Working with the youth in our community I hear a lot of questions from parents this time of year. What should I buy my kids for Christmas? What are some great STEM gift ideas that teach science? Is the Sphero worth it? What can Ozobot do?
We all have one common interest when it comes to gift giving. We all want to give the perfect gift, a gift that expands the world for the kids we love, a gift that captures the imagination, a gift that teaches, and a gift that will last more than a few hours. I am always laser-focused on science, because who doesn’t love science? Parents keep asking me what the best STEM gifts of 2017 are, so let’s take a look at some of my favorites. My STEM gift guide ideas come mostly from things I have seen my kids love, enjoy, and learn from.
Stocking Stuffers: STEM gifts under $15 that are the perfect stocking stuffers.
- STEM Bracelet kits: I would be remiss if the first thing on our stocking stuffer list wasn’t our STEM bracelet kits. Kids can learn the planets, the water cycle, the growth of a pumpkin, and the life of a butterfly as they create their own fantastic bracelets. These offer an afternoon of fun, STEM, and quality family time.
- Snap Circuits Flying Saucer: This little kit has one of our all-time favorite Snap Circuit activities – wiring up a motor to a fan blade that can lift off!
- Kitchen Chemistry: This is a fun little kit that has supplies to make your kids feel like they are in the real deal lab as they investigate common kitchen items.
Books: STEM books to gift to young readers
- George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Lucy Hawking: Yes, that Hawking. Lucy is the daughter of Stephen Hawking (you know, the genius physicist). This is a fun adventure story that throws in tidbits of real science, so kids can learn real science by reading fun sci-fi. Given our mission of learning real science by doing fun science, this book is a no-brainer and a fantastic read.
- The Story of Everything by Neal Layton: This book is so much fun for little hands. They tell the story of everything starting with the big bang, going through evolution, and into industrialized society. There are lots of things to look at, move, and pop up on each page, keeping the interest of young minds.
- Hello Ruby by Linda Liukas: I can’t really decide if this is a book or an activity book, but the storyline, characters, STEM information, and hands-on activities made me fall head over heels for it. It started as a Kickstarter project and is now a series available on Amazon!
- Inventions that could have changed the world…but didn’t by Joe Rhatigan: Learn about interesting devices, what they did, and how they failed to capture the public’s heart. This is a creative read that also helps talk about growth mindset.
Under the Tree: STEM gifts under $50
- Women of NASA Lego Set: I can’t emphasize how much I love this new lego set. Available November 1st you can build history. The set includes women who made significant strides in the NASA program including Magaret Hamilton that wrote the code to get us to the moon, Mae Jemison who was the first African-American astronaut, Sally Ride the first female astronaut, and Nancy Roman who worked on Hubble! With this set, you get history, science, and engineering!
- Snap Circuits: Snap circuits are a great toy to get kids playing with electronics. They can build fans, transmit music to the radio, and learn how to make LEDs light up. The nice thing about Snap Circuits is that the pieces are easy to handle and literally snap into place. Imagine the child of Legos and Electrical Engineering.
- Thames & Kosmos kits: Thames & Kosmos has a ton of engineering and inquiry-based science kits. These are perfect if you kids have a specific interest, from magnetism to solar power, robotics, and more.
Santa’s Nice List: STEM gifts under $200
- Dash Robot: This little robot carries a hefty price tag, but it really is worth it. There are multiple apps you can use with Dash that make the robot accessible for kids of all ages, from learning programming by drawing with a finger, to learning block or visual programming to navigate obstacles. I can’t say the same for its little sibling, Dot so skip the joint pack. See our full review here.
- Ozobot 2.0: This little robot has a powerful punch – you can program it using markers. My kids have had many delightful afternoons drawing paths for the robot to follow, while my older daughter has learned how to make it do tricks. I recommend getting either the thick Crayola markers or chisel tip Sharpies with this little robot. Crayola works best, but you want a thicker line. Chisel tip Sharpies have the thick line, but you need the pastel green and blue for the robot to read the bode better. See our full review here.
- Lego Boost Robotics: Our entire family has been known to take 8 hours on a Saturday and just build Legos. Seriously, we will eat popcorn for lunch so we have more time to build. If you are a family of Lego enthusiasts like use, the Lego Boost Robotics is a great option to bring more STEM, and more fun, into your Lego play!