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Building Brick STEM Challenge Kit

Lower Age: 4+
Website: https://www.lakeshorelearning.com/products/stem/building-engineering/building-brick-stem-challenge-kit-pre-kgr1/p/TT758
Price: $29.99
Year Added: 2018
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The Building Brick STEM Challenge Kit is a great gift designed to teach children more about engineering. The kit, by Lakeshore Learning Materials, comes with 10 challenge cards, 253 brick-based building pieces, and 4 marbles. The challenge cards come with a simple engineering problem the child has to solve. Although users aren’t limited as to which of the kit’s materials they can use, the challenge cards do offer three levels of difficulty,  notated by the different colors of the card. The cards are also double sided with a suggested solution on the back side, in case a user can’t puzzle it out themselves. Though there are only 10 challenges, one of the good things about this kit is there are multiple solutions to these problems, and the challenge cards explicitly indicate there are more ways for a child to solve the problem. This encourages kids to come back and try again, maybe even in collaboration with other budding engineers, to see if they can get different answers to the same problem.

The kit does a great job of showing engineering thinking and design principles. Children have to first make the course for some challenges which can develop their spatial reasoning and design skills. Since the challenges are open ended, children can be as creative as they want to be in their design and thinking of the solution. Also, being able to solve problems (which can either rely on previous knowledge or new, original concepts) for even more solutions, gets children in the mindset of an engineer. Worth mentioning is that the creations are designed to be built on a fixed area, offering a chance to learn about engineering constraints. That said, children still have the option of just building on a flat surface and adding more pieces (such as compatible LEGO bricks) to the set to make even bigger and better creations. After kids have taken on the challenge, they can share it or make it better. There are even some challenges such as mazes they can try out on their friends. The STEM Challenge Kit is a great gift which can teach a lot about how to be an engineer while also being a lot of fun.