looks impressive, but also teaches kids lessons along the way. Wacky Robots, a DIY electronics subscription line, is one such gem.

Collection of Wacky Robots assembled by 8-year-oldsInstead of every month, this STEM subscription box is delivered every three months. However, each new box includes three new hands-on projects in the form of lovely robot-like creatures.

Isn't this a perfect example of how subscription boxes help kids learn time management, as we've discussed above? If you assemble them all at once, you'll get bored, and if you wait too long, you won't have enough time before a new shipment arrives.

Pros and cons

In a world where education and careers increasingly revolve around STEM, STEM toys like Wacky Robots are your kid's best friend when it comes to preparing for their future.

Designed for kids ages 8 and above, Wacky Robots teach kids about electric motors, photoresists, light sensors, and more, all in a simple and age-appropriate way.

8-year-old assembling Wacky Robots subscription box

Each robot teaches kids about different aspects of electronics, helping your kid to gradually build a solid foundation of STEM knowledge while having loads of fun along the way.

These educational robots promote creativity, problem-solving, and curiosity, ensuring that your child is well-prepared for a tech-savvy future.

However, building Wacky Robots takes some effort and requires adult supervision, especially since they include electronics. So, if you've been looking for a subscription box that your kid can play with while you're doing something else, this one may not fit the bill!

#2 Kiwi Crate

Kiwi Crate, designed by KiwiCo, is a classic among STEM kits. Although the Kiwi Crate line mainly focuses on science activities, some boxes also include materials for arts and crafts, imaginative play, and more.

8-year-old kid assembling KiwiCo's Kiwi Crate subscription box

Image source: KiwiCo

Besides all the supplies needed for science projects, each crate also includes an issue of the explore! magazine, along with ideas for additional DIY science projects that kids can do at home.

You can expect your crate to look something like this:

Contents of the KiwiCo's Kiwi Crate subscription box

Image source: KiwiCo

Note that this kids subscription box is created for kids ages five to eight, meaning that your eight year old can play and explore with younger children, siblings, or friends.

Pros and cons

The biggest advantage of this subscription box is its versatility.

STEM kits frequently focus on technology and engineering, overlooking medicine. However, Kiwi Crates occasionally explore topics such as muscles and organs, expanding kids' educational horizons.

Depending on your child's preferences, that may also be a disadvantage. For instance, if you know your kid wants to build gadgets or smart devices every month, it's better to look for a subscription that delivers consistent content in line with their specific interests.

#3 Little Passports World Edition

When it comes to culture and geography boxes, Little Passports World Edition is our top pick for the category.

The first travel-themed box you order includes a small suitcase, a passport, and a wall-sized world map. Of course, there are also items related to the country of the month, such as the activity booklet, collectible coins, a souvenir, and more.

Contents of Little Passport's World Edition subscription box for kids

Image source: Little Passports

Your kid can use the monthly delivery of crafts, puzzles, and treasures to learn about countries from Kenya to Thailand.

With every new destination, they will uncover treasures, learn fascinating facts, and be inspired to dream, explore, and connect with the world.

Pros and cons

The kit offers more than a list of generic geography facts each month. Each box delivers tangible ways your child can connect with the country they're exploring. For instance, kids can learn about the world cuisine through recipes they can make.

Unfortunately, there's a limited list of countries you can visit with this kit. If your little one dreams of visiting, say, Norway or Peru, you'll have to do some Googling on your own, or book a real flight.

#4 Make and Wonder Box

Don't forget that you can also pick an art box as your monthly box of choice. If you think your kid would be interested in a craft subscription box, you should check out the Make and Wonder Box.

8-year-old kid playing with Make and Wonder box

Image source: Make and Wonder

Each issue of this art box includes illustrated stories, engaging art projects, and all the materials you need to complete them.

What sets the Make and Wonder boxes apart from the rest of subscription kits is their commitment to featuring strong female role models from the realm of art and beyond. A look at past boxes reveals the stories of remarkable women like Zaha Hadid, Frida Kahlo, and more.

Contents of the Make and Wonder subscription box for 8-year-old kids

Image source: Make and Wonder

The leaflets shipped with the boxes state "There are no rules!", meaning that this craft subscription box encourages your kid's open-ended creativity.

Pros and cons

Art plays an important role in childhood for kids ages three to ten, making this craft box an excellent option for eight year olds. Also, Make and Wonder offers sibling art club plans, allowing your kid to embark on a fun craft project with their sibling.

However, you should note that the open-ended nature of these craft projects may not suit every child's preference as some kids prefer more structured projects.

#5 Cubie Box

Representing the dreaded M in STEM, the Cubie box brings an approachable monthly subscription to hands-on mathematics exploration.

The box is delivered monthly, like most others. However, Cubie provides your kid with bite-sized maths practice for every day of the month.

8-year-old kids playing with Cubie Education subscription box

Image source: Cubie Education

With just 10-15 minutes of work every day, your child can engage with mathematics regularly, which turns a seemingly difficult task into something achievable.

The Cubie box is designed on the "little and often" approach, helping kids build positive learning habits. And at the end of each day's activity, there's a little stop sign that reminds children to add their reward sticker to the chart and carry on with their day.

Contents of Cubie Educational box for 8-year-old kids

Image source: Independent

Isn't that a fun way to illustrate progress? Who says that learning maths has to be done in tedious two-hour sessions!

Pros and cons

If you're looking for ways to reduce your kid's screen-time, then you'll like Cubie. Each box contains a printed booklet with fun maths exercises, along with stationery and extras like coins or dice when needed.

That way, your kid gets to focus on the task at hand without distractions lurking from the next tab.

Bear in mind that Cubie boxes are made for kids ages three to eight. So, if you have older children, they may outgrow these kids subscription boxes after they've mastered inverse operations, adding and subtracting fractions, or calculating the perimeter of 2D shapes.

#6 The Foodini Club

If you have an aspiring foodie who can't work with Noma-level techniques just yet, the Foodini Club is one of the best subscription boxes for kids that you can get.

This seasonal cooking subscription line allows aspiring chefs to cook delicious kids meals using fun, easy-to-follow recipes.

8-year-old kid cooking with Foodini Club subscription box

Image source: Foodini Club

The box is shipped every three months, and includes illustrated recipe cards, pre-measured herbs and spices, a 12-week meal planner, a complete grocery list, and more.

If you subscribe to three or four seasons of the year, your first box will also include a Foodini recipe binder, and a silicone spatula, respectively.

Using these items, your kids will be able to plan, shop, prepare, and cook all the ingredients independently.

Contents of Foodini Club subscription box for 8-year-old kids

Image source: Foodini Club

Unlike the Global Eats Club, Super Yum Box, Yummy Crate, or other subscription services from this category, the Foodini Club focuses on seasonal produce, which is a great way to support sustainability and eco-friendly choices.

Pros and cons

From the first box onwards, the Foodini boxes allow kids to build their kitchen skills safely. Since the box requires kids to buy ingredients, they also learn about home economics, budgeting, and planning.

The Foodini kids meals are developed to cater to a wide range of tastes. However, depending on your child's age and the pickiness that comes with it, be prepared that maybe not all snacks will appeal to them.

#7 MEL Space

Want to take your at-home STEM experiments to the next level? If so, you should check out MEL Science subscription boxes for kids, especially the collection dedicated to space exploration.

Gas giants, rockets, and rocket fuel are some of the topics your child will get to explore.

When receiving your monthly subscription, you can expect more than a box filled with cheap trinkets—MEL Science places great emphasis on delivering materials needed for realistic experiments.

Contents of the MEL Space subscription box for 8-year-old kids

Image source: MEL Science

For instance, the box about rocket fuel includes chemicals that you can use to synthesize fuel and actually launch the provided test tube rocket.

Pros and cons

The reason why the MEL Space subscription is often included in the lists of best subscription boxes for kids is because of how realistic the components are. In addition to quality equipment, boxes also include posters with awe-inspiring photos taken by NASA.

While the realistic sets provide an authentic learning experience, it's crucial to handle the included chemicals carefully, following all safety instructions. There's a reason why the box is marketed to children ages eight to fourteen, i.e., older kids!

#8 Mysteries in Time

It's not a secret that a big chunk of students don't particularly like history. The last subscription box on our list can help you change that, at least with your 8 year old.

Mysteries in Time, a history subscription line, provides a monthly delivery of important historical topics made engaging.

8-year-old girl playing with Mysteries in Time subscription box

Image source: Counting to Ten

Your kid will get a world map with timeline, stickers, and magazines that always include a themed story, puzzles, and crafts ideas.

Paired with well-written descriptions of historic events and home life in different eras, these elements can truly help your child step back in time.

Contents of the Mysteries in Time subscription box for 8-year-old kids

Image source: Mysteries in Time

With topics ranging from Ancient China to modern space exploration, this subscription box is a great way to show kids that learning history doesn't have to mean memorizing a list of dates.

Pros and cons

While most kids subscription boxes are shipped in a fixed order, Mysteries in Time lets parents order boxes in bulk, giving them the flexibility to customize the historical journey for their child.

But you can also follow the kit's default shipping order which makes fun transitions between ancient, middle, and modern history.

A potential disadvantage of Mysteries in Time lies in that that the box may not cover all periods and regions, so your child's specific historical interests might not always align with the topics provided. Nevertheless, it's a fantastic starting point to spark their curiosity about history.

Which subscription box is the best choice for your 8-year-old kid?

There you have it; the best kids subscription boxes that you can find on the market. From STEM-inspired play kits that include light-up toys, to crafty takes on social topics, there are boxes for all age groups, including our 8 year olds.

So, which one to choose?

You already know the answer: the one that aligns with your child's interests.

If your kid proudly rocks their NASA t-shirt, you know that going with a space or science-themed box is a safe bet. (Psst! Here's a little something extra for NASA lovers!)

If an apron is a standard addition to their outfit, a cooking subscription is the way to go.

And in case your kid doesn't display their interests as clearly, the best thing you can do is ask them what they might be curious about. This way, you'll be sure to choose a subscription box that lights up their world with excitement, knowledge, and a sense of wonder.

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/7-best-educational-toys-9-year-old-boys 2023-10-31T14:16:35+01:00 2024-04-22T15:10:54+02:00 7 Educational Toys Your 9-Year-Old Boys Will Love to Play With Albert Gajšak Looking for the perfect educational toy for your 9-year-old boy? We've got you covered! 

Here's our list of the 7 best picks. Each of these educational toys will teach your boys about scientific concepts, robotics, engineering, and STEM in general. It's safe to say - there is no wrong choice here. Check out our full list and pick the best toy you think your boys will love to play with! 

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Before we dive into this list of exciting educational toys, let's clear something up—these picks are just as awesome for girls on their quest for fun learning adventures. In fact, they can engage the whole family, including adults, in thrilling educational playtime.

With that said, let's see why, how, and with what educational toys you can inspire a love for learning in your nine-year-olds.

Why should you use educational toys to teach kids STEM?

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are the fields that shape our world. Unfortunately, many kids find them too tricky or tedious to learn, and that's where STEM toys come in handy.

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which has reviewed recent research, kids are natural explorers who love to learn through play and immersive activities. In the exact words of NAEYC,

"Children become more knowledgeable about STEM topics when they are immersed in them."

Therefore, parents who want to find a fun way for their nine-year-olds to dive into the world of STEM should think beyond math worksheets. There are plenty of educational games and creative ways to provide hours of learning fun disguised as play.

And math isn't just a subject we've mentioned randomly. It's the subject that one third of Americans wish they'd paid more attention to in school, finds YouGov.

Chart showing that Americans regret not learning math more in schools

Image source: YouGov

So, if you want to ensure that your now nine year olds don't regret their educational opportunities in ten or fifteen years, it's your task to find age-appropriate and fun ways to nurture their interest in STEM, and educational toys and DIY STEM projects are your secret weapon.

How do educational toys impact your 9-year-old boy’s development?

For starters, entertaining educational toys present kids with fun challenges, boosting their motivation, which is essential for learning. Once a kid is more motivated and starts gladly playing with educational toys, parents will likely notice the following developmental benefits:

Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination

While 9 year olds are not so little anymore, they're still developing and honing their physical abilities. Stacking, threading, and building are just some of the intricate manipulations your child needs to play with educational toys, helping them refine these essential skills for tasks like writing, drawing, and other daily activities.

Problem-solving skills and logical thinking

Kids love purely creative activities, and you should definitely encourage those. However, STEM toys also help kids learn how to identify problems, come up with solutions, test hypotheses, and evaluate results. Whether it's assembling puzzle pieces or figuring out strategies in board games, they'll sharpen their problem-solving and logical thinking abilities.

Planning skills

If your little one is late for school most mornings, with you standing by the door and telling them they only have two more minutes to put on their shoes, educational toys may be just what they need to improve their planning skills.

These toys often require kids to plan and organize their actions, helping them develop planning abilities and learn how to tackle tasks methodically—a valuable skill in school and life.

Imaginative play

Open-ended games and toys lend themselves perfectly to imaginative play, allowing kids to explore their creativity and invent stories and scenarios. One second a DIY robot toy, the next, it becomes a spaceship with a mission to explore distant galaxies.

DIY robots help kids with imaginative play

Such imaginative play does not only make for a fun playtime; it's also a valuable tool for cognitive development.

7 best toys for your 9-year-old boy

When you hear the phrase educational toy or a learning toy, you might initially think of toys designed for toddlers or younger kids, like those from Fat Brain Toys or similar brands.

While it's true that kids can't be too young for exploring and learning, 9 year olds don't want to play with Fat Brain Toys and the like.

Instead, they're ready to reap educational benefits and explore scientific concepts with more advanced STEM toys. Here are our seven top picks that help kids learn essential STEM skills to use in school and beyond.

Toy #1: National Geographic microscope

If your kid enjoys doing science projects and activities, then the National Geographic microscope for kids is the best toy you can get for your child.

This compact microscope is the perfect gift for any nature lover who's curious about the world.

9-year-old boy playing with educational toy - microscope

Image source: National Geographic Kids

Your kid finds identifying plants interesting? Well, exploring the hidden structures of leaves with a microscope is even more fascinating.

As there are several versions of the NG microscope on the market, your little nature lover can also conduct science experiments, observing minerals, plant cells, or chemical reactions in the specimen dish.

Pros and cons

Unlike a simple magnifying glass, this microscope has three levels of magnification and lights, ensuring a great view in every experiment. Also, the kit includes a pipette, slides, tweezers, and everything else you need to start playing and learning immediately.

National Geographic's microscope kit

Image source: Amazon

Moreover, exploring the world through a microscope can help kids develop focus because it requires attention to detail and patience to analyse tiny specimens.

Note that several reviewers have complained about the poor quality of the components, which are mostly made out of plastic. So, if you're looking for a sturdy, indestructible toy, you might want to keep looking. But if you're buying a gift for patient 9-year-olds with developed fine motor skills, this microscope is a great toy to choose.

Toy #2: Infento Pioneer Kit

There are many engineering activities, educational games, and toys out there that require kids to truly work their brains. Still, at the end of the day, these are just... toys.

Well, what if kids could learn about engineering principles, hone their problem-solving skills, and actually use their creations in real life?

With the Infento Pioneer Kit, they can.

Infento educational electric bike for 9-year-old boys

Image source: Avial Bikes

What you see in the image above might seem like an ordinary bike, perhaps a bit quirky-looking. However, that ride is just one of many possible design ideas that kids can bring to life with Infento.

The kit includes hundreds of modular parts that you can assemble any way you like. That way, kids can design and ride various versions of bicycles, scooters, rideable wheelbarrows, and more.

Infento eBike for kids - parts and components

Image source: Infento

Of course, safety is paramount, so kids should build these rides under adult supervision. That's also a nice opportunity for the whole family to bond over a shared project. Adults like STEM kits, too!

Pros and cons

The most significant advantage of this kit is that it lets kids apply their engineering and problem solving skills in a practical context. And imagine how confidence-boosting it must be for a kid to build a toy and then ride it to school! Having a cool ride can also motivate 9 year olds to spend more time on outdoor activities.

However, the price of the Infento Pioneer kit is the factor that might make this kit inaccessible to some parents. With the price of €329.00 for a whole set with no add-ons, it falls into the higher price range for educational toys.

Toy #3: Snap Circuits Green Energy

Looking for an electronic toy that appeals to budding engineers or environmentalists interested in alternative energy? If so, you should check out the Snap Circuits Green Energy kit designed by Elenco.

Snap Circuits Green Energy educational toy kit for 9-year-old boys

Image source: Elenco

In addition to components required for building devices such as a solar light clock or a multi-power windmill, the kit includes an educational manual that teaches kids about environmentally friendly energy and lists educational fun facts.

Pros and cons

With 45 quality parts, kids can create over 125 projects and learn about electronics and circuitry in an approachable and fun way. Besides having fun building functional electrical projects, kids can also get a head start in understanding green energy concepts.

Still, note that the name of the product includes the phrase snap circuits. That means that all electrical components are encased in plastic cases, making this learning toy kid-friendly, but maybe also not challenging enough for 9 year olds who are ready for bigger science challenges.

Toy #4: DIY Batmobile

A great way to step up the way 9 year olds play with educational toys is by adding robotics in the mix. And it's even better when you can combine robotics with pop culture. That's where the DIY Batmobile comes into play.

CircuitMess DIY Batmobile educational toy for 9-year-old boys

This exciting kit is among the best educational toys out there because it allows kids to build an AI-powered smart robot car.

Be warned: this is far from a classic toy that works on the plug-and-play principle. To make the Batmobile track objects or dance, you first have to assemble the car piece by piece, just like Bruce Wayne did. 

But unlike Bruce Wayne, your little engineer will have the advantage of detailed instructions covered in guides about the Batmobile's anatomy, build, usage, and coding that come with the kit.

Pros and cons

Kids love superheroes, and the Batmobile kit taps into their fascination with an iconic hero. This alone can help motivate kids to take on a challenging project.

By building and playing with the car, kids learn about the fundamentals of robotics, understanding how mechanical components come together to create a smart functional vehicle. Also, the assembly process helps kids develop fine motor skills, making the DIY Batmobile a well-rounded toy.

It's worth noting that the assembly process may delight some 9 year olds while potentially frustrating others. Patience and a willingness to embrace the challenge can greatly impact your kid's experience.

Toy #5: NASA Mars Rover kit

Who among us hasn't dreamed about being an astronaut when we were kids?

That's a phenomenon that transcends generations and is still alive and well. If you're little one shares the dream, as many 9 year olds do, you can bring them one step closer to reaching outer space with the NASA Perseverance Rover kit.

NASA Space Rover educational kit for 9-year-old boys

The kit includes the components needed for putting together a replica of the famous Perseverance Mars rover. And this is not just a static model—we're talking about a functional vehicle with four motors that you get to navigate with a Wi-Fi controller.

Pros and cons

As expected, the kit will provide hours of playing and entertainment. But more importantly, aspiring astronauts have to excel in math, science, and engineering, and this toy helps them with the mission.

Assembling the vehicle, coding it, and operating its robotic arm serve as hands-on lessons in STEM.

There are also tons of opportunities to exercise creativity as kids invent missions and find ways to replicate the Martian conditions here on Earth. Whether you conduct experiments on your desk or opt for outdoor activities, your kids are bound to have fun controlling the rover.

CircuitMess - NASA Space Rover educational kit for 9-year-old boys

Note that your child will have to stay patient for a bit more, as the rover is yet to be launched on Kickstarter.

The launch (how very fitting!) is happening soon, and you can be among the first ones to know about it by entering your email address here.

Toy #6: Jimu Robot FireBot kit

Dragons hold a ubiquitous presence in the world of 9 year olds—they're in video games, movies, clothing, and, naturally, toys. So, it only makes sense that tech-curious 9 year olds will love playing with dragon-themed educational toys as well.

If your little one is into these mythical creatures, consider getting them the Jimu Robot FireBot kit.

Jimu Firebot educational toy for 9-year-old boys

Image source: Amazon

Building this educational toy that looks like something from Harry Potter is more than a simple game.

To play with the dragon, kids first have to assemble the dragon using its 606 parts. Nope, this wasn't a typo, there really are over 600 snap-together parts, meaning that parents or other family members are likely to get involved in the assembly over time.

After the dragon is assembled, the real challenge begins: coding the dragon. Sorry, Harry Potter; magic is cool, but STEM is cooler.

Pros and cons

With the kit, kids can use block-based coding to program their dragon to perform various tasks, bringing their creation to life in a fun and interactive way. This nurtures their tech skills while also sparking their creativity as they explore the possibilities of coding.

Playing with Jimu Firebot educational toy for boys

Image source: Best Buy

However, you should note a potential drawback of this kit: you can only access the assembly and coding instructions on the official app. Some Amazon reviewers have reported challenges with app availability.

So, it would be wise to look up whether the app is available in your region and compatible with your device before purchasing the toy.

Toy #7: LEGO Education SPIKE set

For those 9 year olds who love creating brick constructions, the LEGO Education SPIKE set is the way to go.

Designed specifically for educational purposes, this LEGO set contains LEGO bricks and hardware components for learning STEM that include two small motors, a light matrix, and a color recognition sensor.

LEGO Education SPIKE set for young boys

Image source: LEGO

If your kids love playing with the classic LEGO sets, imagine how thrilled they would be to play with the set with programmable, moving parts.

Pros and cons

Buying the SPIKE set doesn't only get you a new toy for kids; there are also five different curriculum units, each containing eight 45-minute lessons. In a way, this kit tailors the educational journey instead of parents or teachers.

However, the set is quite online-dependent, as you have to download courses and have an internet connection to fully engage with it. Depending on your educational or screen-time goals, you could be better off with a more analog toy.

Which educational toys for kids are the best picks?

9 year olds have the most diverse interests, ranging from robotics to creative arts, so there's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

That said, if you want to give your little one a head start in STEM education, you'll be able to help them develop their problem-solving skills by choosing toys that encourage both hardware and software exploration.

In addition to educational games and toys, you shouldn't forget that the best toys also take care of the entertainment aspect, too. So, robots and automated vehicles (like the Batmobile we've seen above) that can bust out silly dance moves are always a perfect gift.

Lastly, if you pick a more complex toy, you'll get the added benefit of quality family time spent together while learning and playing. Board games aren't the only way to have fun as a family!

P.S. If a kids subscription box is something that would work better for your little ones, here's a list of the 10 best DIY subscription boxes for kids! 

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/best-electronics-kits-for-kids-and-adults 2023-10-19T16:25:21+02:00 2024-04-22T15:12:15+02:00 7 Irreplaceable Electronics Kits For Kids (And Adults) in 2023 Albert Gajšak

Electronics are cool—that's an undeniable fact. However, this field of technology might seem inaccessible if you've never had the chance to get hands-on experience with it.

On this list, you'll find our top picks for the 7 top-tier electronics kits for kids. We guarantee adults will love learning with them too. Take a peek and choose which electronics kit you want delivered to your doorstep. 

