Science and Discovery Toys Provide Wonderful Educational Experiences for Children

Whether your child wants to be a future geologist, archeologist, chemist or scientist there are a wide variety of excellent science and discovery toys for them to have fun and learn with. There is an endless array of kits, toys, play sets and devices available to experiment and explore some of which include; animal kits, archaeology and geology toys, astronomy tools and play sets, bugs and insects, chemistry and physics sets, electronic and robotic kits, geography and globes, habitats, microscopes, telescopes and binoculars.

Most children are enchanted by anything to do with animals. There are plenty of fun and exciting habitats and play sets to keep your child entertained for hours. Frog habitats, horse and stable play sets, plastic dinosaur kits, a variety of sea monkey habitats from magic castles to mini aquariums, creature keeper (for catching beetles, butterflies and praying mantis etc.), farm animal play sets, plastic wildlife animals, hermit crab kits, reptile habitats, sea life plastic toy sets, plastic reptile sets, foam t-rex dinosaurs, foam lizards and foam great white sharks to name only a few.

The archaeology and geology sets and educational toys offer wonderful educational experiences for children, allowing them to have fun while enhancing their learning skills. Some of the great toys and ideas for play are; rock polishing kits, metal detectors, wooden dinosaur bone building kits available in different sizes (no glue or hardware needed), volcano making kits, outdoor adventure equipment kits (available with flashlight, compass, working camera, binoculars, digital watch and telescope) and 3D wooden dinosaur puzzles.

For a future aspiring astronomist anything to do with the planets, stars, galaxies and universe causes excitement. Some of the great astronomy items that can be found for children include; telescopes (if this is something your child is very interested in, be sure to find a quality telescope that will last and work properly), rockets (complete with sound effects and vibrations), 3D solar systems that glow in the dark, binoculars, space mission play sets, glow in the dark stars and planet sets, solar system mobiles and hand held star navigators (electronic devices used to locate and identify stars and their constellations).

Bugs and insects are interesting to children and adults alike, there are some excellent kits and observatories great for viewing and keeping critters. Something to note with most kits is the larvae or bugs will only be sent separately once the kit is purchased). Some of the exciting kits available are butterfly gardens (complete with supplies for feeding and observation chamber and informative booklet), ant farms, lady bug gardens, butterfly flowers seeds and net sets, silkworm sets, plastic bug play sets, creature viewer (magnifying scope) and special bug jars. The butterfly kit allows a child to see the complete metamorphosis from larvae to butterfly, both an exciting and wonderful learning experience.

Aspiring chemists and physicists will love the great snap circuit kits which allow your child to build an array of exciting projects from radios to light bulb testing set ups. Other great chemistry and physics kits available include; science kits (color mixing, making soft crystals, or rainbows in test tube), water wizardry kits (allowing children to make snow, gels and rainbows in test tube all with the addition of water), and wonderful chemistry sets complete with microscope, accessories, material and equipment allowing first time scientists to conduct simple and fun chemistry experiments.

The electronics and robotics choices for children come in several exciting devices and kits. Metal detectors are one device that offers children a sort of "treasure hunt" experience through use on a beach or the backyard where they will find all sorts of lost treasures and trinkets. There are great electronic kits which allow children to build everything from clock radios to robots and aliens that will respond to sound. Other fun and educational toys available are walkie-talkie kits, snap circuit kits and moving robot kits for building an endless array of moving vehicles and robots. These wonderful kits teach your child a variety of great skills while proving that learning really can be a lot of fun.

One of the most practical and great learning aids for geography is without question the globe. Globes today come in all sorts of different designs some with raised relief land formations and others with lovely prism designs. Popular electronic globes come with geographical facts, trivia, national anthems and world clock times. There are electronic interactive books available with talking maps giving names of states and capitals offering children excellent and fun learning opportunities. Puzzles are also another popular learning aid made in a variety of designs and sizes. Regardless of the globe you choose for your child it is sure to be of use for years to come.

Lastly there is a vast selection of children's microscopes, telescopes and binoculars available for viewing bugs, stars and wildlife. Microscopes offer future scientists and biologists a view of the physical world through magnification. While telescopes give a glimpse of the wonderful night sky and binoculars bring wildlife up close. All these devices will change the way your child looks at the world. These toys are made in both plastic sets and higher quality metal sets. Which set you choose will depend on the age of your child and how often they will be using the device. An older child will probably prefer a better quality set that will withstand wear and tear and be more optically correct.

