Fast-forward to today’s fashion for STEM toys. These toys are supposed to do all the work that my father did with me on those cold Saturdays. A little robot that runs around on the floor is supposed to replace building and learning. A box of parts that fit together like Lego and animated with a few lines of code should be enough for any kid to get a body of knowledge so deep that we won’t be plunged into a dark pit of ignorance come 2040.
But the toys don’t work. I’ve been very critical of modern STEM toys because they are just toys. The only things I’ve found remotely educational are Scratch, with its BASIC-like mental syntax, and Adafruit products that require actual soldering.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.