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Electronics are cool—that's an undeniable fact. However, this field of technology might seem inaccessible if you've never had the chance to get hands-on experience with it.

Luckily, you don't need to be an expert or a technology prodigy to work on projects that get you closer to building, soldering, and coding your own electrical devices or robots.

There's an entire world of electronics kits that provide instructions and guide hobbyists through their experiment-filled exploration.

But before we show you how you can start your electrically-charged journey today, we'll first see why you'll need more than educational YouTube videos and tech books.

The power of hands-on learning for both kids and adults

Have you ever noticed how adults are often encouraged to learn new languages by watching TV shows or brush up on history by visiting museums, while kids are simply handed textbooks?

Other than having fun, there are more reasons why we shouldn't limit the learning experience to textbooks alone.

While traditional methods do have their place in education, we often forget how much more effective active learning is. For instance, a PNAS study has found that students in STEM classes with traditional lecturing are 1.5 times more likely to fail their classes compared to those who engage in active STEM learning.

Chart on how students who partake in active learning fail less

Image source: Empirical Zeal

The impact of active, hands-on learning goes beyond passing or failing classes. It also helps students apply their skills to real-life situations and challenges.

And for adults, active learning means breaking away from the passive consumption of information and embracing a journey of discovery that enriches personal growth.

Hopefully, reading this has motivated you to learn a new skill or to finally realize your dream of tinkering with electronic devices.

Parent and kid assembling their electronics kit from CircuitMess

Keep reading to find out learning about electronics is an excellent choice of a hobby.

Why should your kids learn with electronics kits?

You probably won't be surprised to learn that there's an overlap between the benefits that electronics and related STEM projects bring to both kids and adults.

Well, you probably wouldn't ask your kids to fix your dishwasher after their first projects. Other than that, here's a list of some of the reasons why electrical engineering activities and projects are great for kids ages 9 to 99, as they like to say on board game boxes.

  • Problem-solving skills: You can't just snap together any electrical components and hope for the best. To bring your own creations to life, you have to plan your solution, implement it, adapt if challenges arise, and persist until you've succeeded. That's as fun as problem solving gets!
  • Technological literacy: Most kids know how to operate a ceiling fan, but do we know how it works? By playing with simple circuits, we can gain hands-on experience and actively learn how electronic everyday objects around us work.
  • Confidence building: Successfully navigating the challenges in electronics projects boosts self-confidence, regardless of whether you're a child or an adult.

An honorable mention goes to safety goggles. They don't only protect your eyes, but also make you look cool while tinkering with circuit boards.

Kids with Wacky Robots electronics projects

Safety first, style second.

On that note, we should say that it's recommended to carry out electronics projects under adult supervision.

Now, you don't want to spend ages gathering snap wires, alligator clips, motors, and other individual components. That's why you should get an electronics discovery kit and start having educational fun straight away.

What to look for in a DIY electronics kit?

Not all electronic kits are made the same, so it's vital to look for these crucial features to find the right STEM kit for your needs.

  • Step-by-step instructions: Look for clear and beginner-friendly instructions to guide you through each project.
  • Community support: The best electronics kits come with access to online communities where you can seek help, share your projects, and get inspired by others.
  • Educational value: Choose kits that explain the principles behind each project, helping you understand the science and engineering concepts at play.
  • Coding capabilities: Some kits offer opportunities to program robots and create smart devices, enhancing your learning experience and expanding your skill set.

Of course, the best electronics kit for you or your kid is the one that matches your interests. Make sure you explore the options before purchasing and find a themed kit that sparks joy (and hopefully not wires).

Top 7 electronics kits for kids (and adults)

To help you narrow down your search, we've rounded up seven electronic kits for kids and adults alike. These kits aren't here by accident—they've earned their spot because they offer a fun and educational experience with top-notch components.

Kit #1: CircuitMess STEM Box

You don't want to limit yourself to one field to explore? If so, you should get a CircuitMess STEM Box. In addition to electronics, this kit lets you explore robotics, AI, the Internet of Things, and more.

There are multiple STEM Box projects you can choose from. For instance, you could build Clockstar, a DIY smartwatch. Or, maybe assembling, coding, and driving your own smart car toy would be more up your alley.

Assembling Wheelson, programmable RC car

Either way, you're bound to find an electronics exploration kit that suits your needs.

Why this kit?

There's no better way to learn about how smart devices work than by building them yourself.

With STEM Box, you get a guided adventure that teaches you the basics of electronics and technology.

Parent and kid building their Chatter electronics kit from CircuitMess

You also get to have fun and play with your creations and experiment with their capabilities. In other words, these educational toys are versatile tools that will get your creative thinking gears turning.

Pricing

The thing that sets the STEM Box apart from other kits is that it's actually a subscription line. You can purchase individual boxes in the form of bundles, but you can also subscribe and receive new fun projects every three months. The subscription plans are as follows:

  • $99 for a one-off purchase of an individual box
  • A yearly subscription ($87 per box)
  • A two-year subscription ($79 per box)

Choosing a yearly or a two-year subscription also gets you a free toolbox, meaning that you can grab a soldering iron and start building immediately.

Kit #2: SmartLab Smart Circuits

An excellent thing about electronics as a hobby is that you get to explore this area of science from various angles and different levels of difficulty.

If you're looking for a more basic entry point suitable for young kids or absolute beginners, you might want to consider Smart Circuits: Electronic Lab, a kit made by SmartLab.

SmartLab Smart Circuits electronics kit for kids and adults

Image source: Amazon

Similarly to the well-known kits Elenco Snap Circuits Jr. or Snap Circuits Light, the Smart Circuits kit lets you build various gadgets with snap-together boards and connecting modules to the battery.

Why this kit?

This kit is great for those who aren't yet ready to start soldering. Luckily, there are other ways to create working electrical circuits, and Smart Circuits shows you how.

Your little future engineer can use this kit and play with LED lights, have fun producing sounds, or create gadgets like motion-sensing room alarms. All of this is possible with an easy plug-and-play wiring system that requires little to no adult supervision.

Pricing

You can get this kit for $49.99. The price includes 49 components and a 48-page science activity book, but you'll need to buy the three AAA batteries that power the thing separately.

Kit #3: Makeblock mBot

Not everyone finds circuitry and hardware fascinating. Some are more interested in programming and robotics, and that's where Makeblock's mBot comes in handy.

Makeblock mBot electronics kit for kids

Image source: Makeblock

mBot is one of those robotics educational toys that are as simple as they are fun. After the easy assembly process, you can code the robot to perform simple tasks and make it move around.

Why this kit?

In addition to kid-friendly design, mBot provides an approachable intro to block coding, which is the easiest way to learn programming.

And if you don't mind spending some extra money on add-ons, you can also upgrade this electronic learning kit for kids with additional accessories such as cameras or a robotic arm, expanding the bot's capabilities.

Pricing

The regular version of mBot costs $89.99. If you seriously get into robotics and want to broaden your horizons with DIY robots, you can upgrade to the Ultimate 10-in-1 Building kit for $399.99.

Kit #4: micro:bit

Micro:bit is a programmable device whose size is best explained by its name—it's tiny. Essentially, it's a board with sensors, LED lights, a speaker, a microphone, buttons, and other components that allow you to customize the micro:bit and transform it into any sort of gadget you like.

micro:bit programmable electronics device for kids

Image source: Micro:bit

Fun fact: micro:bit was made by BBC "to encourage kids to learn how computers work, rather than simply consuming media on them". We think it carries out its duty perfectly!

Why this kit?

While other kits tend to have limited use, micro:bit can become almost whatever you want it to become. For instance, you can transform it into a step counter, electronic lock, a musical instrument, an AM radio, or an animation display.

This kit truly gives new meaning to using kits to unleash innovation, creative thinking, and problem solving.

Pricing

While you can't purchase micro:bit directly from the manufacturer, you can find an official list of resellers and find one close to you. Depending on your location, you'll pay $15 and up for the board only. A fully functional micro:bit is sold at around $18.

Kit #5: Arduino Student Kit

Not into cutesy design? No problem.

Arduino Student Kit is here to guide you while you build robots or program your own devices.

Kid learning electronics with his Arduino Student kit

Image source: Arduino

This electronics exploration kit is great for those who prefer a more practical and robust approach to electronics and programming. It helps you explore the world of Arduino, an open-source electronics platform widely used in the maker and educational communities.

Why this kit?

One of the standout features of Arduino is its versatility.

Flexible STEM toys like this one allow you to explore a wide range of projects, from simple experiments with color-changing LED lights, to projects that you can actually use in real life. For instance, you can create a security system that sends an alert to your phone when it detects motion, a smart plant pot that waters the plant automatically, and more.

Pricing

The Arduino Student Kit is sold for $67 on the official website.

Kit #6: KidzLabs Robotic Hand

Let's not forget the role the mechanics have in technology and robotics. If you're looking for a hands-on experience to hone your mechanical skills, check out the KidzLabs Robotic Hand created by 4M.

KidzLabz robotic hand electronics kit for kids and adults

Image source: 4M

Unfortunately, the PCB traces on the hand are purely decorative. Still, the precision required to thread strings and put together the mechanical components of the hand fosters dexterity and coordination, making it a fun and educational experience.

Why this kit?

This kit may not contain motors or batteries, but it's an excellent preparatory project for more advanced electronic endeavors that require precision, such as soldering or working with delicate electronic components. You wouldn't want to damage your own circuits when you get to that stage, right?

Also, the hand's realistic gripping movements offer a preview of the mechanical principles that are the core of real robotic engineering.

Pricing

The manufacturer sells this robotic hand for $18, making this an affordable intro to mechanical exploration.

Kit #7: NASA Perseverance Rover kit

We'll end the list with a real treat for all science lovers: the NASA Perseverance Rover kit. If you've ever dreamed of exploring other planets, here's your chance.

This electronics kit is a replica of NASA's Perseverance rover that you can use to simulate exploration of the Red Planet at your home.

NASA Perseverence Space Rover electronics kit for kids and adults

Of course, to play with the rover, you first have to assemble it, learning about the mechanical and electrical components that make it work. Then, you get to move it around with a Wi-Fi controller.

You probably don't have real Martian rocks lying around in your home, but that shouldn't stop you from exploring like a true scientist. With this kit that includes a servo-powered robotic arm, you can practice collecting samples (that may or may not come from your backyard) and perform tasks, just like the real Perseverance rover does on Mars.

You'll also learn about computer vision and AI as you program the rover to test the soil and navigate the terrain.

NASA Space Rover electronics kit drawing

However, there's a small hitch—you can't grab this kit just yet because it first needs to launch on Kickstarter!

But here's the good news: you can be among the first to embark on this interplanetary science journey. Visit the NASA Rover page, enter your email, and you'll get notified as soon as the campaign launches. We'll see you there!

How to know which electronics kit is the best one for you?

You shouldn't let the sheer multitude of electronic kits on the market stop you from immediately demystifying how motors and circuits work.

The number of choices might seem overwhelming, but you can overcome the challenge by prioritizing your interests. Asking yourself what specific skills you want to learn through STEM activities will help you narrow down your options, along with deciding on how much time and money you are willing to invest.

Don't worry; the right kit for you is out there somewhere, waiting to be found.

And just a hint - if you're looking for a DIY STEM kids subscription box, you should check our 2023 list of best subscription boxes for kids! Or simply pick one of ours! 

Select one of CircuitMess DIY electronics projects

Quality components, fun design, and hardware and software skill-building opportunities are the guiding principles behind every CircuitMess project.

We offer an array of fun projects, all of which come with detailed instructions and are suitable for kids, beginners, or adult electronics and science enthusiasts. And if you already have some experience in engineering, you still won't be disappointed: you can use your coding knowledge to upgrade your DIY projects with extra features.

If you're looking for the best electronics kits that focus solely on hardware, we suggest that you check out Wacky Robots, our line of robotic creations that will help you learn about circuits, soldering, and batteries.

Those who also want to tackle a combination of hardware and software should definitely check out the STEM Box line that teaches the basics of electronics, and lets you experiment with your creations by putting their abilities to the test.

Regardless of your interests, rest assured that we have exciting projects waiting for you.

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/stem-activities-for-kids-at-home 2023-10-17T12:23:58+02:00 2024-04-22T15:11:03+02:00 10 Exciting STEM Activities for Kids to Dive Into at Home Albert Gajšak The importance of STEM skills cannot be stressed enough - and the best way to acquire them (for kids) is through play. We've compiled a list of the most fun 10 STEM activities your kids can do at home. 

No bad weather or lack of extensive resources can stop you now! Each of these ten challenges is designed do be completed indoors (except maybe solar oven), so you won't have to worry even if you don't have a backyard. Now, get comfortable and dive into our article to get the idea for your kids' next STEM challenge.

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If you want to encourage kids to explore STEM, you'll have to move away from formula cheat sheets and onto fun and interactive experiments. With these ten STEM activities for kids, you'll see that learning and having fun actually do go together.

But first, let's see why learning about science matters not only in classroom, but in real life, too.

Why are STEM projects beneficial for kids?

Since the early 2000s, there's been a huge shift in the way we view education. As a parent, you've probably noticed the rising prevalence of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities across school curricula and your child's classroom.

This shift is a fantastic development!

Why? Because science experiments and STEM learning help kids develop problem-solving skills and critical thinking, the skills that are extremely important later in life.

Here are some other benefits your kid can reap by doing STEM challenges:

Speaking of STEM education, did you know that the United States has rolled out a program called Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in many schools? It's a clear signal of just how vital STEM topics are for your child's future.

Clearly, STEM is here to stay, and you probably want your kid to embrace it. But before you order a next-day delivery of an expensive microscope, remember that there are equally effective DIY STEM activities for kids.

What is the easiest way for your kid to explore STEM?

While there's nothing wrong with memorizing perimeter formulas for different shapes, your kid deserves a more engaging learning experience, which you can achieve with fun STEM challenges, activities, and games.

In fact, at-home STEM projects aren't only more fun than the alternative; they're also better for brain development in younger kids.

The LEGO Foundation has looked at dozens of research papers on neuroscience and found that learning through play has a positive effect on children's cognitive, social, and emotional development. The Foundation states that the activities for kids have to be joyful, interactive, engaging, meaningful, and iterative in order to be effective.

LEGO foundation guidelines for playful learning

Image source: The LEGO Foundation

Since it's a bit difficult to incorporate all these characteristics into a single STEM project, it's good to have a variety of STEM challenges at hand.

We know you're eager to start experimenting with your little future engineer as soon as possible. So, take a look at the list of ten fun STEM activities for kids that you can carry out at home.

10 fun STEM activities for kids of all ages

Don't want to leave your home to teach kids essential STEM skills? Well, you don't have to!

These ten awesome activities we'll now see will help your child develop a love for STEM right in your kitchen (although they're also perfect for classroom settings).

You'll be amazed at how a few simple supplies and common materials allow you to explore science, technology, engineering, and math in a fun and accessible way. Gather materials, put your safety goggles on, and let's go!

#1 Build a straw roller coaster

Minimum equipment for maximum fun—this could very well be the title of the first STEM project on our list.

We're talking about building a straw roller coaster, a challenge that combines simplicity and creativity to create an exciting learning experience.

Building a straw roller coaster is a fun STEM activity for kids of all ages

Image source: Instructables

To get this STEM activity started, you'll need a piece of cardboard, straws (plastic or paper), scissors, and glue. These basic supplies let you have fun designing simpler structures.

Some tutorials, like this one, also call for a glue gun and let you take the challenge up a notch.

Whatever version you choose, you can also add on a few marbles and do a marble run.

Watching those marbles navigate the twists and turns is not just entertainment; it's a lesson in gravity, force, and motion. It's a hands-on exploration of scientific concepts that can spark a lifelong interest in STEM.

Building a straw roller coaster for kids

Image source: Instructables

Since this activity is done with straws rather than large cardboard tubes, it encourages dexterity and fine motor skills.

That's what makes it a fantastic way for older kids to put their vision into action, honing their problem-solving skills along the way.

#2 Create a solar oven

Remember the NGSS program that we've mentioned above?

Well, one of its performance expectations involves energy conversion. Precisely, the expectation is phrased like this:

"Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another."

What if we told you that you can teach kids about energy conversion in your backyard? The teaching method is as simple as creating a solar oven (also called a solar cooker).

DIY solar oven - a fun STEM activity for kids of all ages

Image source: Little Bins for Little Hands

By constructing and using a solar oven, your kid can get a hands-on lesson on the transformation of light energy into heat energy.

This science activity isn't as straightforward as most others are, so it's best to follow one of the many tutorials online. Even NASA has a solar oven tutorial; how cool is that?

Most versions of solar ovens require common household materials, such as aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and black construction paper.

Oh, and you'll also need an empty pizza box. Your little scientist will probably be glad to help you get one. 😉

Bear in mind that making a solar cooker involves a fair amount of cutting, meaning that this fun activity is suitable for kids aged 12 and above.

#3 Build a catapult

If you're looking for educational and fun STEM activities for kids that revolve around engineering, look no further than catapult building.

Constructing this simple machine helps you teach STEM and lets your kids learn about kinetic energy. While playing with a DIY catapult, your kid can learn about the concepts of force and motion.

This STEM activity is also another one you can use to showcase the process of energy conversion because kids get to see how the elastic potential energy stored in the rubber bands is converted into kinetic energy when the catapult is released.

DIY popsicle catapult is one of the most fun STEM challenges for kids at home

Image source: One Little Project

Now that we've mentioned rubber bands, let's go over other materials you'll need. These are craft sticks, a plastic spoon—and that's it!

Of course, don't forget to prepare a variety of projectiles of different weights as they are crucial for learning about trajectory and force. Candy hearts, pebbles, paper balls, and mini marshmallows are just some of the items you can use.

Here's an additional idea: you can turn your catapult project into an exciting science experiment. Encourage your child to predict how far each type of projectile can travel. Then, test their predictions by launching the projectiles and measuring the distance they cover.

What a fun, hands-on lesson in physics and engineering, where hypotheses are tested, and discoveries are made!

Lastly, playing with a catapult is one of those STEM activities for kids of all ages. While younger ones can enjoy flinging projectiles around, older kids can hone their engineering skills and dig into the science behind the project.

#4 Set up a homemade trampoline

Hold your horses! Before you start picturing a full-sized backyard trampoline and the crazy flips that come with it, let's clarify something.

Building a real trampoline is a dangerous endeavor. Luckily, there's a a mini version that brings the same STEM principles into play, without the potential hazards.

Imagine a mini trampoline, just big enough to bounce balls or other objects. It's a fantastic way for kids to explore physics, elasticity, and energy transfer in a controlled and safe environment.

DIY homemade trampoline is one of the most fun STEM challenges for kids at home

Image source: STEM activities for kids

The idea of this challenge is to build a frame and use it to support a rubber-band net which is covered with a stretchy fabric.

If you don't have elegant-looking materials for the frame on hand; don't worry. You can achieve the same results by using a bowl or a colander.

Homemade trampoline is one of the coolest STEM challenges for kids at home

Image source: STEM activities for kids

After the assembly, kids can start experimenting with different types and sizes of balls.

How high will a bouncy ball bounce compared to a tennis ball? What happens when you drop a heavier ball versus a lighter one?

Although this is a fun kid-friendly activity for children of all ages, we find it the most useful for kids in primary school because it aligns with their physics curriculum.

#5 Build a remote-controlled robot car

Anyone can buy a remote-controlled (RC) car and drive it around. But, how many kids can say that they've built the car they're controlling?

With quality RC car kits, such as this one, your child can dive into the world of STEM while assembling and customizing their very own RC robot car. This project combines engineering, electronics, and programming to provide an immersive and educational experience.

CircuitMess provides DIY remote-controlled cars for kids to build

Building the CircuitMess RC car involves not only connecting components, but also programming the car to control its functionalities and performance.

You can do this either by writing code from scratch or by rearranging code blocks—there are options for all skill levels.

Also, depending on the level of experience with electronics, this project is suitable for kids ages 11 and up. However, younger children will also enjoy playing with the car after an older sibling builds it.

#6 Build and code your own DIY game console

Watch out, there's another tech-oriented STEM kit coming your way!

If your child enjoys playing video games, you should take advantage of their interests and challenge them to create their own game console.

The easiest way to build a game console is with a kit that includes all the necessary components, tools, and instructions.

For instance, Nibble is one such kit that was designed to be beginner-friendly, intended for ages 9 and up. It lets your kid learn about both hardware and software engineering in an engaging and fun way.

Building your own DIY game console is one of the most fun STEM challenges for kids

After your child has soldered their way to the assembled game console, the real challenge begins. They can choose between playing the pre-loaded mini games, or coding their own video games.

Creating original video games is an excellent way for kids to learn programming languages such as C++, which is an essential skill for future careers in technology.

Either way, they'll solve problems, develop critical thinking, and gain hands-on experience in the field of game development. Much better than simply playing video games for hours, right?

#7 Design a straw globe

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Yet, math frequently gets a bad rap as the least exciting of the four disciplines. But what if math could be transformed into an enjoyable activity?

With the straw globe project, it definitely can be!

Building a straw globe is a fun STEM challenge for kids at home

Image source: Kids Activities

This inexpensive project involves using straws, tape or pipe cleaners, and scissors to make a globe model. Your child's version probably won't be too Earth-like, but who's to say that there isn't an icosahedron-shaped planet out there in one of the many galaxies?

Now, you don't have to toss around the words like icosahedron to teach your kid math. The straw globe project is an accessible way to explore math concepts such as geometry, measurement, symmetry, and patterns.

So, the next time your child grumbles about math homework, suggest building a straw structure. The design process will be a fantastic way to showcase the real-world applications of mathematical principles.

#8 Create a biosphere

While they are educational and fun, some science experiments are one-time-only endeavors. However, with the creation of a biosphere, your child can start a long-term scientific journey that can last for months.

Simply put, a biosphere is a self-contained ecosystem encapsulated in a glass container or a jar. It's like having a tiny living world of your own.

The first biosphere-related project your child can make is to build a mason jar terrarium. With no animals involved, this STEM activity is suitable for budding biologists as young as six years old.

Creating a biosphere at home - fun STEM challenge for kids

Image source: Aaronica B. Cole

Decorating the jar is only the beginning of the fun.

To truly reap the educational benefits of this activity, your child can explore how the plants interact with each other, and observe the water cycle in action.

Additionally, maintaining a biosphere teaches responsibility as your child becomes the custodian of this miniature ecosystem. They'll need to monitor and care for the plants, ensuring that they thrive within their closed environment.

#9 The egg-drop challenge

Technology, engineering, creativity, and a raw egg—an unlikely combination of words to see in the same sentence. Yet, they go perfectly well together in the thrilling egg-drop challenge.

The challenge is simple: your kid needs to invent a device that protects an egg from breaking when dropped from a height.

DIY parachute, a peanut butter jar, crumpled paper, or a straw case are just some of the methods that your little engineer can use to tackle this challenge.

