Can a STEM Toy Really Be a Toy? The Flintstone Test


"So what are STEM Toys?Are they play sweetened toys or are they play enriched educational devices?"

Let me say clearly that I believe in STEM toys and think they are a nice addition to the toy spectrum. I must, however, ask this question: Can a STEM Toy really be considered a toy?

A toy, in its very essence, is not designed to produce anything tangible except to provide joy, confidence and fantasy. It is not designed to be productive so much as to entertain. In fact, if you think about it, a game is not really a toy because a game has rules and there is a winner. A toy does not have rules and it is not designed to produce winners and losers.

When I think of a STEM Toy I think of Flintstone and Gummy vitamins. They taste like candy, they smell like candy and they look like candy. So are they candy sweetened vitamins or are they vitamin enriched candy. I think they are in the former class as they are not sold in the candy department.  They are sold with the vitamins.

So what are STEM Toys? Are they play sweetened toys or are they play enriched educational devices? They are typically merchandised in the toy department but do they belong with the school supplies…or both?

So what do you think STEM Toys are and where do you think they belong? Please share your point of view.

4 thoughts

  1. Therefore where do you stand with Lego, K’nex, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, Erector, Snap Circuits, Little Bits, Chemistry Sets etc.?
    I believe that Model Kits are Toys. Do they fit your criteria?
    I can receive Joy, Confidence and Fantasy with all of these.
    All the Best,

  2. I agree with Al Kaufman. Another role of toys is to give kids a safe way to experiment with adult roles, like a “play kitchen” or a “little builder” tool kit with plastic nuts and bolts. A good STEM toy lets a kid try on the role of scientist, engineer, or programmer, just as a toy kitchen lets them experiment with being a chef.

  3. I’m not in agreement with your assertion that a toy must provide ONLY joy, confidence, and fantasy-I believe it can provide at least the first two while simultaneously (often without the child knowing it)educating and enriching the user. STEM toys do all of these things, as well as hopefully nurturing the child’s intellectual curiosity, a characteristic that will serve him or her well throughout their life.

  4. I saw many a flintstone vitamin marching, in character, across my kitchen table before jumping into a tiny mouth. Is there another option of vitamin as toy? 🙂

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