3 STEM stars for summertime

Summer brain drain begone! Here are three of our favorite new ways of keeping that grey matter churning — and keeping your home boredom-free — all season long.

Wonder Workshop’s Sketch Kit

Creative coders, rejoice! Wonder Workshop’s beloved Dash and Cue robots (residing cheerfully in millions of homes as well as over 20,000 schools worldwide) have a brand new skill set. And it’s a gloriously artistic one, too! Sketch Kit, the highly anticipated STEAM accessory, encourages young coders to draw, sketch, doodle, and create — something not just any robot can be taught to do. 

“A lot of children, parents [and] teachers would attach markers to their robots,” Vikas Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Wonder  Workshop, says of the origins of Sketch Kit. “We’ve always known this is something that people want to do…and we also knew that the robot had enough capability, enough sense, to draw very accurately. Given that, we felt that we could give all users, all inventors around the world, a better experience of creating art.” 

The incredibly fun and satisfying to use Sketch Kit set comes with a harness that snaps onto the base of either Dash or Cue, a connector that attaches to the robot’s head for further manipulation and a set of triangular dry erase markers that are utilized with surprising accuracy. You’ll definitely be jockeying for a turn with this guy alongside your kids! Sketch Kit and the Wonder Whiteboard mat can be purchased separately or as bundle, but the updates to the Wonder Workshop’s Blockly and the apps for Dash and Cue are — as with 100% of Wonder Workshop’s apps — entirely free. (How’s that for inspiring?)

Craft City’s DIY Slime Kit

These youngins are onto something. If anyone still doubts the launching power of YouTube, look no further than mega-successful YouTuber Karina Garcia who, now in her 20s, has over 7.5 million followers watching her every move. And those moves? Creating slime — and encouraging others to do the same. She’s partnered with Craft City and Target with a fun new line of slime and DIY kits, just perfect for summertime crafting craziness. 

We were excited to try out the Official Make-Your-Own Slime Kit, especially since it contained every last fun, fizzy and goopy ingredient necessary for slime greatness. (Read: No running around your house with dyed hands, frantically trying to find that other bottle of white glue someone left somewhere.) My 4-year-old, long on the sidelines and watching his sisters craft awesome projects, got to try his (sticky) hand at this one. (Disclaimer: The kit we played with had an age recommendation of 12+, but you know your kid best. As always, parental involvement is strongly suggested.) 

While I measured, he added water gel powder, “slime goo,” some “slime activator” and, everyone’s favorite, blue glitter. The result? Quality time for me, squishy glory for him — and an hour together that redefined “hands-on fun.” 

Brick Loot

Subscription boxes are all the rage and with good reason, too. Curated products and sets for one monthly price, plus the joy of receiving the best possible mail all year ‘round? What’s not to love? Brick Loot is among our newfound faves, and might just get your kids running to the mailbox each month in LEGO-fueled anticipation. Each kit is comprised of 4-8 items curated by Brick specialists the world over, and are made up of fun — and sometimes hard to find — products, ranging from custom LEGO sets to LEGO-compatible accessories to minifigures to fun surprises. And when you throw in the fact that Brick Loot’s CEO, Parker Krex, started the company when he was merely 9 years-old, you’ve got a nice dash of inspiration for your family to build on, too. 

So what was in the kit that we tried out? With the theme of “Game On,” we knew it was going to be good. A Speedway racer arcade game, an LED light kit to put atop your creation, and an Arcade Mystery LEGO minifigure kept the fun going for my 8 and 6 year-olds (thanks to detailed instructions and well-sorted packaging), and as for my 4 year-old? He was thrilled with his new Pinky’s Arcade Pac-Man hat (although the retro-cute topper is adjustable and might take a few side trips with Mom). These kits, with the option to subscribe every 1, 3, 6 months, or 1 year, are a great value for the brick fanatics in your life — or even for yourself. After all, Brick Loot’s clientele breakdown is 30% adults and 70% kids. (Why should the kids have all the fun?)

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