Toys that purport to teach STEM skills are all the rage, but plopping a box in front of a child is just as likely to teach them how to lose a bunch of toy pieces as it is to generate invention ideas for kids. If you really want to encourage a builder’s mindset, start with kids mechanic books and engineering books, where you control the message. It may not guarantee that they get straight As in physics or finally design hoverboards, but it will ensure that when the subject arises they can say, “I read a book (or 9) about that once.”
The Godmother of maker women was World War 2’s Rosie “We Can Do It!” The Riveter, whom the title character of this book is lucky enough to have as a great-great aunt. Rosie (the younger) is too shy to talk about her passion for inventing, but is motivated by a timely visit from Rosie (the elder) to pursue her dreams, attempt to build a flying machine, and start wearing a polka-dotted scarf around her head.