Egg drop - a fun STEM challenge for kids

Image source: Libraries Tasmania

As engineering requires meticulous planning, your kid should first think their contraption out and design their solution. You can find a free printable sheet here and let your child use it to map out their idea.

Then, it's time to start experimenting.

Be prepared; there will be some cracked eggs. To keep the number of casualties at a minimum, we recommend that you do this activity with older children.

However, if you don't mind some extra cleaning, you can also include primary schoolers and help them start learning about physics, gravity, and motion.

#10 Engineer a popsicle bridge

Here's a challenge for you: take a popsicle stick and bend it. It will most certainly snap.

But did you know that with the right engineering skills, those flimsy craft sticks can be transformed into sturdy bridges capable of supporting weight?

If you want to introduce your kid to structural engineering and the science behind it, then building a popsicle bridge is the right activity for you.

Building a popsicle bridge - fun STEM challenge for kids at home

Image source: Instructables

By gluing sticks together in different configurations, your child can discover how the choice of bridge design affects the bridge's strength and stability.

And don't forget that in real-world architecture, appearance goes hand in hand with functionality.

For bonus points, you can encourage your kid to paint and embellish the craft sticks, transforming this engineering challenge into a fantastic example of STEAM activities (A stands for art!) that promote both creativity and problem-solving skills.

Which STEM kits can help get your kid into STEM?

As we've seen, recycled materials or household objects are a nice intro to STEM. However, if you're looking for more complex projects that will truly intrigue your little one, it's probably better to get a STEM kit designed by professionals.

If you're looking for a kids subscription box, on the other hand, you may want to check our list of top picks! Or simply - select one of our own DIY STEM kits!

CircuitMess, and other reputable educational kit providers, offer kids a more structured way to learn about different aspects of science and technology.

With CircuitMess kits, your child can build simple machines, experiment with electronics, and even code their own games. So, whether your kid is interested in robotics or playing video games, there's likely a STEM kit out there that matches their interests and educational needs.

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/no-prep-stem-activities-for-kids 2023-10-16T16:37:44+02:00 2024-04-22T15:11:11+02:00 Easy No-Prep STEM Activities For Kids (Very Few Materials Needed) Albert Gajšak STEM activities usually take up a certain amount of time, tools, and materials. But what if you don't have the entire afternoon to gather the tools and prepare a STEM activity for your little ones? 

Say hello to no-prep STEM activities you can do with just a few basic materials. The main ingredient required is a healthy amount of imagination - and we're sure your kids have it in abundance! Check the list and get started with one of the simple activities. 

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STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Big words, right?

Luckily, there are tons of fun, no-prep STEM activities that can help your kids understand these concepts in an engaging way, and maybe even fall in love with science. And all that is possible with minimal preparation and maximum excitement!

Why should you encourage kids to do a STEM challenge?

Sure, STEM activities for kids are a godsend for rainy afternoons when you're trapped indoors. But did you know that STEM projects also bring multiple benefits beyond beating boredom?

Here's what you can expect from your child participating in STEM challenges:

  • Increased problem-solving skills: Low-prep stem activities may seem simple, but they encourage children to find creative solutions and apply critical thinking.
  • Hands-on exploration of science, technology, engineering, and math: Algebra sheets aren't the only way to learn; your kid can explore STEM through practical experiments and see how the principles are applied to real life.
  • Boost in self-esteem: Completing a challenge gives kids a sense of accomplishment, increasing their confidence.
  • Improved collaboration skills: STEM activities for children often involve teamwork, which makes them learn how to express their ideas and listen to others.

Whether it's a rainy day or a sunny one, you can't go wrong with conducting DIY science experiments with your little one. Besides having fun, they'll acquire skills that they'll later use in the classroom, careers, and everyday life.

And if you want to invest a bit more in your kids' STEM education, a kids subscription box may easily be your best pick. Check our list of the 10 best subscription boxes you can get for your little ones! 

7 fun STEM activities for your kids

We're aware that most parents don't have hours and hours for elaborate prep work. The same goes for educators looking for STEM learning ideas for their students.

This doesn't mean that your kids can't put their physics and engineering skills to the test, though.

Some basic supplies and materials found around the house can become the tools of discovery in your DIY science lab. Get ready; we'll now explore seven fun STEM activities that all kids love.

Idea #1: Build a paper bridge

The first STEM activity that we'll see is as simple as it gets. We're building a paper bridge!

Building a paper bridge is one of the simplest no-prep STEM activities

Image source: Science Buddies

If you have a kid who's seemingly not interested in anything, they probably won't be willing to cooperate in any activity with a fancy setup—these things take effort.

Because of that, you can start with minimalistic projects that still get kids thinking, such as this paper bridge design challenge.

What equipment do you need?

You only need the following:

  • Paper
  • Coins
  • Ruler
  • Tape
  • Books or small boxes

How is this useful to kids?

Who knew you could get into civil engineering with so few materials?

Jokes aside, the simple paper-bridge project can teach kids about load distribution, tension, and structural integrity in a practical manner.

It lets kids experiment with different designs and see firsthand how various factors affect the strength and stability of their bridges. Hard hats are optional!

Idea #2: Rainbow rubber egg experiment

Next on our list of no-prep stem activities for kids is the rubber egg experiment—the perfect activity for aspiring chemists with an artistic streak.

Rainbow rubber egg is one of the easiest no-prep STEM experiments

Image source: Upstart Media

In this activity, your kid can see how basic chemical reactions and some food coloring transform an ordinary egg into a rubbery colorful ball.

What equipment do you need?

Again, you likely already have all the materials at home, and these are:

  • A raw egg
  • A clear jar
  • Vinegar
  • Food coloring

How is this useful to kids?

Creating a rubber egg helps older kids translate the abstract process of osmosis into a tangible experience. When you have a real example in front of you, the words like permeability or solvent don't sound as mysterious anymore.

For younger kids who haven't encountered such concepts in school yet, the experiment is still fun because they get to see how a solid object becomes squishy over time.

Speaking of time; although this STEM project is fairly simple, it still takes a few days to see the results, which is an excellent opportunity for your child to practice patience and focus.

And regardless of the ages of your kids, everybody likes playing with food coloring to create an array of vibrant hues.

Idea #3: Egg drop project

Do you want to challenge your kid's creativity and problem-solving skills? Then this science experiment is the one for you.

The egg drop project is a classic STEM challenge that consists of building a device that protects a raw egg from cracking when dropped. The device can look something like this:

Egg drop project is one of the most popular no-prep STEM projects for kids

Image source: PocketLab

As you can see, this project requires your child to explore physics and engineering while they're having fun designing unique contraptions.

What equipment do you need?

Since the egg drop project is highly flexible, there are no set requirements for tools and materials. Depending on what you have in your house or classroom, you can use the following items:

  • An egg
  • Straws
  • Cardboard tubes
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper
  • Tape
  • Craft sticks
  • Paper towels

How is this useful to kids?

This STEM challenge helps you teach kids about potential energy, kinetic energy, and momentum. It's also a brilliant way to stimulate creativity because it requires young engineers to brainstorm unique solutions and think of different ways to use the materials they have.

Lastly, popular STEM projects like this one are particularly relatable to children.

Many YouTubers and online creators have tackled the egg drop challenge, making it exciting and approachable to kids. So, you could also watch a video or two together and see if there are any cool ideas you can borrow or improve.

Idea #4: Create a paper chain

Sometimes, less is more when it comes to STEM activities for kids, and the paper chain project exemplifies that principle perfectly.

Paper chain is the easiest no-prep STEM project for kids

Image source: DIY Candy

As the name suggests, the paper chain project involves using strips of paper to create chains, and it might seem more like arts and crafts than science. However, this deceptively simple project offers valuable STEM learning opportunities in a fun and approachable way.

What equipment do you need?

To start, head over to your stationery drawer and grab the following supplies:

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paper

And that's all!

How is this useful to kids?

If you want a uniform chain, you'll need to measure pieces of paper carefully, introducing young ones to basic concepts of measurement and precision.

They also get to explore how different paper widths impact the strength and length of their chains. This is an excellent opportunity to show the children that math is absolutely everywhere around us.

Additionally, the fact that the activity is so simple also means that you can upgrade it however you like.

For instance, you can challenge your kids to make the longest paper chain possible with just one sheet of paper. Doing so will make them think of different ways to cut, fold, and link the strips to maximize the length of the chain.

Idea #5: Do a coding challenge

Let's not forget what the T stands for in STEM! To nudge your kid in the direction of technology, you can suggest playing around with programming. The simplest way to do this is with block code, which introduces little ones to the basics of coding without complex syntax.

If you're looking for a specific suggestion, we recommend Scratch, a visual programming language.

Scratch is a great coding platform to introduce kids to STEM

Image source: Scratch

Programming in Scratch is truly a no-prep activity because you don't have to install anything; the platform runs in most desktop browsers. Also, it's completely free.

What equipment do you need?

Instead of stationery, this activity requires you to have access to:

  • A computer
  • An internet connection

How is this useful to kids?

Kid-friendly programming languages like Scratch boost digital literacy, which is an important aspect in every kid's education and, ultimately, career. Such STEM activities also encourage persistence because assembling code often involves refining, even with coding blocks.

Lastly, they foster creativity, as kids can create and customize their own coding adventures.

Idea #6: Light refraction experiment

Exploring light refraction is a STEM activity that your kid is inevitably going to cover in their physics class one day, and there's no reason why you couldn't get a head start at home.

Light refraction experiment for kids - no-prep STEM activity

Image source: Science Sparks

This experiment lets children discover how light bends, or refracts, when it passes from one medium to another, such as from air to water.

What equipment do you need?

You'll need the following items:

  • A round glass
  • Water
  • Paper
  • A felt-tip pen

How is this useful to kids?

Watching how an arrow looks like it's changed its direction when viewed through water helps little ones develop their observation and inquiry skills.

No matter how straightforward the experiment is, it's still a great way of introducing kids to physics concepts in a simple manner, laying the foundation for more advanced physics principles.

Idea #7: Create a paper airplane

Whether you're looking for a simple, three-minute project, or a complex process that challenges your kid's creativity and engineering skills, creating a paper airplane is a fun STEM activity for kids of all ages.

Folding paper airplanes is one of the most simple no-prep STEM activities for kids

Image source: Engineering Emily

While younger aviators will probably stick to the basic dart shape, older kids can experiment with more advanced designs, and even come up with their own unique models.

What equipment do you need?

Brace yourself; here's a monstrously long list of hard-to-procure supplies you need for this project:

  • Paper

On a serious note, you really only need paper to build planes. You can add an artistic flair to your creations with stickers, but bear in mind that these will add some weight and make the plane crash sooner.

How is this useful to kids?

Playing with different plane shapes and sizes introduces kids to fundamental principles of aerodynamics. Testing different plane variations will also teach them about lift, thrust, weight, and drag—the essential principles of flight.

How to prep younger kids for these no-prep STEM activities?

As promised, you don't have to run to a crafts store for any of these STEM activities for kids; you already have all the materials. However, there are steps that you can take to prepare your child for a meaningful learning experience.

  1. Choose those STEM activities that match your child's age and skill level.
  2. Set up a distraction-free environment for experimenting. It helps if you and your child are off the phone, too.
  3. Explain the goals in simple terms. For instance, you can say: "We are going to make a paper airplane that can fly far. We will use different shapes and folds to make it aerodynamic, which means it can move smoothly through the air."
  4. Praise effort. Completing a task, even a simple one, can be a big deal for a young child.

Following these steps will help ensure a positive experience that shows that STEM is fun, exciting, and rewarding.

Of course, participating in activities together can also help you strengthen the relationship you have with your little ones.

Get your kids into STEM with CircuitMess

Once you've tried out all of these STEM activities, it may be the time to move on to more advanced concepts.

However, we've prepared even more cool DIY science projects and engineering endeavors you can take on with your young ones.

Now, you're reading an article on no-prep STEM activities, so we believe you'd like to maintain the same, practical approach even with bigger projects. That's why you should check out what CircuitMess has to offer.

We create fun educational kits for curious little minds. Wacky Robots are perfect intro to electronics for ages 9–11, while older children can try their hand at building simple yet powerful machines with the STEM Box subscription.

Each subscription line comes with all the components you need to build cool devices, such as a DIY smartwatch, a game console, a robotic arm, and more.

Whatever kit you choose, your child is guaranteed an engaging STEM activity and, of course, loads of fun.

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/motivate-kids-practice-hard-things 2023-10-13T17:51:08+02:00 2024-04-22T15:11:25+02:00 How to Motivate Kids to Practice Hard Things? Albert Gajšak

Are your kids struggling to find motivation when it comes to tackling challenging tasks? You're not alone. Many parents grapple with this issue, wondering how to inspire their children to embrace hard work and persevere through challenges. The good news is - there are effective strategies that can transform your child's motivation and drive.

In this post, we'll take you through a journey of discovery. You'll gain insights into the different types of motivation children exhibit, helping you understand your child's unique motivational style. Whether your little one thrives on intrinsic motivation, driven by a love for learning, or relies on extrinsic rewards to keep them going, we've got you covered.

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Unfortunately, many kids struggle with waning motivation, both in school and in personal life. The good news is, there are effective strategies to help kids become (and stay!) motivated.

If you're willing to invest some time in finding what motivates your child, you'll be able to raise a confident and focused learner who overcomes challenges. Keep reading; we'll show you how.

What type of motivation does your kid have?

It may sometimes seem as if your friends' kids are competing in the Spelling Bee just because, while yours won't finish homework without the promise of screen time or snacks.

And you know what? That's perfectly fine.

The reason why some children approach challenges differently lies in the type of motivation they have.

Remember the little Spelling Bee champions that we've just mentioned? Chances are, those children have a love for words or a strong desire for competing. In other words, they have intrinsic motivation.

On the other hand, other kids learn and thrive when they see tangible rewards tied to their efforts, meaning that they have extrinsic motivation.

The difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Image source: Insumo

While each type of motivation has its role in a child's development and learning, it's important to grasp your child's unique motivational style. Let's dive a bit deeper into each type.

Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation

Understanding the dynamics between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can be a game-changer in terms of encouraging young kids to do hard things that require effort.

Extrinsic motivations, such as those connected to external rewards, grades, or even negative consequences, are definitely helpful for kick-starting the activities your kid doesn't want to do. However, research has shown that intrinsic motivation is more likely to lead to long-term benefits in learning, creativity, and well-being.

Because of that, it would be best to find activities that are intrinsically motivating for your child, and use those to ignite their enthusiasm.

Don't forget that there's also one final, elusive layer of motivation: integrated motivation.

Integrated motivation

Integrated motivation happens when an activity is entirely internally motivated. Need an example? We've got you.

Let's say your child loves playing basketball and enjoys practicing their ball skills—that's internal motivation. If they also want to play for their school to win a trophy or make the team proud, that's external motivation.

Those two combined can create integrated motivation, as the child has integrated their personal interest and appreciation for the sport. The combination is hard to beat because it leverages the full spectrum of motivation, fueling your child's drive.

Now, how can all this theoretical knowledge actually help you motivate your child to take on projects they're not that enthusiastic about?

The answer lies in finding the appropriate real-life approaches that make sense with your kid's lifestyle. And if your kid is a typical pre-teen, we bet their life includes quite a bit of technology. So, let's leverage their tech-savviness for motivation-building purposes.

How technology motivates kids?

Study German! Sort laundry by color!

Commands like these aren't precisely what motivates children. In fact, they might even lead to the opposite effects: resistance and disinterest.

Instead, the famous ARCS motivational model designed by John Keller teaches us that we should encourage kids to do hard things by:

  1. Capturing their attention,
  2. Choosing relevant tasks,
  3. Helping them build confidence, and
  4. Creating a sense of satisfaction in their accomplishment.

You can find some tips on how to implement these elements in the infographic below.

ARCS motivation model explained

Image source: Flare Learning

As you can see, the ARCS model lends itself perfectly to tech-oriented motivational strategies.

There's nothing that captures a child's attention faster than video games or gadgets. Similarly, playing off the technology that children already use helps them remain self-motivated because they see the relevance of the task.

For instance, why not encourage your child to learn coding by programming their own games with block code?

try motivating kids to practice hard things by helping them learn block-coding

Additionally, many technology-based learning experiences and engineering activities offer immediate feedback and rewards, which is perfect for kids that don't want to wait for months until they see the results of their efforts.

All things considered, this journey isn't about shouting commands. It isn't about letting kids play on their phones all day, either.

Building motivation should be about creating a learning environment filled with positive energy where learning and growth are satisfying adventures, and technology-based educational activities can help you achieve just that.

7 methods to motivate your kid to learn

Whether you're suspecting there might be a learning disability at play (which isn't that uncommon), or you're browsing through ways to motivate your child, these seven proven methods can make a significant difference in their learning journey. Let's take a closer look.

Method #1: Set goals for your kids

Goals are important for keeping your kid motivated because they provide purpose, direction, and meaning to the learning process. A good framework to follow when setting goals is the SMART framework, which stands for:

  • Smart
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

So, instead of saying "Learn math", you should go with a more actionable option and say "Learn how to solve quadratic equations by next week."

You can set even smaller, bite-sized goals. Pediatric psychologist Emily Mudd, PhD, suggests the following approach:

"Have them focus on math homework for 10 minutes without interruptions, or have them clean their room before dinner. The right, specific goals will build your child's internal resilience and motivation."

Regardless of the specific aim you want your child to achieve, setting goals will help them track their progress, measure their achievements, and celebrate accomplishments. So, out with the vague, in with the specific!

Method #2: Help them, but don't control them

Many parents who wish well for their child's academic life make the mistake of trying to make the learning process perfect.

Instructing the kids on what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, are just some of the examples of how parents can unwittingly make children lose self-confidence.

motivate kids to practice hard things by helping them build DIY robot toys

But that's not to say that you shouldn't be there for your child if they ask for help. By all means, be their supportive co-pilot.

However, if you want to motivate your children and help them build self-determination, remember that they should be the ones leading the journey. Your assistance should be there to complement their self-driven effort, not the other way around.

Method #3: Find the right challenge for your child's interests

Does your child find it difficult to do activities that don't involve screens? Or, do they maybe struggle with maintaining social interaction with others?

As you can see, there are various challenges that kids, especially older kids, face in their day-to-day lives. Focusing on a relevant problem with the right motivation can help you create opportunities where children truly see the value of the hard work they put in.

More isn't always better; one correct challenge can help your child more than three wrong ones ever could.

Method #4: Help your child see the big picture

"When am I ever going to use this?"

Ah, the question that most teachers anticipate at multiple points during the school year. The funny thing is, the question is perfectly valid!

Kids like knowing why they are asked to do something, and if you're trying to motivate children to do hard things, they have to know the purpose behind the task.

Take ratios, for example.

As an isolated unit, a lesson plan on ratios and proportions probably won't motivate your child or help them discover a passion for mathematics. But if you explain the importance of ratios in everyday life, suddenly, it becomes more interesting.

You can mention how ratios are used in art to create visually appealing compositions, in sports to analyze player performance, or in cooking to adjust recipes.

motivating kids to see the big picture - teaching them about ratios

Image source: Imperial Sugar

You can find real-life applications for nearly every subject the kids tackle in school.

Keep in mind that convincing kids to do their homework isn't the ultimate goal. It's all about inspiring them to become lifelong learners who understand the value of knowledge and how the acquired skills can shape their future in practical ways.

Method #5: Use educational games to motivate kids

Kids love games—that's a fact.

Games require active engagement, capturing your child's attention. And games that include several kids also encourage healthy competition and throw in a little peer pressure, as well.

These factors can make things competitive, inspiring kids to put in more effort into the task at hand. What's not to love?

Now, before you purchase the newest skins for your kids' Rocket League cars, remember that not all games are made equal.

While some are purely made for entertainment, there are numerous games and activities that can help your child practice perseverance and problem-solving skills.

Motivate kids to do hard things with the help of educational toys

Board games, creativity-sparking kids subscription box, or even DIY gadgets like the one you see above, are all excellent options to consider.

They provide entertainment while also promoting learning, teamwork, and critical thinking.

By integrating these types of educational games into your child's routine, you can intertwine fun and knowledge, turning playtime into a productive and motivating experience.

So, next time you're tempted to splurge on virtual accessories for their gaming adventures, think about the educational games that can boost their skills and enthusiasm for learning.

Method #6: Get involved in kids' activities

Actively participating in your child's interests and activities won't only boost their short-term motivation. According to recent research, children with involved parents also grow up to be high achievers.

Your involvement and positive reinforcement show kids that you value their interests and genuinely want to learn more about what they're passionate about.

Involvement goes beyond just being an observer, though. When you actively engage with your kids' activities, you provide encouragement, stronger social bonds, and a safe environment for them to push boundaries.

motivate your kids to do hard things by getting involved in their activities

So, whether you're conducting science experiments together or attending dance recitals, you should ask questions, offer guidance, and praise effort.

Your enthusiasm can ignite your child's motivation, making them more ready to take on challenges and persist in their pursuits.

Method #7: Be a role model with a positive and optimistic outlook

Parents are the earliest role models that children meet. We're not trying to scare you, but, each action that kids see you take throughout their lives indirectly impacts their attitudes and behaviors—motivation included.

So, if you want to encourage your child to do hard things, you should embody the values you want to instill in them.

Maintaining a positive approach and a growth mindset, even in the face of challenges, sets a powerful example. When kids see their parents approaching difficulties with a can-do attitude, they're more likely to adopt the same mindset.

Similarly, it's wise to honestly share your experiences with the challenges you've overcome, emphasizing the importance of resilience. Ultimately, your child will learn to view potential failures as stepping stones towards success.

How to put motivation theory in action: a recap

Whew—this was quite a read. As you probably want to take action as soon as possible, we've prepared a little recap with a step-by-step plan to help you get things going.

Here are the essential steps to take:

  • Identify your child's motivation style. A better understanding of what motivates your child will help you provide the right kind of support for your kid. Bonus tip: you can also ask your child's teacher for input on this.
  • Use technology as a tool to enhance your child's motivation, not as a reward or a punishment. Technology can be a fun way for your child to explore their interests, such as electronics or building DIY robots at home.
  • Implement a variety of motivational methods. The ones that we've mentioned boil down to presenting challenges as achievable and exciting experiences, along with developing a positive attitude towards learning.

To wrap up this guide, we have a special treat for you and your child: STEM toys. These are activities and resources that can make learning fun and engaging for your child, while teaching them science, technology, engineering, and math concepts.

Motivate your child to learn with STEM toys

One of the most effective ways to make learning engaging—especially in the digital age—is through STEM toys.

In a world filled with distractions, STEM toys have the ability to capture your child's attention while finding the right balance between screen time and productive learning.

If you're looking for quality toys that can motivate your child, you should look into what we offer at CircuitMess. The CircuitMess educational toys are designed to be challenging but not frustrating, and they provide your child with wiggle room to experiment and customize their gadgets.

Whether you choose a subscription line of STEM toys or a multi-toy bundle, your child will be able to create cool devices, such as robots, a game console, a functional robotic arm, and many more.