Science and discovery toys, sets and devices should inspire fascination and inquisitiveness in your child helping to encourage a love and desire for learning. All the wonderful toys in this category are sure to provide any child with hours of entertainment while providing an awareness of science and how it works. These toys are sure to open doors and teach skills on a variety of different levels. The endless array of choices can at times be a bit overwhelming, it's always a good idea to do a bit of research before making your purchase. Reviews and recommendations on toys are a great way to get a bit of an idea on what to expect.

Computer Science Education Kits

A massive change is coming to the ICT curriculum, a subject that the government has now deemed irrelevant. As of September 2014 ICT will no longer be taught, instead the new subject of Computing will replace the old ICT syllabus.

This change has been implemented with backing from heads of industry. The department of education has said that it hopes the proposed changes will help England retain a competitive edge in the global digital economy.

The implementation of Computer Science may look attractive form an industry point of view; however what does it mean for teachers and pupils who have little or no experience of programming or understanding how a computer works.

Like myself, most teachers will have to learn this new subject as we teach it. The department of education has promised to release the complete new curriculum in autumn 2013, leaving only a year to prepare.

One of the problems I foresee is that the majority of pupils will have no parents, uncles, aunts or family friends with any computer science experience. This will make teachers the only port of call for any queries; hence it is vital that we really know this new subject inside out. Personally I feel that the sooner we get to grips with what will be expected of us the fairer it will be on the pupils and the less chance for any nasty surprises.

So what am I doing to prepare for the new curriculum? Firstly I have looked into the new technologies that have kick started this change. The name on everyone's lips is the Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi was released in February 2012 with the aim to attract more students into computer science at university, it has been recommended by companies such as Google for use in schools. What is the Raspberry Pi? It is a very small computer which can be plugged into a monitor and keyboard.

The clear set out and well laid out diagrams makes the Raspberry Pi ideal for teaching the components of a computer. It also has built in programs for spreadsheets, word processing and playing videos. While these functions make it a useful computer the main attraction of the computer is how easy it is to program.

While on its own the Raspberry Pi could be used to implement the new computer science curriculum there are companies who have been working with the Raspberry Pi to make computer science more exciting to teach.

By allowing pupils to program an object they can see and interact with, the real world applications of computer science can be quickly realised.

The hands on approach to computer science will be sure to demystify a subject that has for too long been taught only in universities. Any fear of an unfamiliar topic of study is likely to be forgotten as the pupils are swept away with an enthusiasm to program a robot.

These kits are specifically designed to be ready straight out of the box and intuitive for new users who are unacquainted with technology. They are also great entrance to further computer science studies for both boys and girls.

Science Education and Art Education: The Perfect Pair

After years of touting the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics ) educational programs, many teachers are discovering that by adding an "A" --for ART-- student learning will pick up STEAM! This latest understanding of how students learn is changing science education by adding Art education back into the mix. This integrated education approach is developing a proven track record and being incorporated into public, private and homeschool education.

At its inception, the STEM bill authorized over 150 million to help students earn a bachelor's degrees and teaching credentials. It also provided millions in additional money to help align kindergarten through grade 12 math and science curricula to better prepare students for college.

Now years later, people are asking questions like: Why are math and science viewed as standalone modalities? Why have so many schools dropped Arts education from their curriculum?

For too long, we have wrongly believed that Science and Art education were separate disciplines that demanded different teaching methods. However, now we know that Science and Art, as well as Math and Music are intrinsically related!

Educational researchers are recognizing that it is important to integrate all modalities into STEM lessons. By broadly using an integrated education curriculum, students are able to see how science education is important to aspects of everyday life. Integrated education also affords the opportunity for real-world application of the math and science education knowledge.

The use of Art as the glue that bonds these modalities shows students how form and function are guiding principles. Art is not merely illustrative or decorative, but represents an essential part of the process of inquiry, such as problem finding, problem solving, and communication.

The fervor that propels people to excel at mathematics and science education or engineering and art education are driven by the same desire: the desire to discover the intricacies and beauty in one's world and chosen work. Furthermore, Art is also integrated into technologies such as engineering in the "form and function" debate. Does form follow function or does function follow form? Either way the two are fundamentally linked. Cars are a perfect example: From the Model-T Ford to the latest concept car, we have seen that the evolution of technology is as much about aesthetics (form) of the product as it is about functionality.

Many of the fundamental concepts of form and function are the same. Line, shape, color, structure/function relationships as well as perspective, patterning, and sequencing are the language of art and science education. Students create "an artistic representation of their ideas and solutions is a valuable way to make learning personal. This allows for a clear understanding of the underpinnings of science principles and how these principles can be extrapolated to solve existing problems. It has been proven that students who previously had difficulty in STEM classes are picking up STEAM quickly!

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