Twenty-one years after the acronym STEM was introduced by the U.S. National Science Foundation, experts agree that developing strong science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics skills is still crucial – not just for the success of our children, but for the success of our country. “Our knowledge-based economy is driven by constant innovation,” notes the bipartisan congressional STEM Education Caucus. “The foundation of innovation lies in a dynamic, motivated and well-educated workforce equipped with STEM skills.”
The concept continues to capture the imaginations of parents everywhere. They’re on a mission to start their children on STEM-skill development early. Fortunately there are many companies in the specialty toy space creating products that support their goals. To help you stock the products you need now to celebrate National STEM/STEAM Day on November 8, here’s a look at Ukidz, based in Mundelein, Illinois. Five of its brands recently earned The
STEM.org Authenticated Trustmark. This seal helps consumers identify resources that conform to vetted STEM standards.
Here are the STEM-certified Ukidz brands. Each one focuses on different aspects of construction.
1. Matador, a construction set based on precision-drilled wooden blocks, rods and wheels
2. Pixio, a unique construction set in which blocks are connected thanks to a well-thought-out system of magnets (above)
3. Unit Bricks – a version of the classic wooden playthings championed by both Albert Einstein and Architect Frank Lloyd Wright
4. Babai, a line of balancing toys, lacing toys, teethers, dollhouses, and more, made from sustainable wood
5. UGears self-propelled mechanical model kits that are assembled without glue
“We believe building toys are age-less, and appeal to both the young and young at heart,” says mechanical engineer and Ukidz founder Dmitriy Zverev.
According to STEM.org Educational Research (SER), the group that conducts the secure third-party review and evaluation process, its seal ensures that the product has been certified to do the following.
• Integrate seamlessly into STEM-friendly classrooms and homes
• Align to science, technology, engineering, and/or math standards
• Support the development of a learner’s 21st-century skills
• Engage users through hands-on learning and collaboration
Also taken into consideration during the process is the product’s ability to build skills like socialization and communication, imagination and cognition, kinesthetics and active play, and diversity and inclusion.
Founded in 2001, SER is the longest continually-operating, privately-held STEM education research and credentialing organization in America. Through an extensive collaborative effort, SER has worked closely with an international coalition of educators, administrators, NGOs and schools to establish a trusted set of STEM benchmarks.