Equal parts educational, challenging, and entertaining, there’s nothing quite like giving a child a quality science toy with the hopes of sparking an interest in one of many useful scientific fields. Whether you are looking for a science toy-themed around zoology, robotics, chemistry, astronomy, or a completely different study, you may be surprised at the range of fascinating sets available. Choosing a science toy for your child means considering their age and interests.
To help you get started, we’ve put together this buying guide. Our favorite is the comprehensive Elenco Snap Circuits Classic Electronics Exploration Kit, which allows kids to assemble more than 300 unique circuitry-themed projects with its various pieces.
Because of the small parts and potential complexity of science toys, it’s important to choose one that caters to your child’s age.
Ages 1-4: Science toys for this age range often sport chunkier features, brighter colors, and designs that accommodate little hands. Expect to see plenty of innovatively crafted building, biology, and counting-themed science toys made for the youngest age groups.
Ages 5-10: Science toys for children in elementary school tend to become more complicated, messier, and more thought-provoking regarding the sciences. Many of these kits incorporate smaller parts and emphasize problem-solving, so it’s a good idea for parents to be on standby just in case someone needs a little help.
Ages 11 and older: Kids in middle school may be ready to put away their dolls and action figures, but it’s the best time to give them a challenging science toy to introduce a few helpful concepts such as coding, structural engineering, or circuitry. While tinkering with these toys is rewarding and fun, some older kids may need a little nudge to begin some of these seemingly intimidating projects.
Science toys either focus on one particular subject or combine several subjects in one kit. If you know that your child is interested in one particular area, you should consider a science toy that will help them explore this interest.
Science toys with a focus on teaching kids the core concepts of circuitry are a phenomenal gift for children who are fascinated with learning about how appliances work. Toys centered around circuitry usually provide an array of projects in one set, such as constructing a blinking LED light or a specific type of sensor, and since these kits usually rely on simple batteries, they are the safest interactive method to teach kids about circuitry.
Squishy slimes, bubbling oozes, and color-changing compounds are a surefire way to convince children to try their hand at a chemistry-themed science toy. There is a wide variety of chemistry sets available, like kits for growing crystals or designing gummy candy snacks, so it’s worth shopping around to find the perfect toy for the little chemists in your life.
There are plenty of science toys available that cater to young nature enthusiasts and these range from raising a colony of tiny brine shrimp to growing plants from seeds in a terrarium. Not only is it exciting to watch something as intricate and delicate as an ant farm grow and thrive over time, but these kits also provide lessons in both biology and responsibility alike.
Although science toys vary wildly in price, the priciest offerings of around $40 or more are often themed around premium electronic or robotic components. You can find a wide variety of science toys in the $10-$30 range that utilize slime making, crystal, growing, and other entertaining experiments.
A. No. Please read the product description of any science kit you are considering before you buy to ensure that you have the additional batteries, adhesives, or other items needed to start having fun right out of the box.
A. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These toys promote exploration and understanding of these subjects. These educational toys may designed around demonstrating core concepts of chemistry, robot construction, circuitry, counting, or biology, just to name a few.
Our take: With over 300 projects to play with, and an extremely innovative system of over 60 interlocking pieces, this science toy is the ultimate introduction to learning how electronics work.
What we like: All pieces easily snap together. Hundreds of experiments, like an AM radio and several tone generators. Award-winning toy. No tools needed. Kit is easy to upgrade.
What we dislike: This science toy needs four AA batteries, but they aren’t included.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Our take: Whether you start with the magic ooze, jiggly crystals, or erupting rainbow volcano, it’s easy to capture a kid’s interest with such a vibrantly colored and entertaining science set.
What we like: Affordable. Includes materials and detailed instructions to recreate 11 science experiments. Especially colorful materials. Captivating, yet educational.
What we dislike: Does not include all necessary items, such as stirring spoon, coffee filter, tape, etc.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Our take: This small yet comprehensively designed terrarium kit is an easy way to teach children about ecosystems, while having fun customizing their own little world in a jar.
What we like: Kit includes everything you need. For all ages. Authentic STEM toy. Fun to customize with stickers and figurines. Easy to grow chia and wheatgrass.
What we dislike: A little pricier than you may expect, but it is a quality science toy.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Arnold Carreiro writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.