The best STEM toys you can buy for kids
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- STEM toys are not only enjoyable to play with, but can teach skills that will help kids excel in careers later in life.
- Many STEM toys lead to development of more than one ability, honing skills in mathematics, logic, problem solving, and more.
- The LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox is our top pick because it helps a child develop everything from fine motor skills to a familiarity with coding and robotics.
This is going to sound a bit crazy, I know, but my son has every single toy on this list. The crazy thing is he's not spoiled - he's just enamored with robotics, coding, building, and generally making things. Already at age five, he has decided he wants to be an electrical engineer when he grows up, and it won't surprise me one bit if he stays on that course. I have no idea where his prowess for computing and engineering comes from, by the way, but it certainly wasn't me.
Considering STEM toys help kids develop the skills they will need to excel in the jobs of the future, I'm all for letting children play with programmable robots, DIY computers, electrical motors and circuit sets, and any other hardware that fosters such abilities. There's just one caveat I always assign: The toy also has to be genuinely fun. The ones I included here? They are. And I should know, because we've had some duds, too.
The secret to getting the right STEM toy (that's the acronym for Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering) is to choose one with an angle your child already enjoys. Got a daughter who loves building things, say out of intricate, colorful little plastic blocks? Then a LEGO STEM toy is perfect. Got a son who is car crazy? Then a kit that lets him build little working vehicles will be a hit.
Because don't get me wrong, many of the toys on this list present genuine challenges that require dedicated effort, critical thinking, and the investment of time to overcome. If you choose the wrong toy, you risk driving your child away from STEM activities rather than helping him or her to develop an affinity.
And of course, make sure you get a toy that is age appropriate for your kid. If a given activity presents too great a challenge, it will have the same adverse effect as a toy that's simply not well enjoyed. For the record, though, it's on you to figure out what's appropriate for your kid's abilities, don't rely on the age rating on the box - I've found that many kids can handle STEM toys marketed to children two or even three years older.
Here are the best STEM toys you can buy:
- Best STEM toy overall: LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox
- Best STEM toy for younger kids: Snap Circuits Pro Electronics Exploration Kit
- Best STEM toy for robotics: Microduino Itty Bitty Buggy
- Best STEM toy for basic programming skills: Makeblock Neuron Explorer Kit
- Best screen-free STEM toy: Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst Kit
- Best STEM toy for advanced computing skills: Piper Computer Kit
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
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The best STEM toy overall
The best STEM toy for younger kids
The best STEM toy for teaching robotics
The best STEM toy for basic programming skills
The best screen-free STEM toy
The best STEM toy for advanced computing skills
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