Parents Say That Toys Designed to Spark a Love for Science and Math Are Really Messy

And you thought stepping on Legos was bad!

As toys meant to inspire a love for science and math become more and more popular with parents of young children, the same parents are noticing the extra mess that these playthings bring.

STEM (which stands for science, technology, engineering and math) toys like VIAHART's Brain Flakes, PLUS PLUS construction toys and Magformers often come in sets that include hundreds of small pieces just waiting to get lost under your couch, as noted in a Wall Street Journal article published earlier this week.

One mom named Karen Sturgis told WSJ that she has over 10,000 small building blocks from Plus-Plus for her two children. “That sounds like a ridiculous number, but they always ask, ‘Mom, can we get another pack? We have another idea,’ ” she said.

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To solve the problem, some parents told WSJ that they’ve had to come up with creative solutions. Meghan Owenz said that she keeps a “toy library” and allows her kids to “check out” only a limited number of items per week.

“If everything from the library was checked out, it would become overwhelming,” she told the outlet of the numerous blocks and boxes in the “library.”

The toy companies have also offered solutions.

WSJ notes that Magformers has started selling a branded box to hold their magnets, and the founder of VIAHART told WSJ that they would consider putting a “dustbin shovel thingy” in their upcoming products.

But how effective are these STEM toys at stimulating a love for math- and science-related fields, anyway?

Douglas Clements, a professor of early mathematics, told WSJ that having too many toys can actually cause burnout.

“You don’t need them all,” he said. “It’s more important for kids to go back to the [construction set] and think, ‘What do I do now?’ “

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