They say the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But through the years of being a parent, I learned a universal fact about children that’s just a few tweaks away from this ancient adage:
“The quickest way to a child’s heart is through toys.”
And the best kind of toys, I’ve found out, are the ones that get them thinking.
Science toys unlock a new exploration pathway for children that no other toys ever could. And if you’re looking for the best STEM gifts for kids, we have you covered.
I spent 48 hours curating various science toys for kids, and I listed below my top 10 picks for 2022. Check them out!
Our Top 10 Science Toys for Kids
1. Best Overall: The STEMscope
Science gifts for kids don’t necessarily be complicated. This handheld microscope is a perfect companion for outdoorsy kids.
If you have an adventurer at your disposal, they’ll appreciate the lightweight and pocketable feel of this microscope. And even if this slips from their tiny hands, the shatterproof shell housing would keep the toy intact.
Unlike microscopes with extreme magnifications, this won’t feel disorienting to your child’s eyes. Instead, the lens sits perfectly between decent magnification and sufficient clarity to cater to children’s developing eyes.
The STEMscope is suitable for outdoor & indoor usage and certainly one of the best science toys for kids. Using it with some prepared microscope slides will make the viewing experience even better!
2. Best for Creativity: Magna-tiles
Castles. Rockets. Fortresses—These are only a glimpse of what your child can build with Magna-tiles.
Using the magnetically-powered crystal shapes, your kid can spend hours of open-ended imaginative play, building whatever 3D or 2D structure they can think of. This cool science toy is also helpful in developing a toddler’s spatial reasoning and tactile skills. Plus, the kit is built to last! And you may always purchase an expansion pack when needed.
Thanks to this science kit for kids, engaging the little engineers within children has never been more achievable.
3. Best for Stargazing: Gskyer AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope
Does your child ever ask you what the sky looks like up close? With this STEM gadget, they no longer have to wonder. The Gskyer AZ astronomical microscope is one of the cool science toys that will let them peek closer at what goes on up there.
Despite being an entry-level science toy for kids, it’s powerful enough for budding scientists to stargaze and watch some birds fly around.
The science kit for 10-year-olds is easy to put together. Complete with the tube, tripod, and a collection of eyepieces, your child can bring it anywhere they go.
4. Best for Young Teslas: Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Exploration Kit
I believe that electronics is not only an adult's affair. It can be enjoyable even for children who have a knack for it. And this toy can bridge that gap.
This award-winning science kit is designed to help develop a child’s passion for electronics through 100 safe and non-conductive projects. It comes with 30+ circuit components which your child may snap over a plastic base to complete the circuit.
Watch them power a photosensor or make a siren buzz using the STEM kit. That’s why it makes one of the best science gifts for kids!
5. Best for Young Chemists: Learning Resources Beaker Creatures
What better way to introduce science to your kid than with a handy science kit? This simple chemistry set comes with 15 life-like tools, including reactor pods to create the 35 beaker creatures. With 2 awesome science posters included, these cool science toys will not only inspire your child’s scientific inquiry but also captivate their imagination.
On top of the science toys for kids, the set includes activity cards so your child can perform some kid-friendly experiments at home! Feel free to guide your child or join them in the fun learning experience.
6. Best for Mini Mathematicians: Hand2Mind Numberblocks MathLink Cubes
STEM is a holistic, pedagogical approach that combines science, tech, engineering, and math. Unfortunately, the “M” often gets shrouded amidst countless science toys for kids.
Thankfully, the MathLink cubes break the customary by bringing math to the spotlight. This STEM toy is an abundant source of math puzzles and activities to teach mathematics concepts to your child.
If your child is a big fan of Netflix’sNumberblocks, they’ll have a wonderful time recreating their favorite characters with these science toys for kids.
7. Best for Experimentation: Dan & Darci Dino Soap Making Kit
Conducting experiments is more delightful when children can relish the results of their efforts. This chemistry science kit is precisely the one they need, for that matter.
This soap-making set allows children to create up to 6 dinosaur-shaped soaps. Your child can experiment with various colors and explore two lovely fragrances. You don’t need to get anything else because the kit has everything needed to produce the soaps.
Not only does this teach kids a thing or two about paleontology, but it will also let them test out the soap in the shower!
8. Best for Engineers: LEGO Chain Reactions
If your household’s a big fan of Legos as mine is, these are cool science toys to get your child. The Lego Chain Reactions can unleash children’s creativity like no other. This Lego set can keep your kid occupied for hours, from creating projects like simple trash-throwing machinery to an actual bell.
