Best STEM Toys
With the Holidays fast approaching, you might be thinking about treating a youngster to some STEM toys with some strong educational value. While Cozmo, Sphero BOLT, and Vector are heavily advertised, they aren’t the only offerings this season. In fact, there are a whole host of other robot STEM toys out there just waiting to be discovered. So with such a variety of possibilities, how will you know what to choose? Well, this is our run down of the Top 20 Robot STEM Toys to Pick Up this Christmas 2020. These are a collection of toys that offer a wealth of fun, as well as learning opportunities. So let’s take a look.
Offering a unique opportunity to create a usable tablet, Kano allows children to develop basic engineering skills, as well as providing fantastic coding opportunities. In fact, once the tablet is built, there are 3 different programming languages available, and kids can create their own games, animations, or music. Kano is for the adventurous, and can be a great platform to get into coding.
- Pros: excellent idea, good hardware, offers a fantastic learning opportunity
- Cons: only entry-level coding
2. Snap Circuits
Next on the list is a staple for learning the ‘E’ from STEM. Snap Circuits makes engineering electronics extremely fun. Everything from simple circuit problem solving to more advanced projects, Snap is the easiest, safest, and most productive way to develop engineering brains. It comes in many different kits, each progressively more advanced.
- Pros: breadth of problems to solve, sharpens critical thinking
- Cons: not all children will find this kind of activity fun
For very young coders (we’re talking 5 and up) you need a robot to match. A young bot himself, Botley is just perfect for the younger coders. He’s standalone and ready to obey commands right out of the box. It’s coding made simple, made cute, that doesn’t require any additional device. It’s just you, your Botley, unique 77-piece kit, and ideas to string it all together.
- Pros: standalone, adorable robot, screen-free
- Cons: 1 robot per child, so could be expensive if you have more than one child to buy for
4. Code & Go Mouse
His name is Colby, and he’s a mouse. Not just any mouse though; a codable rodent capable of finding his cheese no matter what. The coding bit with Colby involves creating mazes, and programming the mouse to find his way to food. Coding Colby is a fantastic learning tool because it gives kids total bird-eye control and lets them control the difficulty and situation.
- Pros: extremely fun, controlled difficulty
- Cons: gets repetitive over time so children might lose interest
5. Gravity Maze
Another maze, but for slightly older coders, 8 and up. Gravity Maze is a maze that goes up, with different block colors offering different commands. Brushing on visual perception as well as programming, Gravity Maze is more of real-life perceptual solutions to logical challenges. Definitely one for the brainiacs!
- Pros: for all generations, problem solving at its finest
- Cons: can turn challenging too quickly for younger users
What’s better than playing video games? Designing your own games for sure. With Bloxels it all starts with imagination. Children come up with a game idea (storyline, characters and all), only to execute the game world with
Bloxels gameboard. Every facet of the game is up for customization, making each game a unique learning experience.
- Pros: play your own game, stimulates imagination as well as coding skills
- Cons: runs on an app so check compatibility first
7. Sphero Mini
While you might have seen Sphero’s latest iteration, the Sphero BOLT, advertised widely, the Sphero Mini is a fantastic alternative. Smaller, more compact, but just as fun, Sphero Mini is a techy toy for STEM learning, packing all sorts of sensors under the miniature hood. And with the option of drawing paths, block based or text based coding, it’s perfect for all ages. Using the Sphero Play app, Sphero Mini uses Face Drive – face expression control – to race wherever and however your kid wants. Coding hardly gets more intuitive than this, and that’s why its one of the great robotic STEM toys
- Pros: portable, Edu app for top quality coding experience, and Play app for fun and games
- Cons: calibration inconsistency when driving over smooth surfaces
Rather than packing a specific punch, Osmo is an all-in-one kind of robot toy. But the best in business, hence why it is so well-received is classrooms. Our favorite osmo-bility is drawing commands to see the character animate on screen. Besides the core pack, the Osmo universe is equipped with all sorts of gamey additional content, interactive board games included.
- Pros: all-in one robot, teaches many different skills beside coding, visually appealing
- Cons: an i-pad is necessary to use this product
9. Lego Boost
Anything Lego, sign us up immediately! This particular instance of Lego bots allows kids to create their own robot by a well-known recipe, and then code their creation into life. It’s the best robotics intro on our list. Children code their creation by a visually stunning companion app, with very little limits to what their robot can do. The Lego Boost kits come with Lego blocks motor, sensors, and everything a young creator might need.
- Pros: THE robot, it’s Lego at its best, programmable and creative construction
- Cons: short battery life
10. Makey Makey
With Makey Makey children can invent their own banana piano, draw up a working game controller, or set up any coding conundrum however wild or simple it is. Makey Makey is simply the best STEM toy for creativity and invention. It’s stripped of high-tech looks for a more customizable solution, one that allows children to get as creative as they possibly can.
