Holiday STEM Gift Ideas

Boston Tech Mom has posted her annual STEM Gift Ideas for 2018 and has also discussed the gifts recommended by educators from Project Lead the Way.

Eric Olson recommends the monthly subscriptions of fun STEM projects from KiwiCo. They’re available in 7 lines, by age:  Explore & Discover (0-3 years), Play & Learn (3-4 years), Science, Art & More (5-8 years), Geography & Culture (6-11 years), Art & Design (9-16+ years), Science & Engineering (9-16+ years), Engineering and Design (14-104 years). Choose 1, 3, 6, or 12 months, with increasing discounts. Change among lines at any time.

Kevin Osborn has an eclectic list of recommendations for makers and robotics fans:

1. Screwdrivers! They are definitely not all created equal! Wiha screwdrivers are always excellent, and you can buy them in multi-bit sets or as dedicated drivers with ergonomic handles. Once you start using them, you’ll want to throw out your other screwdrivers. If you are not buying a set, at least get a #1 and #2 Phillips head. They are available locally at YouDoIt Electronics or online. And if you ever need to open your Macbook or Android phone, specialty screwdrivers are needed. This Japanese made set is terrific and has regular drivers included, so it’s just about got you covered for any job involving small screws.

2. To explore electronics on a budget, look at Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express, which has a bunch of sensors, a speaker, microphone, addressable LEDs, etc. It can be programmed in the browser with Microsoft’s MakeCode, with Arduino, or you can drag-and-drop Python programs to it. Many accessories are available, including Crickit, which turns the Circuit Playground #xpress into a great platform for building your own robots.

3. mBot is not like so many “STEM” robot toys that are expensive one-trick ponies (once you’ve learned what they have to teach you, they are no longer very interesting). mBot includes distance sensing, line following, motion, and more, and it’s part of a more extensive line (makeblock) that’s sort of an Erector Set of robotics. With many attachment points, you can also add on your own embellishments (both artistic and functional) with standard screws and nuts. Buy two to set up your own robot sumo contest!