Amazon is launching a STEM toy subscription club for parents in the US, which will deliver an age-appropriate educational toy each month, hand-picked by curators from “trusted brands Amazon loves.” These packages will include puzzle games, building kits, chemistry sets and even programmable robots, for a monthly fee of $20.
“The subscription service is another step forward in pushing science and technology playthings to parents looking for more educational toys, while simultaneously adding more recurring monthly services for Amazon customers,” writes Chaim Gartenberg at The Verge.
STEM toys are also one of the biggest draws at the Toy Fair 2017, exhibiting this week in London, and alongside collectibles are predicted to be a major trend in the year ahead. “Things that encourage children to be interested in science, technology, engineering, maths, and I would also include robotics in that… we’re seeing a lot of these toys in the hall,” says Natasha Crookes, Director of Communications & Public Affairs at The Toy & Hobby Association.
Despite Brexit-related uncertainty, the UK toy market has grown to over £3.5 billion in the last year, making it the largest current market in Europe and the fourth in the world. Earlier this month the British government positioned STEM at the centre of its efforts to boost the UK economy, with up to £170 million dedicated to future STEM projects.
Popularising STEM toys among young girls is especially important, and not just for companies like Amazon who are seeking revenue. There is a global shortage of women in STEM jobs, and making this world feel more open and accessible at a young age is a crucial part in addressing that imbalance.
Research by Canadean has led some to speculate that the concept of gender-fluidity will be a norm among the children of millennials, and that therefore the notion of gendered toy marketing will be baffling to them.
More and more toy brands are embracing an inclusive, non-binary approach to marketing; this is especially significant in the arena of STEM toys, where companies like GoldieBlox have been trying to undo decades of sexism by demonstrating that girls can enjoy building things as well as playing with dolls.