- Pros: awesome variety, creativity through the roof
- Cons: children need imagination and determination to complete the projects
Not the most customizable out there, but probably the one that rewards experimentation the most. Code-a-pillar from Fisher Price is a segment coding STEM toy in shape of a caterpillar. It encourages experimentation as its segments are of different values, either sonic or directional. Each arrangement takes Code-a-pillar to different paths with hilarious effects along the way. Rather than through app, engagement is tactile which makes kids more involved.
- Pros: tactile manipulation, great for the young coders
Cons: not as fun for older children
12. Code Master
Hands up for the best transitional programming game on the market. Code Master is a board game that teaches coding through an interactive map navigation. It is among the best intros into coding around, with a touch of sequential reasoning involved. It’s all packed into a nice storyline that requires a progressive advancement to follow
through. It’s a logic-led programming masterpiece.
- Pros: brilliant concept and artwork, great storyline
- Cons: a few difficult levels that could be too challenging for some younger players
13. Osmo Coding Jam
Revisiting the Osmo universe, Osmo Coding Jam game offers a fantastic music/programming combo. Sequences are strung together to produce unique jam sessions, as complex and crazy as kids want them. For another layer of crazy, Osmo Coding Jam features some of the quirkiest characters who ever graced the stage. And remember, you’ll need an iPad for this.
- Pros: visually stunning, very intuitive coding
- Cons: this product needs an i-pad, and the Osmo base kit
Engineering taken up a notch. Perfect for children aged 8 and up, Ubtech’s BuilderBots are for the imaginative. Those who fit the bill will welcome the complexity of building their own robot, and have it perform numerous tricks through
an intuitive coding language. More than 300 parts include motors and sensors that every robot would be proud of.
- Pros: advanced robot building, lots of parts and sensors
- Cons: battery life could be longer, for more fun
15. JIMU BuilderBot
Staying with Ubtech robots for a minute, JIMU is the one for slightly more adventurous children. It packs more building parts, 2 DC motors, and an ultrasonic sensor. Again, the robot itself is a matter of kids’ engineering expression, though instructions are given in 3D to help things out.
- Pros: multiple motors and sensors, great coding variety, excellent build
- Cons: app support could be better
And now a little something for our youngest. Cubetto is designed to be the first coding toy a kid meets. It’s all basics here; no screen, wooden board for great tactile experience, and a simple block-and-shape-based coding language. Cubetto is Montessori approved for children 3 and up. He can go directions and execute simple commands, and also feature maps and games to extend the playtime.
- Pros: wooden, tactile frame, great as the first coding toy
- Cons: will be outgrown as children age
17. Electric Motors Catalyst
Do you remember how fun tinkering with electronics was as a youngster? Well, Electric Motors Catalyst keeps the fun, but adds an element of focused learning. EMC is all about the small parts working together. Kids aged 8-12 can either make their own electric device, or overcome a set of progressively more difficult challenges from challenge cards. There’s something enticing in coding an egg scrambler.
- Pros: great for tinkering and experimentation, as good as any STEM Toys you can get
- Cons: challenging at times, perhaps too challenging for younger users
18. IQ Builder
IQ Builder is designed to provide quality construction opportunities. These type of STEM toys are a perfect classroom companion, able to convey every geometrical shape imaginable. From minute squares all the way up to complex structures, IQ Builder unleashes a child’s creativity and engineering prowess.
- Pros: wide range of complexity, classroom-friendly
- Cons: less focus on coding and less high tech
Another STEM building kit, Brickyard is the ultimate, all-in-one solution. It’s the sheer amount of utility that sets Brickyard apart. The number of pieces is far greater than with any similar set, and the creative possibilities are truly endless. It simply has more of everything, and Brickyard pieces allow for more ways of usage.
- Pros: build anything, endless number of pieces, good materials
- Cons: additional pieces cost money, not very high tech
20. DreamBuilder Toy
Last on the list is another one of these awesome builder STEM toys, but with a little twist. DreamBuilder Toy pieces are magnetic and come in simple, all angular shapes. There’s no shortage of stuff to build however; it’s the simple to complex route that lends DreamBuilder its unique charm. Magnets are also very tactile and appealing.
- Pros: easy to assemble, high quality build
- Cons: occasional pieces don’t fit, which can be quite frustrating
The Top 20 Robot STEM Toys to Pick Up in Q4 2018, are a mixed and varied bunch. From those offering an extensive coding and programming system, to those that focus on developing engineering or logic skills, there is something for everyone. You just need to decide what your child would get the most out of. But don’t take too long, the Holidays are just around the corner!