Some of the coolest toys available today fall under the heading of STEM learning toys, which are toys that are b both fun and educational. Follow along with me as I explore 10 of the very best STEM toys that are currently available, and learn what it can be like to learn!
First up is the Sphero SPRK+ Robotic Ball. This toy is all about math & computer coding. Used in conjunction with the freely downloadable Lightening Lab App, kids learn the principles of programming through a visual, block-based interface. This not only makes learning easy, but it also makes it fun as this Sphero robotic ball can ultimately carry out the commands that kids program into it. Make it change colour, roll along in a specific pattern, or even jump wildly about or swim through water. It’s VERY cool!
Next we have the Osmo Genius iPad Learning Game Kit, which serves as a fun gaming accessory for your Apple iPad tablet and promotes both creative thinking & learning (in the areas of math, art, & science) via its included 5 game bundle. Bundled games include Words Game, Numbers Game, Newton Game, Tangram Game, & Masterpiece Game, and each has its own unique way of helping your child learn. Newton Game, for example, allows kids to create objects that guide falling (virtual) balls into targeted areas. This game is similar to Tetris, and it promotes problem solving through creative thinking. It also happens to be addictively fun!
Also for use with your iPad is the Osmo Interactive iPad Creative Kit. This fun set is all about hands-on artistic creativity, and it’s super fun for kids to play with. It comes with a creative board & special Yoobi markers that allow your child’s hand-drawn creations to migrate to the digital environment of your tablet. It’s also compatible with certain Osmo Genius games such as Masterpiece Game (mentioned above), which helps kids learn to draw by turning images into outlines that are easy to follow along with.
The Wonder Workshop Dash & Dot Robot Wonder Pack is a fun and educational set that consists of the robotic duo of Dash & Dot, as well as a xylophone, an accessory pack, and a ball launcher. The 2 bots are capable of interacting with each other, and they can also be programmed to do many fun and interesting things, including playing cool games like Magic Dot Ball, Light Sword, and Dot of Music. This set teaches kids some of the basics of coding and is controllable via your compatible iOS or Android based device and a pair of special apps called Wonder & Blockly. All up, the Dash & Dot Wonder Pack makes for BIG, educational fun!
Another great teaching toy for really little kids is the Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar. This segmented bug consists of 9 interchangeable sections that each represent a specific command in a command code string. By rearranging the segments in any desired order, your child learns the basics of coding by telling the motorized head section of the Code-A-Pillar what to do. This kooky bug basically follows the command code string in the same order that your child assembles the segments, so he can be programmed to move in whatever pattern/direction your child wishes.
When it comes to great STEM toys, it’s hard to beat the Makey Makey Classic Invention Kit, which encourages kids to become true inventors in every sense of the word! From turning everyday objects (like bananas) into computer touchpads, to inventing one’s own game controllers, musical instruments, and endless other crazy, yet useful, inventions, the Makey Makey Classic Invention Kit is a marvel of creativity! Encompassing the entire STEAM realm (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math), this neat kit (which is both Mac & Windows friendly) is suitable for all “ages 8 and up” inventors out there! Simply open the box and start clipping connections.
One of the most popular toys on today’s list has got to be the WowWee CHiP Robotic Dog! If you’d like your child to experience all of the positive aspects of having his or her own pet without having the responsibility of feeding and cleaning up after a real, live animal, then CHiP the Robotic Dog is the perfect pet to adopt! He follows and plays with your child—just like a real dog, and he even has his own ball that he actually fetches! What’s more, CHiP can do a number of cute dog tricks, and he can even be trained to follow voice commands (or commands given via the CHiP App). There’s no two ways about it, CHiP is a truly amazing way to give your child a dose of grown up responsibility!
Another great toy for any future inventor is the littleBits Gizmos & Gadgets Invention Kit. This inventor’s toolbox comes with 64 different components that together allow your child to build up to a dozen different pre-designed creations. Among the possibilities are a cool RC racing car, a handy wireless doorbell, and a fun automatic bubble blower, but these creations are only just the beginning! With a little bit of imagination, who knows what other inventions your child may knock together with this fun and educational set?
Along the very same lines as the above littleBits set is the littleBits Rule Your Room Invention Kit. The main difference here is that this set is a bit smaller than the Gizmos & Gadgets set (containing just 26 pieces) and is geared towards creating circuits and touch-activated devices that can control other objects. Included in the set are a buzzer, a dimmer, a bar graph, a Micro USB cable, a screwdriver, a sound trigger, a servo hub, a makey makey, a battery & cable, and several other useful bits and bobs that can open the door to a practically endless string of fun and amazing creations! If your child loves to invent and build things, then both of the littleBits sets discussed herein are sure to please!
Last, but certainly not least, is the Meccano Meccanoid XL 2.0 Personal Robot. I actually built and reviewed this bot myself just before Christmas, and I have to say, he is absolutely amazing to play with! Kids can learn some of the key principles of robotics, as well as engineering, computer/robot programming (i.e., coding), and how to follow complex instructions (effectively blueprints) to build their own 4 foot tall mechanical friend. This particular toy may, in fact, be the very best item on today’s list. There are so many amazing features to this thing that it’s impossible to list them all without spending this entire article on Meccanoid alone. I would advise reading My [complete] Review of the Meccano Meccanoid XL 2.0 Personal Robot if you’re interested in learning more.
There you have it—ten great STEM toys that are as fun as they are educational! If you’d like to explore even more great STEM Toys (including a number of excellent telescope options), be sure to visit Best Buy’s Educational & Smart Toys page for their vast and comprehensive selection. Happy hunting and have fun!