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Encouraging Young Engineers with Robotics for Kids

16 Mar

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With recent developments as innovative as medical robots performing surgery and as hilarious as a 3D printer making pizza in outer space, the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (commonly known as STEM), and more specifically robotics are taking humanity farther than we ever thought possible. Allow your children to actively take part in shaping the world around them with the help of STEM practices.

In fact, by including robotics in regular play, you can engage children in different aspects of engineering and teach different scientific concepts. When children work with STEM toys and activities, they learn problem solving skills, creativity, ingenuity and critical thinking alongside developing a passion for science and mathematics. Keep reading for some great activities and toys to help foster your child’s interest in engineering.

Origami Robots – Start simple by creating a robot using origami. Using traditional Japanese paper folding, you can introduce your child to basic engineering concepts and help them begin to understand the importance of following instructions when it comes to larger projects. The Paper Punk Build Your Own Paper Bot002 incorporates creativity and individuality into construction. Instructions are simple, but stickers and a variety of patterns and designs keep kids from getting bored and allow them to explore their own ingenuity.

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Starting Easy Mio the Robot allows children to construct their own real life, programmable robot. The amount of interchangeable parts helps children think critically and encourages creativity as they bring their robot to life. You can also help children learn some programming basics and work on mathematics to make the robot move!

Explore Versatility – With the Smart Lab Motorblox Robot Lab, children will learn how to build something from scratch. The Robot Lab allows children to build and test three different walking robots. Adding movement allows children to develop problem-solving and experimentation skills while learning about mechanics.

 The Big Leagues – Step up the programming game with the ReCon 6.0, a programmable rover that young engineers can program to navigate specific courses. Children can program the robot to deliver a treat to a pet, surprise a family member with a personalized message, carry a soda, guard a bedroom, or even dance! By working with a more complex type of programming, they will engage with early mathematics and delve into more complicated problem solving.

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Schools are pushing for more STEM concepts in the classroom, but who says they have to stay there? Allow your young ones to put on their thinking caps and encourage exploration, experimentation, and excitement at home with their own personal robot friends! For more STEM toys and products, visit the STEM and STEAM section of our website.

Hands-On Fun! Digging for Dinosaurs

4 Nov

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Sensory exploration is important for young children as they not only develop their senses but also learn new ways to explore the world around them. One way to engage the senses, teach science skills, and encourage hands-on play is by digging for dinosaur bones! Here are four simple steps for starting your very own mini-excavation with kids:

86665f.jpg1. Pick Out Sand.

The first thing you’ll need is a sand pit! Whether it’s a sand box, a sand and water table, or simply a sensory tray with sand in it, you’ll need something to cover up those dinosaur bones and fossils! If you’re looking for authenticity, add Jurassic Sand to give a rustic feel to your excavation.

Featured Resource: Naturally Playful Sand Table 

2. Find Fossils.

31828.jpgThe next thing you’ll need is believable finds for your budding archeologist! Finding fossils should be exciting as children take on the role of a scientist to assess their discoveries and ask questions about different dinosaurs. From fossils to prehistoric plants, here are some fun options below:

3. Use the Right Tools.

17447c.jpgIt can’t be a proper dinosaur dig without the right tools! Equip your explorer with shovels, sifters, and a magnifying glass to study their findings. It’s also important to ensure the tools fit their hands and are small enough to fit inside trays and sand tables without damaging the fossils. Here are some of our favorite tools for little hands:

30328d.jpg4. Go for the Kit.

Want to go even deeper into dinosaur discovery? Check out our archaeologist kits for little explorers. Kits include STEM materials, career exploration, and all of the materials needed to start an excavation for kids!

Featured Excavation Kits:


Have pictures of your dinosaur dig? Tweet them @KaplanToys by using the hashtag #littledinodigs.

Six Science Investigations for Summer

4 Aug

Curious how your children can get more involved in science learning this summer? Take advantage of the time off from school to tap into children’s natural curiosity with scientific investigations at home! Whether little ones want to catch up, get ahead, or just have fun, summer is the perfect time for creative, scientific play.

1. Kitchen Creations

Change things up by encouraging children to play with their food! Together, you can make something edible or make food discoveries just for fun. You may want to try the marshmallow challenge: make a marshmallow sink by compacting it so that it is more dense than the water in which it would normally float. Check out more science experiments for the kitchen here:

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Source: Makes and Takes

2. Grow Up

Use the summer sun to help practice planting and gardening! You can grow a whole garden outdoors, or keep a small potted plant on a windowsill inside to study with children. What do plants need to grow? Depending on what you plant, how high will it grow? Find out those answers and more with these gardening ideas here:

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Source: PBS Parents

3.Sponge Fun

Learn about absorption with a sponge! See how the sponge absorbs soap and water indoors, or take it outside to get messier! Compare the sponge to a block or other non-absorbent materials when it is both wet and dry. Why do you think it works like this? You can even turn chores, like washing dishes or a car, into a lesson about absorption. Check out the details of how absorption works and more fun facts about this activity here:

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Science Sparks

4. Tornado in a Jar

Jump into sensory play by creating your own tornado! All you need is a jar, water, and a little bit of dish soap. Now, just shake it up. For more detailed instructions, click on the jar!

