The best STEM toys you can buy for kids
Here are the best STEM toys you can buy:
- Best STEM toy overall: LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox
- Best STEM toy for younger kids: Snap Circuits Pro Electronics Exploration Kit
- Best STEM toy for robotics: Microduino Itty Bitty Buggy
- Best STEM toy for basic programming skills: Makeblock Neuron Explorer Kit
- Best screen-free STEM toy: Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst Kit
- Best STEM toy for advanced computing skills: Piper Computer Kit
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best STEM toy overall
Why you’ll love it: The LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox comes with components for five specific robots, but can also be used to create any number of original creations.
You’d think changing LEGOs would be gilding the lily, right? While there will always be a place in the toy chest for the classic plastic building blocks, the new techie spin the LEGO Boost line brings to this venerable toy is a welcome one indeed. Because before you start programming a robot to perform all sorts of tasks, you still have to build the thing one block at a time.
In this case, your kid will start off by building one of five different robots the kit can be used to create. There’s a charming cat named Frankie, the M.T.R 4 (that’s Multi-Tooled Rover), a guitar, and more. You’ll have to deconstruct one creation to make the next, so make sure you take some pictures of each finished bot. Or of the original design LEGO robot you build once you’ve mastered the toy. But I’m ahead of myself.
The first thing I noted when we broke out our LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox was how easy the app made the building process. Instead of using a paper instruction booklet, you tap your phone or tablet screen for clear a clear step-by-step guide that ensures you don’t accidentally miss a step. I was a bit surprised that you couldn’t save your progress, though, as once you shut the app down, you need to click back through every step to bring yourself back up to speed.
Once constructed, you can use the app to program each LEGO robot to do different things. Vernie dances and rolls around, Frankie looks around and purrs, and the guitar can be programmed to play different sounds through your smart device.
More than 300 people have left reviews about the LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox on Amazon, and the kit enjoys a 4.3-star overall rating. One mom asked: “What’s not to love about this?” Adding that the Boost kit had her kids “programming like pros” in no time.
Pros: Great fine motor practice, five different robots to build, easy step-by-step build and coding process
Cons: App lacks save function