By Alexis McKittrick, FY19 Secretary of the Society of Women Engineers
Need a great holiday gift for those budding engineers and scientists on your list? Want to fill Christmas or Kwanzaa with STEM joy, or need to run out for a last-minute Hanukkah gift for your family coder? We’ve got you covered! We turned to the Society of Women Engineers' Engineering Working Moms Facebook group to give us their best STEM toys to brighten the holidays of your brightest young minds.
No matter what age range you are looking to inspire, our experts came up with a great list that covers a wide variety of ages and toy categories!
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These building toys make great gifts because they provide hours of creative building time, and they're good for a wide range of ages.
Marble Run Toys
K’Nex - Roller Coaster K'Nex is a toy that keeps kids building for hours, month after month.
Magna-Tiles - Magna-Tiles are durable. They keep a wide age range of kids interested, and they flat out love them! This toy fosters creativity, spatial awareness, problem solving, and creative play for kids too little for the fine motor skills of Legos.
Leonardo Building Sticks - They are thin blocks and can be used in many ways for building simple box structures like houses, and for older kids, bridges or domes.
Hands-On Learning and Games
Snap Circuits - They make great gifts. They are easy to use with good instruction manuals; You can follow the directions, or create your own. There are many sets, offering lots of choices.
Science Academy Kits: Deluxe Shimmer Lab
Blokus Strategy Game - This is a fun math game that teaches strategy, spacial awareness, and pattern recognition.
Blaze and the Monster Machines Axle City Adventure Game - Blaze is great for pre-school to kindergarten ages. Kids answer STEM-related questions to proceed and win. The game has good basic mechanics and physics questions, and the kids love it.
Reaction Rocket - Reaction Rocket is a toy that makes physics crazy fun. It is the equivalent of an amped-up bouncy ball with purpose, and it makes a perfect stocking stuffer.
Coding / Programming Toys
Ozobot - Bit is the original Ozobot. It is affordable and easy to use out of the box. This toy has growth potential beyond the initial follow-the-line optical programming to actual programming. It doesn’t need cords to program and uses an internet-enabled device. The programming tasks can grow with the kid.
Future Coders – Bunny Bot Coder
Early Learners: Learning Resources Primary Science Lab
Early learners: Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr., My First Microscope
Elementary School: My First Mind Blowing Science Kit - This kit comes with everything you need...no rooting around in the cupboard wondering if you have baking soda or enough plastic cups or anything else. It is all in there. The experiments are simple but engaging. It teaches basic concepts about acids and bases, for example, using super easy-to-do experiments that are colorful and fun.