Art Crafting, Book Review, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Zoological Society, Great Lakes Science Center, Museums, STEM Resources, STEM toys

S.T.E.A.M. Themed Easter Basket Gifts

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.

Also, be sure to measure the size of your Easter basket and compare it to the items listed below to ensure proper fit. All items would fit in a large size Easter basket.

With Easter (and probably many birthday parties) quickly approaching, you might be left wondering, what to get for your kids. Here’s a list to help those looking for S.T.E.A.M. themed (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) gifts that could fit inside of an Easter basket.

Memberships to Local Museums, Centers and Parks: My kids love going to the local Zoo, Science Center, History Museum, MetroParks, Aquarium, etc. These would be perfect gifts to explore and appreciate S.T.E.A.M. Membership cards or registration forms fit perfectly inside an Easter basket.

Paid S.T.E.A.M. Classes / Courses / Camps: Check around at your local centers for classes and courses that allow your child to explore and appreciate S.T.E.A.M. You could add a pamphlet or certificate to their basket indicating their enrollment. In Northeast Ohio some great places to look for S.T.E.A.M. activities, events and camps would be Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Lake MetroParks, Geauga Park District, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Akron Art Museum, Fine Arts Association, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning and Art House, Inc.. Also, check out the 2019 Northeast Ohio Summer Camp Guide provided by Northeast Ohio Family Fun or the 2019 Summer Camp Guide provided by Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine.

Make a Tinker Basket: Fill a basket with all kinds of items that kids can create with like pipe cleaners, buttons, pom pom’s, glue, tape, card stock, crayons (check out these fun confetti crayons!), colored pencils, markers, popsicle sticks, clay, play-doh, ribbon, ruler, scissors, feathers, stickers, stencils, stamps and stamp pads, yarn, fake flowers, cardboard pieces (from all those deliveries you get at your door), glitter, etc.

Membership to Mail Delivery Activities or Magazines that specialize in STEAM:

We hold two memberships through Kiwi Co. They ship age appropriate hands on science and art projects each month. My girls love them! Click here to get 60% off your first crate!

(Disclaimer: I earn $10 off a future order for every Kiwi Co. crate ordered through my link above.)

Other subscription ideas to check out include: ToucanBox, Highlights for Children Magazine, National Geographic for Kids, National Geographic for Little Kids, Muse Magazine, Ranger Rick, Ranger Rick Jr. and Ask.

(Disclaimer: I have not personally reviewed all of the subscriptions above but I have researched the reviews of others, so please be sure to complete your own research before purchase to ensure they are appropriate for your child. My children have personally enjoyed Highlights and National Geographic.)

My Recommended S.T.E.A.M. Toys: Check out my list below as well as my Complete List of STEM Buy for Kids Under 12 that I posted right before Christmas for additional ideas.

The Original Buddha Board: Relaxing Water Drawing, Painting & Writing Board with Bamboo Brush & StandKids can paint with water to create an image. The image dries and then they can paint again. My kids love this so much, I had to purchase two of them. It’s great for learning how to use a brush, it keeps messes down, it’s great for fine motor skill development and creativity.

Dicfeos Shatterproof 3.5X Magnifying Glass for Reading and Hobbies, 75mm Non-Scratch Glass Lens, Thickened Rubbery Frame, 4.3oz Lightweight, Perfect for Seniors & KidsMagnifying glasses will always be on my top list of favorite gifts for kids. My children bring them outside on warmer days and examine nature – fallen leaves, flowers, grass, tree nuts, bark, insects, etc. They also uses it inside, for example, to examine clothes, books, toys and the floor. They pretend to be a detectives too. We’ve pretended to be underwater divers looking for “treasure” with it also. If you get one of these, watch your child’s imagination take over.

Jiusion 40 to 1000x Magnification Endoscope, 8 LED USB 2.0 Digital Microscope, Mini Camera with OTG Adapter and Metal Stand, Compatible with Mac Window 7 8 10 Android Linux – If you already have a magnifying glass for your child, I recommend this miniature microscope that is easy to transport and hooks up for your phone so your child can view items up-close. It’s fun for adults too. Don’t forget the carrying case for protection too.

Bee-Bot (AA Battery Powered with Batteries Included)Bee-Bot’s are robot’s designed to introduce the concepts of coding and problem solving to young children. Children use the arrows to code the robot to move and turn, then press GO and they watch it move. Children and adults can set up obstacle courses and allow kids to determine how to code the Bee-Bot. We do not have one of these at home, but we’ve played with them at our local science center and love them. A similar toy that we have at home is the Code-a-Pillar.

Awesome Science Experiments for Kids: 100+ Fun STEM / STEAM Projects and Why They WorkThis book is filled with many easy to do home science experiments. We received this book as a gift for my daughter’s birthday and we’ve tried out many of the experiments. The experiments are easy to follow, use common household items and give great explanations to the science behind the experiment for kids and adults to understand easily.

Learning Resources LER2779 Jumbo Eyedroppers, Set of 6 with StandThese eyedroppers are fun for use in the bath tub. We’ve also used them for our home science experiments. They are great for fine motor skill development and when pretending to be a scientist!

Melissa & Doug Scratch Art Box of Rainbow Mini Notes, Arts & Crafts, Wooden Stylus, 125 Count, 3.75” H x 3.75” W x 1.75” L – These scratch pads are fun for children, help with motor skills and are fun for adults too.

Play-Doh Party Bag Dough, 15 Count (Assorted Colors) – Play-Doh is a great tactile toy that allows for endless hours of exploration, design and creativity. I picked this party pack because the size of the play-doh containers are definitely small enough to fit into an Easter basket.

