The links in this best STEM gifts post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on a link. Some items below were provided for review purposes.
STEM is a field with more jobs than people to fill them so toys that foster curiosity are always popular. As a computer science teacher and parent of 2 high schoolers in engineering programs, I’m pretty discriminating when it comes to STEM gifts. I look for products that will inspire, develop curiosity, and provide hands-on experiences that make learning fun.
Best STEM Gifts for All Ages
This guide contains the best STEM gifts that emphasize mathematical processes involved in building, scientific discovery through experimenting, learning about electronics via circuitry, and toys that demystify computer programming.
My STEM gifts guide is broken down by age group. There are gifts for preschoolers (3-5 year olds), early elementary ages (ages 5-7), and tweens (8-12 year olds).
Toddlers & Preschoolers
Gears! Gears! Gears! Mega Build ($79.99)
Young engineer will love this huge set of gears that allow them to create their own twisting, turning machinery creations. Use the construction set’s colorful gears and accessories like wheels, axles and treads to apply STEM concepts like engineering and critical thinking to build machines, robots, vehicles and more.
Cooking is a great way to teach science, math, how to follow directions, and basic life skills. Inspire small hands to help in the kitchen with this darling baking set from Baketivity. This 31-Piece Kids Baking Set includes real accessories designed for smaller hands. Toddlers and preschoolers will love using a whisk, offset and silicone spatulas, cookie scoop, rolling pin, mixing spoon, pastry brush, knife, baking mat, measuring cups, and measuring spoons just right for their hands. The set also includes 12 parent-approved child-friendly recipes to get you started.
MagnaTiles Glow in the Dark Set ($29.99)
MagnaTiles of any kind are addictive playthings that combine math, science, and creativity but the glow in the dark version is even more fun! This set contains 16 glow in the dark shapes that includes 4 small squares and triangles (equilateral, right, and isosceles) that can be played with on their own or combined with other sets to teach math, science, spatial, and tactile skills.
Little Patient from Uncommon Goods ($55)
Meet Erwin- a little patient who is the perfect toy to pique the interest of your pre-pre-med student. Zipped inside Erwin’s tummy, young surgeons will find six essential organs: lungs, heart, intestines, liver, spleen, and kidneys. All of the plush organs are color-coded and kids will love learning and identifying each one using the accompanying booklet that also teaches about ts very important role in our bodies. Underneath it all, an embroidered posterior skeleton teaches kids about how our bones keep everything together. Smart and surprisingly sweet, Erwin is a fun and interactive learning tool that can also help a brave child get through a tough surgery.
Early Elementary Ages
Hape Discovery Scientific Workbench ($69.99)
Young imaginations can run wild and be inspired to conduct new experiments and invent wonderful new devices thanks to the Hape Discovery Scientific Workbench. This 58-piece scientific play set includes over ten amazing experiments and creations that teach basic physics principles including momentum, pulley drive system and levers. It’s a great toy for developing logical thinking and an understanding of STEM concepts.
Elmer’s Celebration Slime Kit ($29.99)
Learning about science is fun when making slime! The Elmer’s Celebration Slime Kit contains an assortment of glues and slime activators to make a variety of slime. There’s no need for any additional ingredients thanks to Magical Liquid, an all-in-one formula that eliminates the need for contact lens solution and baking soda like in other slime recipes. Kids can mix and match different glues and activators to create their own slime. The kit contains Includes 1 bottle of each: teal metallic glue, green glow in the dark glue, yellow to red color changing glue, pink translucent glue, silver glitter glue, metallic Slime activator, glow in the dark Slime activator, Crunchy Slime activator, and 2 bottles confetti Slime activator for tons of slime making fun!
Klutz Gear Bots ($19.75)
Get your favorite elementary schooler involved with hands-on STEM learning thanks to Klutz Gear Bots. This kit contains everything you need to build 8 physics-driven kinetic creatures with LEGO Technic bricks and papercraft. As kids build, they’ll learn about axles, cams, cranks, and engineering in everyday machines. A 64-page book and step-by-step instructions are included for your young engineer.
