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A great way to encourage young girls to explore STEM and learn science concepts is to engage along with them! What better way to do that than to bring everyone to the table for one of these fun science games. Because the disparity for women in STEM fields is most pronounced in programming, physics, and mathematics, we’ve highlighted several of our favorite games in these fields.
We’ve focused on science games that can be played individually or together to make learning and exploring STEM concepts fun for the whole family. Our top pick is the Photosynthesis Board Game by Blue Orange because it is a beautiful, engaging strategy game that is perfect for family game night all while introducing biology and environmental science concepts.
- Our Top Picks for the Best Science Games for Girls
- Best Overall – Blue Orange Photosynthesis Board Game
- Most Versatile – Osmo Genius Starter Kit for iPad
- Best for Coding – CoderMindz Coding Board Game
- Best for Chemistry – Covalence: A Molecule Building Game
- Best Physics Game – ThinkFun Gravity Maze
- Best Mathematics Game – Proof! Math Game
- Best Budget Option – Learning Resources Sum Swamp
- What to Consider When Buying a Science Game for Girls
- Frequently Asked Questions
Related post: STEM Books for Girls
Our Top Picks for the Best Science Games for Girls
The Photosynthesis Board Game is great for bringing the entire family together for a tactical game of strategy. In this game, players go through the life-cycle of trees, making decisions about where and when to plant and when to sow. This game is also beautiful, with a diverse set of 3D trees adorning the game board.
While women are not underrepresented in the biology field, biology is a readily accessible STEM field for children as it is literally all around us! Plus, with the ever-increasing demand for environmental scientists and an understanding of climate change for all citizens, we think this is a winning game for introducing concepts that will be prevalent in their lives. Staying on-theme, the Photosynthesis Board game by Blue Orange is constructed entirely of recycled materials.
Planet is another great strategy game by Blue Orange. In Planet, players build a planet from scratch, attempting to build the best ecosystem possible for wildlife to flourish. There are also objective cards to make each game night a unique challenge.
The Osmo Genius Starter Kit for iPad is a great STEM game option for young girls for two main reasons. First, being technology-based it fosters comfort and fluency with technology and computing; fields in which women are still underrepresented. Second, the ever-increasing list of available add-ons provides a wide range of games and activities in multiple STEM fields.
The Osmo Genius Starter Kit utilizes your iPad or Amazon Fire tablet and an included base and reflector to create an interactive system in which your child’s work in the physical world is recognized by the tablet. Depending on the add-ons and games you equip your Osmo base with, it is great for kids from 3 to 12 years old.
While the add-ons make this kit so versatile, the starter kit comes equipped with content right out of the box including four games. Tangram covers shapes and designs, Newton is a challenging game covering problem-solving and physics concepts, Masterpiece allows your child to create works of art, and Words, which introduces letters, spelling, and vocabulary. We have previously reviewed the Osmo Genius Kit and were impressed. Some of our favorite add-ons for girls:
- Osmo Coding Awbie Game (Coding)
- Super Studio – Disney Frozen 2 (Art)
- Pizza Co. (Mathematics)
- Super Studio – Disney Princess Game (Art)
Invented by a 9-year old girl, the CoderMindz Coding Board Game is for children ages 6 and up. It introduces coding, artificial intelligence (AI), and programming concepts including neural networks, AI inference, image recognition, functions, algorithm writing, strategic thinking, and more. It is a multi-player game, so you can learn along with your student or child. This game would be a great addition to an elementary school classroom as well.
A great option for young children, the Littlecodr Kids Coding Game is a simple card game that introduces the concepts of coding and computer programming. This game requires at least two players, so you – or a sibling – will need to join in on the fun. One player uses the cards with different commands to write a code for the other player to execute. With almost no setup, this game is simple to play, especially for young children that cannot read yet.
Another device-free option is the Learning Resources Code & Go Mouse Mania board game. This coding game is a little more complicated and is suitable for slightly older children. Two to four players take turns drawing cards to write a code to move their mouse across the board to reach the cheese. This game fosters critical thinking skills as the players navigate obstacles to reach their goals.
Covalence: A Molecule Building Game introduces chemistry concepts and vocabularies like covalent bonding, the periodic table, molecules, and more while challenging them in a game of strategy. One player provides clues to the remaining players who try to use those clues to build organic molecules, fostering cooperative play. This game could definitely be used in a middle school classroom as well.