Bug Viewer Box – Bug Jar for Children – Plastic Transparent Insect Catcher Kit with 3X Magnifying Lens, 2.5 x 3.1 x 2.5 Inches, Red and GreenIf you children enjoy being outside and exploring, a bug viewer magnifying jar may be perfect for them to explore nature more closely. This jar is transparent and the lid has a magnifying lens for closer viewing.

Summer Gardening Tools – What is better in Spring time than getting outside and working in the garden. My children LOVE working in our garden. They love digging for worms and planting seeds and plants. Gardening is an excellent way to teach your children and immerse them in nature.

STEM Careers, STEM Resources

Meet Dr. Sean, Pediatric Anesthesiologist

Does your child say that they would like to be a doctor someday? The careers in the medical field are endless, as there are so many types of specialty fields. Recently, I interviewed a close friend, Dr. Sean, who is a Pediatric Anesthesiologist.

Pediatric Anesthesiologist, Dr. Sean

There are many types of physicians. Dr. Sean works in pediatrics as an anesthesiologist. A doctor who works in pediatrics, may see anyone that is age 21 or younger. They may also see patients with special needs beyond that age as well. They provide medical care for infants, children and adolescents. An anesthesiologist is a doctor that specializes in medicines that need to be administered to keep a patient comfortable during procedures that would likely cause intolerable pain.

Here’s a glimpse into Dr. Sean’s profession as a Pediatric Anesthesiologist:

Q: What kind of physician are you and how would you describe your profession?

A: I’m currently a pediatric anesthesiologist, as well as an attending on our acute pain and regional anesthesia service. I provide anesthesia care for pediatric patients undergoing procedures or surgeries in which they need to be asleep for. Ultimately my job is to give children the best naps of their lives.

Q: In your own words, how would you describe your job to a child?

A: My job is to keep you asleep, comfortable, and safe during your procedure. I’ll be watching you the entire time, while you nap. 

Q: Growing up, what was / were your favorite subject(s) and why?

A: My favorite subjects were always math and science because they came easy to me. Also, I found the information extremely interesting and was able to ask many questions in search of answers. 

Q: How and why did you choose to be a doctor and specifically, why did you choose to specialize in anesthesiology?  Do you have a specific memory or event that happened in your life that helped you choose your career path?

A: There was no single moment when I realized I wanted to be a doctor, it was a slow evolution over time with my interests and the idea of helping people. Ultimately I chose anesthesiology because I enjoyed the physiology and pharmacology aspects. Many think anesthesiologists do not like patient contact but I disagree. It’s extremely challenging to gain the trust of patients (and their parents), within minutes of meeting me. Patient’s do not get to choose me, like they do their surgeon. Therefore, I must work hard to make them comfortable.Q

Q: What did you study in college? Do you feel that your studies in college are helpful to you in your career now?  How or why?  Did you have a favorite class and why?

A: I received my bachelors of science in zoology from Miami University. At that time, Miami did not offer a basic biology degree, so this was the next best thing. Their rationale was it made you competitive for medical school because it was a “different” major. Afterwards, I attended medical school at the University of Cincinnati

Overall my studies helped me to get where I am today. All of the classes were valuable as they provided a foundation for medical school. My favorite classes were actually the humanities where I learned more about society and people. These classes continue to help me today when interacting with patients. 

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the most important attributes or characteristics that a doctor and / or more specifically an anesthesiologist, must have to be successful?

A: I think the most important attribute is the ability to listen. Medicine is challenging due to time constraints and production pressure. Ultimately, the patient doesn’t care where you went to medical school or trained, they care how compassionate you are when you are with them. 

Q: What is or has been the most rewarding part of your job?

A: Everyday, I enjoy being able to interact with children to calm their fears and to safely deliver them back to their parents when the operation is over. 


Q: What is or has been the most challenging part of your job?

A: In pediatrics I have two “customers”, the patient and their parents. Figuring out how to manage both groups expectations can be challenging. 

Q: What was the most fascinating part of your medical school experience? 

A: Working in the cadaver lab and actually being able to touch and learn about every part of the body. To know someone gave up their body for my learning is remarkable. 

Q: What is one of your most fun, exciting or even embarrassing memories in your profession that has happened to you?

A: My favorite part is being able to play at work on a daily basis just to make a child smile.

Q: What would be your advice to a child that has aspirations to become a doctor someday?

A: You will miss out on a lot of fun experiences your other friends will have, but ultimately it’s worth it. Work hard but still have fun along the way. 

Q: What would your advice be to parents and educators to encourage children that are interested in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines? 

A: A great doctor is always questioning things and ideas. Foster this in your children. 

Thank you so much to Dr. Sean for allowing me to interview him for my blog!

Readers, please let me know what you think of these STEM career interviews and if you have a specific profession in mind that you would like to learn more about! You can leave me a note here, on my social media pages or email me at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

Animals, Experiments, Germs, Great Things about Space, STEM Resources, TV Shows

My Current Top 7 Favorite Kid and Family Friendly STEM Shows

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.


Here’s a list of my favorite educational STEM shows that I watch or have watched with my kids (in no particular order):

Brainchild on NetFlix: This NetFlix original series is incredibly educational and addicting to watch with my children because it makes science relatable.  It was launched in 2018 and it is currently in it’s first season. Each episode covers various scientific topics like Space, Forces, Thinking, Oceans, Germs, etc.  It stars Sahana Srinivasan, Alie Ward and Ben Seidman.  I hope that it gets approved for a second season! They also have free resources on their website for teachers!

