2015 STEM Holiday Wish List

November 25, 2015

Ready to start your holiday shopping? This year there are more STEM-inspired gifts than ever!wish-list

While there are far too many choices to provide a comprehensive list, we’ve tried to give an overview of what is new this year, and what parents we’ve spoken to are looking for.

Tight on space or have too many toys?  Some clutter-free ideas:

Spin off their current favorites:

  • Do your kids love the popular TV series Shark Tank as much as mine? STEM Center USA was the focus of a recent episode, a company that focuses exclusively on innovative STEM products.

    3D carving brings your ideas to life!

    3D carving brings your ideas to life!

  • Look around at what they play with the most.  Is there another level that will enhance their play?
  • Do they like carving?  Take it up a notch to 3D carving.  Inventables has a great selection for the makers on your list.

Great ideas for Girls:

Did you know that today’s elementary school girls are actually more interested in pursuing a STEM career than their male classmates are? (souce:  Fortune) And yet, there is still a great disparity in the field (see our recent blog on this topic).  Toy manufacturers are responding to this increase with STEM-inspired offerings specifically with girls in mind.  Some highlights:

Keeping girls engaged in STEM!

Keeping girls engaged in STEM!

  • The folks over at Mighty Girl always put together a great holiday list, and they didn’t disappoint this year.  Building Her Dreams:  Building and Engineering Toys for Mighty Girls focuses on classic building, construction and engineering toys, while the Holiday Gift Guide has a broader variety, with selections broken down by age group and category.
  • Goldiblox has a wide range again this year, from a line of real-life hero action figures to award-winning construction toys, this company focuses on maintaining the natural curiosity that many girls have, and giving them playthings that nurture their interest in building and engineering.
  • At Project MC², where “smart is the new cool” they have apps, videos, games and plenty of gear for girls of all ages.
  • Roominate is another girl-inspired, girl-led company focusing on inspiring and encouraging girls to pursue their interests in engineering by teaching girls through play.

Looking for lots of ideas to browse?

STEM Wish Lists:  Many major retailers have caught on to the STEM interest and now have their own guides available with tons of choices in every price range

The Classic Building Blocks:

No holiday STEM list would be complete without a Lego mention.  Legos are a holiday classic for many families.  While you are shopping for new sets or accessories to complement what you already have at home, take a few minutes and join the Lego Club (FREE!) which gives ideas and inspiration to your builders throughout the year.  Since most STEM-enthusiasts already have a healthy collection of Legos at home, we’re going to suggest our favorite accessories.

Just a dream for 2015, hopes are high for 2016!

Just a dream for 2015, hopes are high for 2016!

  • Brick Separator – these make great stocking stuffers!
  • Base Plates – you can never have enough of these
  • Lego Storage Systems – many ideas, for any size collection!
  • Lego Slippers – sadly these are only available in France this year, but this item is sure to be a hit among parents.  Who among us hasn’t felt the agony of a stray Lego underfoot? Hopefully our 2016 Wish List will be able to announce that they are available on our side of the pond.

Whether you are planning on battling the crowds on Black Friday, or going with the tech-friendly Cyber Monday, we hope we’ve given you a few new ideas.  Please share with us your own finds and suggestions!

 


Designers, Inventors, and Creators Celebrated at DIY Festival

November 19, 2015

Ever wonder what you could make with a 3D printer, how to build your own robot at home, or design your own game? Then we have just the event for you! The Rochester Mini Maker Faire._MG_9982

This Rochester Mini Maker Faire will be held at The Rochester Riverside Convention Center on Saturday, November 21st, from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. The festival will celebrate those who love to make, create, learn, play, invent, craft, hack, build, think and be inspired by science, technology, engineering, arts, music, and crafts. The day will be filled with exciting exhibitions, demonstrations, and hands-on activities for all ages. Think of it as a giant show and tell mixed with a science fair, a craft fair, and a carnival all mashed together into one huge STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) event.

