Purdue University creates holiday gift guide for STEM learning

As the gift-giving season approaches, Purdue University is providing its annual Engineering Holiday Gift Guide.

Posted: Nov 27, 2020 5:00 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- Purdue researchers want to keep education at the forefront during this season of giving. The university's INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering has released its annual Engineering Gift Guide.

"One way of looking at engineering, like one toy, one curriculum, one program will really limit the way someone thinks about engineering," said Tamara Moore, Executive Director of the INSPIRE Research Institute.

That's why students in the INSPIRE program have worked to compile a list of 56 gifts that promote STEM learning.

"Because we're a land grant university, this would be a really good way to outreach way to help people make some really informed, educated decisions from engineers and from kids and parents," said Moore.

Students spent this semester testing each and every item in order to create the gift list. It includes everything from toys, to games, to books. Although each gift has a STEM focus, Moore said they wanted a variety of items that engage kids with all types of interests.

"We're pulling from politics, we're pulling from our communication space, we're pulling from good teamwork things," said Moore. "A really good liberal arts background actually helps an engineer be a better engineer."

These items are designed to cater to kids ages 10 months to 18-years-old. For younger kids, many of these gifts help promote learning spatial reasoning, which is a skill Moore said is proven to help young students learn and problem solve as they get older.

"Any type of block games where they have to build and make structures and anything that fits together in some kind of way where they have to think about the orientation, those kinds of things are really helpful to building all kinds of STEM knowledge," said Moore.

She said these gifts can help lay the foundation for any future career path.

"Our goal is that we want all students to be ready for engineering at the undergrad level. That doesn't mean we want every student to go into engineering at the undergrad level but the truth is if you're prepared to be an engineer at the undergrad level then you could do anything you want, you've got the right skill set, you've really been prepared to make whatever decisions you want to make in terms of where you can go in your life," said Moore.

The full list of gifts can be found here.

Moore and her students compiled a list of their top 10 favorites from the gift guide. It includes: 

1. The Language of the Universe: A Visual Exploration of Mathematics

2. Addy-matic and the Toasterrific!

3. Design & Drill Space Circuits

4. Mechanics Challenge Strike

5. Moon Mission

6. Gears! Gears! Gears! Robot in Motion

7. Code Rocket

8. Gravitrax Set Obstacle

9. Wordstruct

10. Janod Weights Balance Game

Moore also encourages gift-givers to consider donating these gift items to organizations that provide presents for families and kids in need this holiday season.

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