10 Cool STEM Toys to Engage Young Minds

The holidays are here. People running to and fro, looking for the ultimate gift for the kids. Some people will come away with video games, and others with socks and underwear. Whether you celebrate a holiday or not, getting just the right gift for a kid can be tricky.

Some of the best gifts can be those that engage a child’s mind. To do that, I’d like to recommend STEM toys.

What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Not only is it important for young minds to focus on these areas for growth in those subjects, but learning STEM concepts in engaging ways promotes overall brain development.

To help you in your search for the perfect child’s gift, I’d like to recommend these 10 toys developed to encourage interest in STEM concepts through play.

Preschool

1. Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

“My First Science Kit tests several scientific principles with mind blowing experiments such as creating a sunset in a test tube and making a color-changing volcano.” (via Amazon.com)

Who doesn’t remember making volcanoes erupt as a kid? My First Mind Blowing Science kit comes with 11 different experiments to teach little ones the basics of chemistry.

2. Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears!

Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears!

“GEARS! GEARS! GEARS! is a child’s introduction to the world of construction and movement.” (via Amazon.com)

Gears! Gears! Gears! isn’t just gears—it includes connectors, cranks, and base plates to make the interlocking pieces easier to manipulate. Not only does it teach beginning concepts in engineering, but it develops fine motor skills and physics concepts.

Ages 5-7

3. Discover with Dr. Cool

Discover with Dr. Cool

“Dr. Cool has won over 100 awards for the play value, educational content, and overall quality of their toys.” (via Amazon.com)

I’m cheating on this gift and showing you two versions: Break Open Real Geodes and Mine for Fossils. Either one is a great option for showing young children that there is more to the world than just what’s on the surface.

4. Kids First Stepping into Science

 Click to open expanded view Kids First Stepping into Science Toy

“Begin a lifetime of scientific investigation and understanding with 25 fun experiments in five key areas: nature, physics, chemistry, air, and water.” (via Amazon.com)

Stepping into Science has 25 different experiments engaging children in several areas of science. Each experiment comes with a card that describes what’s happening and why, and encourages the child to try variations on the experiment.

5. MindWare KEVA Contraptions Playset

MindWare KEVA Contraptions Playset

“Our KEVA Contraptions are fantastic toys for teaching children to embrace their creativity and start designing engineering marvels.” (via Amazon.com)

This is an incredible introduction to engineering. Contraptions is basically just planks that you can use to build various contraptions, including little Rube Goldberg ramps for the included balls. Reading the reviews, this looks to be a toy for the child with patience and focus.

Ages 8-11

6. Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit

Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit

“Snap Circuits makes learning electronics easy and fun.” (via Amazon.com)

Snap Circuits has a variety of discovery kits to choose from, depending on your price range. The SC-300 Electronics Discovery kit listed here is one of their basic kits, with the ability to make radios, doorbells, burglar alarms, and more. The pieces make it easy to understand how circuits and electric flow works.

7. My First Lab Whodunnit? Forensic Microscope Kit

My First Lab Whodunnit? Forensic Microscope Kit

“The Whodunnit? CASE CONFIDENTIAL Microscope Kit, will enable users of all ages to place themselves at the head of their very own forensic investigation.” (via Amazon.com)

I’m a huge fan of lab kits in general, but I love how the Whodunnit? Forensic Microscope comes with a story to solve. It looks like the microscope is a very high quality—one reviewer talked about how he actually uses it in his science class. Definitely a great buy for your child’s first microscope.

8.Thames and Kosmos Gyrobot-Gyroscopic Robot Kit

Thames and Kosmos Gyrobot-Gyroscopic Robot Kit

“From smartphones, tablets and video game controllers to airplanes and space telescopes, gyroscopes perform tasks ranging from the everyday to the extraordinary.” (via Amazon.com)

The gyroscope is one of the most fascinating physics tools, used in a wide variety of technologies today. The Gyrobot-Gyroscopic Robot kit includes parts to build 7 different models using gyroscopic machines.

Ages 12 and Up

9. Thames and Kosmos Electricity and Magnetism

Thames and Kosmos Electricity and Magnetism

“Conduct more than 60 electrifying experiments with circuits and magnets to learn about electricity and magnetism.” (via Amazon.com)

Another Thames and Kosmos product, the Electricity and Magnetism kit is great for showing how electricity and magnets work together to build some incredible technology of our day. It includes steps for 60 different experiments.

10. Ozobot Bit 2.0

Ozobot Bit 2.0

“Ozobot Bit, the tiny robot connects with your child’s ever evolving imagination – building confidence through competitive play and interactive games.” (via Amazon.com)

I wish I had a robot as a kid. Ozobot’s Bit 2.0 is only an inch tall, but can be programmed to do all sorts of things with the online OzoBlocks programming platform on their website. However, programming isn’t strictly needed; anyone can draw out paths for this robot to follow.

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