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Hey, 90s kids, do you remember this guy?  This show made science cool with its crafty scientific humor and its easy and fun to understand experiments and real life examples of science in action. You can find some episodes on NetFlix, purchase episodes on Amazon or search YouTube.

Image from Amazon.com

The Magic School Bus:  Mrs. Frizzle is still cool with kids these days.  You can get these from the library, order the series on Amazon or watch some episodes on NetFlix. To order from Amazon, click here.

Sid the Science Kid on PBS:  The main character, Sid, is incredibly inquisitive about the world around him and explores, with his classmates, why things work the way that they do.  It introduces the very basic principles of science to a young child in a comedic and educational way.  You can catch episodes on PBS or on the PBS app.

Curious George on PBS: While these episodes aren’t all extremely scientific, what I personally love about them is the lesson they teach about being curious and experimenting in a big open world just like a scientist.  I feel and have seen in my own children that being exposed to that type of thinking as a young child develops and improves their creativity, critical thinking, cognitive and problem solving skills which are all essential skills in STEM fields.

Crickey! It’s the Irwins on the Animal Planet:  This show was just renewed for it’s second season.  If you used to watch The Crocodile Hunter with Steve Irwin, you’ll love the families new series on Animal Planet.  The Irwin Family carries on his legacy for animal conservation and public education.  His wife, Terri, and their children, Bindi and Robert, run the Australia Zoo which cares for over 1200 animals.  These episodes have extraordinary educational video of zoologists and veterinarians in action as they care for these animals at the zoo and their conservation efforts worldwide.  Check your local TV listings for viewing schedule.

Wild Kratts on PBS: Chris and Martin Kratt created this live action and animation show that educates children on biology, zoology and ecology. Each episode has some sort of plot with a villain or a problem that needs to be solved. As the episode progresses, it educates children about wild life.

What favorites would you add to this list? Let me know on my social media pages, in the comments to this blog post or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

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Engineer, STEM Careers, STEM Resources

STEM Careers: Chemical and Materials Engineer Gabi

This is a photo of Gabi at one of the Paint Shops!

Have you ever wondered what an engineer is or what they do?

Meet my friend and former co-worker, Gabi Patrick.  She is a Chemical and Materials Engineer and works as a New Material Technology Project Manager at Toyota Motor North America.  

I recently interviewed her for my blog. Here’s a glimpse into her engineering profession in the automotive industry.

Q: When and how did you become interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)? Do you have a specific memory or event that happened in your life that helped you choose your career path?

A: I have this vivid memory of me asking my Mom about empty space (air). I kept asking my Mom: “Mom, what is this?” <while making circular motions with my hands in the bathroom>. She couldn’t understand what I meant. I think of that question often… and how far it has gotten me. 

Q: Growing up, what were your favorite subject(s)? 

A: I loved math, physics and chemistry. Math to me was like a puzzle to be solved. Physics was more like a hands on game, and chemistry was magic!

Q: In your own words, how would you describe engineering to a child?

A: Engineering is like a big puzzle with nuts, bolts, legos, rubber bands, and a pinch of pixie dust!

Q: What did you study in college and how / why did you choose it/them? 

A: Chemical Engineering & Materials Engineering

When I was in elementary school, my aunt who worked in the polymers industry brought me a bag of plastic pellets. I was fascinated by them, so I decided to follow chemicals the rest of my middle school and high school years. Finally, when it was time to decide a major, I decided on Chemical Engineering. Once I was deep in my college years, I took a class on materials (metals, ceramics and plastics) and decided to focus on materials for my graduate degree, specifically ceramic coatings.

Q: Are your college studies helpful to you in your career now?  How or why?

A: Absolutely. College studies are the backbone to my career and the understanding of my daily responsibilities.  Some days are more technical than others, some days we think about costs, other days we really think about efficiency, or productivity, but without understanding the science behind it, it would be really difficult to get my job done. 

Q: What roles / job titles have you had in the engineering profession and how would you describe them?

A: Storm water engineer: I analyzed how much rain we got and decided the best ways to avoid flooding around the city. Paint Process Engineer: I managed a very long process that coated a vehicle with a rust proof paint. Materials Engineer: I tested new paints to make sure they were the same color by changing how they were applied.  New Materials Technology Project Manager: I collaborate with designers, production engineers and suppliers on the material development before it goes on the vehicle. 

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the most important attributes or characteristics that an engineer must have to be successful?

A: Patience, haha… Focus, be a good listener, learn something new every single day, take constructive criticism, and have fun!

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A: I get to work with people who have one goal: make the best cars in the world. My job has taught me patience, perseverance, humility, and respect. 

Q: What has been the most challenging part of your career?

A: Learning to accept mistakes and acknowledging failures.  

Q: What is one of your most fun, exciting or even embarrassing memories in your career?

A: My most embarrassing moment, and funny, has been the day I broke a stress toy at work. I had just had a difficult conversation with a superior and became really upset. My coworker handed me a very special stress toy donkey and I broke it in half. Sorry Larry! I’ll buy you a new one. 

Q: What would your advice be to parents and educators to help their children build confidence and interest in the STEM?  

A: Make it fun. Expose kids to different sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, math, etc.). Use daily, living examples, because in the end, we engineers work on daily living problems. Teach them how to think and solve, instead of ‘copy and repeat’. Focus on project-based learning, ask them to research, go look and understand. 

Q: In conclusion, what else would you like to add for parents reading this?