Creating such gadgets from scratch will show your child that hard work may be demanding, but it also leads to brilliant results that just can't be compared to a superficial dopamine hit that they get from, say, passively playing video games.

All in all, we hope we've helped you understand how to motivate your kid to apply their hard work to the challenges they face. Remember to remain positive, supportive, and involved in your child's learning journey. And don't forget to have fun while you're at it!

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/best-educational-toys-for-kids 2023-10-13T17:01:37+02:00 2024-04-22T15:11:31+02:00 10 Best Educational Toys To Help Your Children Focus Albert Gajšak One of the best ways kids learn about the world is through play. And what better way to supercharge their learning than with - educational toys! 

We're prepared the list of our top picks for kids' educational toys in 2023. Give it a read and find the coolest toys your kids will never get enough of. It's a promise! 

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How can educational toys teach kids to grow?

Educational toys for kids are like hiding zucchini in chocolate muffins. You see, while kids are engaged in play, these clever toys sneak in a healthy dose of learning, just like those hidden veggies in a delicious treat.

First off, educational toys can teach kids problem-solving skills.

Piecing together a puzzle, coding their own robots, or even building different shapes with stackable blocks—all of these toys encourage little ones to solve challenges. They also learn that it's okay to make mistakes, and it's all part of the fun.

Younger kids' creative side also gets a boost from these toys.

Playing with learning toys encourages imaginative play and opens up new worlds of possibilities. While we can't expect babies and toddlers to build complex structures, setting up a creative environment lays the foundation for their future growth.

Lastly, the reason why you're reading this article: educational toys for kids help teach focus and patience.

When a child tries to complete a project, they learn the value of sticking with something until they succeed. Sure, it may be frustrating when the pieces don't fit or a robot seems just impossible to code, but these moments are a vital part of the learning process.

These fun learning games teach kids that challenges are actually opportunities in disguise, and that with a little persistence, they can overcome even the biggest challenges.

Still, a sheer number of STEM learning toys on the market might confuse parents looking for quality gifts. We'll now see how to decide on the best toy type for your kid.

What kind of toys help a child's development?

The most expensive toys? No.

Okay, how about the most complicated ones? Again, nope.

If you're looking for toys for kids that can help them boost their development and focus, you should go for those that strike a balance between fun and learning.

There are so many categories to choose from. At the moment, the most popular types of educational toys are those related to arts and crafts, role play, and developing motor skills.

Global market share of educational toys

Image source: Fortune Business Insights

With such a wide variety of options, you'll definitely be able to find the perfect toy for your kid that's aligned with your child's interest.

Speaking of the child's interests and individuality as a main criterion for choosing the best toys, remember that every great educational toy allows free play. As Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard puts it:

"The toy should be what gets things started; the rest should be up to the child. Children need to learn to think things through, come up with ideas, and be creative."

So, don't settle for toys that only allow one way to play. When a kid is done with such a toy, they'll simply move to the next one, which is not beneficial to their focus skills at all.

Instead, you should search for learning toys that let kids innovate and explore. Only that way will your child be able to stay engaged in meaningful play, working on their ability to focus.

10 best educational toys for kids (all age groups)

It's time to put theory into practice. Keep reading, and you'll find the ten best educational toys that are equally fun and effective in nurturing your child's cognitive abilities.

#1 Wacky Robots

If you're looking for basic toys that take two steps to assemble, you might want to keep looking, because Wacky Robots will make your child work their brains and hands quite a lot more than that.

Wacky Robots is the name of an educational subscription line that delivers a new robot kit to your child every month. Each robot is different and has its unique capabilities.

For instance, the one that you see below is called Hertz, and it lets kids build their own Bluetooth speaker that lights up.

Hertz - an educational STEM toy from CircuitMess that functions as a Bluetooth speaker

A three-month subscription is priced at $37,99, while subscribing for a year unlocks even greater value, with a box costing $29,99. The robots are designed for the ages nine and beyond.

Pros and cons

  • Pros: In addition to looking extremely cute, each of Wacky Robots helps develop your child's brain, especially in the robotics and electronics areas. Moreover, the subscription format means that kids will always have an exciting project to look forward to.

  • Cons: Robots from this subscription line require patience and concentration. As opposed to, say, LEGO bricks, you can't mix and match parts, so following precise instructions may be frustrating to some kids. Still, that's how focus and the related skills are built. 

CircuitMess Hertz - a STEM educational toy for kids

Why is it useful?

Wacky Robots do more than help your children gain essential STEM skills. They also introduce the kids to technical concepts that they see in their day-to-day lives.

For example, if you have dimmer lights at home, your kid might be wondering how they work. Well, one of the Wacky Robots contains a variable resistor that dims LED brightness, so your kid can play with the robot to see how the real-world appliance works.

So, why not explore a different tangible subject every month?

#2 STEM Box

In case you liked the idea of Wacky Robots but want something a bit more challenging to build and play with, make sure you check out the STEM Box.

STEM Box is also a subscription line, and you might be drawn to it if your kid likes tech-oriented DIY projects. With the STEM Box, you get to build and code cool gadgets such as a DIY voice assistant, robotic arm, or even a smartwatch.

Clockstart - DIY educational smartwatch for kids

If you want to try out STEM Box, you can get a one-time delivery for $109,99. A yearly plan lowers the price to $98,69, and the two-year plan further reduces the price of a box to $86,99.

As STEM Box projects involve coding, they're perfect for older kids interested in programming in age-appropriate languages. Because of that, eleven is the recommended age for building toys of this kind.

Pros and cons

  • Pros: STEM Box products offer something really unique: you can adapt the toys to your child's preferences! The fun isn't over when you build the toy. In fact, that's the time to start programming your own games, move routines, and more. So, you don't have to worry about your kids playing video games too much; it's a whole 'nother story when they're creating their own interactive experiences.

  • Cons: If you're looking for a toy that your kids can play with on the go, this isn't the one for you. To operate your STEM Box gadgets, you'll need batteries and a computer. Sorry, light packers!

Clockstar - DIY smartwatch for kids - educational toy

Why is it useful? 

STEM Box is the ultimate tool that helps develop children's focus. We know—poor focus is often the result of too many distractions and choices available at all times.

However, these learning toys allow your kid to explore the synergy between soldering, hardware assembly, electronics, and coding. That way, kids follow a logical sequence of steps, bring the toy to life, and observe how all the components work together.

#3 Light-Up Terrarium

Oftentimes, little biologists-to-be prefer playing with flora and fauna over robots or toy cars. If you have a nature aficionado at home, we suggest building a light-up terrarium.

There are several versions on the market, but we think that this one, created by Dan&Darci, is particularly nicely done.

Light up terrarium - DIY educational toy for kids

Image source: A Mighty Girl

This toy allows your children to practice fine motor skills by carefully layering materials for optimal growth. Additionally, screen-free activities like this one won't interfere with your kid's bedtime.

If anything, they can use it as a unique night lamp, thanks to the light-up lid that you charge with a micro USB cable. Instead of flickering screens, this gentle illumination is a nice focus-enhancing addition to your kid's room.

DIY light up terrarium for kids - educational toy for children

Image source: Dan&Darci

The product is advertised to kids the age of eight and above. You can find it in multiple stores online. The creators' official store offers it for $24,99.

Pros and cons

  • Pros: Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is this miniature ecosystem. In other words, it takes time and care before your child gets to witness the terrarium flourish and glow. They can practice focus by observing the changes in the jar every day.

  • Cons: What makes this toy attractive to some kids, makes it challenging to others. There's no guaranteed success in keeping plants alive (don't ask us how we know 🤫). So, finding the right amount of watering and sunlight can be tricky.

Why is it useful? 

DIY science projects don't have to be complicated to be effective. This toy not only teaches children about the balance of nature. It also helps them focus, as it encourages them to observe, experiment, and care for their plants, which is not something you can do without focus on tiny details.

#4 Coding Critters

Coding Critters are adorable animal companions that serve as a simplified, early introduction to the basics of coding through engaging play.

There are different Coding Critters sets featuring animals such as dogs, dinosaurs, unicorns, and more. For instance, the Ranger and Zip set features a pair of puppies who love to play. It's almost like having a low-maintenance pet!

Coding Critters - educational toy for kids to start coding

Image source: Learning Resources

Kids can use the buttons on Ranger's back to program his movements and interactions with other toy pieces.

If you're looking for a great gift for a very young child, this might be it. This learning toy is made for kids of the age of four and up; that's how approachable it is.

The Critters are produced by the same manufacturer as GeoSafari Jr and Spike the friendly hedgehog, Learning Resources. Learning Resources sells different Coding Critters kits at different prices, and the dog-themed one we've seen above costs $45,99.

Pros and cons

  • Pros: Coding Critters are completely screen-free, so you can include this learning toy in your screen-reducing strategy. They also foster problem-solving skills as kids create their own coding sequences. If you want to practice focus through structure, you can follow the storybook that comes with each kit.

  • Cons: As expected from such a simple toy, there's limited functionality compared to some other robotics and coding toys. Coding Critters can only move forward, backward, left and right in addition to spinning and pausing.

Educational toy for young children - Coding Critters

Image source: Learning Resources

Why is it useful? 

STEM kits like this one help kids develop an interest in STEM concepts. They teach children about logical thinking and cause and effect. By playing with these cute creatures, kids are learning about sequencing in coding with no screen in sight.

#5 CircuitMess RC Bundle

What's better than a fun educational toy? Two learning toys that can interact!

The CircuitMess RC Bundle provides you with precisely that: it combines Wheelson, a programmable AI car robot, and ByteBoi, a DIY game console.

CircuitMess RC bundle - remote controlled educational toys for kids

In addition to playing with each toy independently, your child can use ByteBoi to control Wheelson and explore their capabilities.

The bundle is designed for ages eleven and up because it's more complex (and more rewarding!) than your average science DIY kit. The regular price of this RC bundle is $252,69, but you can get a 15% discount by subscribing to the CircuitMess newsletter.

Pros and cons

  • Pros: Equipped with AI technology, this bundle can help you introduce your child to the world of engineering, programming, and robotics. Robots won't be an abstract concept anymore when the child sees how they work up close.

  • Cons: Building a robot car is a demanding task, let alone coding it. Despite the detailed instructions, there can still be some bumps in the road, so prepare a small pep talk about the importance of not quitting, even in play.

Why is it useful? 

This bundle is all about learning to reap the benefits of your hard work. First, your child has to assemble both toys, putting their motor skills and electronics knowledge to the test. The second part is coding the toys, which takes as much patience and focus. After all the hard work is done, they can enjoy the magic of remote controlling a self-built robot.

#6 LEGO Education BricQ Motion Set

Aspiring engineers and physicists are fairly easy to spot: it's always the kid tilting their glass just a bit too far, observing how the liquid level changes with the angle. Parents with such kids should look into the LEGO Education BricQ Motion Essential Set. That way, kids can explore physics with a lowered risk of OJ spillage.

LEGO Education BricQ Motion educational kit for kids

Image source: LEGO

The 523-piece LEGO Motion Set lets kids explore the laws of forces and motion.

With elements such as weights, ropes, and gears, children can create different models to grasp fundamental physics concepts.

LEGO BrickQ educational kit for kids

Image source: LEGO

The set is made for the age six and beyond, although younger kids can also play with it. Just be careful if there's a toddler or a baby playing nearby because small pieces can pose a choking hazard.

Multiple retailers offer this learning device, and the official store sells it for $133,95. The price also includes additional educational materials.

Pros and cons

  • Pros: If your child wants to explore the principles of forces, they will first have to build their model. For instance, you can't explore transferring kinetic energy through gears if gear teeth aren't aligned properly. That's just one way this set teaches your child focus and attention to detail.

  • Cons: Some kids may require additional instructions or parental guidance to fully understand the physics concepts. So, be prepared to talk your child through what's happening.

Why is it useful? 

Fine motor skills, spatial awareness, creativity, science—with so many possible construction models, this set teaches it all.

#7 Fossils Dig Kit

Don't worry; we haven't forgotten about our little dino lovers. The next educational toy on our list is the Real Fossil Excavation Kit from the London Science Museum.

Fossil excavation dig kit - educational kit for kids

Image source: Science Museum

The kit contains an excavation block along with all the tools you need for digging. You don't have to settle for replicas, there are real fossils in this kit.

The manufacturers advertise the kit as suitable for ages ten and up, but reviewers reveal that their kids younger than that have also enjoyed the fun project. The kit is sold for £15.00.

Pros and cons

  • Pros: There's no CTRL + Z with fossil excavation. To keep the fragile fossils intact, your child will have to approach the project with focus and precision.

  • Cons: Playing with this toy is one of those messy learning experiences because of the dust flying around.

Fossil excavation dig educational kit for kids

Image source: Science Museum

Why is it useful? 

As we've said, you can't undo a broken fossil. In addition to building focus, carefully chiseling and brushing around the fossils will help your child increase their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

#8 Botley the Coding Robot

Botley the Coding Robot is another toy that kids can use for exploring the world of programming without getting overwhelmed.

Designed with ease of use in mind, Botley comes with a remote control. Kids can enter their commands on the remote programmer, which then transmits commands to the robot. No screens are involved anywhere in the process.

Botley the Coding Robot - educational toy for kids

Image source: Learning Resources

Botley is suitable for ages five and up. While younger children can play simple learning games with Botley, those of older ages can program longer sequences.

Buying directly from the manufacturer will let you purchase the kit for $74.99.

Pros and cons

  • Pros: This toy robot is nearly ready to play right out of the box; you just need a screwdriver to secure the batteries. The kit also includes accessories such as detachable robot arms and obstacle-building pieces.

  • Cons: Screen-free coding only gets you so far—Botley was never intended to let you create real apps. This also means that your kids are likely to outgrow its simplicity. When that happens, we suggest that you switch to block programming as the easiest introduction to coding.

Botley the Coding Robot is an educational toy for kids

Image source: Learning Resources

Why is it useful? 

This educational toy is helpful because it shows that you don't need the most advanced robots to create fun and challenging learning games.

In fact, the limited commands may be beneficial because your kid will have to focus and think hard of the ways how Botley can navigate the course they've designed.

#9 Magna Tiles

You can't make a list of the best educational toys for kids without including the well-known, bright plates: the Magna Tiles.

These building toys are an excellent method for spatial exploration as they allow kids to build shapes in all dimensions. Well, not really the fourth dimension, but definitely in three of them.

Magna Tiles - educational toy kit for kids

Image source: Magna Tiles

Magna Tiles belong to a small group of learning toys appropriate for all ages. The product is advertised as appropriate for the age of three and up, meaning that even babies and toddlers can play with it.

However, the upper limit doesn't exist, and older kids of all ages can use the tiles for building and exploring complex shapes.

Magna-Tiles is an educational toy kit for kids of all ages

Image source: Magna Tiles

You can buy sets with different numbers of pieces, additions, and accessories, that also differ in prices. For instance, the kit used to build the shapes you see above contains 100 pieces and costs $119.99.

Pros and cons

  • Pros: Open-ended toys like this one allow little ones to explore their creative side as they combine pieces in numerous ways. There are no rules; you can mix and match different bright colors and shapes to make unique sculptures. That's a nice break from structured or repetitive activities that children often face at school.

  • Cons: With the price of more than a dollar per tile, this toy may not be in the budget of all parents.

Why is it useful? 

In the world of construction, each piece matters, and precision is key. By playing with learning toys like Magna Tiles, children learn to focus and deeply concentrate on their task.

#10 KiwiCo Science Kits

We promised we'd list learning toys for kids of every age, and there's one age group that's still waiting: babies! If you want to encourage your toddler or baby to practice independent play, you could explore KiwiCo, a company producing subscription science kits for all ages.

KiwiCo Panda Crate is a great educational kit for toddlers

Image source: KiwiCo

These age-appropriate crates help children explore the world around them. As babies grow, kits evolve to activities such as color recognition, counting, and problem solving. Your toddler can become a professional shape sorter in a matter of months!

The company makes kits for ages 0 to 100, and that's why kits differ in difficulty and, of course, the price. Depending on the kit you get, you'll have to pay anywhere between $23,95 and $43,90 per crate.

Pros and cons

  • Pros: KiwiCo offers a multitude of toy categories. With options to learn about STEM, cooking, geography, or art, there's something for all kids, including those who seemingly have no interests.

  • Cons: People don't usually mind paying extra for the best educational toys that they can't replicate on their own. However, as some KiwiCo kits consist of fairly simple components, some reviewers think that the price doesn't match the value they receive.

KiwiCo Tinker Crate offers educational toys for kids

Image source: KiwiCo

Why is it useful? 

Regardless of the age group and the topic of the subscription you get, each of KiwiCo's products will help you show your kids how fun science can be. Moreover, if they focus on the task and revisit it multiple times, they will see how different actions cause different outcomes.

What to look for in educational toys for kids?

Before you head out to the store or start an online shopping spree, let's review the crucial qualities to look for in learning toys.

Take into account the learning objectives (e.g. fine motor skills)

Choose the toys that align with your child's specific goals, such as fine motor skills or getting into electronics.

Prioritise durability and safety

The toys you choose should be made of high-quality materials and easy to clean.

How much a toy can engage your kids

Look for learning games and toys that can hold your kid's attention; that's how they build focus.

Encourage open-ended play

A single predetermined outcome makes toys boring. Instead, look for toys that allow kids to explore and innovate.

Educate and entertain your kid with CircuitMess STEM toys

There have never been more options when it comes to learning toys than now.

While exciting, this also means that the selection process can get a bit overwhelming, so we hope that this guide through the best educational toys can help you with deciding what gifts to choose.

If you're still not sure what to get, we suggest going with a toy that allows open-ended play and evolves together with your child's skills, as CircuitMess STEM toys do.

When your kid thinks that they've seen everything that their new toy can do, you can remind them about the unlimited access to the CircuitMess software platform where they can customize their devices and enrich them with new capabilities.

Ultimately, your kid will fall in love with these fun learning games, and continue building their vital STEM skills through play. Who says that learning can't be fun?

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/diy-robots-kids-build-less-than-day 2023-09-11T10:47:44+02:00 2024-04-22T15:07:22+02:00 7 Kid-Friendly DIY Robots That Take Less Than a Day to Build Albert Gajšak Unlock your child's potential with the exciting world of robotics! Discover the 7 best DIY robotics kits for kids of all ages in 2023. From remote-controlled robot cars to AI-powered robots, these kits offer fun, learning, and hands-on creativity.

Start your child's robotics adventure today!

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Nope, your kids don't have to be able to program Sophia the robot or assemble motor parts from the ground up to call themselves robot enthusiasts.

There are numerous fun and simple robots that can kick-start their robotics journey. This article will explore the best ones available in 2023, with a focus on robot kits that promise quick and enjoyable learning experiences.

But first, let's see what are some reasons that explain why learning robotics is beneficial, especially in today's tech-centric world.

Why should you get your kid interested in robotics?

Is your child addicted to their phone, scrolling their day away, or playing mindless games without any genuine interest in anything?

If so, you're not alone.

According to post-COVID research by the University of Tehran, a concerning 53% of children report feeling addicted to their phones.

Kids are feeling addicted to their mobile phones - more than half of them

Data from: BMC Pediatrics

Because of that, parents often look for ways to engage children at home with fulfilling, beneficial, and fun activities, and robotics happens to be one such field.

Here are some benefits you can expect from DIY robotics projects:

  • Developing creativity and problem-solving skills by designing robots that perform all sorts of tasks. Can you code your robot to run in circles? Will you glue some cardboard to it and transform it into a fierce dragon? There are so many options!

  • Getting into visual/graphical programming by using blocks to code robots that follow instructions. This experience prepares kids for more advanced coding projects in the future.

  • Improving fine motor skills by tinkering with robot components and sensors. Building robot kits requires precision and attention to detail, helping your child develop dexterity and hand–eye coordination.

  • Exploring the principles of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by building robots that apply these concepts to real life. Kids can learn about computer science, physics, and mechanics as they create robots, making their learning experiences relatable.

Now, we can't exactly expect younger children to complete robotics projects on the level of Boston Dynamics, no matter how cool it would be to have Spot doing backflips around the house.

Boston Dynamics Spot Robot

Image source: IoT World Today

However, crafting a simple robot is completely doable, especially with a robotics kit as a guide.

So, to reap the benefits that we've mentioned above, you don't have to build industrial robots from zero. Robot kits offer the same advantages, while simultaneously making it more accessible for beginners to dive into the fun world of robotics.

How to build a DIY robot for kids with a robotics kit?

DIY robot projects may seem like a breeze—just put the pieces together, right? Well, not so fast!

Just like any creative venture, there are some important rules and steps to follow in robot building. Let's quickly review what they are so that your child can start building with confidence.

Safety first

Always put safety first, especially when dealing with soldering and electricity. Make sure your child has the right protective gear and offer adult supervision when necessary.

Follow the instructions carefully

It's all about taking things one step at a time. Encourage your child to follow the kit instructions closely, and remind them that it's okay to go at their own pace. If there's a problem, the robot instructions almost always have good troubleshooting suggestions.

Ask questions to learn

Questions are the gateway to knowledge! Encourage your kids to ask away, whether it's about the kit, electronics, programming, or anything else. As their knowledge increases, you're also likely to see a boost in their confidence.

Take your time

Remind your kids that there's no need to rush. Taking their time not only helps them learn, but also allows them to savor the joy of completing a robotic project they can be proud of.

7 Best DIY robotics kits for kids of all ages

Okay, now that you know what to watch out for, let's see a list of the best robotics kits for everyone from beginners to advanced programmers.

Get your tools, set up your Raspberry Pi; it's time to create and control your very own robot!

#1 Build an RC robot car with a robot kit

If you're looking for a fun and easy way to get your kids interested in robotics, building a remote-controlled robot car is an accessible entry point.

One of the most popular robot car kits is the Smart Robot Car Kit from AZ-Delivery.

AZ-Delivery Smart Robot Car Kit - educational STEM toy for kids

Image source:  AZ Delivery

This robot kit is suitable for kids aged 10 and above, and it requires some basic soldering and wiring skills. These skills will develop further as your child assembles the components.

Note that if your kids catch the robotics bug, they'll want to tinker with Arduino at one point or another.

So, if you're already planning on getting one, this Arduino-compatible robotic project is an excellent choice. It relies on an Arduino board and Arduino IDE software to upload the code to the robot car, which is a great way to explore the intersection of technology and creativity.

Building this robot will also teach your kids about hardware as they dive into assembling and understanding various components from the kit, such as wheels, a DC motor, an expansion board, and more.

AZ Delivery Robot Car kit - parts and components

Image source: AZ Delivery

Once the robot car is ready, your kids will have a blast driving it around, showing the tangible results of their efforts.

Different features and modes, such as obstacle avoidance and line following, add an extra layer of fun to this kit.

#2 Make Armstrong—a DIY robotic arm from scratch

The next robotic project on our list goes beyond the wheels and into the realm of manipulation and control.

