Any age is a good time for tinkering, crafting, and building, but many engineering toys are recommended for kids age 8 and older specifically because kids this age have the dexterity to manipulate small pieces, the logic and reasoning skills to follow instructions, and the ability to focus on a task for longer periods of time, says Elizabeth Gajdzik, assistant director of Inspire, a research institute focused on pre-college engineering education in Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education. (The research group reviews some 120 new engineering toys, kits, and games for its annual gift guide.)
Many kids who end up pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers start developing their interest in it by age 8, adds Tamara Moore, executive director of Inspire and an associate professor in engineering education at Purdue. Age 8 marks the time of “the first spark,” when kids see and understand that they can become scientists or engineers, she says. “So you want to capture their imagination.” Of course, art supplies, craft kits, and creative games can also be an important part of the mix at this age (and some educational researchers call for expanding STEM to STEAM, to include art, design and humanities).
We considered Gajdzik’s and Moore’s advice on great engineering toys, and relied on advice from other experts and members of our staff, to find all kinds of gifts that are likely to challenge and delight the 8-year-old in your life. If you’re looking for more kids gift ideas, check out our guides to the best gifts for 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 9-year-olds, and 10-year-olds, as well as wonderful stocking stuffers for kids. And please share your own best ideas in the comments below.
Source: NY Times – Wirecutter