As a parent, you want only the best for your kids, and this includes the toys that buy for them. You want to give them a great start for them to grow a strong interest in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Your kids should grow up with a love for STEM that propels them into a STEM career that earns them 12 to 30% more than other occupations at all levels of education. But which toy is the right toy? Here's a look at the next generation in marble runs and how they encourage your child's love of STEM topics.
According to Beth Holloway, the director of the Women in Engineering Program at Purdue University, toys that utilize basic concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) can do just that for all children, and, for girls, it can be even more important.
"Parents need to provide girls with toys that indulge their feminine side but also those that allow them to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes from designing and building something," Ms. Holloway said. "Those accomplishments will encourage them to continue to stretch their imaginations."
With the seemingly endless cuts to public funding in the US for science, art, and music education, many parents are finding themselves searching for ways to stimulate their child's mind in addition to encouraging play. Experts agree that open-ended play with educational toys is an excellent choice to accomplish that goal. Still, as recently as 2017, Fast Company reported that STEM-based toys were only accounting for two percent of the direct-to-consumer toy market.
In addition to promoting an interest in STEM fields, there are many immediate benefits of encouraging play with STEM educational toys, including:
While there are a number of different choices that are all beneficial in their own way, marble run games are gaining popularity among children and educators alike. In addition to sparking creativity, encouraging spatial thinking, and teaching problem-solving skills, they bridge the age gap to allow interactive play between siblings while still allowing for even young children to create and discover on their own.
Modern-day marble run building sets, such as Mindware's award-winning Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 Starter Box available in both Warm Colours and Cool Colours, allow for creative building options that would leave your child staring in amazement.
Consisting of open-sided cubes instead of the traditional tubes and connectors, engineers as young as six can learn the basic laws of gravity and movement while building everything from robots to more traditional mazes.
Q-BA-Maze 2.0 Starter Box Cool Colours Set
With gorgeous blue and green colors, this starter box of marble runs encourages your child to learn more about engineering and design and also helps them explore angles and enhances small motor skills. The kit includes 36 cubes that lock together in a variety of patterns from cubes to fun animal shapes.
The set includes 14 nickel plated marbles that your child uses to run the maze as they learn more about gravity and importance of velocity to keep the marbles running from one cube to the next. The toy teaches logic and reasoning, problem-solving skills, and basic engineering.
Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 Starter Box of Warm Colours Set
The starter box of marble runs is almost identical to the one with cool colours with the exception of the colours. This kit includes autumn colours, including yellow, orange, and white. Your kids can use their imagination to create a marble run that resembles a lion or funky geometric shape with the 36 BPA-free cubes.
As your kids build and rebuild marble runs, they learn the basics of engineering, logic, physics, and other STEM-related skills. When your child plays with a sibling or friend, they can expand their STEM skills with the teamwork and collaboration necessary.
When your child masters the basics and is ready to expand their creativity, Mindware has expansion options available in every price range to allow the play set to grow with your child and continue encouraging cognitive growth.
Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 Big Box Set
The Q-BA-MAZE 2.0: Big Box Marble Run playset adds an additional 72 cubes consisting of 3 different designs to be used as scaffolding, ramps, paths for the marbles to escape through, and much more. Your child will play and create for hours as their imagination soars.
Without the need for glue, these colourful cubes snap into place, encouraging your child to use and grow their small-motor skills. Watch as your child claps in glee as gravity pulls the marble from one level of the run to the next and learn about basic physics and take their first steps toward learning about engineering.
Q-BA-MAZE 2.0 Rails Builder Set
The Q-BA-MAZE 2.0 Rails Builder Set adds 40 single-exit cubes, 20 bottom-exit cubes, 20 double-exit cubes, 10 straight-away rails, 4 marble catchers and 20 marbles.
Your child will use a variety of STEM skills to work with the varied designed cubes and straight rails that can drop the marbles between levels or allow them to move from one set of cubes to the next. Using planning and strategy skills, your child can create a different maze in a variety of shapes from flowers to geometric shapes each time they play.