A: Don’t force a child into liking something specific. Expose them at a young age to all subjects but teach them how to think and solve problems. This is essential for any career, life problem, and eventually success… and please, have fun at it!

If you would like to connect with Gabi, you can find her on LinkedIn under her full name, Gabriela Patrick.

Did you enjoy this interview? Did it give you a better understanding of engineering? Does it help you with teaching your child? Would you like to see more like it?

Let me know at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com or commenting on my social media sites.

Cincinnati Museum Center, Dinosaurs, Experiments, Holiday, Museums, Nature, STEM Resources

The Cincinnati Museum Center has re-opened!

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An inside look of the front of the Cincinnati Museum Center.

When I walked inside the newly preserved Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC, previously Union Terminal), the dome inside literally took my breath away. I grew up in this city. I walked through these doors NUMOROUS times in my lifetime but I had never seen it look this beautiful.

After more than two years of the main building being closed to the public for historical restoration and preservation, it recently reopened (in November 2018) and I got my first glimpse inside over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The CMC houses the Museum of Natural History and Science, the Cincinnati History Museum, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX theater, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, as well as numerous other special exhibits.

Historical Significance

Every city has at least one old building that serves some historical, architectural and engineering significance to its city. This building is one of those for Cincinnati. Union Terminal was built and dedicated in 1933. It was opened as a train station to unite all the railroads to one location in Cincinnati. It is still the largest half dome structure in the western hemisphere and if you walk inside, your breath will be taken away at its beauty. It has absolutely stunning art deco architectural design, which includes several original large glass tile mosaics by Winold Reiss (seen in the photos below), which were carefully and intricately cleaned to bring out the marvelous details in the pieces.

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Checking out an old style 1930s telephone booth.

The amount of architecture and engineering used to build and restore this building over its 85 years is just phenomenal. Our family spent so much time just exploring and marveling at the building itself – its engineering design and layout as well as it’s art deco style.

It was almost demolished many times, in fact, (unfortunately) its concourse was demolished years ago.

Historical Restoration and Reopening

The restoration was a $225 million project that was primarily funded by local tax payers over the course of a 5 year levy and additional funding was provided by federal and state historical tax credits as well as a capital grant from the state of Ohio. It was completed on budget.

Personal Connection

Grandpa WWII
Photo of my Grandfather from serving in WWII.

This particular building also has many personal connections to me and my family. My great grandfather worked on the railroads and took my grandmother to the station many times as a young girl. My grandfather walked through the doors as young teen to head off to fight in the Air Force in WWII and also returned to this station after the war. (I couldn’t help but imagine myself in his shoes as a young soldier walking through the doors to and from a war that is still marked as the biggest event in human history.)

One of my uncles helped preserve the beautiful glass tile mosaics that were moved from the demolished concourse to the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Airport. My parents came to the terminal for field trips as children when it was still a train station, converted to a science center, a shopping plaza and then took my brother and I to the Cincinnati Museum Center once it opened in the 1990s. I made many trips there as a child to view the exhibits and OMNIMAX films with my family and for school field trips. I also used to go downtown every year as a child to see the Duke Energy Holiday Train display which is now in the museum for Holiday Junction. This display has been part of Cincinnati since 1946!

This place holds a special place in my heart with countless happy memories from childhood and its historical connection to my family.

The Museum of Natural History and Science: Newly Opened Dinosaur Hall

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The signs above the entrance to the Museum of Natural History and Science at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

The Museum of Natural History and Science reopened with a new Dinosaur Hall. It is located to the right of the main doors as you walk into the Museum Center. (It still has the original sign a top the doors indicating the location for incoming taxis and motor coaches!) As we walked through the doors, we were greeted by 6 ginormous dinosaur specimens!

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Standing next to a dinosaur leg.

My three year old daughter was absolutely amazed by their size. She (and I) gained a better appreciation for paleontologists and the scientific work that they perform. We loved using the microscopes to look at some of the prehistoric pieces up close. The special effects inside the hall were so fun! It made it feel like we were truly walking among the dinosaurs in the museum!

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Interactive globe

This exciting interactive globe allows guests to see how the Earth transformed from prehistoric ages until now! There is a tiny star on it that represents Cincinnati. Did you know that Cincinnati was located on a coast at one time?

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Virtual reality experience

While we were there, I decided to test out the Jurassic Flight Virtual Reality Experience where I was transformed into a Pterodactyl and glided across prehistoric landscapes. It was SO much fun and a little ptero-ffying at times!! This part of the exhibit is an extra cost to visitors (it cost $6 for me as a non-member) and you must be at least 58 inches tall. It was worth it! Afterwards, I pointed out to my daughter that virtual reality systems are made by many different scientists!

The Cincinnati History Museum: Re-imagined Public Landing

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The main entrance of the Cincinnati History Museum also still has the original Union Terminal signs on top the doors indicating the location for outgoing taxis and motor coaches!

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Queen of the West boat we boarded.

The Cincinnati History Museum has reopened with one of it’s original exhibits – the reimagined Public Landing. Public Landing is a recreation of 1850s Cincinnati Public Landing. We walked along the city cobbled streets, visited several makeshift shops and storefronts including an old style photography studio where we were able to take a family photo.

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1850 Cincinnati

We walked across the gang plank aboard the “Queen of the West”. Inside we learned about how steam boats pushed across the Ohio river, what it was like to be a guest on the boat and how the boat business affected the local Cincinnati economy at that time.