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In Leiu of Preschool

5. Stargazing

If it’s a clear night, search for stars in the night sky! You can use a telescope or just look up above. Can you see planets? Any constellations? What are stars made up of? Here are the answers and some cool science facts for kids. Go even deeper into night sky exploration by checking out our related post: Planning a Family Stargazing Night.

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Easy Science for Kids

6. Fireflies

Can’t see the stars from where you are? Fireflies make a great summertime substitute! You can catch these little critters temporarily in acute bug jar (with a hole for airflow) to observe the bugs up close. Find out what makes fireflies glow and other cool facts about fireflies here:

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Smithsonian

For more summer science fun, visit our science section!

Different Ways to Use Light Stax!

8 Dec

Looking for a cool new toy for your child for the holidays? Do you have a little builder on your hands? Light Stax are one of our favorite new toys that we think you may just love! These glow-in-the-dark blocks not only allow for practicing budding engineering skills, but they are a fun night light for children who may be afraid of the dark! Here are a few different ways you and your child can play with Light Stax:

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1. Bring Animals to Light!

Light Stax allow children to bring animals to life as they light up their favorite critters! The power base lights whatever structure they come up with as they boost creativity and imagination!

Source: http://www.mommytodaymagazine.com/toys/light-stax/

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2. Build a Colorful Night Light!

Put building skills to the test then use the finished structure as a custom built, self-dimming nightlight in your child’s room!

 

 

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3. Create Creative Patterns

The entrancing colors allow for patterning as children learn about sequences and color identiication. Patterns only limited by color and imagination!

Source: http://coolmomtech.com/2015/02/light-stax-electric-light-blocks/

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4. Pair with LEGO for Tiny Adventures!

Incorporate Light Stax structures into LEGO kingdoms to bring lights to character’s mini-cities! The block set is always fun and adaptable to incorporate into other building sets!

Source: http://www.mdiaus.net.au/blog/connecting-with-light-stax/458


-Need a set of Light Stax for your little builder? Find all of our Light Stax sets here and don’t forget to apply the holiday code MISTLETOE for 15% off $50+! Offer runs through Dec. 15th!

-Need more ideas for how to build with Light Stax? Follow Light Stax Facebook page for more glow in the dark adventures!

Creating a Science Lab at Home!

14 Jul

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Does your child love watching the Discovery Channel and reading National Geographic? Then it’s time to bring children’s natural curiosity to the table by creating a science lab at home! Here are a few simple steps you’ll need to know to create a space for scientific discovery:

1. Choose Your Space Wisely

It’s important that children help you pick out their science space as they’ll be spending the most time in it. Be sure the space you choose has a flat surface for children to work on (since we all know how messy science can be), a window, as many experiments require sunlight or documenting weather patterns, and comfortable seating. Here are a few fun ideas for personalizing the lab:

  • Add plants on the desk or tabletop, so that children have examples of nature right in front of their eyes!
  • Hang posters for science inspiration. 
  • Include a bookshelf. One shelf can be dedicated to science supplies by adding trays, baskets, or tote trays for tools and instruments.

2. Stock up on Science Books

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Every great experiment starts with research! Make sure your kids are stocked with books full of facts and figures about their favorite areas of research, whether it’s Bengal tigers or the Milky Way! It’s also beneficial to have a book full of science lessons children can use as a starting point for future discovery! Here are some of our favorite suggestions below:

3. Pick Out Tools for Discovery

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Every scientist has to have the proper tools! Here are a few of the basics you may want to consider for your child’s science lab:

  • A Basic Starter Kit– goggles, test tubes, and tweezers are necessary tools of discovery when it comes to children launching into different types of investigation. The Primary Science Set is a great place to start!
  • Smart Lab Get Growing! Green House – teach children the plant lifecycle by planting seeds and watching them grow with the Smart Lab Get Growing! Green House.
  • Microscope- from the simple GeoSafari Talking Microscope to the more sophisticated GeoVision MicroPro, taking a closer look always leads children to new, exciting discoveries about the world around them!

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4. Start Experimenting! 

There are so many areas of exploration children can dive into! Whether it’s ant lifecycles, dinosaur bone excavation, or studying solar power, we have a few choice kits you can start your child learning with:

What will your child’s first experiment be? Share with us by commenting below!