Press release

'Tis the season to improvise: Konnie Huq gets crafty to create the homemade STEM toys of Christmas

04 December 2017

  • Konnie Huq has created the homemade STEM toys of Christmas, craftingDIY cut price versions of some of the must-have toys on the market
  • This comes as new research shows parents are spending on average £182 on toys and tech presents per child this Christmas and a fifth are using a credit card or loan to pay for them
  • Konnie Huq has partnered with the Institution of Engineering and Technology to inspire more children to consider careers in engineering

Konnie Huq has put her Blue Peter powers to practice for a good cause, making Britain’s most popular Christmas toys at home for a fraction of the cost.

Konnie, who spent over ten years craft-making on Blue Peter, is supporting a campaign by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to inspire more children to consider careers in engineering. The toys are designed to make learning about science, tech, engineering and mathematics (STEM) more accessible and affordable. The improvised toys – which include a dissolving egg, magnetic slime, a kaleidoscope and even a smartphone projector – are educational, as well as fun.

Alongside this, new research from the IET - conducted amongst a sample of 2,000 parents of children aged 1 –12, reveals that parents are spending an average of £182 on toys and tech presents alone per child this Christmas. Additionally, two thirds (68%) put the emphasis on education, thinking it’s important for their kids to learn about science, technology, engineering and maths from playing with their toys.

And parents have to plan ahead or get in debt to pay for them. A whopping one in five (19%) parents have taken almost a year (10-12 months) to save for the big day. A similar number (21%) pay for these toys using a credit card or loan and a further 10% use an overdraft to cover the costs. This figure rises to 18% amongst younger parents (aged 16-24). 

One in five (19%) admit to cutting back in other areas of household spending to accommodate Christmas stocking costs.

Some, however, use the festive season to compete with their peers – 14% want their kids to have the same toys as their friends and one in 20 (5%) want to use the gifts as fodder for their social media feeds.

However, some parents are less than positive about the pull on the purse strings. Less than half (46%) think it is worth the money on these types of toys, one in ten (9%) would rather spend the money on a family holiday and 8% would rather spend the money on their household essentials, bills and food.

Mother-of-two and former Blue Peter presenter, Konnie Huq, says: "I'm thrilled to partner with the Institution of Engineering Technology to inspire parents and children to get crafty at home. Christmas can be a stressful and expensive time of year, but these nifty STEM toys can be made at home for next to nothing, from items lying around the house. What's more, it's fun, interactive and teaches children about engineering. I'm definitely going to be trying them out with my kids!"

David Lakin, IET Head of Education, says: “There is a significant shortage of engineers in the UK, which is posing a threat to the economy. With our STEM toys of Christmas, we want to inspire children’s natural curiosity about how things work and why – a key principle in engineering. Exciting children about STEM and its endless possibilities will set them on an exciting path that could lead to a fulfilling career in engineering and technology.”

Notes to editors:

The Christmas STEM toys include:

  • Dissolving egg
  • Magnetic slime
  • Icosahedron bauble
  • Marble run
  • Balloon boat
  • Bouncy balls
  • Smartphone projector
  • Living gingerbread house
  • Kaleidoscope

Engineering contributed £486 billion to the UK GDP in 2015** and engineering jobs account for 19% of the total UK employment. Despite this, EngineeringUK predicts 186,000 people with engineering skills will be needed annually through to 2024 in order to meet demand. 

You can download the ‘How To’ guide via the IET's Engineer a Better World website.

For more information, please contact Monica Wilson, 07507 771360 / monica@tinmancomms.com, or Daniella Burnett, 07525093948 / Daniella@tinmancomms.com

The research

The research was undertaken by Censuswide between 08/1/17 - 11/11/17 amongst a sample of 2,003 parents with children aged 1 – 12.