Give your children, even more, to work with when you purchase this rails builder set.
Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 Ultimate Stunt Set
Just when your child thinks they can do it all, Q-BA-MAZE 2.0: Ultimate Stunt Set Marble Run adds another 156 cubes, 9 stunt pieces, 8 marble catchers and 30 steel marbles to add countless hours of learning fun.
Or you can start with this set if you are adventurous and want many hours of creative fun!
Hours of fun and STEM learning await your child with this ultimate stunt set. Kids use this set to learn about cause and effect and basic physics as they build tall marble mazes that include loops, scaffolding, and inclines. Locking each piece of the maze into place help to build up your child's hand-to-eye coordination.
Giving your children a head start on STEM learning is easy when you purchase one or a couple of these marble run sets. You can mix and match the sets to create a larger palette for your kids to explore science and engineering through, and you won't go wrong with these award-winning sets.
As the benefits of STEM educational programs receive more public acclaim, parents concerned with ensuring that their child is receiving all of the educational benefits that play can offer are seeking new and innovative toys to foster those critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills which will encourage the invention of even more STEM toys in the future.
Click here to find more educational STEM toys that can help to start your child on the path to a lifelong love of learning.
Marble runs: they're simple, classic toys that have been passed down through the ages. Children have been playing with marble runs for years--and many parents are surprised to learn that they have much more than simple repetitive play value. The Hape Quadrilla, Quercetti, Geomag Mechanics Gravity Track, and Smartmax for younger children all offer a range of different opportunities to engage your child in a fascinating form of play they will be sure to love.
Getting a marble into those small spaces is not as easy a feat as it sounds, especially for small children who are still developing their understanding of how the world works. As they play with marble runs, however, kids will learn more about spatial awareness and develop those key fine motor skills that will help them take advantage of it. Even better, they won't realise that they're learning, because it will simply feel like play.
Creativity is a key skill for kids and adults alike. In fact, many professionals indicate that they value creativity in their employees more than any other skill. That makes developing creativity in childhood critical--and your child can enhance their creativity as they play with marble runs, exploring different tracks and learning more about how they can move each piece to create a fun, exciting run. Each construction may quickly become more outlandish than the last, leaving your child with an incredible array of creative new structures and runs to explore.
In addition to creatively exploring the different arrangements of the pieces of the run, your child will be able to develop basic engineering skills as they explore how the pieces fit together. They'll learn more about cause and effect, explore how to keep their piece balanced, and learn how to improve their structures so that the marble will successfully reach the end of each track. Not only that, they'll enhance their understanding of how gravity and inertia work together to help move or stop the marble--and they'll have a blast doing it.
The marble is stuck--again. It ran off the track instead of staying neatly in the predetermined spot. Whatever your child's problem, they'll immediately tackle, determining how to make the right changes so that their marble runs will work better in the future. The more they interact with the track, the more they will enhance their problem-solving skills as they learn through trial and error what works and what doesn't. In many cases, this simple exercise can improve your child's understanding of how to tackle future problems, providing them with an excellent platform for future efforts.
From fitting the individual pieces of the track together to dropping the marble in just the right spot, marble runs offer an excellent opportunity for children both young and old to improve their hand-eye coordination. They'll demonstrate a solid use of fine motor skills as they put together the marble runs, place the marbles on it, and scoop them up again at the end. Even better, it's not repetitive practice. It's just a kid at play!
If you're looking for a toy that can help build both physical and mental skills for your child, marble runs are the perfect solution. Not only are they good for hours of play, they will encourage your child to think creatively and develop a wide range of STEM skills, which can then help them excel in school and in their future careers. Your child will love racing marbles down the tracks, developing increasingly complex designs or improving their understanding of the way the pieces fit together--and they'll develop those important skills at the same time.
For the entire range of marble runs hand-selected by Kidzinc, please click here.