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STEM Toys Promise to Turn Kids Into Tech Geniuses. Grown-Up Coders Are Skeptical


Boston startup Unruly makes programmable tiles like this, which children can use to create physical games.

Some programmers are dubious that toys purporting to imbue young minds with science, technology, engineering, and math skills can deliver on that promise.

Credit: Unruly

A growing market exists for toys that promise to imbue young minds with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills, but some programmers are doubtful they can deliver on that promise.

JavaScript developer Joe Morgan said open-ended play and exploration are far more likely than gadgets to cultivate technology-oriented creativity in children.

Parents, educators, and technology mavens said parents should avoid STEM toys that do not encourage play, or are too complicated or non-intuitive for a child to figure out.

STEM toys that some experts recommend include the Anki Cozmo robot and the Sphero BOLT robots, which boast simple visually oriented programming systems that can teach children basic coding concepts like how to execute a command and how to create a loop.

Experts also advise parents to choose toys based on their consideration of them as tools to help inspire children's curiosity about how things work.

From The Boston Globe
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