Purdue’s INSPIRE Releases An Engineering Gift Guide For Holiday Season

(WEST LAFAYETTE) – This year’s Purdue University Engineering Gift Guide delivers an opportunity to delve into a world that cultivates learning while simultaneously providing an entertainment value.

Purdue’s INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering is releasing its Engineering Gift Guide for the seventh consecutive year. The guide will include a collection of 56 items geared toward children, ages 10 months to 18 years and a variety of games, toys, puzzles and books.

Elizabeth Schaaf, Purdue student in multidisciplinary engineering and project team lead, works with Tamara Moore, director of INSPIRE and head of the program, testing and determining which toys should be included in this year’s gift guide. (Photo provided)

“This gift guide really supports the mission of INSPIRE,” said Tamara Moore, professor of engineering education, director of INSPIRE and head of the program.  “It strives to encourage kids to think about engineering and develop their skills. It introduces engineers to society by giving parents and educators a platform to turn to when looking for a legitimate and engaging engineering toy for a child.”

The top 10 picks for the 2020 Engineering Gift Guide include a variety of games, toys, puzzles and books intended for students ages 10 months – 18 years old. (Photo provided)

The top 10 picks for the 2020 Engineering Gift Guide include a variety of games, toys, puzzles and books intended for students ages 10 months to 18 years old. (Photo provided)

This year’s release is particularly special, Moore said, because of the additional emphasis on her research theory and expanded undergraduate student involvement. Moore’s research, the Framework for Quality in K-12 Engineering Education, provided a foundation to this project. Focusing on the key tools from her theory, students determined a review process and then worked to identify which toys and items promoted engineering thinking in the best and most engaging way. Purdue students used Moore’s research theory for the majority of the testing.

Among the groups of toys, games and books this year, Moore and the student team have chosen 10 gifts they consider to be at the top of the list:

As part of the guide, companies are issued a seal from Purdue and INSPIRE indicating the item was selected for the gift guide. For those interested in purchasing any items, the gift guide will include a link to where each product can be purchased.

This year’s gift guide also will be released in a new format. It will be web-based with an emphasis on user accessibility. This transition allows the guide to provide more in-depth information, highlight additional items and gear the guide toward the consumer. A breakdown of personalized top picks is an additional new component to this e-guide.

Elizabeth Schaaf, a junior in multidisciplinary engineering studying theatre engineering and review team lead, explained why this gift guide is so important to her.

“I absolutely love being a part of this project,” Schaaf said. It’s been a really special experience because as a kid I loved engineering. However, my mom, who wasn’t an engineer and was the one who would do the holiday shopping, didn’t always know what gifts to get me. Now, she uses the guide to shop for my younger sister,” Elizabeth said “It really helps parents who don’t have an engineering background find things for their kids who do enjoy engineering.”

INSPIRE is a research institute in the Purdue College of Engineering’s School of Engineering Education. It was established in 2006 to investigate how children learn engineering in formal and informal spaces and as a way to increase the ability and interest of a diverse group of students who could become engineers. INSPIRE uses this research to create resources for educators and parents.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/.

Information by Bella Vina, ivina@purdue.edu