This year’s faire will host over 100 maker exhibits including:_MG_0072

  • A bridge made of hundreds of balloons that anyone can contribute to
  • CNC machines, 3D printers, and other leading-edge inventions and technologies
  • Movie costumes and props made by a 14 year old, and other young maker booths
  • Hands-on roboticsIMG_20141122_095123970
  • A Giant Seesaw that anyone can play on
  • Illuminated electric violins that create light shows as they are played
  • Board and computer games created by Rochesterians
  • Areas to build your own cardboard structures, take electonics apart, and create new covers for old books
  • Soldering workshop with an electronic badge that you can take home
  • Student projects from local schools and colleges
  • The crew behind the Making It Podcast
  • Something for everyone!

The full listing of makers that can be seen at this year’s faire can be found at: http://makerfairerochester.com/makers/2015-makers/

The Rochester Mini Maker Faire celebrated its first event in November of 2014 with over 90 maker exhibits from across Western New York and 1,500 visitors of all ages in attendance. Photos from last year can be found on our Facebook page.

Tickets can be bought at the door, or online. Advance tickets can be purchased until the day of the Rochester Mini Maker Faire at a substantial discount from the at the door prices.

For more information on this weekend’s event, or to buy advance tickets, go to www.makerfairerochester.com

To learn more about the Maker Movement in general, visit the Maker Faire Website. mini maker faire

Dan Schneiderman is an organizer, web developer, and maker. He is currently co-chair the Rochester Mini Maker Faire, a member of the Finger Lakes Regional STEM Hub, and is working on a few interactive light projects. Within the past year, he has helped schools with their Maker programs, volunteered at FIRST Robotics events, and hosted LED throwie experiences. He recently left his job to focus on expanding the maker movement within Rochester.


STEM Hub Director speaks at conference addressing gender disparity in STEM

November 18, 2015
Sara_Silverstone

Dr. Sara Silverstone Director, Finger Lakes STEM Hub

Dr. Sara Silverstone, Finger Lakes STEM Hub Director, spoke at the American Association of University Women’s Oct. 24th conference “From Mud Pies to Dinosaur Bones: Encouraging Girls’ Interest in STEM”.

Dr. Silverstone gave an overview of the current research on women and STEM.  She presented highlights of two AAUW reviews of published research on Women in STEM: “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”, published in 2010 and  “Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing”, published in 2015.

Research shows that stereotypes and biases often lead employers—both men and women—to select male candidates, regardless of qualifications. One study found that the biggest difference between women who leave the field of engineering and those who don’t is the culture of their workplace. College experience also plays a major role in whether females enter and are successful in engineering programs. Several engineering schools, including Harvey Mudd College and RIT, have made major changes in the culture of their institutions leading to a dramatic increase in the number of femle engineering graduates. Another factor that can contribute to the success or failure of women in STEM is whether they have a growth or  fixed mindset, as described in the work of  Dr. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University.

Read more about the conference in the Cornell Chronicle.

AAUW logoTo learn more about the American Association of University Women (AAUW), please visit the association’s website.

 

 

Dr. Sara Silverstone is the Director of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub, and the CEO and Founder of Brockport Research Institute (BRI).


Year of Light Banners Inspire Rochester City School Science Class

November 15, 2015

Cool, Diane!

New York Photonics Focus

Rochester City School District Science Teacher Diane Eagles (RCSD School #46) was inspired by the International Year of Light posters at the Rochester Airport and decided to do a photonics project with her Optics class.

Eagles gave her students a working definition  of Photonics:

“Photonics is the science of light: the technology of generating, controlling and detecting light waves and photons, which are particles of light.”

She then divided them into groups and conducted several experiments and demonstrations analyzing the characteristics and properties of light. The posters highlight the properties and uses of light in relation to reflection, refraction, shadows, moon phases, a spectroscope, translucent, transparent, and opaque objects.

RCSD #46 Science Students show off their Photonics posters Diane Eagles’ RCSD #46 Science Students show off their Photonics posters

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