Beth Holloway, director of the Women in Engineering Program at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., said one of the hot topics on social media this holiday season is finding gifts that can help children, especially girls, develop science and engineering-related skills that might inspire children to consider a STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- career.
"Toys -- such as blocks or an easel -- will help children realize that they can make an impact on the world through their ideas," Holloway said in a statement.
Girls should have a range of toys and experiences, she said.
"Parents need to provide girls with toys that indulge their feminine side but also those that allow them to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes from designing and building something," she said. "Those accomplishments will encourage them to continue to stretch their imaginations."
Holloway said research showed girls tend to become interested in what they are confident they are good at doing.
She suggested parents and family could find gift-giving ideas on STEM-related toys at the websites: http://www.modernparentsmessykids.com/2013/11/gift-guide-2013-top-learning-toys-for-building-stem-skills.html and http://www.amightygirl.com/holiday-guide.