Glow in the Dark Moon and Stars ($12.99)
I had originally wanted to include the Moon in My Room from Uncle Milton but when I saw the price of $85, it felt a little much for this age group who could be just as happy with a set of glow in the dark moon and stars. $12.99 buys you 1 moon room decor and over 1000 pieces of glowing stars that glow blue when the lights go off and create a dreamy sky to fall asleep to each night.
imagiCharm Starter Kit ($79)
As a parent of a teenage daughter who loves to code and teacher who loves to inspire the girls in my class to learn programming, I am all for products that make coding fun and interesting for young women. I love the imagiCharm, a smart accessory that can be programmed to look different every day by using the imagi app. It’s a great way to inspire girls to learn coding and show your projects to the world. Tweens can show off their programming knowledge by coding and then showing off their skills by attaching imagiCharm to a backpack, bag, or using it as a keychain. With 64 lights, there are endless designs and animations to program with imagiCharm.
Gravity Bugs: Free-Climbing MicroBot ($19.95)
Explore the inner workings of robotics by assembling bugs that defy gravity and use a system of suction cups to walk on vertical surfaces. These motorized multi-legged machines crawl up, down, and all-around windows and it’s fun to experiment to see which types of surfaces your Gravity Bug can climb best. Read about how suction cups work and how this robot climbs. This hands-on construction kit brings engineering and physics to life as it demonstrates the power of air pressure at work.
Snap Circuits My Home ($109.99)
Tweens will love learning how power travels inside walls and what really happens when the power goes out by building real circuits like the ones inside the walls of your house. This project teaches circuitry through an understanding of security systems, overhead lights, switches, and generators thanks to easy-to-use color code blocks that snap together.
LEGO CREATOR 3-in-1 Ferris Wheel ($79.99)
Endless building possibilities exist with this spectacular 3 in1 set. Create the Ferris Wheel for your Minifigs to experience an exciting rotating ride in the sky, rebuild it into a cool bumper car ride, or a swing boat ride for even more thrills.
Roto Brain 3D Puzzle Sphere ($19.99)
Roto Brain is a brain teasing puzzle designed to challenge minds. With its endless color combinations, users are naturally engaged to work their memory and critical thinking skills. This portable puzzle game offers vast possibilities and endless fun with its addictive color-spinning and fidget challenges.
Nintendo Game Builder Garage for Nintendo Switch ($29.99)
Nintendo provided a copy of this game for review
Tweens who dream of building their own games can use Nintendo’s The Game Builder Garage™ software to learn the basics of game design and visual programming with step-by-step lessons. Guided lessons teach kids how to build seven fun games and inspire kids to learn computer programming by playing and designing in a hands-on way using their Nintendo Switch. Tweens with Switches and Game Builder Garage can work together to create games and when done, share codes with friends to download games to play on their own device. Nintendo Switch not included
Candy Claw Machine from Thames and Kosmos ($29.99)
Everyone has been tempted to deposit money in claw machines but the Thames & Kosmos Candy Claw machine contains everything you need to build your own arcade-style claw machine. This fun yet challenging kit provides a gamified approach to engineering lessons. Through building, elementary ages will learn about hydraulics, levers, gears, belts, linkages, end effectors, and more. Kids will experiment with three different types of claws (pincher, scoop, and three-pronged) to pick up lollipops and decoy candy boxes (both included). There are no batteries or electricity needed. The Candy Claw Machine relies exclusively on the power of your hand and the mechanical advantage of the machines built into the device. Once built, Kids can refill the machine with your own treats and prizes for long-lasting fun.
I hope you enjoy this year’s picks and wish you happy and stress-free holiday shopping!
2021 Holiday Gift Guides
AGE APPROPRIATE GIFT GUIDES
- Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Early Elementary Ages (grades K-2, ages 5-8)
- Tweens (ages 9-12)
- Teens (ages 13+)
SPECIALTY GIFT GUIDES:
- STEM Gifts for All Ages (preK-tween)
- Best Age Appropriate Advent Calendars for Kids
- Fair Trade Holiday Gifts
- Gifts for Unplugged Family Fun
- Gifts for Teachers
- Gifts for People Who Love Their Dogs (inspired by Goldie, of course)
In case you wanted to start making your shopping lists now, here’s a look at last year’s gift guides that are full of great ideas:
- STEM Gifts for All Ages (preK-teen)
- Gifts for Teachers (from the perspective of a former teacher, with input from current teachers)
- Best Gifts for Unplugged Fun
- Gifts for Outdoor Adventures
- Gifts for Gadget Lovers
- Best Subscriptions for All Ages
- Gifts that Give Back
- Must-Have Gifts to Level Up Your Home Office
- 9 Gifts that Make it Easy for Families to Give Back
Samples were received to facilitate this post and affiliate links are included. No compensation was received for this post or hosting this giveaway and all opinions are my own. Images courtesy of the companies featured.