Sounds sinister?

Don't worry! We're talking about Armstrong, a DIY robotic arm.

CircuitMess Armstrong - DIY robot kids can build in less than a day

With Armstrong, your future engineer will have the opportunity to create a fully functional robotic arm from scratch.

The build process isn't only a fun experience, but it's also a fantastic educational journey. It introduces children to mechanics, electronics, and programming, all bundled into a single, awe-inspiring project.

Armstrong is equipped with four servo motors, a TFT LCD display, and a reflective color sensor, among other components that enable your child to create a DIY robot arm.

These elements allow you to construct a robot that can recognize colors and pick up objects. And if your little one is into beginner-friendly programming languages, they'll be able to program custom, more complex routines.

All things considered, you might think that building a robotic arm is a bit too complicated for kids.

However, this version breaks complexity into manageable steps, allowing your child to build the robot in a day.

When they're done, they'll have a miniature robotic arm at their command, a technology often seen in the world of industrial automation where such arms perform tasks with precision and consistency, making them a vital part of modern manufacturing.

In this broader perspective, it's clear that STEM toys like this one certainly have a significant role in developing critical skills for the future.

#3 Make a solar-powered robot

Not all budding engineers are necessarily interested in gaining programming experience. Some are into mechanics, electronics, chemistry, or using their STEM skills to help the environment.

If your kid falls into the last category, you might want to check out M4's Green Science Aqua Robot.

DIY solar-powered robot kids can build in a day

Image source: Amazon

This robot kit lets you build a robot fish that can swim and paddle on the water's surface using solar power or battery power.

You can take your Aqua Robot outside on a sunny day and watch it come to life when the sunlight shines on its solar cells. The other option is to switch to battery mode when there is no sunlight and enjoy playing with your Aqua Robot indoors.

This kit teaches kids about the principles of green science and hybrid solar power, and how they can be used to create eco-friendly robots.

solar-powered DIY robot for kids to build in less than a day

Image source: 4M

This project falls into the category of simple robots as it requires no software programming or handling sensors or other delicate materials. In fact, Aqua Robot's simplicity makes it suitable for kids as young as five and above.

All you need to do is follow the instructions and use the materials provided in the kit, such as plastic parts, wires, solar panel, and screws.

So, although the process of assembling this beginner-friendly robot kit is quite straightforward, younger children can still enjoy a fun educational experience. They can learn about how solar cells convert light into electricity, and how gears transfer power.

And since there's no programming involved, this is a completely screen-free activity—a quality that parents are always excited about.

#4 Build an AI-powered robot

For parents looking to take their child's robotics journey to the next level, the RoboMaster S1 by DJI is an exciting choice. Developed by the same company known for its drones, DJI has combined innovative technology with hands-on learning to create this advanced robot kit.

DJI RoboMaster S1 robot kids can build in a day

Image source: Drone Nerds

The S1 robot can be programmed to use artificial intelligence to follow you around, shoot "laser" beams (that are actually little flashes of colored light), recognize movements with cameras and sensors, and more.

Since these features require software and programming skills that are beyond the entry-level, this robot kit is suitable for older children aged 14 and above.

Still, this robot kit supports Python and Scratch programming, meaning that you can rely on block coding if needed.

Kids can program their RoboMaster S1 in Python and Scratch

Image source: DrDrone

The S1 robot is not only a smart device, but also a fun and versatile one. You can control your robot with your smartphone or tablet, and enjoy playing various games with other S1 robots.

That's another helpful aspect if you have a child who enjoys competitive activities.

To play games with other users, you'll need to download the RoboMaster App. Different systems and platforms aren't an issue because the robot is compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows, and it lets users with different systems play together.

#5 Construct Makeblock mBot

Another excellent robot kit comes from Makeblock. Their mBot is an approachable way to introduce programming to younger children because of its beginner-friendly programming interface.

MakeBlock mBot - DIY robot kids can build in less than a day and learn block coding

Image source: Makeblock

Equipped with two motors and four sensors, this bot boasts obstacle avoidance and line following, and it can even solve mazes.

You can also connect it to Raspberry Pi and code it to move in patterns you've programmed.

This Makeblock robot kit is suitable for kids aged 8 and above. Beginners can use the manual and more materials to learn about the bot, and follow instructions based on games to get acquainted with programming.

MakeBlock mBot - rich guides and tutorials

Image source: Makeblock

What sets this robotics kit apart from others is its customizability.

You can purchase different add ons and transform the basic version of the robot into a cat robot, six-legged bot, and toy around with add ons such as cameras or light and sound components.

Suddenly, a robot with the line-following ability becomes a tiny explorer on a quest, or a roving photographer capturing the world through its "eyes."

So, if you're willing to pay a bit more, you can create more opportunities for creative play and inventive activities with DIY robotics kits.

#6 Assemble a LEGO robot

If your kids are into building with LEGO and are drawn to other creative engineering activities, then they'll be glad to assemble their own LEGO robot with their little hands.

There are many LEGO kits available, but one of the most popular ones is the LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox. One of the most fun projects that you can do with the kit is building Vernie the robot, who can talk, drive, and dance.

LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox - DIY robot for kids

Image source: LEGO

However, this LEGO robot kit offers even more possibilities. The kit, which includes as many as 847 pieces, lets you assemble five different robots with unique abilities and personalities.

Other than Vernie the robot, you can build Frankie the cat, who can purr and avoid obstacles; M.T.R.4, who can carry and stack objects; Guitar 4000, who can play music and sound effects; and Auto Builder, who can build miniature LEGO models.

DIY robots for kids in LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox

Image source: LEGO

In other words, purchasing one robot kit allows you to engage your child with hours of building, programming, and imaginative play.

To build and control robots, you'll need to use the free LEGO BOOST App. You can use it to, for instance, program Vernie and equip it with the line following ability. Additionally, the BOOST App regularly adds new challenges and coding options, keeping your child's interest alive.

In terms of the programming environment, the LEGO BOOST Toolbox uses a simple drag-and-drop programming interface based on Scratch, making this robot kit appropriate for seven to twelve year olds.

Now, the idea of building five different robots may seem a bit too complex, but you don't have to worry.

The joy of making robots is guaranteed because the kit and additional resources provide clear instructions, along with all the tools and materials that you need. You don't have to run to your local hardware shop for cardboard, metal parts, or needle nose pliers; you have all the equipment in the set.

#7 Meet Wacky Robots

Lastly, if you're looking for powerful yet simple robotics kits that are suitable for children ages nine and above, you should try out Wacky Robots.

These compact robots won't take too much of your time, but they'll provide your child with a delightful intro to robotics. They strike a perfect balance between simplicity and functionality, making learning both accessible and enjoyable.

Besides, who could resist toying around with such cute creations?

Wacky Robots - DIY robots for kids to build in less than a day

Note that we said robots, not robot.

That's because Wacky Robots is a series of small but mighty robots that you can also get as a subscription.

So, why settle for a one-off robot when you can get a new robotics project each month?

Wacky Robot - Dusty - DIY robot for kids

Delving into the world of Wacky Robots opens the door to a variety of learning opportunities. Exploring these robotics kits will teach your kid the basics of sound synthesis, LEDs, circuits, and more.

Wacky Robots are made of fine components that your child has to assemble.

This is the perfect opportunity to develop fine motor skills by using needle nose pliers, and of course, your little one's fingers.

Wacky Robots assembling process

Kids can also learn about the science behind each robot, such as how photoresistors detect light or how capacitors store energy.

In other words, these wacky robotics kits can help you turn robotics and electronics into a long-term hobby.

Some of the Wacky Robots that you can build are:

  • Bob: Bob is a colorful LED robot that can display different patterns and colors on its body.

  • Artemis: Artemis is a running-light circuit robot that can create a cool visual effect with its LEDs.

  • Dusty: Dusty is a light-sensitive robot that can detect light with its photoresistors.

  • Hertz: Hertz is a Bluetooth speaker robot that loves to party and play music.

There are more Wacky Robots to discover, each with different abilities. However, all of them have one thing in common: their mission is to entertain your kids and educate them about robotics.

CircuitMess kits help your kids make their own robots

Until your kids are ready to independently choose sensors, wires, and the right motor, robotics kits serve as a fantastic starting point for robot building.

The robot kits that we've listed offer a structured educational path, gradually introducing kids to the essential components and concepts of robotics while keeping the process engaging.

Remember, when selecting a robot kit, you should keep your kid's interests in mind. For example, if you're a parent to a little environmentalist, you could go with a robot kit that explores renewable sources of energy.

If your children are showing interest in electronics and technology, then it's better to choose those kits that allow them to assemble and program their own robot projects, such as CircuitMess kits.

Our kits provide kids with hands-on experience in robotics and coding, which is an excellent, if not the best, way to spark your kid's curiosity and creativity while having fun.

So, let the robotics adventure begin!

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/circuitmess-vs-competitors 2023-09-04T10:59:15+02:00 2024-04-22T15:10:47+02:00 CircuitMess vs. Competitors: What Sets us Apart? Albert Gajšak You're looking for the perfect STEM kit for your kids? Look no further! In this blog post, we've compared our STEM kits with some of the biggest STEM kit creators like - Mel Science, KiwiCo, and Creation Crate.

Read our article and get all the info you need before deciding which STEM kit to choose for your budding engineers and scientists. 

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Starting the hunt for the ideal STEM kit for your young inventor can be quite a journey. The world of STEM education is vast and filled with options, each offering its own unique experiences. 

In this guide, we'll explore the world of STEM education, highlight what makes CircuitMess special, and delve into all the important things to think about when picking the perfect STEM kit for your child. 

So, let's begin and make this journey an enjoyable one!

The STEM kit education landscape

The world of STEM education is a vibrant one, teeming with opportunities for young learners. As parents and educators, we're spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting the right tools to ignite our children's curiosity and nurture their STEM skills

In this diverse landscape, we’ll compare the 4 major players, each with its unique approach: CircuitMess, Mel Science, KiwiCo, and Creation Crate.

These brands have recognized the importance of providing young minds with engaging, hands-on experiences that make learning STEM subjects a joyful adventure. While their goals align — educating the next generation of innovators and problem solvers — the methods and offerings differ.

CircuitMess helps bring new generation of innovators

At CircuitMess, we pride ourselves on empowering kids to build, code, and tinker with electronic devices. Our kits are a gateway to the world of electronics and programming, where children explore technology through exciting hands-on projects. And the best thing is - each of our STEM projects is extremely cool — otherwise we wouldn’t even think about creating them. 

Mel Science takes a hands-on approach to STEm in general, offering captivating experiments delivered right to your doorstep. Their kits bring the wonders of the chemical world to life, allowing children to conduct safe and exciting experiments in the comfort of their homes. Besides chemistry, they offer several different DIY kits — one for each field — Math, Space, Physics, Chemistry, and STEM in general. 

KiwiCo is known for its comprehensive range of STEM-focused crates, each tailored to a specific age group and learning level. These crates encompass various subjects, ensuring that kids of all interests find something to pique their curiosity. From kits designed for newborns to engineering kits for high school students - they’ve covered it all. 

Creation Crate is all about electronics, engineering, and chemistry. Their kits provide an accessible entry point into the world of STEM, making it fun and educational for young tech and chemistry enthusiasts. Each of their kits includes access to an online classroom where kids can dive into video tutorials, challenges, and various learning resources. 

In the end, while these brands offer different products, they share a common goal: making STEM education engaging and enjoyable. It's not about dull textbooks or tedious lectures; it's about exciting hands-on experiences that awaken a love for STEM in children. 

We love all of them and deeply respect them for pursuing this wonderful mission of creating a new generation of innovators. But which one is the best pick for your kids? Let’s find out.

Why and how do we differ from other STEM kit creators?

As you’ve seen — there are several brands that offer STEM kits — just like we do. But what truly distinguishes us from the competition, and why might you consider our products for your child's STEM education journey? 

It's not solely about the kits themselves; it's the underlying philosophy, the massive value of our STEM kits, and the highest-quality tools, components, and educational materials. 

CircuitMess STEM kits have the best-quality tools and components

Let’s take a look at how we compare to different STEM kit creators! 

Different age categories

To make the right choice for your child, it's crucial to understand how different STEM kit creators cater to various age groups. Here, we'll provide a comparative look at how CircuitMess, KiwiCo, Mel Science, and Creation Crate address this aspect of STEM education. Each of these companies offers a unique range of kits tailored to different age categories. 

STEM exploration for young minds: Ages 5-8

For our youngest aspiring scientists and engineers, ages 5-8, CircuitMess, KiwiCo, and Mel Science all offer engaging kits designed to introduce fundamental STEM concepts in a playful and interactive manner.

While CircuitMess STEM kits are designed for somewhat older kids (Wacky Robots are designed for kids aged 9+, and STEM Box is designed for kids aged 11+), our DIY Batmobile is a STEM project perfect for kids aged 7 and above. And yes, it’s the real deal, at least Warner Bros says so! 

KiwiCo's Kiwi Crate is another excellent choice, offering a wide range of hands-on projects and activities that encourage exploration in science, art, and engineering. These projects may seem somewhat simple and maybe not as cool as our Batmobile — but it’s a great choice for introducing your young ones to STEM in easy mode. Also, KiwiCo Atlas Crate and Yummy Crate are great additions to teach your kids about geography, culture, and the science of cooking.

Mel Science stands out with its Mel STEM kit, designed exactly for kids aged 5-8. It includes many cool projects like — the microscope, a spring force, and even a hydraulic lift. With each project, you’ll get detailed video guides and even augmented reality lessons to explore these STEM kits in even more depth. 

It's never too late - join forces with the Caped Crusader and learn about AI, machine learning, and electronics with CircuitMess Batmobile. Get it delivered to your doorstep in just a few days. 

STEM adventures for growing minds: Ages 9-12

As children grow and their curiosity deepens, CircuitMess, KiwiCo, Mel Science, and Creation Crate all have tailored STEM kits for ages 9-12. These kits provide more in-depth explorations into STEM subjects while keeping the learning experience enjoyable.

Both our CircuitMess STEM kits are designed for this age group. Our Wacky Robots STEM kit is great for introducing kids aged 9+ into the world of STEM in a cool way — they get to build their own robots and learn about different technological concepts. The STEM Box, on the other hand, is designed for kids (and adults) aged 11+ and it features some of our coolest products that make it possible for your kids to take a deep dive into electronics, coding, and engineering. 

KiwiCo’s Tinker Crate is a STEM kit, brimming with exciting projects — from mechanical engineering to chemistry and astrophysics, all designed for kids aged 9-16. What you can be confident about is - with this STEM kit, your kids will be on a good track to master problem-solving skills and gain much-needed confidence to tackle any challenge.

Mel Science has almost all of its science kits designed for growing minds in this age category.  Their STEM, Math, Space, Physics, and Chemistry kits are perfect for getting your kids introduced to these advanced fields early on. Each kit includes all the tools, components, and instructions to craft these awesome projects — and there’s even a companion mobile app to help your kids immerse themselves in this learning experience. 

Creation Crate has its Engineering and Chemistry kits designed for kids aged 10+ and provides a ton of cool, advanced projects any kid will want to try out building. From building a mechanical leg you can control with a glove to learning about chemistry through clever and entertaining science projects - they offer great stuff for your younger kids aged 9-12. 

Introduce your kids to the world of electronics with our Wacky Robots. Easy to assemble and play with, they're the perfect teaching medium for your young ones.

Advanced STEM endeavors: Ages 13 & beyond

For budding scientists, engineers, and tech enthusiasts aged 13 and beyond, CircuitMess, KiwiCo, and Creation Crate present advanced kits designed to challenge and inspire. These kits are built to deepen their understanding of STEM subjects while nurturing their creativity and innovation.

CircuitMess offers the CircuitMess STEM Box, a comprehensive kit that takes your kids deep into the world of electronics, programming, and robotics. It's an ideal choice for teenagers looking to take their STEM skills to the next level. From building and coding a remote-controlled car to creating your own video game console — we’ve got tons of exciting projects.

KiwiCo's Maker Crate and Eureka Crate both great choices for your older kids. While Maker Crate includes more artsy DIY projects like macrame planters and terrazzo clay organizers — Eureka Crate offers a wide range of engineering projects where you’ll learn to build stuff from scratch — from electric pencil sharpeners to wooden ukulele. 

Creation Crate also has a few STEM kits prepared for your older kids. Their Electronics Beginner and Electronics Challenger STEM kits are knowledge-packed electronics kits designed to introduce your budding engineers to the world of electronics, coding, and hardware engineering. These kits include some awesome projects like the weather station, audio visualizer, electronic lockbox, and even a Bluetooth speaker. 

Lastly, Mel Science comes in with their Medicine kit, designed for kids aged 14 and older. They bring you the real medical science — in a box. This will serve your kids as a perfect introduction to surgery, dentistry, and even pharmacy. If your kids are leaning into the biology/medicine sphere - this one is the perfect kit for them! 

All in all, whichever STEM kit you choose - there’s no wrong pick. Each of these kits includes awesome projects that will teach your kids invaluable STEM skills and set them up for success. While on the outside, all of these companies may seem like competitors — we’re all fighting for the same cause — and that’s bringing high-quality, hands-on learning experiences to your homes.

And that’s something we wholeheartedly support! 

If you're looking to teach your middle schoolers (or yourself) about AI, electronics, and coding - there's no better place to start than with our STEM Box. At least, that's what more than thousands of our customers say! 

Educational content and learning objective

When choosing a STEM kit for your child, understanding the educational content and learning objectives is paramount. CircuitMess, KiwiCo, Mel Science, and Creation Crate all offer unique approaches to teaching STEM subjects through hands-on activities, but their focus and goals may differ.

CircuitMess: Building a foundation in AI, electronics and coding

Our kits combine the excitement of assembling and customizing real electronic devices, like smartphones and game consoles, with coding experiences that develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills. With our STEM kits, we aim to: 

Teach electronics, AI and engineering: CircuitMess kits introduce youngsters to electronic components, circuits, and how to assemble them, laying the groundwork for understanding modern technology.

Introduce kids to coding: Through hands-on coding tasks, children learn the basics of programming languages, fostering computational thinking and creativity.

CircuitMess helps kids learn AI, electronics, and coding

KiwiCo: A multidisciplinary approach to STEM

KiwiCo takes a multidisciplinary approach, offering crates that explore various aspects of STEM and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). Their educational content focuses on:

Scientific concepts: KiwiCo encourages children to explore scientific principles through hands-on experiments, sparking curiosity and fostering a love for scientific discovery.

Creative problem-solving: Their kits often incorporate engineering challenges and art projects, promoting creativity and problem-solving skills.

KiwiCo has multidisciplinary approach to STEM teaching

Image source: https://www.kiwico.com/

Mel Science: Delving into the world of chemistry and physics

Mel Science is all about the world of chemistry and physics. Their kits provide hands-on experiments that make complex scientific concepts accessible to young minds. The educational content aims to:

Deepen scientific understanding: Mel Science kits aim to deepen children's understanding of chemistry and physics through interactive experiments and clear explanations.

Practical application: By allowing children to perform real chemical reactions and physics experiments, Mel Science encourages the practical application of scientific knowledge.

They do offer even STEM, Space, and Medicine kits — which only furthers their goal of deepening your kids’ understanding of the world around them. 

Mel Science teaches kids about physics and chemistry


Image source: https://melscience.com/

Creation Crate: Focusing on electronics and complex projects

Creation Crate specializes in electronics and coding projects, making it one of the go-to choices for kids interested in technology. Their educational content emphasizes:

Tech skills: Creation Crate kits teach kids valuable tech skills, from building circuits to assembling robotic legs, Creation Crate is preparing them for a technology-driven future — they’ve got several STEM projects to level up your kids’ knowledge of electronics. 

Problem-solving: Through complex technological projects, Creation Crate promotes problem-solving abilities and logical thinking — both invaluable life skills you’ll certainly want your kids to master.

Each of these STEM kit creators offers educational content designed to cater to specific learning objectives, providing parents with a range of options to match their child's interests and educational needs. In the next section, we'll explore how these kits engage young minds and keep the learning experience captivating.

Creation Crate focus on complex electronics projects for kids

Image source: https://allfortheboys.com/

Interactivity and engagement

The interactivity and engagement levels of STEM kits play a vital role in nurturing a child's interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. CircuitMess, KiwiCo, Mel Science, and Creation Crate all strive to make learning an exciting adventure, but their approaches vary.

CircuitMess: Learning through building and coding

At CircuitMess, we place a strong emphasis on hands-on engagement. Our kits involve assembling real electronic devices like mobile phones and game consoles. This tactile experience not only educates children about electronics — but also encourages them to take ownership of their projects. The interactivity and engagement elements include:

Building real devices: Assembling working electronic gadgets provides a unique and immersive learning experience. Once they’re built, you can easily use them in your everyday life.

Coding adventures: Children can customize their creations through coding, empowering them to explore and experiment. This offers unmatched flexibility and unleashes your kids’ full creative potential.

KiwiCo: Playful exploration across disciplines

KiwiCo understands the importance of play in learning. Their crates offer a variety of engaging activities that cater to different learning styles and preferences. KiwiCo's approach to interactivity and engagement includes:

Hands-on fun: KiwiCo's crates are designed to be hands-on and engaging, allowing children to explore STEM concepts in an entertaining way.

Diverse activities: With a wide range of crates covering science, art, engineering, and more, KiwiCo keeps learning fresh and exciting.

Mel Science: Exciting chemistry and physics experiments

Mel Science aims to make chemistry, math, and physics captivating for young learners. Their experiments are carefully crafted to combine education with awe and wonder. The interactivity and engagement elements involve:

Real chemical reactions: Children can perform experiments with real chemicals, witnessing exciting reactions in a safe and controlled environment.

Augmented Reality: Mel Science offers AR lessons that transport learners into the microscopic world, enhancing engagement and understanding.

Creation Crate: Tech-centric projects for inquisitive minds

Creation Crate's focus on technology-driven projects ensures an engaging experience for kids interested in electronics. Their interactivity and engagement features include:

Complex projects: Creation Crate challenges children with intricate electronic projects, promoting deep engagement. 

Practical application: By working on projects with real-world applications, children see the relevance of what they're learning.

While each of these STEM kit creators uses unique methods to engage young minds, the common goal is to make learning fun, interactive, and memorable. In the next section, we'll delve into the quality of components used in these kits and how they impact the learning experience.

Component quality

The quality of components within STEM kits can significantly influence the learning experience. 

CircuitMess: Premium electronics for young innovators

CircuitMess takes pride in the quality of the electronic components. Our kits feature real electronic parts, ensuring that children work with authentic materials. CircuitMess component quality can be seen in two ways: 

Durability: High-quality components are robust and less likely to break, allowing for a longer-lasting learning experience. They work just as imagined and go through rigorous testing before we even deliver them to your doorstep.

