STEM TOYS. How magnetic tiles play a major role in STEM education
Magnets have always propelled an educational desire in many of us. Who doesn’t love magnets? We all remember the first time we saw a magnetic and being intrigued by the sensation of it attaching itself to the door of a refrigerator or attracting needles. Right? That feeling got even better when we found a second magnet and then found that they’re repelling too. That helped us learn not only basics of magnets but also geared us towards understanding what North and South poles are. Back then when there were no cellphones and much to watch on TV, magnets and Lego blocks were the go to boredom killer for many children. This has been a new emerging trend in STEM Toys: mixing magnets and tiles to bring out the builder and the scientist in the child both at the same time.
Magnetic tiles are now starting to come in different shapes and sizes; easy enough to be played around by a 3 year old. When science is treated as practice from an early age, this inculcates a sense of curiosity in children because of the engagement it brings. Magnetic tiles aren’t just coming as 2D magnets that can be applied on refrigerators or any metallic surface, most new sets available on the market allow for 3D designs that allow kids to build anything from a plain alphabet to a house, a rocket, or a car. Many of these do intrigue children to ask what cars are really made of and how they work. Children’s imaginations are very healthy. The more they stick different kinds of tiles to each other, the more they will be encouraged to think outside the box.
The tiles are helping to impart a number of skills in children as a result of project-based learning and problem-based learning. All the kids need to know is which tile can snap correctly on to another. Allowing the children to go fully creative makes learning fun. It has been noted that sometimes the children enjoy smashing their creations, and sometimes it’s even fun getting them back together. Sometimes, it can be time-consuming for children to create what’s told in the book provided with their magnetic tile kit, but it does give the children two valuable lessons: one, they can see themselves as creators; and two, creating something takes more time that destroying it and all effort can be undone in an instant (a life lesson surely). The magnetic tiles are best enjoyed when used in groups. The children will at some point in time come to their parents for help, because not all designs are easy, resulting in some valuable and fun family time and building up of social skills, if friends and siblings are helping them out. It goes to show that while magnetic tiles are playing their role in STEM education, it’s not the only area they have been effective in. To have the need to build something instils a great amount of confidence in the child.
Experts do agree on bringing science to school by the engaging children in the kinds of activities in which scientists engage. Magnetic tiles have shown to do just that. (https://www.nap.edu/read/13230/chapter/4#26) These tiles sufficiently integrate creativity with a sense of learning within kids. When children learn to place magnets on different surfaces, they’re using their hand-eye coordination to understand spatial awareness. Tactile feedback when the tiles snap together also helps. This is as good as hands-on STEAM learning can get. This would let children explore their creativity without relying on any tutorial on the internet, limiting screen time in a very effective manner. Feedback from parents has also been amazing as some of them love either spending time with their children this way or they just enjoy watching their kids for hours when the kids use their minds to bring their imagination to real life.
If you’re looking to get your hands on one of them, you should definitely look for Tytan 60 piece Magnetic Tiles & Building Blocks. This is authenticated by stem.org as an educational product, because they have been proven to have enhanced classroom learning.