Two other great science games by Genius Games are Ion and Peptide. Ion is another chemistry game that introduces the concept of ionic bonding while Peptide is a biology game that covers the biological processes that turn genetic material (DNA) into proteins that carry out functions in a living organism.
Compounded is another multiplayer chemistry board game that is great for older children and adults. Players take on the role of lab manager and aim to construct chemical compounds. This game of strategy requires a bit more time investment as games can take 1-2 hours to complete.
ThinkFun’s Gravity Maze introduces critical thinking, spatial reasoning, physics, and engineering all while challenging your child. With 60 levels of increasing difficulty, this game grows with your child’s skill level.
ThinkFun has two other great physics games including the Circuit Maze and Laser Maze. All of these games are suitable for older elementary-aged children. The Circuit Maze is a single-player logic game that fosters critical thinking while introducing circuitry concepts. In Laser Maze, players reflect a laser beam by strategically placing reflective mirrors to meet an objective. This game comes with 60 objective cards of increasing levels of difficulty.
Learning Resources TurboPop is another single-player physics game that is great for young children (5+ years). This fun game introduces your child to concepts like velocity and force.
There are a number of mathematics games available for every age. For older elementary-aged students and pre-teens, Proof! Math Game is a fun way to bring siblings and family members together. This game covers multiplication, division, square roots, and more.
Another fun game is Brainbox Maths which can be played as a single- or multiplayer game. This game covers topics such as time, shapes, symmetry, distance, statistics, angles, place values, fractions, and more.
For younger children, the CoolToys Monkey Balance toy is great for counting, early mathematics (addition and subtraction), and also helps develop fine motor skills. We mentioned Pizza Co. earlier, as it is an add on to the Osmo system. This game introduces currency, addition, subtraction, and fractions and is a great option for imaginative play.
Finally, Zingo 1-2-3 Number Bingo is a great multiplayer math game that is perfect for young elementary-aged kids to practice counting, addition, and number and word recognition.
Sum Swamp is a multiplayer mathematics game ideal for young users as it covers simple mathematics concepts such as addition and subtraction. It is a great budget option for bringing the entire family together while allowing young children to practice their mathematics concepts.
What to Consider When Buying a Science Game for Girls
Representation vs. Marketing
There are a lot of gimmicky toys marketing to young girls that further stereotype and pigeonhole girls. While it’s important for girls to see themselves in science through the representation of female scientists in the content and imagery, it is also important not to limit the scope of the scientific endeavors we make available to our young girls. A great STEM toy or science game is a great toy or game, regardless of who is playing it. Don’t limit yourself – or your child – to options on this list if they don’t cover the concept or topic you or your budding scientist is interested in. Check out many of the other STEM toys and Science Kits we have previously reviewed.
Physical or Online
There is an ever-increasing list of resources to move STEM learning online, making it easily accessible via smartphone, tablet, computer, or video game console. In fact, while video game playing and screen time, in general, has received criticism, several research groups have suggested that video game use in girls improves their visual-spatial reasoning and increases their likelihood of pursuing education in a STEM field in the future. There are a number of girl-focused educational games online including the PBS Kids SciGirls. You can also meet somewhere in the middle utilizing technology-based interfaces such as the Osmo Genius Starter Kit or Sphero programmable robots we reviewed above.
Frequently Asked Questions
What percentage of scientists are female?
Women make up 43% of the scientists and engineers in the United States. The number is more pronounced when you look at more senior positions. Women make up 46% of assistant professors but only 23% of full professors. Only 25% of leadership positions in technology are occupied by women. The fields with the biggest disparities are computing, physics, and mathematics.
Who was the first female scientist?
Marie Curie, who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in 1903, is often cited as the first female scientist. However, there are several who predate her. Among them are astronomers Caroline Herschel and Maria Mitchell, paleontologist Mary Anning, mathematician and programmer Ada Lovelace, and mathematician Mary Somerville. Irene Curie-Joliot, Marie Curie’s eldest daughter, also won the Nobel Prize!
Who are some other famous women in STEM?
- Marie Curie
- Rosalind Franklin
- Elizabeth Blackburn
- Katherine Johnson
- Barbara McClintock
- Grace Hopper
- Frances Arnold
- May-Britt Moser
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