The spiral-bound book contains comprehensive instructions to build ten different chain reactions. Although the 33 included pieces won’t be enough, it’s better to buy this when your child already has Legos at their disposal.
These Lego science toys for kids are fun training grounds for budding engineers!
9. Best for Li’l Einsteins: ThinkFun Gravity Maze
If your child or teen likes challenges, then this STEM gift is one of the ways to go. Gravity Maze is the culmination of marble run and mind-boggling puzzles that train their spatial reasoning, logical thinking, and physics skills.
The science kit for 10-year-olds contains 60 increasing-difficulty challenges that might get them scratching their scalp but will be overwhelmingly satisfying when they solve the case.
There are clear instructions included on how to perform the challenges. But it’s up to your child to arrange the game grid, 9 towers, 1 target piece, and 3 marbles to complete each stage.
Indeed one of the best kids science gifts, especially for kids who appreciate thought-inducing conundrums.
10. Best for Techies: Mattel Bloxels
In this tech age, there's no kid around that doesn't know how to operate a tablet. And if you have a child that loves fidgeting around their iPad, why not up their screen time?
With Mattel Bloxels, kids can develop their own video game using a 13" x 13" gameboard and 320 blocks of eight different colors. The idea is for children to express no-holds-barred creativity in developing the terrains and challenges in their game.
Through this science toy for kids, a child can be the artist, game developer, designer, programmer, publisher, and player — all in one swoop!
P.S. You'll need a tablet to download the Bloxels Builders app where the game can be played.
How to Select Science Gifts for Kids?
Finding the perfect STEM gifts for kids might not be as simple as you think. There are several layers involved in the selection process. Here are the general steps to consider:
1. Know the different types of STEM toys
There are currently 8 types of STEM toys, and each of them corresponds differently to your child’s STEM learning needs. For example, construction kits reinforce a child’s propensity for building all sorts of exciting structures, while a circuit kit introduces them to electronics.
I outlined and explained each type of science toy in our ultimate STEM toys buying guide. Feel free to read it to learn more.
2. Determine your child’s interests
“It’s easier to build on an existing interest than to force a new one.”
Knowing your child’s hobbies or whatever piques their curiosity can help you search for the perfect toy. Most likely, if you tap into their interests, they’ll appreciate whatever gift you get them. You can ask them directly what they like or give a bit of observation to check their toys' composition or their favorite show or video game. This will provide you with enough insight into buying science toys for kids to keep them entertained.
3. Align the toy with their age
Every toy indicates what age of kids they’re intended for. For example, some construction kits may include small pieces that can be a choking hazard. Ideally, small parts or electrical components apply to older children. Plus, prior pre-purchase research can help you determine if the toy is cognitively appropriate to the child’s age.
The perfect science gifts for kids are the ones that meet all of the standards mentioned above.
Why is STEM important?
STEM is important because it pedagogically combines four required fields for humanity’s progress: science, technology, math, and engineering. STEM inspires children to be critical thinkers and innovators. It trains their problem-solving skills that can be highly relevant when formulating future solutions in facing the world’s upcoming global problems.
How do STEM toys help kids?
STEM toys can support kids’ learning by imparting at least one facet of STEM through a fun, open-ended, and imaginative approach. Teaching STEM is not limited to theories taught by textbooks, and toys can be splendid learning outlets that are hands-on and with tangible, measurable, attainable outcomes.
What STEM toys are helpful across different age groups?
Science toys involving breaking things like geodes or science kits with limited experiments usually don’t last as long. Ideally, the toys that can span various age groups are open-ended—possibly repeatable puzzles or simple science gadgets that they can utilize indefinitely, like kids’ microscopes.
What are the best science toys for 4-year-olds?
The best STEM toys for 4-year-olds are the ones that help them grasp the world a little better. Toys that train their spatial reasoning, gross and fine motor skills, and have no precautionary warnings for choking hazards are the best science gifts to get them—for example, a handheld microscope.
Ready to buy a STEM toy?
Buying science toys for kids is fun, but it can also be a hassle if you don’t know what to get. Our top 10 picks for 2022 features a curated list of top-notch STEM toys this 2022.
Among the list, the STEMscope kids' microscope takes the best overall spot for its open-ended, pocketable, and child-friendly features. As long as children have this on hand, the fun is inexhaustible because the whole world is theirs to explore.
If you want to learn more, feel free to check our other collection of science gadgets.