9 Gifts That Make STEM/STEAM Learning Fun for Kids of All Ages

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photo by Dina Douglass © 2019 ACM SIGGRAPH

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the SIGGRAPH 2020 Committee is here to celebrate with you! These days, holiday shopping is hard, especially when you want to encourage the little ones in your life to embrace technology (but not glue themselves to “the screen”). Without further ado, here are a few gift ideas that you can feel good about giving to the young learners in your life.

Commodore 64

Image via walmart.com

For the retro gamer (or Demoscene enthusiast), this throwback computer is just the ticket. SIGGRAPH 2020 GraphicsNet Chair David Spoelstra shared, “This was the first personal computer I owned. Now, they’re being used for Demoscene parties all around the world!” Buy the C64 Mini. | Buy the full-sized C64.

Scribble n’ Play

Image via myboogieboard.com

It might look simple, but the technology in this tablet-sized, arts-and-crafts gadget is anything but. Made to look like real, colorful markers — without the mess! — this LCD writing toy is perfect for kids who love to doodle and explore. Buy from Boogie Board.

REXQualis UNO R3 Complete Starter Kit

Image via amazon.com

For around $40, this is the most complete kit that Spoelstra, who uses it to teach students how to program microcontrollers at both the college and junior high school levels, has found. Spoelstra recommends adding this book to the gift, too! Buy on Amazon.

Koala Crate

Image via kiwico.com

For kids ages 2–4, Koala Crate is a monthly subscription box that features hands-on projects for the budding innovator in your life, and can be customized based on interest. From KiwiCo, which also made our 2018 list, this is the perfect starter gift to spark creativity. In fact, it is proven successful by SIGGRAPH 2020 Games Focus Area Chair Carlos Gonzalez-Ochoa, who gifted the crate subscription to his godson last year. Get Koala Crate.

Orboot (AR Globe)

Image via amazon.com

This no-borders globe connects fun with interactivity and education. The toy uses augmented reality to engage kids in exploring 400+ wonders and 1,000+ cool facts on cuisine, culture, animals, and more! Buy on Amazon.

Electronic Snap Circuits

Image via amazon.com

Perfect for the little engineer in your life. SIGGRAPH 2020 VR Theater Director Monica Cappiello bought this for her niece and nephew … and they both loved it! This learning toy from Snap Circuits offers hours of entertainment as kids can use it to figure out how to connect circuits to get particular results. Notes Cappiello, “This is a fantastic gift for 8+ year old future engineers.” Buy on Amazon.

Fisher-Price® Code ‘n Learn Kinderbot

Image via fisher-price.com

Made for preschoolers, this toy helps kids practice coding and problem-solving skills by teaching them to figure out how to program paths for their robot. Through inspiring little learners to become big thinkers, this gift is the perfect way to get kids ready for school. Buy online.

Books With Purpose

“Kids Books” Collection

Image via @akidsbookabout on Instagram

Designed to kickstart challenging, empowering, and important conversations for kids and their grownups, SIGGRAPH 2020 Computer Animation Festival Director Munkhtsetseg Nandigjav loves this collection from A Kids Book About. Each book fosters discussion around a topic that can be tough to approach with kids. View Collection.

Maker Lab

Image via dk.com

Developed in collaboration with Washington, D.C.’s own Smithsonian Institute, “Maker Lab” has won the National Parenting Publication Award and has even been featured by Kim Kardashian on Instagram (as a gift for the celebrity’s daughter)! View via Dorling Kindersley.

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