Sunday, 26 November 2017

Science and Tech Toys Gift Guide (toys supporting STEM skills).

With Cyber Monday approaching it seems apt to do a round up of some of the most impressive tech and STEM toys out there this year. Science and technology for children has come a great distance in the last 5 years and it does reflect in the average price, with many more complex toys costing over £100, although there are still plenty of less expensive options out there.


I've included my favourite science, technology. engineering and mathematics toys that I've seen in the past year.


LEGO and LEGO DUPLO (Starts at £2.99. Age 18 months+ or older)
Don't overlook the obvious. LEGO will give your child some great engineering basics, and covers early maths and design, as well as problem-solving. Motorised LEGO sets and Mindstorms bring in electronics and computing skills and can keep anyone learning. All this while improving manual dexterity and there's a set to suit everyone from 18 months upwards. I have a guide on choosing the correct LEGO for your child here...



The Curiscope Virtuali-Tee (£25 rrp, currently £18.75. Age 3+)
An absolutely fascinating and excellent good quality cotton t-shirt with a pattern that is read by the accompanying tablet/smartphone app and brings the inside of the body to life. I love this and so do my children. It's mesmerising and you learn so much, even as an adult.


Brilliant for anyone aged 3+. It even has an optional professor to guide you around the digestive, urinary and other bodily systems and the option for VR with a headset or goggles. Find out more on the Curiscope website.

Books (Prices vary. Age 0+ or older)
There are a million and one books out there on all kids of STEM supporting subjects and they don't have to be anything like a school book. Dorling Kindersley have a great range of science books for children and recently published 3D Printing Projects and All About Virtual Reality - which coincidentally features the Curiscope T-shirt! I've taken a closer look at both books here.


SmartGurlzUK (£69.99. Age 5+)
SmartGurlzUK are a small UK company trying to reach out to children who perhaps wouldn't be interested by more usual computing and technology activites. Their Siggy doll-sized scooter is in reality a robot that can be programmed using block programming. It comes in a choice of 4 colours with an accompanying doll, each with their own STEM skills based backstory and career or hobby choices. It's a really fair price for the technology involved and I hope they do well. I have a giveaway for a Siggy Scooter which ends on 3rd December.


Cozmo by Anki (RRP £199.99. Age 8+)
I don't have my own Cozmo, but happily I have played with one. An awesome intelligent robot which can be programmed using a drag and drop block coding, or future professionals can take it to the next step and code him from scratch yourself. He has loads of different capabilities, including playing with his companion cubes and recognising his owner, plus displaying a pretty impressive range of emotions. Sorry BB-8, Cozmo wins cutest droid. Find out more on the Anki website.


Meccano and Meccano Junior (Starts at £7.50. Age 5+ or older)
Meccano, like the other construction toys, teaches engineering skills and manual dexterity. It also allows your child to familiarise themselves with real life tools and fixings. Maths and problem-solving skills come into play from an early stage, so learning to cope with frustration is another key skill. Powered models bring in electronics. We've reviewed many Meccano sets, including the gorgeous Chevrolet Corvette.


Meccano M.A.X. (£134.99 rrp, currently £116.50 at Very. Age 10+)
M.A.X. is a ridiculously clever little robot who is incredibly entertaining. Fun to build and programmable using 3 different methods including block coding. This guy teaches all of your STEM skills in one bundle and the possibilities are immense. Our Meccano M.A.X. review is here...


K'Nex (Starts at £12.99+. Age 5+)
In my opinion harder than some other construction toys and requiring more concentration during the build, the models can be stunning. Supports engineering and maths skills, and with powered sets for older children, physics and electronics are also explored. You can't deny that art is also very much at play.


Project MC2 (Starts at around £20. Age 6+)
Project MC2 is a Netflix TV Show starring 4 attractive and clever young female students and an accompanying range of dolls and science experiments. Their tagline is 'Smart is the new cool' and the sets are pretty good and very varied. Another brand trying to encourage children who perhaps wouldn't usually engage well with science and technology. We've reviewed 4 sets, including the Ultimate Lab Kit


Brainstorm Space Toys (Prices start at £4.99. Age 3+ or older)
Brainstorm make some excellent toys for space-loving children and we were sent a selection to look at for Space Week.


Our favourite is the My Very Own R/C Illuminated Solar System (rrp £39.99) which is almost above my 7 year old's head when he sleeps. He turns it on to watch the planets rotate for 5 minutes chill down time every bedtime...


John Adams Booms, Bangs And Fizzes Science Set Review (£25 rrp. Age 8+)
We reviewed this set earlier this year and the boys really enjoyed it. Science at it's most noisy and just the thing for lively young chemists and rocket-scientists. You can read the John Adams Science Set review here.


Tech Will Save Us Kits(Prices start at £19.99. Age 4+ or older)
We've reviewed for Tech Will Save Us and we think their kits are excellent. I grew up loving science sets, but really I wanted to actually make something useful. Tech Will Save Us sets for children do just that. Genuine science with a real end result you can show everyone and be proud of.


The Electro-Dough set demonstrates electric circuits and conductivity. The Mover kit makes a fantastic motion-sensitive light-up Mover that can be programmed to display different lighting effects depending on different actions. These sets are great value for the quality of the end result and the learning your child will gain while they create.  You can find my Tech Will Save Us kits review here...


Starry 2in1 Day & Night SmartGlobe With 3D AR (£29.99. Age 5+)
Oregon Scientific have a huge range of SmartGlobes with different levels of AR support. My 9 year old adores this globe and uses it as a nightlight while he goes to sleep. Our full Day And Night SmartGlobe review is here.


Drones (Prices start at around £49. Age 8+ or older)
Drones are incredibly popular this year and we've reviewed so many that I'll be writing a separate post. Technology has come on ridiculously fast and even drones well under £100 may have a battery of special features.


While your child is buzzing around, they're also practising hand-eye coordination and learning about physics including propulsion, air pressure, friction, aerodynamics, as well as electronics, effects of wind and air pressure, They're programming and using computer and maths skills to control and fine tune, and they can even drive their drone via VR.


Last but by no means least I'm going to include the fabulous boxes that Lucky Gecko put together. They started out as monthly but serious family illness has meant they're currently only doing special release boxes. They're excellent and full of great projects and activities. We reviewed a Lucky Gecko Box earlier this year and if you are lucky, you can still order their £30 Midwinter Box here. Lucky Gecko have set up a discount code for my readers - BRICKCASTLE - which gives £5 off the box when entered at checkout


We were sent most of the items in this post for review at some point over 2017. 

6 comments:

  1. There is an amazing selection here. I'm actively seeking this sort of 'toy' for my kids now, it's such a good way to teach them without them realising they are learning.

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    1. Totally. I love it when I find my kids learning together and they haven't a clue. They were arguing about a location the other day and used the globe to check. My pride was immense - couldn't let them realise though :D

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  2. So many brilliant gifts here. These are fab x

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    1. We've seen some amazing things this year. Toys really have moved rapidly. Imagine what it'll be like by this time in 3 years? :D

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  3. So many great ideas here, J is obsessed with Cozmo - as is his dad! We tend to choose STEM toys where possible for the minis.

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  4. Awwwww fab pics and some really funky gift ideas, liking that Virtuali-tee xx Sim

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