Contact: Adrienne Appell
The Toy Association

What Makes a Good STEM/STEAM Toy?

New Toy Association Research Identifies 14 Characteristics of Toys that Cultivate Kids’ Science & Math Skills

New York, NY | May 21, 2019 – How can toy companies create products that truly prepare kids for careers in science, technology, engineering and math? According to a new study, “STEM/STEAM Formula for Success,” released today by The Toy Association, great STEM/STEAM (with the “A” representing arts) toys encourage open-ended play and trial-and-error exploration, teach problem-solving, and allow children to lead the play experience, among other attributes.

“The Toy Association’s latest report is the second phase of our multi-year initiative to bring more clarity to the topics of STEM and STEAM, and the central role of toys and play in advancing science- and math-based skills in children,” said Ken Seiter, executive vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association. “The Association is proud to be at the forefront of this important discussion with new research-based guidelines to help companies develop and market STEM/STEAM products that enhance kids’ learning and provide support to parents looking to foster these skills.“

The report provides:

  • 14 unifying characteristics of STEM/STEAM toys, based on in-depth interviews with toy experts;
  • Insights from a survey of 2,000 parents who shared their perspectives on STEM/STEAM careers and toys as they relate to their children;
  • Examples of enriching STEM/STEAM toys garnered from input from more than 100 Toy Association member companies; and
  • A worksheet that can be used as a framework when evaluating toys and games.

“Our research indicates that 67 percent of parents believe that STEM/STEAM-focused toys are the primary way to encourage science and math development in young children,” Seiter added. “We have now identified best practices toy companies can follow to create these toys and that parents can use as a guide when selecting them for their kids. ”

“STEM/STEAM Formula for Success” complements The Toy Association’s previous report, “Decoding STEM/STEAM, “ completed in 2018. The first study shed light on the meaning of and history of STEM/STEAM education, highlighted challenges, stigmas, and myths related to STEM/STEAM learning, and defined the role of toys in STEAM/STEAM education.

The full reports are available at

About The Toy Association / /
Founded in 1916, The Toy Association™, Inc. is the not-for-profit trade association representing all businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages. The Toy Association leads the health and growth of the U.S. toy industry, which has an annual U.S. economic impact of $110.9 billion, and its 1000+ members drive the annual $28 billion U.S. domestic toy market. The Toy Association serves as the industry’s voice on the developmental benefits of play, and promotes play’s positive impact on childhood development to consumers and media. The organization has a long history of leadership in toy safety, having helped develop the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 40 years ago, and remains committed to working with medical experts, government, consumers, and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play.

As a global leader, The Toy Association produces the world-renowned North American International Toy Fair and Fall Toy Preview; advocates on behalf of members around the world; sustains the Canadian The Toy Association; acts as secretariat for the International Council of Toy Industries and International Toy Industry CEO Roundtable; and chairs the committee that reviews and revises America’s widely emulated ASTM F963 toy safety standard.