Purdue professor: STEM toys for girls, not just for the boys

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Studies show parents don’t usually purchase science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) type toys for girls like they do for boys.

Buying presents for your kids is not an easy thing to do. But experts explain why it’s equally important to purchase educational toys for girls and boys.

According to research conducted by engineering professors at Purdue, adults purchase toys connected to physics, building or construction for boys two-thirds of the time and for girls only one-third of the time.

Professor Monica Cardella said STEM toys can help strengthen critical thinking and can contribute to more women studying engineering.

“Developing those early skills and the early confidence, and being able to do problem-solving, and building, exploring, physics can make a difference,” Cardella said. “Both for the kids themselves [in] developing the confidence, but also for the parents to recognize that their children have those abilities to be able to engage in engineering types of activities.”

She said sometimes marketing plays a factor.

“Sometimes those products are marketed more towards boys, you see more pictures of boys on the packages, Cardella said. “I think sometimes parents, or grandparents or other adults, think of buying dolls and stuffed animals and more of those nurturing types of toys for girls.”

Buying dolls or other nurturing gifts for girls is not a bad thing, but Cardella said there should be a balance between those gifts as well as science and engineering-based gifts.

If you are unsure of what to buy, you can take your children to the INSPIRE research institute to play with recommended toys before you purchase.

Or to get a list of STEM toys recommended by Purdue experts click here.

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