Real-world learning: Using genuine electronic parts mirrors real-life electronics, preparing kids for future endeavors. Each of the parts and components can be found in your everyday devices — and that’s exactly what you’ll be building with our STEM kits. 

CircuitMess uses best quality parts and components

KiwiCo: Thoughtful materials for creative exploration

KiwiCo carefully selects materials for its crates, focusing on safety and educational value. While these components may not be that durable, KiwiCo makes it up with its affordable pricing. KiwiCo’s numerous kits offer: 

Safe exploration: Their components are designed to be child-friendly, ensuring that kids can engage with the materials without concerns about safety hazards.

Varied materials: KiwiCo's kits often include a variety of materials, from lightweight wood to paper, which can expose children to diverse crafting and building experiences

Mel Science: Precise chemicals for safe experiments

Mel Science provides high-quality chemicals for its chemistry kits, prioritizing safety and educational effectiveness. They place a large emphasis on:

High-quality chemicals and equipment: They offer real scientific-grade materials, ensuring that kids can perform authentic experiments. This authentic experience is valuable for learning and understanding scientific concepts.

Comprehensive safety measures: They include clear safety guidelines and precautions in their kits to ensure that kids can conduct experiments safely.

Creation Crate: High-quality tech components

Creation Crate sources top-notch tech components for its electronic projects, offering authentic learning experiences. When describing their components, we can easily say they focus on: 

Reliability: Creation Crate's components are known for their reliability. They consistently perform well and withstand the rigors of experimentation, making them a dependable choice for young learners.

Comprehensive variety: Creation Crate offers an extensive range of electronic components in their kits, including resistors, capacitors, LEDs, sensors, and more. 

How much do they cost? 

When considering STEM kits, understanding their pricing and overall value is crucial for parents. Let's dive into the pricing structures and the value offered by CircuitMess, KiwiCo, Mel Science, and Creation Crate.

How much do all CircuitMess STEM kits cost

CircuitMess: Affordable education with a focus on electronics

Even though our products aren’t the cheapest (and that’s for a reason), our aim is to provide you with massive value and support along the way — from video tutorials, step-by-step guides, and constant online support to high-quality devices you can use in your everyday life after you build them. Need a phone? Why not make it yourself? Want to play a game? You can build your own game console

Since we offer 2 different STEM subscriptions, here’s how much they each cost: 

Wacky Robots subscription can cost you from $30.75/box to $37.99/box, depending on your subscription plan.

STEM Box subscription can cost you from $87.25/box up to $109.99/box, also depending on which subscription plan you choose. 

KiwiCo: Varied offerings for different budgets

KiwiCo offers a range of crates with varying price points. Their crates typically range from $23.95 to $43.90 per month, catering to different budgets. 

Most monthly subscriptions, like Koala Crate, Kiwi Crate, Atlas Crate, Yummy Crate, Tinker Crate, and Doodle Crate, will cost you $23.95 per month. 

Now, if you're into Maker Crate and Eureka Crate, those are $32.95 per month. 

And Panda Crate, which ships every two months, is priced at $43.90 per crate. 

However, if you're looking to save some bucks, consider a 3, 6, or 12-month subscription for a per-crate discount of up to almost 20%!

Mel Science: STEM education with affordable pricing

Since Mel Science offers 6 different subscription lines for different age groups — each of these DIY kits comes with a different price tag. 

If you’re looking to get one of the Mel Science kits, that will cost you anywhere from $29.90/box to $64.90/box. And this largely depends on the subscription you choose. 

The most expensive kit they offer is their Mel MED subscription (up to $64.90/box), while you can get their Math and STEM kits for as little as $29.90/box.

Creation Crate: High-quality tools and components for an affordable price

Creation Crate’s pricing works a bit differently. Since they offer 4 different STEM boxes, let’s go through each one: 

For start, you can get your hands on their Electronics Beginner kit for as little as $29.99/box (or $39.99/box if you’re paying monthly). 

Their Electronics Challenger, unlike the previous one, is more like a set of 4 individual projects you can choose at any time — and they each cost $49.99. Or, you can get all 4 of them at once for $159.96. 

Their Engineering kit is not really a subscription, but a 3-project course. You can choose to get 1 project per month for $99.99 + shipping or get all 3 at once for $299.99 with free shipping. 

Lastly, the Chemistry kit also has 2 different pricing options. The first option is to get 2 experiments per month for $39.99/month + 25 starter kit one-time charge + shipping. The second option is to get all 20 experiments at once for $359.99, including free shipping and a free starter kit. 

What’s the right STEM kit for your kids? 

As you navigate the vast landscape of STEM kits, you might find yourself wondering which one is the perfect fit for your child. The truth is, there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

The right STEM kit is the one that resonates with your child's interests and sparks their curiosity.

It's the kit that makes them jump out of bed in the morning, eager to tackle the next exciting project. It's the kit that turns learning into an adventure and transforms your home into a science lab, a coding studio, or an engineering workshop.

Whether your child dreams of building robots, conducting chemistry experiments, or coding their own games, there's a STEM kit out there waiting to inspire them. It's the kit that aligns with their age, skill level, and interests. It's the kit that makes learning fun, interactive, and memorable.

Start by exploring the options, considering your child's age and interests, and assessing the educational content, interactivity, and component quality. 

Think about your budget and what value you expect from the kit. Seek recommendations, read reviews, and involve your child in the decision-making process.

Remember, the goal is to ignite your child's passion for STEM fields, setting them on a path of discovery, creativity, and problem-solving. The right STEM kit isn't just a toy; it's a gateway to a world of endless possibilities, where learning is an exciting journey, and every experiment is a step toward a brighter future.

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/stem-skills-for-middle-schoolers 2023-09-01T15:52:50+02:00 2024-04-22T15:10:06+02:00 5 Essential STEM Skills for Middle Schoolers: Where & How to Learn Them Albert Gajšak Join us on a journey to ignite your middle schooler's STEM skills. This guide is your gateway to nurturing their creativity, sparking curiosity, and honing problem-solving abilities.

Click on the button below and dive into actionable strategies that not only enhance critical thinking — but also foster teamwork and introduce the exciting realm of coding.

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Nurturing our children's STEM skills is more crucial than ever. If you're a parent looking to teach important STEM skills to your middle schoolers, you've reached the right blog post.

We'll explore 5 key skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). These skills set a strong foundation for academic success and open doors to many exciting careers in our tech-driven society.

We'll explain what are STEM skills, why they matter, and offer practical teaching strategies.

Whether your child is already enthusiastic about technology or you're hoping to ignite that passion, this guide is designed to empower their STEM journey.

And before we start, here's a chart from the US Department of Labor. 

increasing number of vacant STEM jobs

Image source: https://blog.dol.gov/

In the next several years, the number of available STEM jobs is expected to skyrocket! So, if there ever was a time to teach your kids valuable STEM skills - it's today. 

Now, let's start right away with the #1 STEM skill you can start teaching your kids right away.

STEM Skill #1: Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the cornerstone of intellectual growth and problem-solving prowess. It's a skill that goes beyond memorization. it encourages students to question, analyze, and form reasoned judgments.

For middle schoolers navigating a world filled with information and ideas, fostering critical thinking abilities is crucial. In this section, we'll talk about what critical thinking entails and why it's a fundamental skill for your child's educational journey.

Critical thinking is crucial for middle schoolers

What is critical thinking and why does it matter for middle schoolers?

Critical thinking is not merely a buzzword; it's a skill that equips young minds with the ability to question, evaluate, and understand information on a deeper level. It's the skill that encourages them to ask "why" and "how" rather than just "what."

It's crucial for middle schoolers for several reasons:

  1. It promotes a deeper understanding of subjects by encouraging students to go beyond surface-level knowledge.

  2. Critical thinkers are better equipped to solve complex problems, a skill valuable in academics and daily life.

  3. It helps middle schoolers make informed decisions based on evidence and logic.

  4. Critical thinking is a skill highly sought after by universities and future employers.

  5. It fosters curiosity and a desire to explore, which is crucial for lifelong learning.

How to teach your kids to become critical thinkers?

Teaching your kid to become a critical thinker requires a bit of creativity - that is, if you're looking to get their complete attention. But the methods are pretty simple. Here are some strategies that have proven to be successful:

1) Questioning exercises

Encourage your kids to ask questions about the world around them. Ask them open-ended questions and try to get their opinion - rather than getting a "yes" or "no" answer.

2) Debate and discussion

Engage your middle schooler in a debate/discussion on topics of interest. This will help them reevaluate their opinions, find out how to present arguments, and simply to sharpen their ability to think on more deeper levels of understanding.

3) Socratic questioning

Introduce the concept of Socratic questioning, which involves asking probing questions to stimulate critical thinking and exploration. This is a great teaching method, not only for middle schoolers, but even for us adults.

4) Reading and analysis

Reading is a wonderful activity that enriches our vocabulary and expands our minds with new ideas. Try encouraging your kids to read books of different genres and ask them, for example, to analyze book characters' motivations.

5) Logic games

Playing board and logic games means - adapting to a set of new rules and using logic to make the best out of your current situation. Playing a few games of chess with your kids on a weekly basis will surely enough help them in developing critical thinking skills.

All these activities are not only designed to teach your kids to become critical thinkers, but also to have fun in the process. They make the learning process much more engaging and enjoyable.

Teaching kids to become critical thinkers

STEM Skill #2: Problem-solving

Problem-solving is a skill that transcends the boundaries of subjects and disciplines, making it an invaluable asset for middle schoolers. It's the art of untangling complex issues and finding innovative solutions.

In this section, we'll talk about in detail about problem-solving, unravel what it truly means, and why it's an essential skill for your middle schoolers.

Understanding the role of problem-solving in STEM

Problem-solving is the heartbeat of progress in STEM. It's the driving force behind innovation, discovery, and the solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.

In the context of STEM, problem-solving isn't just about finding answers to specific questions. It's a versatile skill that empowers individuals to tackle complex, real-world problems.

Problem-solving is a crucial skill for middle schoolers for several reasons:

  1. Innovation and advancement in STEM fields relies heavily on creative problem-solving

  2. Hands-on problem-solving experiences, such as experiments and coding, enable active learning, enhancing their understanding of STEM concepts.

  3. Problem-solving skills are intrinsic to scientific research, allowing researchers to design experiments, analyze data, and expand knowledge in STEM fields.

  4. They will learn to make informed decisions based on evidence and logic rather than impulsive reactions.

 

Problem-solving is crucial STEM skill for middle schoolers

How to nurture problem-solving skills in middle schoolers

Teaching your kids to become versatile problem-solvers is essential to their growth and future success. It's inevitable that their lives will be riddled with various challenges and obstacles. Knowing how to overcome them makes all the difference.

Here are some actionable strategies for teaching your middle schoolers about problem-solving:

1) Encourage curiosity

Children are curious by nature. Asking them questions about topics that interest them will just fuel their quest for knowledge. Ask them - why, when, who, how, and what if? Watch how they form their opinions and propose solutions to some critical problems.

2) Present real-life challenges

To become master problem-solvers, they'll need to solve some real-word (and age-appropriate) challenges that require a creative approach. For example, try asking them to plan a family get-together.

Or even better, engage them in community service projects where they must identify a local issue and brainstorm solutions.

3) Collaborative projects

Solving problems in a team is a whole different area. They'll need to work together with their peers, communicate their ideas effectively, and organize internally to solve problems as a team. Often in life, they'll be met with challenges where they'll need to rely on their teammates - and what better way to prepare for that than to join forces with their middle school peers!

To find these projects, think about encouraging them to join a club or a group - like science clubs or robotics teams.

4) DIY projects

One of the best ways to raise problem-solvers is to have them work on DIY projects. And the best part is - these projects are a great opportunity to bond with your kids and act as a role model for them. For example, try building a birdhouse together! Discuss potential problems that may arise, talk about what resources and tools you'll need, and how to assemble the birdhouse. They'll have a few ideas already stored in their pocket.

Or you could get our DIY STEM kit designed for middle schoolers (and older kids and adults)!

5) Explore diverse subjects

Problems and challenges throughout life are rarely one-dimensional. Encouraging your kids to explore various fields and take interest in a wide range of subjects will best prepare them for the future. They'll develop a broad problem-solving toolkit which will prepare them for overcoming academic, business, and life challenges.

STEM Skill #3: Creativity and innovation

Creativity and innovation drive the exploration of uncharted territories, the development of groundbreaking technologies, and the crafting of solutions to our most pressing challenges. And for pursuing a STEM career path - these skills are essential.

In this section, we'll explore what these creativity and innovation entail and why they are essential for your middle schooler's educational journey.

Creativity and innovation - STEM skills for middle schoolers

Importance of creativity and innovation in STEM education

Creativity and innovation serve as twin pillars that support the entire edifice of STEM. They are not just desirable; they are essential for the advancement of knowledge and the transformation of theoretical concepts into real-world applications.

Here are just some of the reasons why should you teach creativity and innovation to middle schoolers (yes, it can be taught):

  1. High levels of creativity are essential for approaching problems from a fresh perspective and crafting innovative solutions through unconventional thinking.

  2. There are few well-trodden paths in STEM. Creativity is a compass that guides scientics and researchers into the unknown. Creating something innovative - whatever it may be - cannot be achieved without a creative approach.

  3. Nurturing creativity and innovations sparks a lifelong love for learning - beneficial for academic and professional success.

  4. Encouraging creativity helps students grasp core principles by experimenting and connecting the dots.

Become a creative innovator with CircuitMess Jay-D - DIY mixer

Just a short note - the device you see above is our very own - Jay-D! It's a DIY STEM toy, meaning you need to assemble and code it - and it will work.

Who could've thought that your kids could build their own DJ mixer in just a few hours? And what better way to learn STEM skills? 

How to inspire creativity in middle schoolers?

Nurturing creativity in middle schoolers is an investment in their future. It's about fostering a mindset that values innovation, embraces curiosity, and celebrates out-of-the-box thinking.

Here are some strategies you can start employing even today:

1) Provide unstructured playtime

Unstructured play isn't just about fun; it's the secret sauce for creativity. It's where your child becomes the director of their own adventure. Give them time and space for imaginative exploration.

Whether it's building towering structures with building blocks, crafting fantastical tales through action figures, or simply running wild in the park, these unscripted moments provide a blank canvas for their creativity to shine. Through play, they learn to think on their feet, adapt, and come up with solutions to unexpected challenges.

2) Promote risk-taking

Taking risks is the hallmark of innovation and creativity. Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone. Let them know that it's okay to make mistakes because that's where the best ideas often sprout. Share stories of famous inventors, artists, and entrepreneurs who faced setbacks but persevered.

The more they see risk as an opportunity rather than a roadblock, the more they'll embrace innovation and creativity in their pursuits.

3) Encourage reading

Reading is like a treasure hunt for ideas. Expand their literary horizons beyond textbooks. Dive into the magical realms of fantasy, explore the mysteries of science fiction, or venture into the past with historical novels.

As you read together, ask open-ended questions like, "What do you think will happen next?" or "How would you solve this problem if you were the character?" This invites them to think creatively, predict outcomes, and develop a deeper connection with the story.

4) Arts & crafts

Arts and crafts aren't just about making something pretty; they're a canvas for self-expression. Encourage your child to experiment with various art forms. Painting allows them to blend colors and textures to convey emotions. Sculpting with clay or crafting with recyclables teaches resourcefulness and transforms ordinary objects into art.

Through these creative outlets, they learn that there's no right or wrong way to express themselves – it's all about letting their imagination flow freely.

5) Limit screen time

Excessive screen time can put a damper on creativity. Encourage your child to put down screens and engage with the tangible world. Explore your neighborhood, visit museums, or simply go cloud-watching. The real world is a wellspring of inspiration.

Set limits on screen time to ensure that they have plenty of opportunities for hands-on exploration, active play, and meaningful interactions. 

6) Encourage journaling

A journal is like a magical portal to their inner world. Encourage your child to keep one, not as a chore, but as a private space for thoughts, ideas, and dreams. Besides enhancing their writing skills, journaling helps them clarify their thoughts, reflect on experiences, and brainstorm creative ideas.

Suggest different journaling prompts – from describing a dream adventure to imagining what they'd do with a superpower. Over time, they'll develop a treasure trove of creative musings.

With these strategies, you'll give all the tools to your child to think creatively, setting the stage for a future rich with innovation and discovery in the world of STEM and beyond.

Learn creativity and become an innovator with CircuitMess STEM Box

Another quick note! Remember Tamagotchis? Well now, your kids can build their own from scratch. CircuitPet is one of our coolest STEM projects - and you can get it delivered to your doorstep as a part of our STEM Box subscription!

STEM Skill #4: Collaboration

Collaboration isn't just about working together; it's the dynamic fusion of minds, where innovation thrives and creative sparks ignite. It's when your middle schooler joins forces with peers, combining their unique strengths to tackle challenges as a team.

In this section, we'll uncover why collaboration is more than a buzzword in STEM and how to cultivate this essential skill in your budding scientist or engineer.

Collaboration skills are a crucial part of STEM - teach your kids to work in a team

How important is collaboration in STEM fields

More often than not, your kids will find themselves in situations where teamwork is the only way to solve a problem or overcome an obstacle. Whatever STEM career they decide to pursue, teamwork will prove to be a valuable skill - sometimes even more important than technical skills.

Here's why teamwork is absolutely necessary in STEM:

  1. It amplifies capabilities as diverse minds join forces, achieving more together than alone.

  2. STEM issues are intricate; collaboration combines expertise from various angles to tackle complexity effectively.

  3. Collaborative teams spark creative ideas, driving innovative solutions in STEM.

  4. Research collaborations expedite discoveries, exploring a wider range of hypotheses.

  5. It facilitates knowledge exchange, critical in fast-paced STEM fields.

  6. STEM demands creative solutions; collaboration pools diverse problem-solving skills.

  7. Collaboration ensures STEM innovations benefit society practically, not just in theory

How to get your middle schoolers to work in a team?

Middle school is a crucial time for your child to develop teamwork skills, setting the foundation for success in school and beyond. Effective teamwork involves collaboration, communication, and mutual respect.

1) Emphasize the value of teamwork

Talk to your child about the importance of teamwork in various aspects of life. Explain that when people collaborate, they can achieve bigger and better things.

Share stories of famous teams, from sports like basketball or football to partnerships like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founding Apple. Highlight how teamwork contributed to their success.

2) Assign group projects

Encourage your child to engage in group projects, both in school and in extracurricular activities. Explain how group projects provide a chance to learn how to work harmoniously with peers. When they work in a team, they can pool their strengths and come up with creative solutions.

Also, encourage them to take on different roles in these projects; like a leader, organizer, or contributor.

3) Teach conflict resolution

Explain that it's normal for teams to encounter conflicts or disagreements. Emphasize the importance of addressing these issues constructively. Teach your child conflict resolution skills, such as active listening, compromise, and finding common ground.

Share examples of how resolving conflicts positively can lead to better teamwork and stronger relationships.

4) Be a team player at home

Demonstrate teamwork within the family. Involve your child in decision-making processes, such as planning family outings or organizing household tasks. Show them that everyone plays a role in making family activities successful.

This helps them understand how teamwork functions in a familiar context.

5) Join extracurricular clubs

Encourage your child to explore extracurricular clubs or groups that align with their interests. These can include sports teams, debate clubs, or even volunteering organizations.

Participation in such clubs not only enhances their skills but also exposes them to diverse teamwork scenarios. Discuss their experiences in these clubs to reinforce the importance of teamwork even further.

6) Praise teamwork efforts

Acknowledge and celebrate your child's teamwork efforts. When you notice them working well with others, provide specific praise. For instance, say, "I saw how you actively listened to your teammate's ideas during the science project – that's excellent teamwork." Positive reinforcement reinforces their understanding of what constitutes good teamwork.

7) Reflect on team experiences

Engage in regular conversations with your child about their team experiences. Ask open-ended questions like, "What challenges did your team face today, and how did you work together to overcome them?" or "What did you learn about teamwork during your club meeting?" Encourage them to reflect on their experiences, as this helps reinforce their learning and growth in teamwork skills.

By expanding on these strategies, you're providing your middle schooler with a strong foundation for effective teamwork, which will benefit them throughout their academic journey and beyond.

STEM Skill #5: Coding

Coding isn't just a language of machines; it's a language of the future. In today's tech-driven world, the ability to code is akin to having a superpower – it empowers your child to create, innovate, and shape the digital landscape.

Think of it as a tool that bridges imagination with reality.

In this section, we'll spill the beans about why computer programming is a vital skill for your middle schooler to master, and how it opens doors to a realm of endless possibilities.

Middle schooler coding a DIY smartwatch in CircuitBlocks

How important is coding in today’s world

Coding, once confined to the realm of computer scientists and software engineers, has become a fundamental skill for navigating our modern world. It's not just about crafting lines of text that make computers do tricks; it's about unlocking the doors to innovation, problem-solving, and countless career opportunities.

Here's why coding is so crucial:

  1. Technology is all around us, from smartphones to smart homes. Understanding how these devices work, and being able to program them, grants you the power to customize and optimize your digital experiences.

  2. Coding is essentially the art of problem-solving translated into a language computers understand. It teaches you to break down complex issues into smaller, manageable parts and develop logical solutions. This skill is invaluable in various professions.

  3. The job market is evolving, with an increasing demand for tech-savvy individuals. Coding skills open doors to a wide range of careers, from software development to data analysis, and even fields like medicine and finance.

  4. Learning to code fosters a growth mindset. It teaches you how to learn, adapt, and keep up with rapidly evolving technologies – a skill crucial for lifelong learning.

  5. Coding isn't just about numbers and syntax; it's a form of creative expression. You can design websites, develop video games, or create interactive art installations, pushing the boundaries of your imagination.

  6. Code is a universal language that transcends borders. In an interconnected world, it enables collaboration with individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

In essence, coding has become a foundational literacy of the 21st century, much like reading and writing.

Middle schoolers who grasp the essence of computer programs and computer science in general, gain a significant advantage, not only in their STEM education but in their future endeavors, where coding proficiency is a passport to an exciting and ever-evolving digital landscape.

Middle schoolers learning how to master coding and computer programming

How to teach your kids to code?

So, you're ready to introduce your kids to the world of coding? Awesome! It's like opening a door to a realm where creativity meets problem-solving. To kickstart their coding adventure, here are 7 strategies that will make the journey not just educational but loads of fun:

1) Start with exciting projects:

When introducing your kids to coding, kick things off with exciting, hands-on projects that captivate their imagination. Consider tasks like designing their own games, creating interactive stories, or crafting animations.

These initial projects provide a sense of accomplishment, igniting their passion for coding. Plus, the "wow" factor of seeing their creations come to life is unparalleled motivation.

2) Explore kid-friendly coding tools

Coding can seem intimidating, but there's a whole world of kid-friendly coding tools waiting to be explored. Platforms like Scratch, Blockly, and CircuitBlocks offer colorful, interactive interfaces designed with young learners in mind.