Holiday Junction

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Lego Wonderland

Another exhibit, Holiday Junction, which is open for the holidays was a really fun place for the kids to go and explore.

We first walked through the new William L. Mallory, Sr. exhibition gallery which currently has a winter wonderland LEGO gallery on display. My three year old particularly loved the Disney themed LEGO displays and my one year old loved the LEGO train that ran through the middle of the exhibit hall.

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My daughter almost quite literally walked through a winter wonderland, watched Thomas and friends train layout, built a snowman under the Northern Lights and rode a toddler sized train. To build the snowman, my girls were able to select various snowman pieces (eyes, various fruits / vegetables for noses, hats, scarf, mouth, coal buttons, etc.) and they magnetically connected them to the life sized snowman.

Below you will see the two snowmen they created… The first snowman they made was pretty fun and goofy. They loved sticking eyes all over the snowman to make him look silly and finished off his look with a banana on his head!!

We probably spent 20 minutes in this area alone because they were having so much fun! This really brought out their creative side and they had a small lesson in magnetism (which I plan to cover as a future topic)! The magnetic pieces only ‘stuck’ to certain areas of the snowman, so we had a great talk about why that was happening.

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Next, we viewed the Duke Energy Holiday Trains. Upon entering, this space has a dramatic birds eye view of the entire space (which is ginormous!). My photo doesn’t even do it justice!

There are literally hundreds of trains flying around on tracks through a historic layout of Cincinnati. There are also trains in display cases along the walls for guests to view up close. This area was a dream for my three year old who is completely mesmerized by trains right now. She was so excited to name the parts of the trains that she recognized and loved telling us when one was zipping down the track nearby!

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My daughters also loved being able to “make their own storybook”. Children are able to select magnetic words and photos and place them on a giant storybook to make their own story.

Again, this was wonderful for building creativity and learning a bit more about magnetism.

The Duke Energy Children’s Museum

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By the time we reached the Children’s Museum, we were tired. Although we didn’t check out this space for long, we have spent hours here in past visits. It definitely receives my STEM stamp of approval and my kids thumbs up for fun!

Kids can learn about complex machines in Energy Zone, experiment with water, play pretend careers in several areas (veterinary, mechanic, etc.), climb and explore the wilderness, practice being a dentist and explore a giant set of teeth, etc. They also have a nature trading post where kids can bring in objects they’ve found outside and explain what they’ve learned about it for points. Those points can be used to select some type of scientific item for them to take home like a magnifying glass, rocks, etc.

Lunch at the Museum

We ate lunch at the museum and we were highly impressed by the cleanliness and the delicious, healthy and allergy friendly food options! If you are gluten free or have nut allergy, they definitely have you covered!

This was the lunch I shared with my husband – turkey avocado sandwich (optional gluten free bread) with tater tots! It was served on a real ceramic plate too. And my daughters had macaroni and cheese with goldfish crackers and applesauce.

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The photo on the left is the dining room we ate in. It was so clean and well staffed. It had beautiful art deco design and murals on the walls. Very 1930s style for sure.

The museum is reimagining the exhibit spaces and experiences for guests and reopening the new permanent exhibits and galleries in phases. We viewed all of the new permanent exhibits and galleries that were available at the time of our visit.

We are greatly looking forward to the next phases opening up at the museum and can not wait to return!

Please follow the Cincinnati Museum Center @cincymuseum on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to stay up-to-date on the latest news and permanent exhibits being opened to the public.

Additional Areas Explored

I posted additional photos from the museum that we checked out in the bottom of this post – the Rookwood Ice Cream Parlor, a Newsreel theater, more dining rooms, bulletin board, waiting area, STEM classrooms and more photos of the dome and outside. There is so much more to explore in this building than what we were able to see during our visit. We can’t wait to get back to explore more!

You can get more information on it’s history and restoration from this documentary recently broadcast by Cincinnati’s local WCPO news station.

DISCLAIMER: I received 4 complimentary passes to the Cincinnati Museum Holiday Junction, Museum of Natural History and Science, the Cincinnati History Museum and the Duke Energy Children’s Museum on the day of our visit. I was asked to help promote the updates we enjoyed at the museum on my social media pages and my blog. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

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Animals, Experiments, Great Things about Space, Holiday, Math and Numbers, Nature, STEM Resources, STEM toys

My Complete List of STEM Buys for Ages 0-12 (updated 11/28/2018)

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links above at no additional cost to you.

To help you through the holidays, I’ve listed out some of my favorite STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) buys for kids 12 and under.

Books are great gifts for the holiday, if you haven’t checked out my previous book reviews then please check them out here.

Age 0-1 years:

In this age group, I’d recommend toys that encourage their already growing interest of the world around them without being too stimulating. Babies in this age group are typically learning through their senses, gaining increased mobility and trying to perfect gross motor skills. I selected toys that I felt were good for further developing those skills and interests. These can help build the foundation of learning and exploration.

I bought this Touch and Feel: Farm (Touch & Feel) when my daughter was 6 months old and she still loves it at 16 months old! Early on, it encouraged her to explore her senses and work on gross motor skills. Now it is helping her develop language and recognize some animals that live at a local educational farm near us (we bring this book with us when we visit).

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pound and Roll Wooden Tower Toy With HammerThis Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pound and Roll Wooden Tower Toy With Hammer was a popular toy for both of my children under the age of one. These types of toys are perfect for little ones as they begin to learn object permanence and develop hand / eye coordination. It became my child’s very first ‘puzzle’ and it was versatile. As my children grew, they began using the hammer to further develop gross and fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination.

