Leading children’s brands including National Geographic, Bandai, Spin Master and Engino cast the topic of STEM toys and learning into the spotlight last week, with the success of this year’s Big Bang Science Show, at Birmingham’s NEC.
Coinciding with National Science Week, the show played host to some 200 organisations, many of those from across the toy and children’s brands space, and welcomed around 80,000 visitors from schools from across the UK.
The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair is recognised as the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths for young people in the UK, comprising shows, interactive workshops, hands-on activities and careers information from STEM professionals.
The show plays host to some of the leading names from the STEM toy space, including the likes of Spin Master’s Meccano, Re:Creation’s Engino, and Bandai and its National Geographic branded exploration kits. National Geographic, the long-standing heritage brand and champion of world exploration, was this year’s main sponsor of the show.
David Harms, product manager at Bandai UK, has championed the event as a ‘fantastic chance to interact with the product range’s end user.’
“We don’t often get that chance,” he told ToyNews. “So this was a fantastic opportunity to see our range being used and it was very encouraging that most had seen or already had a kit.
“The positive reaction from teachers was great to hear as we hope to open new channels in the education sector because these National Geographic kits are a perfect aid for the classroom.”
Helena Mansell-Stopher, director of UK licensing at National Geographic, who had their own stand at the show, added: “Seeing our brands come to life, and experiencing the reaction from both kids and adults with their genuine love for the brand was phenomenal.
“There is nothing more rewarding than spending time surrounded by your core consumer, truly inspiring.”
Spin Master UK took to the show this ear to showcase its STEM-focused Meccano line, a brand that – since Spin Master’s acquisition back in 2013 – has seen a revival among kids and families. The Meccano stand offered visitors the chance to build a range of bikes and planes or design their own creations.
Becca Hanlon, senior brand manager for Meccano, said: “We are delighted to once again bring Meccano into the hands of keen and enquiring minds and help ignite and further fuel their passion for science and engineering as potential study subjects.”
While the show has provided a grounds for putting brands and products in front of children and schools, the Big Bang Science Fair has also been celebrated as an ‘educational platform,’ to better inform consumers on STEM products themselves.
Engino, the construction brand distributed here in the UK by Re:creation has been at the forefront of a movement to implement an accreditation system for toys that label themselves as STEM.
In an interview with ToyNews, Costas Sisamos, creator of the Engino toy line and former educator, said that shows like The Big Bang Science Fair were ideal grounds for beginning to better educate the public and what constitutes a STEM toy.