They provide step-by-step tutorials, making coding accessible and engaging. These tools act as digital playgrounds where your kids can experiment, learn, and express their creativity through code.

3) Nurture independent exploration

Encourage your kids to take the reins in their coding journey. Let them explore various aspects of coding, from designing websites to crafting mobile apps. This independence not only bolsters their problem-solving skills but also allows them to express their unique creativity.

Mistakes along the way? Embrace them as valuable learning opportunities. Independent exploration instills resilience and a sense of ownership over their coding projects.

4) Show how coding rocks the real world

Make coding relevant by showing your kids how it powers the real world. Explain that coding is the language behind their favorite video games, websites, and even the technology they use daily.

Explore coding's impact on various industries, from entertainment to healthcare and beyond. Understanding the practical applications of coding fuels their curiosity and underscores its importance.

5) Challenge their coding skills

As your kids become more proficient, introduce coding challenges to keep their enthusiasm burning bright. These challenges can take the form of coding puzzles, mini-projects, or tackling more complex coding tasks.

Challenges are like treasure maps leading to valuable coding skills. They stimulate critical thinking, encourage problem-solving, and inspire your kids to push their boundaries.

6) Celebrate every milestone

Break the coding journey into smaller, achievable milestones. Celebrate each one, no matter how modest. Completing a coding project, solving a particularly tricky problem, or leveling up in a coding skill are all victories to cherish. Celebrations foster a sense of accomplishment, boost the kids' confidence, and keep the motivation flowing.

Plus, they make the coding journey feel like a series of exciting adventures.

7) Code together = bond together

Transform coding into a family activity. Learning to code together not only provides an opportunity for you to guide and mentor your children but also strengthens family bonds. Collaborative coding sessions create shared memories and experiences.

You'll witness your kids' growth firsthand, and they might surprise you with their ingenuity. Plus, coding as a family promotes a growth mindset, emphasizing that it's okay to learn and make mistakes together.

By implementing these seven strategies, you'll provide your kids with a well-rounded and enjoyable coding education that can set them on a path to discovering the creative and problem-solving wonders of coding.

Parents coding together with their kids to better teach STEM skills

What kind of careers can your middle schoolers go after mastering STEM skills?

The world is full of exciting possibilities for middle schoolers who love STEM. While they're learning, they're also preparing for future careers. Here's a look at some cool jobs your middle schooler can aim for by mastering STEM skills.

STEM careers aren't just about using science and tech; they're about making things, solving problems, and discovering new stuff. But here's the fascinating part: STEM skills aren't confined to STEM jobs.

When your middle schooler learns STEM skills, they're not just opening doors to STEM careers; they're unlocking countless possibilities in the broader job market. It's like having a superpower that helps them excel in whatever path they choose.

How and where can your middle schoolers learn STEM skills?

Empowering your middle schoolers with STEM skills is a journey that can begin at any time. Whether it's at home or at school, offline or online, there are many ways to teach STEM skills.

Here's how to do it:

1) Ensure your kids are participating in STEM-related courses as a part of their school curriculum. Many middle schools offer these courses, and it's a great way for them to slowly dive into the world of STEM.

2) Online courses on platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and edX are an excellent source of knowledge on various STEM topics. STEM courses on these platforms often come at a low cost, so think about enrolling your middle schoolers in one of these courses. 

3) STEM kits are great for providing hands-on learning experience. STEM kits usually include various STEM projects, tools, and components needed to complete a certain project. Luckily, we can help you with that!

4) Hiring a STEM tutor could be a good move if you want your kids to receive a personalized learning experience. From chemistry to coding, today it is easy to find a tutor for almost any STEM field and skill. There are even some STEM mentorship programs you can apply to and find a STEM professional to guide your little ones.

5) STEM-related books are a treasure trove of invaluable information. To master the foundations of specific STEM fields and get a good grasp on what skills are needed to perform, STEM-related books are almost an inevitable learning medium for any middle schooler. Not to mention - reading is cool!

Middle schoolers can learn STEM skills in their school STEM classes

By exploring these avenues, you can create a rich and diverse learning environment for your middle schoolers, nurturing their STEM skills and inspiring them to pursue exciting future possibilities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

CircuitMess has the best STEM kits for kids of all ages

As you dive into STEM education with your kids, remember - it's all about nurturing creativity, problem-solving, and a lifelong love for learning. Through exciting projects and kid-friendly tools, you're preparing them for a future of digital literacy and scientific curiosity.

And what better way to teach your middle schooler valuable STEM skills than with our STEM Box?

Every 3 months, you'll get a new, exciting STEM project delivered to your doorstep. Each box contains all the tools and components you'll need to complete the project. And it's incredibly fun! From building and coding your own smartwatch to assembling a robotic arm from scratch - we've got some cool projects you'll want to get your hands on.

Kids can learn STEM skills with CircuitMess STEM kits

Whether your child is coding, exploring electronics, or diving into STEM, CircuitMess is the perfect companion for a fun and interactive learning journey. Embrace the joy of learning, and watch your children thrive as they master essential STEM skills.

]]>
https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/10-easiest-coding-languages-for-kids-a-parents-guide 2023-08-31T16:32:33+02:00 2024-04-22T15:09:56+02:00 10 Easiest Coding Languages For Kids: A Parent's Guide Albert Gajšak If you've been thinking about teaching your kids how to code - we wholeheartedly encourage you to do it. Teaching kids to code has never been easier, and there are numerous coding languages designed for your young ones to master the code. 

The benefits of learning computer programming are massive - and it can often be fun for kids. 

Read our list of the top 10 easiest coding languages and you'll get a good grasp on where and how to start. 

More

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Hey there, tech explorers! Imagine a world where kids not only play games but create them, too. That's entirely possible with the magic of coding. In this guide, we're diving into the best coding languages for kids.

From the best coding games for kids that teach, to programming languages languages that spark creativity, we've got you covered.

Why should kids learn computer programming?

Coding isn't just about computers; it's about boosting brainpower! When kids code, they're actually supercharging their problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and of course, creativity. Plus, coding makes them ready to rock in today's digital universe.

Let's not forget immediately applicable benefits, either.

According to a survey of over 1,000 parents, a significant 89% of respondents have seen positive outcomes from their kids learning to code.

When it comes to school, specifically, parents and teachers have observed improvements in overall academic performance, mathematics, and language.

benefits of learning to code for kids - survey results

Image source: https://www.tynker.com/

And it's not just the technical skills; soft skills also got a boost! The survey states that learning to code also improved the kids' teamwork, organization, and time management skills.

If you'd like your children to reap similar benefits, coding games for kids may be an easy intro to basic programming concepts. And if you supplement coding with STEM toys, well, your kid might be on their way to becoming a little Einstein.

What are the criteria for the best coding programs for kids?

With so many popular programming languages out there, it can be challenging to find the best one for young kids in early elementary school. Also, pre-teens can sometimes be disinterested in general, so you don't want to waste their enthusiasm on the wrong language.

Here are some of the criteria that make a programming language enjoyable for kids. The language should be:

  • Simple: The syntax and rules of the language should be clear and easy to follow

  • Visual: The language should provide immediate feedback and results that kids can see and interact with

  • Fun: The language should allow kids to problem solve, create games, animations, or write interactive stories

  • Educational: The language should teach kids basic coding skills and programming concepts that they can apply to other programming languages

  • Captivating: The language should engage kids and keep them motivated with interactive challenges and creative projects

  • Supportive: The best coding websites have an online community, detailed video tutorials, coding lessons, resources, or programs that can help kids learn and improve

How to know if a coding language is suitable for kids?

One way to know if a programming language is suitable for kids is to look at the type of programming it uses. There are two main types of programming: block-based programming and text-based programming.

Block-based programming is like building with virtual blocks. These colorful blocks stand for commands, variables, loops, functions, etc. You can see what it looks like in our own coding interface, CircuitBlocks.

CircuitBlocks - easiest way for kids to write code

This style is beginner-friendly because it eliminates the need to type code, remember syntax, or debug errors. That's why blocks are the easiest way to learn coding skills.

On the other hand, text-based programming is a type of programming that uses text to write code. Here's what the code blocks from above look like in actual code.

CircuitBlocks code editor for kids

Text-based programming gives you more control and flexibility, but it also requires more attention to detail, accuracy, and logic.

Sure, it can be a bit trickier for beginners, but here's the silver lining: once your kid conquers text-based coding, they'll be ready to tackle more advanced coding languages like a champ.

So, how can you actually know if a language is suitable for your kid?

If they're just starting out, then you should go with a block-based programming language. It's like building with virtual LEGO—easy, engaging, and tons of fun.

But if they're a bit older or already have some coding experience, text-based programming languages are the way to go. Think of it as moving from coloring inside the lines to painting their own masterpiece—expressive, adaptable, and a bit more of a puzzle.

Find the right programming language for kids in 2023

Now that you know what makes good programming languages for kids, let's take a look at some of the best options available in 2023.

We've selected 10 coding languages that meet the criteria above and are suitable for different ages and levels. You'll also see examples of popular coding games for kids, best coding websites, and programs that use these languages to teach kids coding skills in a fun and interactive way.

And yes, we know most parents are trying to reduce their kids' screen time. Still, screens can be beneficial if you use them well, so let's see what delightful adventures await.

Here we go!

#1 Scratch

Scratch is a block-based programming language that allows kids to create their own interactive stories, games, and animations. Developed by MIT, this visual programming language has a huge online community where kids can share their projects and learn from others.

Scratch - one of the easiest block code editors for kids

Image source: https://scratch.mit.edu/

It's one of the most popular and easy-to-use coding languages for kids. You can think of coding in Scratch as playing coding games for kids.

Pros and cons

Scratch pros

  • Super simple: No typing or syntax errors here. Scratch's friendly interface makes programming games as easy as stacking blocks.

  • Visual learning: Kids learn about coding concepts like loops, variables, and events in a colorful, visual way.

  • Unleash creativity: Design characters, backgrounds, sounds—you name it! Scratch is an excellent choice if you're trying to encourage your little one's creativity with something other than crayons.

  • Numerous resources: Need help? Scratch has got your back with loads of tutorials online.

Scratch cons

  • Some limits: Scratch might not do every trick in the coding book. It's not as flexible as text-based languages.

  • Not everywhere: It's not compatible with all devices, like mobiles or tablets. That's a factor to consider if your kid wants to make mobile apps.

  • Not a challenge for everyone: While it's perfect for newbies, those looking for bigger coding challenges might find it a bit too easy.

#2 Blockly

Another block-based language on our list, Blockly, lets you create code and problem-solve by snapping together blocks.

Blockly - easiest coding language for kids in 2023

 Image source: https://developers.google.com/blockly

Blockly is made by Google and can export blocks to many programming languages, such as JavaScript, Python, PHP, Lua, and Dart. So, it's great for kids who want to learn the basics of coding and then transition to text-based programming.

Pros and cons

Blockly pros

  • Highly customizable: Its customizable interface lets you choose different blocks and colors for different coding concepts.

  • Logic made fun: Blockly teaches you the smart thinking behind coding without stressing over mistakes.

  • Switch it up: It allows you to switch between blocks and text easily and see how your code looks in different programming languages.

  • Lots of help: Blockly has a lot of resources and examples online to help you learn and create.

Blockly cons

  • Not as artsy: While it's certainly fun, Blockly might not let you paint as creatively as text-based languages do.

  • Less social: Although there is an official Blockly community, it's not as active as some others are.

  • Not for every kid: It may not be suitable for young learners or beginners who need more guidance and feedback to learn computer science.

#3 Snap!

If you're looking for more options for kids to make their own interactive games with programming blocks, Snap! might be the right choice.

Snap! - Easiest block coding language for kids

 Image source: https://snap.berkeley.edu/

This block-based coding language is developed by UC Berkeley and is based on Scratch, but it also adds some advanced features like lists, procedures, and continuations.

Pros and cons

Snap! pros

  • Customization at play: Snap! has a fun and flexible interface that lets you customize your blocks and create your own ones.

  • Elevated learning: Besides the basics, Snap! introduces concepts like recursion and higher-order functions through a visual learning approach.

  • Community engagement: It allows kids to explore, collaborate, and share with the community.

  • Learning resources: Abundant resources and tutorials ensure your child has access to ample guidance and inspiration.

Snap! cons

  • Learning curve: Not as easy and intuitive as Scratch or Blockly. Still, there's nothing like a healthy challenge to improve your child's focus and concentration.

  • Specialization required: Snap! is not as powerful and versatile as text-based programming languages for complex or large-scale projects.

  • Device compatibility: It doesn't work on some devices or platforms, such as mobile phones or tablets.

#4 Python

Now, we're moving from basic concepts to our first text-based programming language on the list.

Meet Python, one of the most popular programming languages, that's especially helpful for data science, web development, and automation.

Python - one of the easiest coding languages for kids to learn

 Image source: https://www.python.org/

This powerful programming language wasn't originally designed for children; you won't find it on lists with kids coding languages. However, its simplicity makes it helpful to future engineers who want to learn coding skills. Some even call it the easiest code language!

Pros and cons

Python pros

  • A code reader's dream: The clear and simple syntax makes reading and writing code easy.

  • A world of modules: A large and rich library of modules and packages offers many functionalities and features.

  • A large community: An active community ensures there's always help and resources at your child's fingertips.

Python cons

  • Speed check: Python is not as fast as some other languages, such as C or Java.

  • Compatibility issues: There are some issues with compatibility and consistency between different versions and implementations.

  • Not for all jobs: If an app requires high-performance graphics, Python might not be the top choice.

#5 The Lua programming language

Lua is a text-based programming language that is lightweight, high-level, and multi-paradigm.

In other words, Lua is a language that doesn't take up much space, that can do many things with less code, and that can use different styles or methods of programming.

You can even use the language to play coding games for kids, such as Infon Battle Arena.

 Infon - programming game for kids to learn coding

 Image source: http://infon.dividuum.de/

So, if your kid is curious about app development or creating fun games and web apps, Lua is here to light up their coding journey.

Pros and cons

Lua pros

  • An elegant language: Lua boasts simple and elegant syntax, making it easy to gain programming skills.

  • Small but mighty: It has a small and portable interpreter that can run on any system that has an ANSI C compiler.

  • Coding freedom: Lua plays nice with different programming styles: procedural, object-oriented, functional, and more.

Lua cons

  • Resource limitations: Lua comes with a limited standard library that doesn't provide many functionalities and features.

  • Not for every task: Its capabilities may not be enough for high-performance tasks, as users sometimes complain about the language being slow.

#6 Swift

One of the top programming languages, Apple's Swift, is a go-to for a wide range of users—from coding experts to absolute beginners.

What makes this text-based language so precious for people new to computer science is Swift Playgrounds, an app designed to build games and apps.

Swift Playgrounds - coding game for kids

 Image source: https://www.apple.com/swift/playgrounds/

As the app itself states, it can help you

"Learn serious code. In a seriously fun way."

In case your little one is an iOS or iPadOS enthusiast, then Swift is the best programming language to choose.

Swift - coding language easy-to-learn for kids

 Image source: https://www.apple.com/swift/playgrounds/

Pros and cons

Swift pros

  • Modern approach: Swift is a fresh and modern language that's the real deal for creating apps. There's nothing wrong with coding games for kids; but Swift is also used in apps that shape our real world.

  • Polished charm: Swift Playgrounds comes with a sleek and beautiful interface, making programming like playing interactive games. But here's the kicker: you can create full-blown applications, not just games for kids.

  • Built-in learning: Swift has your back with built-in tutorials and Apple's comprehensive curriculum.

Swift cons

  • No Windows for you: Swift sticks close to Apple's playground, so it's all about the Apple platforms.

  • Potentially complex: As you dive deeper, Swift can get a bit more complex compared to some other languages.

  • iOS bubble: While Swift opens doors to iOS development, the knowledge your kid gains won't be applicable beyond that specific realm.

#7 Java

Despite being here since 1995, Java is still considered to be one of the best programming languages. Java is a good text-based programming language for kids who want to learn a powerful and reliable language for coding apps, making their own games, coding websites, and more.

Also, did you know that the original version of Minecraft was written in Java?

Minecraft - game for kids programmed in Java coding language

 Image source: Minecraft

Now, your kid may not have enough programming logic or coding experience to create another Minecraft just yet.

However, with so many game modes out there, there's no reason why they couldn't use their Java knowledge to build simpler programs or games, like Tic Tac Toe.

 Tic Tac Toe game built in Java programming language for kids

 Image source: https://www.infoq.com/

Pros and cons

Java pros

  • Simple syntax: Simple syntax makes Java easy to use.

  • General-purpose language: It's extremely versatile and it works well for a wide variety of applications.

  • Community support: Java's community, help, and resources are a click away.

Java cons

  • Wordiness alert: At times, Java can get a bit wordy and complex, requiring more lines of code for simple tasks.

  • Performance concerns: It has some issues with memory management and performance optimization.

#8 C++

C++, an improved version of C, is a versatile text-based language that's been shaping the digital world for decades. From Fortnite to YouTube, C++ is in the background of famous apps and best coding websites that your kid has probably used before.

C++ - coding language that's easy to learn for kids

Image source: https://junilearning.com/

Whether your little one wants to create a digital board game, dive into serious app-building, or just learn coding to increase their programming skills, C++ is an excellent choice due to its versatility.

Pros and cons

C++ pros

  • Legendary language: C++ is a legend in the programming world, known for its versatility and power in creating everything from coding games for kids to entire operating systems.

  • Behind the scenes: C++ allows direct interaction with computer components like memory, so knowing C++ lets you see how the computer works under the hood.

  • Smooth performance: It is very fast and efficient, and it gives you full control over your system resources and memory.

C++ cons

  • Elbow grease: Unlike modern languages that handle certain tasks automatically, in C++, you have to do everything manually, which demands extra effort and attention.

  • Steep learning curve: C++ may require a bit more dedication to master.

  • Platform choices: The code you craft in C++ might need adjustments for different platforms because it isn't always as platform-independent as some other languages.

#9 Ruby

Ruby is a text-based programming language that's equally simple and productive. And that's not just something that experienced coders say—Ruby's creators also think beginners can grasp basics in under 30 minutes.

Ruby - easy coding language for kids to master

 Image source: https://try.ruby-lang.org/

If your aspiring coder is not yet willing to commit to one language or a coding game, the good news is that Ruby lets you try out the editor right in your browser. Here's what that looks like.

Ruby - one of the easiest coding languages for kids

 Image source: https://try.ruby-lang.org/

You shouldn't let the simplicity of its syntax fool you, though.

Ruby is a powerful tool, especially for coding websites and APIs, as well as for game development.

Pros and cons

Ruby pros

  • Elegant syntax: If you're new to coding, Ruby is like a warm welcome into the world of programming languages because it's natural to read and write code.

  • High flexibility: It's very flexible and dynamic, and it lets you modify or extend your code at runtime.

  • Libraries galore: You can enrich your software with tons of community-made libraries, called "gems". Get it? 💎😄

Ruby cons

  • Performance time: Ruby can get slow and inefficient when running complex programs.

  • Unexpected quirks: Some methods or operators may not work the same way on different types of objects, meaning that Ruby can have some surprises in its behavior.

  • Fading limelight: In recent times, Ruby's popularity has seen a gentle decline compared to its heyday.

#10 Alice

Alice is one of the most popular coding games—or more precisely, environments—where kids play with code blocks and create animations, narratives, or program simple games for kids in 3D.

Alice - popular coding game for kids

 Image source: http://www.alice.org/featured-projects/interactive-narrative-example-evergarden/

Unlike numerous puzzle-oriented coding apps, Alice sparks learning by encouraging creative exploration, and that's why we think it's one of the top coding games.

As you can see in the following image, block-based coding doesn't have to be predictive.

Alice - one of the easiest coding games for kids

 Image source: YouTube

In case you're looking to teach coding theory without complex semantics, Alice is a good option.

Pros and cons

Alice pros

  • Object-oriented: Alice is based on object-oriented concepts, which are important for learning more advanced coding languages later.

  • Intuitive interface: A colorful and intuitive interface removes focus from complex coding syntax and helps you build creativity and problem-solving skills instead.

  • Time saver: A selection of premade characters, scenes, and sounds lets you jump straight into creating animations.

Alice cons

  • Memory vampire: Alice tends to gobble up too much memory, slowing down your computer and creations.

  • Artistic freedom: You can't create your own characters or scenes, which limits your expression.

Coding their own games will help your kids have even more fun while learning

We've now seen that there are many good options when it comes to beginning coding for elementary students. Blocks or text, each coding game and language offers a unique adventure where your young programmer can ignite their imagination and curiosity while practicing their problem-solving skills.

After your kid masters the "Hello, world!" programs, they'll eventually be ready to apply their knowledge to coding websites or coding games for kids. That way, you won't have to worry about them playing video games too much because they'll actually learn coding through a fun, engaging experience.

With time, they'll maybe even want to expand their computer science knowledge to hardware and become electronics enthusiasts or robotics hobbyists!

Boost your kid's coding skills with CircuitMess

Creating coding games for kids can be easier said than done, and we're here to help you start their journey with our innovative STEM kits.

CircuitMess STEM kits teach kids how to code in a fun way

 CircuitMess STEM Box and Wacky Robots subscriptions offer a tangible starting point, ensuring that your child doesn't have to spend precious time wondering where to begin.

All of our products provide a guided and enjoyable path for kids to dive into coding, helping them learn and create with confidence.

And in case you aren't yet sure if your kid prefers blocks or text-based programming, our beginner-friendly coding app called CircuitBlocks is a safe bet. The app lets kids code in either style—it's just like playing a game in two different game modes.

All in all, whether you decide to go with Scratch or CircuitBlocks, the newly acquired knowledge will help your kid grow, create, and build confidence by the day.

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/10-easy-to-follow-engineering-activities-for-kids 2023-08-25T18:01:32+02:00 2024-04-22T15:09:47+02:00 10 Easy-to-Follow Engineering Activities for Kids Albert Gajšak You're looking for some easy engineering projects to introduce your kids to some cool scientific concepts? Say no more! 

We've prepared a list of 10 extremely easy (and fun) engineering activities for kids - from working with electronics with our STEM kits to conquering the laws of physics with homemade pneumatic machines. We've got it all. 

Check out the list and prepare your kids for the future with these simple and fun activities! 

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You've probably heard about how STEM toys and engineering activities for kids benefit their development.

That's absolutely true. Even better, it's never too early for your kids to reap the benefits of doing a STEM project. Today, most projects are specifically designed for different age groups - and most of the projects on this list are great for kids in their preschool age and older.

In this article, we'll show you why easy engineering activities for kids are the perfect way to hone their problem-solving skills and inspire a lifelong love for learning.

And since nothing can replace hands-on engineering activities, you'll also find a list of ten easy science projects to do at home or in a classroom. All of the listed STEM activities prove that you only need a few materials to inspire young kids to navigate the world of science in so many fun ways.

Let's dive in!

Why do kids love fun engineering projects?