EverEarth Natural Wood Blocks, 80 Pieces are necessary for this age group. They help develop a child’s creativity, help them explore fundamentals of cause and effect, gravity (objects fall down), balance, build hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills, explore colors (if you purchase colored ones) and shapes, etc. These are also versatile for the future. Later on children can use them for sorting, designing, building, creating, experimenting, etc. And if you purchase these, your child could paint their own blocks!

Do you have a place outside your home near a window that would be a great place for this Sorbus Bird Feeder – Classic Tube Hanging Feeders for Finches Bird Seed and More, Weatherproof, Premium Hard Plastic with Metal Hanger, Great for Attracting Birds Outdoors, Backyard, Garden (2 Pack)?  Children at this age are so intrigued by nature.  My children LOVE watching birds come to the feeder especially in the window.  Ours is strategically placed outside their playroom window.  In the winter, feeders help non migrating birds find food.  It’s a great way for children to explore birds more close up and appreciate nature.  I added this to this age group because children love watching birds go to the feeder at this age and it builds a foundation for an interest in nature, but this ‘toy’ could be given to any age group.  Accompany it with an age appropriate bird book and some bird seed!  We have a feeder very similar to this one and it is a hit!

Age 1-3 years:

In this age group, children are typically further refining their motor skills, developing language skills, developing socially and emotionally and just beginning cognitive development skills (understanding how the world works through experience). For this age group, I’d recommend toys that nourish their already natural need to perfect their motor function (especially fine motor), allow for creativity, and support their language development. Many children in this age range love to find ways to express their new found independence – that can be nourished with age appropriate problem solving toys.

Bath Building Tubes

I think most children in this age range, love water. These Boon Building Bath Pipes Toy Set, Set of 5 have been so much fun for both my children at bath time. They are great for teaching cause and effect since they can rearrange the pipes to make water flow various directions through the chain or they can be used separately.

I try to find more complex building toys for my children. Our favorite, by far, have been Magformers Basic Set (30 pieces) magnetic building blocks, educational magnetic tiles, magnetic building STEM toy and LEGO Duplo My First My First Bricks 10848. Both of these toys offer expansion packs so you can continue building their collection. My daughters love mixing and matching the pieces from different packs to create something new.

Puzzles are another great option for kids in this age range. They help develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills. This Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Peg Puzzles (Set of 3) – Numbers, Alphabet, and Colors would familiarize children with numbers, colors, letters and number words. The pegs make it just a little easier for little hands to grab and put them in place on the board.

We have toys similar to this Dinosaur Toys Take Apart Toys With Tools (218 pieces) – Pack of 6 Dinosaurs – Construction Engineering STEM Learning Toy Building Play Set – Toy for Boys & Girls Age 3 – 12 years old and my kids love it! It’s great for developing coordination, cognitive skills and creativity. They can disassemble and reassemble. My only caution is to be sure that your child has past the phase of putting objects into their mouth because some parts and pieces could be a choking hazard.

My daughter picked out this B. toys – Two-ty Fruity! Wooden Abacus Toy – Classic Wooden Educational Counting Toy With 100 Beads – Natural Wood and BPA and Phthalates FREE Beads from the store when she was about 16 months old. It’s never too early to start counting… while they may not understand the concept of counting yet, familiarizing them with counting language and allowing them to move the pieces on the abacus is fun. Later on, kids can use this for learning how to add and subtract small numbers.

Age 3-5 years:

Children in this age group have (and are continuing to) greatly expand their language. They also have a huge imagination, love creative play and are extremely active. As far as cognitive development, they are capable of sorting objects by size, shape, color, etc. They also enjoy counting, begin understanding the concept of time and what it means to split something in half. Some can even begin counting money. They are not logical thinkers, so they typically “learn by seeing and doing”. This is a wonderful age to introduce experimentation and teach hypotheses, however simplicity and repetition is key. Kids are learning through play at this age.

Learning Resources Code & Go Robot Mouse is a problem solving and critical thinking toy that introduces children to the concept of coding. Kids lay out the maze for the mouse to find the cheese, then select and layout the order of the movements with cards. After the cards are laid out, they ‘program’ the steps into the mouse and watch how it moves. This toy challenges children to think critically and problem solve. It is also totally hands on and experimental. Also, keep your eyes out for this Fisher Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar Toy.  DISCLAIMER: I have not tested the Code and Go Mouse myself.

My daughter is really into space. Check out this cool Smithsonian Space 2019 Wall Calendar! A calendar is such a cheap, inexpensive learning tool for children to learn numbers, counting and understanding the concept of time. I found my daughters calendar last year in the discount bin at Target. This coming year, I splurged a little bit and ordered it off of Amazon. We incorporate our calendar into our nighttime routine with her. It’s helped with number recognition and counting.

Single Learning Resources Jumbo Magnifying Glass for Kids (One Magnifying Glass of Random Color Per Order)

A magnifying Single Learning Resources Jumbo Magnifying Glass for Kids (One Magnifying Glass of Random Color Per Order) has been one of the best interactive learning toys for my toddler. She brings it outside with her on warmer days and she examines nature with it – fallen leaves, flowers, grass, tree nuts, bark, insects, etc. She also uses it inside, for example, to examine her clothes, books, toys and the floor. She pretends to be a detective too. We’ve pretended to be underwater divers looking for “treasure” with it also. If you get one of these, watch your child’s imagination take over.

Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Made Easy Activity Kit: Princess – 100+ Stickers, Wooden Frame is really great for kids in this age range. These are hands on and teach number recognition as well as fine motor skill development and cognitive skill development. Check out my post on Learning numbers and early math for additional information.

Do you want to encourage your child to love chemistry? This Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set, 22 pieces looks great for allowing kids to do some experimenting while learning various experimental terms like beaker, eye dropper, flask, etc. It comes with simple experiment cards for your child to enjoy and test. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

Marble runs are perfect for this age group. It develops their creativity, fine motor skills, and problem solving and cognitive skills. I love this Marble Genius Marble Run Super Set – 100 Complete Pieces + Free Instruction App (85 Translucent Marbulous Pieces + 15 Glass Marbles) because it is transparent (kids can see the marble move through it) and it has so many starter parts and pieces.

If your child loves space like mine, they will absolutely adore this Discovery Kids Planetarium Projector for Children with Rotating Stars Night Sky Mode and Stationary Slides Mode with Planet, Constellation, Solar System, Nebula, Spaceship, and Star Slides. The planetarium is shaped like a space ship and has two projector modes: 1) the moving side has a dome that rotated and projects stars like the night sky and 2) the stationary side allows for 4 included reel discs for children to view space images like a nebula, the planets, the moon, the sun, galaxies, etc. The only downside is that the reel disc don’t have a cheat sheet to know what you are looking at, so you’ll need to do your homework ahead of time like we did.

My children love this Fisher-Price Medical Kit. We’ve even brought it to the doctors office with us! It’s a great toy for imagination and acting out doctors office visits. It introduces children to simple tools that doctors utilize to check patients. It includes a blood pressure cuff, thermometer, otoscope, bandage, syringe and stethoscope.

If your child is already into Duplo Legos, another alternative to the Marble Run mentioned above is this BATTOP Marble Run Building Blocks Construction Toys Set Puzzle Race Track for Kids-97 Pieces.  It works similarly to a marble run but attaches directly to your childs Duplo Legos set.  I opted for this option for my children because they absolutely love their Duplo Legos. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself yet.

Age 5-8 years:

Children in this age group have developed better reasoning skills and will continue to gain more confidence in reasoning. They have also learned new skills like reading and writing, which makes it easier for them to work more individually on complex activities. Selecting toys that allow them to continue improving these skills and selecting ones that continue to expand their creativity is critical for this age group to continue building confidence in their skills.

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Anyone that has been following my Fairy Garden Project will understand why I purchased this tool set for my 3 year old daughter. I put it in this age group because younger kids will definitely need help using these tools, but older kids (in this age group) will not need as much supervision. I actually bought this tool set from my local Lowe’s recently. It includes everything my child would need to help work on various household projects with us and also has many needed tools for our Fairy Garden project his winter.

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Does your child enjoy digging, dinosaurs or want to be a paleontologist? I’d suggest checking out Jurassic World Stem Playleontology Kit. Kids get the opportunity to dig, chisel and brush away dirt to reveal the dinosaur bones of a T-Rex. It can then be displayed on the display stand included. Once assembled, the mouth of the T-Rex will open and close. They get to experience what it is like to be a paleontologist. A book on dinosaur bones would be a great accompaniment to this toy. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

How amazing would it be for your kids to make their own ice cream and learn science simultaneously? I found this Play and Freeze, Ice Cream Ball- Ice Cream Maker, (77349)Maker and I can’t wait to try it out with my kids when they are older! This is a hands-on experiment where kids learn the science behind freezing and movement. They must read and follow the instructions for it to work. The result is delicious ice cream in 30 minutes. Don’t forget to check out the included recipes and buy the ingredients in advance too! DISCLAIMER: I have not yet tested this toy myself.

I remember when I was this age, I LOVED getting mail. Buying a subscription to a magazine would be exciting for kids in this age group. If they love learning and reading facts about animals and science, I’d suggest checking out a National Geographic Kids subscription. If you’ve never checked out the images in these books, you need to. The photographs are stunning.

ThinkFun Math Dice Junior Game for Boys and Girls Age 6 and Up – Teachers Favorite and Toy of the Year Nominee is a fun mental math game for kids learning and honing in on their addition and subtraction skills. Kids in this age range love games and this one looks like it would be fun to play as a family and would prepare them mentally for their middle school years. DISCLAIMER: I have not yet tested this game myself but have read the game details and game reviews.

Who remembers The Magic School Bus: Greatest Original Episodes? These movies are still wonderful learning tools for children. In this DVD, children are taken through space, the human body and the eye of the storm. These episodes are so easy for children in this age range to understand and keep their attention. We have this DVD and my children love it.

Age 8-10 years:

Middle schoolers are typically able to apply more logic and reasoning skills. They are also typically a bit more methodical in their thinking and approach than younger children and they are very fluent readers. More advanced toys that require them to read and follow instructions, problem solve issues and use their creativity would be great for this age.

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 100 STEM Projects | 4-Color Project Manual | 30 Snap Modules | Unlimited Fun is amazing!! I have this toy listed under this age range mostly because it does require some creative methodical thinking to work on this alone but this could easily be adapted for younger children if you are willing to work with them on it. Another option for more simplicity would be to check out Snap Circuits Beginner Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 20 STEM Projects | 4-Color Project Manual | 12 Snap Modules | Unlimited Fun which, based on reviews, has simpler diagrams to follow and may be easier for a bright young child. Children build various circuitry based on the diagrams provided and enjoy the success of completion or use problem solving skills to troubleshoot issues. All parts snap together, so it’s safe for children. I bought this to work on with my 3 year old and it was actually a lot of fun. Of course, attention span is limited at that age, but it primed her interest for electronics which was my goal for her age.

