Brains at Play with iSpark Toys {Local Store Review}


iSpark Toys

{This post is sponsored by iSpark Toys, and my daughter received a free toy. All opinions expressed are my own.}

iSpark Toys
Kids love Minecraft…but could they build the program?

My 8-year-old girl is super curious about science. She’s intrigued by robots. She wants to be Jane Goodall with gadgets that can solve all of the world’s ills. She wants to build and create and save the world. And mostly, she wants a robot that will do her chores and her homework. I want to encourage all of this, even the robot part. If she knew how to build a robot that could do her homework and her chores, well, she’s probably too smart for the homework anyway, and there’s a good chance she’s already on her way to saving the world.

We visited iSpark Toys this past weekend for their grand opening, and while we didn’t find a robot that could do chores, we did find some robot making kits along with more things to build with than I have ever see in one store. We found microscopes and rock kits, beautiful wooden games and high tech circuit boards.  We found a store built out of a pursuit for hands-on play that encourages critical thinking and curiosity in children.

iSpark ToysiSpark Toys is full of toys that inspire my girl’s curiosity and dig that critical thinking out of her. She lit up while wandering around the store and exploring the toys that were out for demonstration. It’s clear that their goal is to inspire kids to want to build, explore and create.

The idea for the store started two years ago because Hande, the store’s owner and visionary, wasn’t happy with the toy options given to her daughter–or any girl for that matter. 

iSpark Toys is encouraging children (and girls in particular) to be more interested in science and engineering. The store’s mission is to make them future scientists. This speaks to my heart! I want my daughter to know all of her options. In her daily life, she sees women teachers, women writers, women lawyers, women coaches and soccer players and some mysterious women that come to her school to drop their children off dressed in business suits. (Unlike the running pants I am wearing, which may or may not indicate that I will be running at some point.) She does not see women scientists or women engineers. She does not know what these professions mean or that she could be a wildlife biologist and an inventor-scientist-engineer. She’s 8. She doesn’t need to decide now, but I’m afraid that she will lose interest before that interest really gets a chance to bloom. 

Hande explained that 86% of engineers are men, and most children lose interest in science by age 9. She’s out to change this. “I want kids to start early and encourage them to ask questions.” She said to me, as my girl ogled a circuit board, “As soon as they’re four, give them a microscope.”

Hurrah! I love this mama’s mission and the mission of her store! You will not find a “girl section” or “boy section” in her store. There are some toys that come in packages of red, blue and white and also packages of blue, pink and purple. There was a pastel-ish microscope. But perhaps colors are just colors and boys and girls can like them all. Mostly, you just find toys. Toys for encouraging and exciting all children to explore their scientific potential. 

“I don’t care what color the telescope is…if she can look through it every night and track the moon, and it keeps her interest, that’s all that matters to me.” – Hande  

iSpark Toys
Annabel learning how chemistry works.

Not only is Hande out to help girls realize their scientific potential, but she’s also out to support our local makers. Hande met local inventors and owners of small local companies, and she tested their products and then put them on her shelves. Her commitment: “I’m trying to support as many Kickstarter projects as possible.” Yet she is also quite discerning. All of her toys are mom-tested and have to live up to her rigorous standards. 

While I have seen many of these toys on the shelves at other stores, never have I seen such a concentration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) toys in one place. Though the toys at iSpark Toys would make ages 1-100 eyes sparkle, the target age range is 3-12, with a focus on elementary/middle school. 

iSpark Toys

Here’s a piece of truth: There is very little that could get me to the suburbs. Or even out of my quadrant of the city, actually. I’m not ashamed of this, in fact, I carry it around like a badge. iSpark Toys‘ location in Hillsboro is very decidedly in the ‘burbs, but it’s worth the trip. As the holidays approach soon, I would consider adding it to your list of reasons that you may stray from your quadrant of the city. Or, if your quadrant of the city is slightly more suburban than mine, well then, GO, NOW! Quick! 

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iSpark Toys logo

 iSpark Toys
925 Northeast Orenco Station Loop
Hillsboro, OR 97124 Map It
Facebook: iSpark Toys
(503) 207-6570