The hottest educational buzzword these days is STEM, which is an integrated approach to teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Funding for STEM-related activities in schools has been on the rise and some districts are now adding art to the acronym, dubbing it STEAM. No matter what you call it STEM or STEAM, there’s no denying that it’s a big focus in the school systems right now.
But what if you could have STEM-related activities at your child’s birthday party with the kids having a blast without even realizing that they are learning valuable STEM concepts at the same time? There’s now a wealth of options of birthday party companies that are offering STEM activities from the toddler set to tweens.
If you have an animal lover, there are many companies such as Animal Embassy, Curious Creatures and Two by Two Traveling Zoo offering up-close animal encounters for your guests. Animal Embassy features eight animal ambassadors from chinchillas to carpet pythons that your guests can interact with. Children learn important STEM ideas such as animal habitats and feeding habits all in an age-appropriate manner. Curious Creatures offers hands-on fun for guests and opportunities for little ones to snuggle with rabbits or touch a tortoise’s shell all while learning about environmental conservation and rainforest preservation. They pride themselves on tailoring the program to suit all guests including special needs children and adults.
Two by Two Traveling Zoo’s Express Zoo program offers a rabbit, ducks, a kangaroo, a tortoise, a small alligator, a small snake and a bearded dragon for a meet and greet with guests and pony rides can also be arranged for an additional fee. If you have a palatial backyard, the company can provide two 20 by 40 tents and a 53 foot traveling rainforest enclosure. The Super Zoo package features spotted black leopards, a mob of kangaroos, tortoises, an alligator, parrots, cappucchin monkeys, ring-tailed lemurs, brown and black ruffed lemurs, a red ruffed lemur, large snakes and a free petting zoo with goats all with an on-site hand washing station included. This menagerie of furried friends is sure to keep guests entertained for hours.
A few years ago, a TED talk featured a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who noted that many of his colleagues in the industry loved playing LEGOs as kids and that they now are encouraging their own children to play with LEGO to foster innovation and cooperation. BRICKS 4 KIDZ was created by architects and engineers and teaches many STEM concepts all through fun-filled LEGO building birthday parties. Jessica Mendelowitz, a Chappaqua mom recently had a BRICKS 4 KIDZ party for her son Jake and loved how the guests learned about robotics by building and programming a car. “It was the right balance of education and fun. It still felt like a party and not a classroom lesson.” Krazy Kool Creations also has LEGO building birthday parties and can even focus building projects based on the birthday child’s chosen theme. Mathnasium in Scarsdale is another great venue for a LEGO building party featuring LEGO challenges.
MacInspires Parties with locations in New York, Larchmont and Greenwich are a big hit with kids. Their coding party teaches guests Scratch, a computer programming language where kids can create their own interactive stories and share them online. They also help kids discover the coding elements of Minecraft. Their robots and circuits party gives guests a chance to code their own robots or build light sabers mixing arts and crafts with electrical circuits all with fun, engaging and helpful hosts on hand.
Budding scientists will go gaga over Mad Science parties. The entertaining scientist hosts will grab your guest’s attention with science-themed demonstrations with tornado tubes, electricity experiments, air pressure activities and rocket launches. And if you have a slime fan on your hands, their super slime party is sure to please. Guests make their own slime all while learning about how polymers break down. The company can hold a party at your house or they have partnerships with venues such as Applebee’s and Peachwave.
So don’t be afraid to go full STEAM ahead with a STEM birthday bash. The kids will love the fun factor and the parents will love the educational component. It’s truly a win-win party for all.
Stacey Pfeffer lives with her three young children and husband in Chappaqua. She estimates that she has planned 15+ birthday parties in the past few years for her children. When not party planning, she enjoys writing and her articles have been featured in NY Family Magazine, Westchester Parent, Inside Chappaqua and Westchester Family Magazine.