K’NEX were popular when I was a kid and it’s nice to see that they haven’t lost their popularity. If you are looking for a building toy for this age group, check out the K’NEX – 35 Model Building Set – 480 Pieces – For Ages 7+ Construction Education Toy (Amazon Exclusive). K’NEX allows kids to build objects that actually move. This set allows for creativity and helps develop more advanced cognitive skill.

If your child loved their marble run and they love challenges, then the ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run Logic Game and STEM Toy for Boys and Girls Age 8 and Up – Toy of the Year Award Winner might be a great toy for them. It is a much more intense complicated maze set up with 60 challenge cards. The pieces can be arranged many different ways which is what makes this challenging. This toy claims improve spacial awareness and logic. Based on the videos I reviewed, I would agree. Check out the video in the link to see how it works. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You! has several household scientific experiments that are safe for children to do with some adult supervision. Experiments are organized and easy to understand. If your child is planning for science fair this year, this might be a good book for them. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally reviewed this book.

Age 10-12 years:

Children in this age rage typically have a very developed cognitive ability. They can gather thoughts, opinions and facts and formulate their own organized thoughts. They also typically use and practice more mental math and start learning more advanced math concepts in school. Any additional practice you can provide for additional skill practice in a fun way, while learning new concepts, would be helpful to confidence building.

Practicing more advanced mental math would help children in this age. This game, Math for Love Prime Climb, is a game that requires children to do mental addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Younger children can play with an adult. It is a game that combines skill, luck and strategy. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally tried this game.

Discovery Propulsion Rocket by Horizon Group USA is a reusable rocket launcher that uses household products for launching. Fun ways to use this launcher would be timing how long for take off, timing how long it’s in the air and measuring how far the rocket launches. This would also be a great toy to research energy and Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally tried this product.

While I personally have not read this book yet, I have read numerous reviews and have a reliable resource that First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong is an excellent book. Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon but he was also an incredibly talented engineer and astronaut. He was a man that lived through the infancy of the space program. This book is also a major motion picture. DISCLAIMER: This book is on loan and on my reading list!

If you are looking for something similar to snap circuits but a bit more challenging, check out Snap Circuits Snapino – Making Coding A Snap | Snap Circuits & Arduino Compatible | Perfect Introduction to Arduino Coding | Great STEM Product.  It introduces coding concepts to their electronic design.  Each project has detailed instructions explaining how to connect the circuitry and also how to write the code in the program that your child can download onto their own computer. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself yet. 

As always, these are suggestions for each age range. Some children may require more or less challenging toys based on their needs and skill level. Some of these products (noted above), I was not able to review or test myself, however I did a thorough review of each to make my recommendation. I was able to test most products with kids in the younger age groups but not the older ones.

If you have any questions, please contact me at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

Great Lakes Science Center, STEM Resources

GLSC STEM Educators Resource Event

 

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In front of the GLSC

I attended the Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) STEM Educators Resource Fair in Cleveland, Ohio.  This event was completely FREE to formal and informal educators.  The premise of this event was to showcase to educators everything that the GLSC has to offer including field trips, educational movies in the Cleveland Clinic Dome Theater, examples of their hands-on workshops and additional events that they host for schools.  Many of their STEM partners were also in attendance at the event.

I am not a formal educator, I am (and most of my readers) are informal educators of children – particularly young children.  So my participation in this event was from a parent’s perspective – an informal educator – attempting to gather STEM ideas to incorporate for my children and also to gain further insight into more STEM resources available.

One of the workshops for PreK to Kindergarten really struck me as a project that could easily be adopted at home.  This workshop focused on the story of The Three Little Pigs.   If you google search, you will find many different videos, blogs and worksheets recommending how to carry out these activities in a classroom setting.

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PreK to Kindergarten display table showcasing hands-on workshop of the The Three Little Pigs at the GLSC.

Your child would transform into the pigs from the story and build each of the houses to try to withstand the big, bad wolf (which could be a hair dryer) from materials you provide.  As you recall in the story, the first pig built his house out of straw, the second pig out of sticks and the third out of bricks.  The straw and sticks I feel are pretty self explanatory and easy to find.  They used Legos as their “bricks”.  You could even get creative and find these items on a nature hunt – straw (or grass), sticks, and stones.  The activity teaches problem solving, provides a basic introduction to material properties and could also be used to work on comprehension.  I could also see this taken further for older children to incorporate cost of materials.

The idea of connecting engineering concepts to a children’s book is pretty brilliant to me.  My toddler would LOVE this!  This unlocked a new realm of creativity.  In the future, when I’m reading books to my children, the creativity wheels will be turning.

I did feel that this event would be very beneficial for new educators or educators that are not familiar with the additional STEM resources in the area.  There are some really great hands-on workshops that the GLSC offers to educational groups!  I am grateful to the GLSC for allowing me to participate in this event as an informal educator.  Everyone was incredibly welcoming and informative.

Some of the additional STEM partners in attendance that I’d suggest parents check out were: Lakeland Community College HIVE, the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In the future, I hope to check out more of what these STEM partners offer children and share them!

If you are an educator who would like more information on the opportunities at the Great Lakes Science Center, you can find more information under the Educators tab on their website!

The information provided above about the event was based on my experience and understanding.  I have no direct relationship with the GLSC other than I have a membership.  For more information, please visit the GLSC website.  I won an Inventionland Inventors Kit through a random drawing.  I gifted this kit to my child’s school for educational purposes.

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