Looking for that perfect present to inspire STEM learning? We’ve researched and compiled a list of some of our favorite STEM toys.
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LEGO Mindstorms EV3
This is by far our most used STEM toy around our home. We’ve created many fun projects this past year – a Dancing Robot, a Basketball Player Robot, a Music Box and a Speedcuber Alarm Clock. Check out our list of our favorite LEGO Mindstorms EV3 projects from around the web.
There are so many amazing projects you can download from other users in addition to the great projects from LEGO. It is a little pricy at $350, but we think there is no better product out there for teaching kids about robotics.
Ozobot Programmable Robot Starter Pack
The Ozobot is a highly acclaimed by teachers and parents and was the winner of the “Best Robot” award at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show and 2014 International Toy Fair). The Ozobot aims to teach basic programming concepts to younger kids using different color marks for different commands. My six year old daughter got one of these for Christmas and I was surprised how quickly she was up and running without too much help. The product is very attractively designed for kids and comes with plenty of stickers for kids to personalize their robot.
Snap Circuits makes the best kits for learning about electrical circuits. I have really seen no easier method to jump right into building circuits with very little mess.
These sets come with hundreds of projects and the instructions are very easy to follow. We have the 300 piece set and have really enjoyed it. Like with other advanced STEM toys, Snap Circuits is something you want to sit down and work on together with the kids since it can be a little confusing to debug if they run into problems.
AmScope Compound Microscope
I have been helping my son with his Life Science class last year and there were several times I wished we had a good microscope handy. There are so many things that can be a little boring to talk about, but if I can show him directly what a leaf looks like under a microscope, it is so much more engaging.
We finally got him this microscope and right away were so fascinated by the life we were able to observe in water from the bay near my in-laws home. Check out our post and video of 10 Cool Things to Look at Under a Microscope.
Bloxels: Build Your Own Video Game
Do you want to get your kids excited about programming? Bloxels is onto something really cool. Kids build the levels and characters using little blocks and capture the images using a tablet. Check out this video to see how it works.
My 11 year old son got this for Christmas and has really been enjoying it. It is a little tricky to get started at first, but we found their online instructional videos very helpful.
Cubing is a great way to teach algorithms to kids and the more algorithms they learn, the faster they get. My daughter is solving hers in about 30 seconds now and I finally taught myself to solve one blindfolded (see my guide on How to Solve a Rubik’s Cube Blindfolded).
The Moyu Aolong 2 is a favorite among many of the world’s best speedcubers.
Shengshou Magic Cube Puzzle Set
Shengshou makes a very good quality cube, and their set of 4 puzzles (2×2, 3×3, 4×4, and 5×5) is a great deal for kids who love puzzles. There are so many good resources online for them to learn how to solve each one and how to get faster.
SmartLab Toys Ultimate Secret Formula Lab
Looking for a fun way to introduce kids to the world of chemistry? This kit from SmartLab Toys is a chemistry lab in a box. This looks to be an impressive chemistry set with very good reviews. We actually don’t own this particular model – our is one of the SmartLab chemistry sets from a few years ago.
This is definitely a toy that needs parent involvement for obvious reasons – lots of glass, chemicals, and instructions can be a little hard for kids to understand themselves.
Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit
Our family got this kit last year for Christmas and really enjoyed building some cool Rube Goldberg machines. See our first creation here.
This is a simple puzzle toy that is so challenging and addictive. My 9 year old son got this for Christmas and a month later it is still always out. He is now creating his new challenge cards to add to the 60 that come with the set.
Thames & Kosmos Wind Power 2.0
This wind power kit enables kids to build a wind power generator that can charge a battery to power their other toys. The kit includes different styles of wind turbine blades and a gearbox with three different gear ratios for experimenting.
Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
Here is a game that is different from all other Mario Games. In this game, you become the game-maker and create the levels. If your kids are interested in making their own videos games some day, this is a great way to dive in and give them creative control.
Minecraft Wii U Edition
I was nervous when we first bought Minecraft for our kids. I was afraid it would be another mindless video game and I set down strict rules how long they could play and they are not allowed to play with others online.
I have been so impressed by their elaborate creations. In the world of Minecraft, you can create anything (think of it as an endless supply of LEGOs), Redstone circuits allow for building complex automated machines (many people have created functioning computers in their Minecraft world).
Robot Turtles Game
My youngest daughter received this innovative board game when she was five and I was impressed how she was able to pick up basic programming concepts quickly in a very fun way. Her older siblings found the game a little easy, but they love to create challenges for her to figure out. This game is great for ages 4-8 to start learning about programming concepts early.