Sure, learning basic principles of physics, improving focus, and developing critical thinking are important outcomes of engineering activities for elementary students. Still, kids enjoy engineering challenges for different reasons.

Try to think about yourself and most children in your class when you were a 12-year-old.

What was more interesting to students: the concept of conservation of momentum or the fact that they've made an amazing Newton's cradle in school?

Engineering activity for kids - Newton's Cradle

Image source: https://babbledabbledo.com

As you can assume, children usually gravitate towards the latter. Here's why:

  • It's fun and they get to play: Easy engineering projects are seen as play rather than work.
  • Instant results: Engineering projects often have quick outcomes, which keeps the enthusiasm alive.
  • Boosting self-confidence: Successfully completing a challenge enhances self-confidence.
  • Fostering accountability: Building activities foster a sense of ownership and connection to the project.

Now, let's see what actually happens while kids are having fun with elementary engineering projects.

What skills do kids' engineering projects develop?

No matter how basic an engineering activity or a math challenge might seem, you can rest assured that these activities are packed with skill-building opportunities.

For instance, a 2022 study has found that learning coding skills with robotic toys can improve children's math and technology skills, as well as their social-emotional development.

The study showed that the children learned coding concepts such as sequencing and debugging, and also developed collaboration and communication skills.

Some other skills you can see developing as a result of simple engineering projects for kids include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative ideas
  • Science knowledge
  • Time management

Let's not forget about resourcefulness, either.

Oftentimes, mechanical engineering activities for kids require you to utilize household materials in creative ways. Just remember all the ways kids use empty toilet paper rolls as building blocks for ingenious engineering adventures!

10 fun engineering activities for kids

Enough theory, we know you're eager to get your hands on some awesome engineering activities for kids. Grab some cardboard, a pipe cleaner or two, and let's go.

We'll start with a true engineering challenge, a STEM activity that will make your young engineer's eyes light up with excitement: making a game console.

#1 Create your own game console (we're not kidding)

You may now be thinking: "I wanted a simple engineering project, and now they're talking about building consoles?"

Luckily, there's an achievable way to complete this project that's suitable for every kid who's into video games.

Engineering activity for kids - creating a game console with CircuitMess Nibble

With Nibble, a DIY game console kit, kids can put their technical and computer engineering skills to the test and see how long it takes them to build their own programmable game console.

What tools and supplies do you need?

The Nibble kit comes with all the tools and supplies you need to build your console and complete this STEM project.

Nibble - engineering project for kids - tools and components

However, if you want to code your own apps and games, you'll also need a computer or a laptop.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Getting into electronics as a hobby has never been more approachable. By building their console, kids learn about electronic components and hardware assembly.

Those looking for extra engineering challenges can go the extra mile and also work on their coding and game design skills. That way, you don't have to worry about the child spending too much time playing video games because they're actively involved in crafting and programming their own experiences.

#2 Engineer a fort

The next idea on our list is an engineering activity that transcends generations: building a fort.

Engineering activity for kids - Building a fort

Image source: https://www.primroseschools.com

This engineering challenge is a timeless way for kids to channel their creativity, learn about structural design, and construct their own private world of adventure.

What tools and supplies do you need?

Although fort building is one of those engineering activities for kids at home that doesn't require many resources, kids can still create impressive structures.

To start this engineering project, you only need:

  • Blankets and sheets
  • Pillows and cushions
  • Clothespins
  • Cardboard boxes (optional)
  • Pallets or furniture (optional)

And that's it! You can let your kid's imagination run wild with crazy ideas while they fill their day with fun building activities.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Kids engage in imaginative play while designing their fort, learning about stability and balance for robust structures.

And they work together with their friends, parents, or siblings. This improves their communication skills and helps them to learn how to work together effectively.

#3 Learn with Rube Goldberg machines

Science is far from boring, and Rube Goldberg machines are living proof of that. They're these crazy contraptions that do a simple task in the most complicated, fun, and roundabout way possible. 

Here's an example of a cool, simple Rube Goldberg machine. 

Regardless of the components you use, all Rube Goldberg machines are fun engineering projects for kids that chain together a bunch of small actions to make a big chain reaction.

What tools and supplies do you need?

No two Rube Goldberg machines are the same: you can use absolutely any household materials you have on hand. Grab a bunch of dominoes, masking tape, rope, plastic links, and a PVC pipe, and you can start working on your ideas.

This is also an excellent activity for LEGO lovers because those colorful bricks offer endless building possibilities.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Creative engineering projects like this one teach kids about cause and effect in a playful way. Kids learn to plan, test their ideas, and solve problems as they build intricate systems. It's like turning your home or classroom into a mini construction site full of surprises.

#4 Build a DIY catapult

Now, let's catapult our way into another fun engineering challenge.

Whether you're aiming for fun, science, math, mechanical engineering for kids, or all of these, your kids will enjoy the process of creating a DIY catapult.

Engineering activity for kids - building a DIY catapult

Image source: https://www.popsci.com

Hardly anything beats flinging things across the room, which makes this one of the greatest engineering projects for 10 to 12 years olds.

What tools and supplies do you need?

You don't need a ton of materials to make a functional catapult. You'll likely find everything you need right in your home:

  • Craft sticks
  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic spoon
  • Small pom-poms or crumpled paper

With these simple items, you're ready to embark on an epic launch into the domain of STEM activities, primarily physics and engineering.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Engineering catapults is one of many fun engineering projects for kids that help them understand forces, angles, and energy. Also, kids get to experiment and observe how changing variables affect the distance and trajectory of their projectile.

#5 Engineer a paper bridge

Building a paper bridge might seem simple, especially if there are no other materials involved. Still, it's a fantastic way to introduce kids to fundamental concepts of engineering and physics.

Engineering activity for kids - constructing a paper bridge - using paper and coins

Image source: https://science.wonderhowto.com

What tools and supplies do you need?

This simple and 100% screen-free activity only requires three things:

  • Sheets of paper
  • Scissors (for optional modifications)
  • Small weights, such as coins

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

As kids experiment with different designs, lengths, and support structures, they'll learn about balance, load distribution, and the importance of sturdy foundations.

Whatever bridge design you choose to follow, you'll see that fun engineering activities like these encourage creativity while teaching valuable skills that extend far beyond paper.

#6 Create a functional windmill

If you think your kid may be a future engineer or environmental enthusiast, exploring the realm of renewable energy and wind power through a windmill project is an excellent choice.

Engineering activity for kids involving creating a functional windmill

Image source: https://www.upstartmag.co.nz

Unfortunately, you won't be able to generate actual electricity in this process, but you'll certainly generate excitement and knowledge about how wind power can be harnessed.

What tools and supplies do you need?

To craft your own windmill, you'll need:

  • Craft sticks
  • Cardboard
  • Straws
  • Masking tape
  • Markers or colored pencils

Kids can also use hot glue to secure certain parts of the windmill, but make sure to involve an adult for safe handling.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

By making their own windmills, kids gain insights into the practical applications of engineering concepts, environmental awareness, and the potential of sustainable technology.

This activity seamlessly integrates STEM principles, showing how science, tech, engineering, and math can team up to tackle real-world challenges in a fun way.

#7 Design a straw boat

Keeping kids engaged in constructive and educational STEM activities is a great approach for reducing your kids' screen time, and we have more ideas for you.

For instance, you can challenge your little engineers to design a floating boat made of straws.

Engineering activity for kids involves building a straw boat

Image source: YouTube

Projects that use so few materials are fun engineering activities because they let kids transform ordinary household items into extraordinary creations.

What tools and supplies do you need?

Designing a straw boat is simple, and you probably have most of the materials at home. Here's what you'll need:

  • Straws
  • Craft paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue

Don't forget the most important part: a container of water to put your water vehicle to the test.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Building their own straw boats will help kids dive into the principles of buoyancy, stability, and fluid dynamics. They'll experiment with different shapes, sizes, and weights to understand how these factors impact a boat's ability to stay afloat and move in the water.

And, of course, the more water gets splashed around, the more fun the STEM project is.

#8 Build a balloon-powered car

Cars are complex machines, and making a miniature balloon-powered car provides a simplified yet fun way for kids to explore the basic principles of vehicle propulsion and energy conversion.

Engineering activity for kids - building a balloon-powered car

Image source: https://www.instructables.com

Creating a balloon-powered car might seem like rocket science, but fear not—this project breaks down the complexities into a hands-on, educational activity.

What tools and supplies do you need?

You don't need much to set your vehicle in motion. Some paper, balloons, tape, straws, and bottle caps are enough.

Supplies for the kids' engineering activity - building a balloon-powered car

Image source: https://www.instructables.com

You'll also need a supply of air (your lungs or a simple hand pump will do the trick).

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Kids will grasp concepts such as air pressure, force, and motion while enjoying the thrill of designing a vehicle that zooms across the floor. Also, this activity encourages critical thinking as kids iterate through different designs to optimize performance.

#9 Create a simple pneumatic machine

A slightly bigger challenge for your little engineer is to make a pneumatic machine.

Engineering activity for kids - building a simple pneumatic machine with affordable supplies

Image source: https://stemrobo.wordpress.com

These machines use the power of compressed air to create motion and perform tasks, and they offer a glimpse into the realm of pressure mechanics. So, if you've been looking for ideas to explore mechanical engineering for kids, this is an excellent one.

What tools and supplies do you need?

Just like other fun DIY engineering activities for kids on this list, this activity requires readily available resources.

Supplies for kids' engineering activity - building a simple pneumatic machine

Image source: https://stemrobo.wordpress.com

You only need craft sticks, plastic syringes, vinyl tubes, straws, and a pipe cleaner.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Constructing the machine and experimenting with pressure allows kids to see how changes in pressure lead to movements. This cause-and-effect relationship provides them with a practical understanding of the fundamental principles that govern mechanical systems.

#10 Build a real Batmobile

Lastly, we'll leave you with one of the most interesting electrical engineering activities for kids: building a Batmobile. This project is the ultimate blend of imagination and multiple fun engineering activities. And we're talking about the real deal here. 

 Engineering activity for kids - building a DIY Batmobile with CircuitMess Batmobile kit

Assembling and coding a Batmobile allows kids to explore basic circuitry and make a vehicle that you can move with a controller.

What tools and supplies do you need?

To approach this STEM challenge, you'll need our Batmobile kit.

CircuitMess Batmobile parts and components - everything needed for this kids' engineering activity

From wheels to electric motors, the CircuitMess Batmobile STEM kit has everything you need to bring this STEM project to life.

If you want to take your Batmobile's capabilities even further, you can connect it to your laptop and program more functions. Those new to coding don't have to miss out on the fun; they'll learn about block coding to ease into the developer mindset, even at a young age.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

While crafting their own Batmobile, kids learn about simple circuits, electrical connections, and the transformation of electrical energy into motion. STEM kits like this one are an exciting way to spark interest in engineering concepts and showcase how creativity and technology can merge.

Raise little engineers with CircuitMess DIY STEM projects

There you have it—these were our ideas for ten engineering projects for kids that we hope will find their way into your home, school, or classroom.

Some of these require nothing but simple materials, while others use complex components to teach your kids the fundamentals of electrical engineering.

If your kids react well to such projects, we encourage you to explore different DIY subscription boxes. This will help you make scientific experiments a regular part of your kids' lives, nurturing their curiosity and interest in STEM topics from a young age.

We think we have some great options for engineering projects for kids, so make sure to check out our STEM Box and Wacky Robots subscriptions! 

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https://circuitmess.com/blogs/news/diy-birthday-gifts-for-kids 2023-08-21T15:48:48+02:00 2024-04-22T15:09:38+02:00 DIY Birthday Gifts Any Kid Will Absolutely Love to Have (Our Top 10 Picks) Albert Gajšak More

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It doesn't have to be a holiday season for you to be on the lookout for a wonderful gift.

The Christmas tree may not be there, but birthdays are here all year round, and so is the children's everlasting desire to engage in a fun craft at home.

So, if you have a DIY-oriented little one whose birthday is coming up, you're in the right spot.

We'll show you the ten best DIY gifts for kids that they'll love playing with. We'll also give you more ideas to extend the excitement with kids' activities.

But first, let's see what makes a great gift.

What to look for when buying a birthday DIY gift for kids?

Yet another LEGO set?

Cool; good luck guessing which one the birthday kid doesn't already have.

A kids' knitting kit?

Now, that's a bit more original, but you'll lose the cool aunt/uncle status immediately.

Jokes aside, if you're on the hunt for DIY gifts for kids that will make them work their brains while having so much fun learning, you have to know what to look for. Here are some key criteria we suggest considering when finding an awesome gift:

  • Age appropriateness
  • Multi-sensory experience
  • Size and storage
  • Long-term interest
  • Ease of cleanup (parents will thank you!)

Essentially, when you're searching for a perfect gift, it's all about merging education, a child's art, and an easy craft.

10 best DIY birthday gifts for kids—so much fun awaits!

Now that you know the theory, it's time to find concrete gift ideas. To save you from scouring the internet for hours, we've compiled a list of 10 wonderful gifts we wish had graced our own childhood. We assure you, kids will have a blast making any of these.

#1 Wacky Robots

Wacky Robots is an educational DIY kit that's perfect for getting little ones into robotics. What better way to introduce kids to the engineering mindset than through fun projects?

DIY birthday gift idea for kids - Wacky Robots box

As kids build their Wacky Robot, they learn about electronics, motors, resistors, and more, all while watching a super cute character come to life before their eyes.

An invaluable aspect of this gift is that if the kid likes their robot, the fun doesn't end there.

In addition to a one-off delivery, you can also choose a 3, 6, or 12-month subscription plan where a new robot with different components is shipped each month.

After all, subscription boxes are like having multiple birthdays a year!

How do you assemble it?

When it comes to DIY gifts, you don't want to create extra hassle for parents. That's why Wacky Robots come with all the components needed for kids to start tinkering right away.

You can also purchase a tool pack, or get it for free by signing up for a 6-month subscription.

DIY birthday gift idea for kids - Wacky Robots toolbox

The assembly process is fairly simple, and the instructions are there to ensure that every step is done safely and correctly.

Which age group is it for?

The Wacky Robot kits require no previous technical knowledge and are appropriate for kids aged nine and above.

So, if the birthday kid is new to crafts and science, this is an excellent entry point into the world of engineering.

#2 DIY terrarium—gift giving made easy

In case you want to help kids nurture their green thumb, a DIY terrarium is a wonderful way to do so.

DIY birthday gift for kids - DIY terrarium

Image source: https://blog.indypl.org/

Building a terrarium is a grounding activity, and it's as screen-free as they come.

Although the process is a bit messy, it lets nature-loving kids exercise their creativity and artistic instincts. You'll agree that a bit of soil on the floor is a small price to pay for that.

How do you assemble it?

One option is to buy a pre-made terrarium kit. However, if you want to make the birthday gift more personal, you can get individual elements on your own.

Here's what a basic terrarium set needs:

  • Glass container with no drainage holes OR
  • A big Mason jar
  • Gravel or crushed stone
  • Activated charcoal
  • Sheet moss
  • Sterile potting mix
  • Terrarium plants

It can look something like this:

DIY birthday gift idea for kids - terrarium setImage source: https://gracelands-terrariums.com/

Terrarium building is a fun kids' craft that proves that creativity knows no bounds.

Whether you choose a humble jar terrarium or a hexagonal chamber, Fittonia, or Pilea plants, your little one will experience creating a unique ecosystem from scratch.

You'll get bonus points if you take them for a walk to independently collect pebbles, branches, or seed and nut pods. Who knew one project could bring on so many kids' activities?

Which age group is it for?

As the assembly requires some manual dexterity, DIY terrariums are best suited for kids aged six and older.

#3 DIY game console

This one's for the gamers of today and engineers of tomorrow.

You probably have at least one kid in your life who's always either playing video games or streaming other people playing games. Well, how about challenging them to build their own game console?

DIY birthday gift ideas for kids - CircuitMess Nibble game console

With Nibble, our very own DIY console, you can do just that.

Of course, building a handheld console isn't the easiest task out there, which makes it even more rewarding. Here's what one happy parent says about his son's experience with Nibble:

"He learned some patience, resilience, and the joy of completing a project."

So, what might start as a curiosity-driven endeavor can result in skills that extend beyond the task at hand?

How do you assemble it?

The assembly process consists of several parts.

First, you have to assemble all parts of the console—there's some soldering, too.

DIY birthday gift ideas for kids - assembling Nibble

Then, you can play the pre-loaded retro arcade games, or code your own games in C++ or CircuitBlocks (a beginner-friendly graphical programming interface). Nibble is as much fun to assemble as it's fun to play with.


As you can see, this great gift is more than a functional DIY console; it also encourages ongoing creative exploration.

Which age group is it for?

Previous coding or technical experience isn't required, making this gift suitable for kids as young as nine and above.

#4 Coding car

Although the star of the birthday party still has a few years until they get their driver's license, there's no reason why they couldn't start driving a toy version of a car right now.

DIY birthday gift ideas for kids - Elegoo coding car Image source: https://www.elegoo.com/

Ideally, you'll decide on a special gift that requires a bit more than unboxing and pressing buttons, such as ELEGOO UNO R3, a smart robot car.

This vehicle is equipped with sensors, so you can play with obstacle avoidance, or draw lines on paper that the car can follow.

Another cool idea to do with this gift is to see how the car navigates different terrains.

How do you assemble it?

In addition to assembling the vehicle itself, this car allows you to add new capabilities by coding. You can use code or program blocks to make the car move in a sequence of directions that you've set.

Which age group is it for?

Bear in mind that this is an Arduino-compatible car, so it does require some electronic and programming experience. Because of that, the product is advertised as suitable for kids aged 12 and up.

#5 DIY CircuitMess Batmobile

You're invited to a Batman-obsessed kid's birthday party. The easy way to approach gift-giving is to buy a pair of socks adorned with the Dark Knight's grin.

However, the right way is to immerse them into the world of DIY with the trilling Batmobile.

DIY birthday gift for kids - CircuitMess Batmobile

As the birthday kid assembles this iconic vehicle piece by piece, they're not just constructing a toy—they're building a tangible connection to their favorite superhero's world.

How do you assemble it?

The best thing about DIY kids' crafts is that they let you understand how something works under the hub. So, by following the instructions and assembling the Batmobile, the birthday kid can become Batman's personal car mechanic!

 

When the Batmobile is built, you can let it drive autonomously or navigate it with the controller, watch it dance, or play sounds.

To use its capabilities to the fullest, you can also grab a laptop, and program the Batmobile to add versatility in how it moves around.

Which age group is it for?

A wide range of Batmobile's features might sound intimidating but don't worry. Thanks to beginner-friendly guides for building and programming, this is a perfect gift for any superhero fan aged 7 and above.

#6 Basketball catapult—homemade gifts are still in!

Next on our list is a DIY basketball catapult, a slam dunk of creativity and fun. This is a budget-friendly, practical gift because you can build it with common household items.

DIY birthday gift for kids - basketball catapultImage source: Youtube

Creating a basketball catapult is a simple craft that will help your little one explore physics, engineering, and sports.

Also, this screen-free activity is an excellent opportunity for improving fine motor skills.

How do you assemble it?

To create a DIY basketball catapult kit, you'll need the following items:

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Rubber bands
  • Cardboard
  • Glue 
  • White tape
  • Plastic ball

You can pack all the components in a nice box for a lovely gift. Better yet, bring the popsicles and ask the party-goers to clean the sticks.

When it comes to assembly, you can choose between various tutorials found online (in video or text) or come up with a unique solution.

Which age group is it for?

Depending on the amount of parent involvement, a basketball catapult kit is a fun gift for kids aged 6 or older.

#7 Make your own LEGO movie

Step aside, indie filmmakers, there's a new player in town! If you know a kid who's into LEGO and filming videos, here's a super fun activity that combines the two.

 DIY birthday gift ideas for kids - Brickloot LEGO setImage source: https://subscriptionly.net/

Crafting your own LEGO movie is an entertaining adventure that also helps nurture creativity and patience. By gifting a LEGO set, you'll give the birthday kid a way to turn their great ideas into captivating visual stories.

How do you assemble it?

LEGO sets, a smartphone, and a stop-motion app is all it takes—no need for a Hollywood studio!

If you don't want to show up empty-handed, consider paying for a video editing app subscription or an unusual LEGO set.

 

Which age group is it for?

Although younger kids are a serious force when it comes to LEGO disassembly, we suggest leaving this activity to older kids because video editing requires quite a bit of patience.

#8 Wildcraft Art Box—always a fun craft

Any creative kid (and an artful parent alike) would appreciate a special gift that nourishes the kid's creative flair.

And with an increasing number of people caring about sustainability, going with a nature-inspired DIY box is a safe bet. That's why you should consider getting a Wildcraft Art Box.

DIY birthday gifts for kids ideas - Wildcraft art box

Image source: https://www.cratejoy.com/

These art boxes, created by Camp Wildcraft, can mark the beginning of a cycle of giving beautiful gifts.

For instance, the child who receives an art box can then make another homemade gift for a dear friend, a family member, or even as a token of teacher appreciation.

Remember, everybody loves homemade gifts and especially kid-made gifts.

So, when you gift this box, you'll also help kids prepare Mother's Day, Father's Day, and even Christmas gifts. Maybe even some fun friendship bracelets, too.

How do you assemble it?

Supplies that you receive in the box can be an entire project. However, you can also encourage kids to add scrap wood, pipe cleaners, or other materials and create fun designs.

Which age group is it for?

The boxes are intended for ages 6 to early teenage years, making them suitable for anything from unique child's art to intricate creations.

#9 NG's Earth Science kit

Prepare for an expedition through the wonders of Earth's geological treasures with the NG's Earth Science Kit. If you have an aspiring scientist who's always exploring our planet's mysteries, this DIY kit is a fantastic gift to satiate their thirst for knowledge.

DIY birthday gift ideas for kids - National Geographic's Earth science kit Image source: https://www.amazon.com/

The kit includes multiple activities, some of which take days to complete. For instance, growing a real crystal takes three days, teaching kids patience and focus.

Similarly, the provided rocks can mark the beginning of a wonderful collection that can grow for years to come.

We have to mention an additional, related DIY activity here: making crystal eggs.

 DIY birthday gift for kids - crystal geode eggsImage source: https://www.pinkstripeysocks.com/

Following the tutorial from Pink Stripey Socks, the aspiring geologist can also make beautiful crystal formations and compare the results to those from the NG's kit.

How do you assemble it?

The Earth Science Kit comes with all the equipment needed to conduct experiments. In other words, you can go straight to experimenting as soon as you open the box.

Which age group is it for?

Geology may be a complex field, but the kit simplifies its intricacies, making it accessible for kids in the age group of 6 to 8 years old. And if you're looking for more DIY science experiments, check out our list of science experiment ideas for kids.

#10 Bookmaking kit

Who says that reading is merely a passive activity? With a bookbinding kit, like this one, you can turn the little bookworm into an active creator.

DIY birthday gift for kids - bookbinding kit Image source: