The following list contains suggested toys and games to improve and develop an understanding of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in primary school and secondary school children aged 5-12. The suggestions consist of a range of ideas to cover all ability ranges including the more able.
Suggestions for children aged 5-11
K’NEX Stem Renewable Energy Building Set
Bring some sunshine into your Christmas present ideas. This set gives children a practical understanding of how solar power, wind power, and water-powered machinery works. A great introduction to the science behind renewable energy.
K’NEX Education Force and Newton’s Laws Set
A well designed set with lots of activities to explore forces, motion and the laws of physics relating to energy. Great for children interested in mechanics and science.
Times Table Snap
Ideal for practice for KS2 tests. These cards are fun and suitable for pupils aged 6-11 learning times tables.
K’NEX Education Intro to Simple Machines Levers and Pulleys Set
This STEM set explores lever and pulleys using models that slowly build in terms of complexity and reasoning. Ideal for developing an understanding of how to move big objects or lift large weights in the real world.
An electronics starter kit which is a million times better than the kits many of us remember from the 1980s. Ideas for controllable cars with motors, light sensors, and buzzers. There’s very little to break or snap off, and the kit can be extended by using the plethora of extension ideas available on the internet web site.
Lego Roller Coaster Building Set
An ideal set to explore the laws of motion, mechanics and practical engineering; by building a white-knuckle theme park ride. Great fun for budding engineers and designers. Runs by hand or with a motor (separate) for automation.
Learning Resources Multiplication Slam Electronic Maths Game
An electronic game which makes learning times tables that bit more exciting. Ideal for hands-on practice, this kit is interactive and engages a child’s concentration well.
K’NEX Education DNA/Replication and Transcription Set
A wonderful introduction to physically replicating nucleic acid molecules, as seen in DNA. Complex and accurate representations can be created using this kit.
K’NEX Education Intro To Structure Bridges Set
A fantastic STEM bridge building kit that covers all the key types of bridges seen in the world today, explaining the physics and engineering theory at the same time. Most children will gain a secure practical understanding through trial and error. Ths bridge design contest for years 8,9 and 10 is well worth a look – with free software that offers a CAD view of the principles used in this K’Nex set.
Mega Gemstone Mine
This set invites children to excavate the rocks and find the gemstones. There’s lots of information about the geology and numerous internet links the National Geographic website for more enquiring minds.
Suggestions for children aged 12+
Raspberry Pi 3 Official Desktop Starter Kit
A fantastic introduction to computing and electronics. There is no limit to what can be achieved with these kits, with a little imagination, and ideas from the multitude of internet sites dedicated to the Raspberry Pi. Lots of resources are provided in the kit.
Raspberry Pi Electronics Projects for the Evil Genius
An excellent companion to the Raspberry Pi starter kit. This book provides lots of ideas that will appeal to budding computing, gaming, electronics, and programming experts; with a hint of humour along the way.
Spider Robot Science Kit
Children will have great fun building this STEM spider robotic model using the instructions supplied, as well as gaining an understanding of robotics. The model can then be adjusted and calibrated to climb slopes and over objects.
The Great Minds Range Aristotle’s Number Puzzle
A mind-boggling puzzle to try to make every line add up to 38. This puzzle takes a lot of brain power but is very engaging and children are unlikely to get bored with it quickly. For fraught parents, there are solutions online.
K’NEX Education Stem Roller Coaster Physics
A mind-blowing set exploring the physics and engineering behind high-velocity theme park rides, including rolls and loop-the-loops. Great for understanding how to harness the forces and motion laws to achieve a spectacular attraction.
littleBits Synth Kit
A STEM musical electronics set that allows your child to create their own synthesizer. Don’t expect them to sound like the next Joy Division or Erasure first time out but your child will understand exactly how keyboards, synths, and polyphonic electronic musical equipment works.
Sphero Robotic Ball Gaming System
A completely programmable sphere that can roll, accelerate, turn and stop – all controlled from a mobile device. With a range of over 50 feet, children will have endless fun making this sphere achieve the unlikely.
An interesting combination of a marble run and a spatial puzzle. Children have to work out how to get the marbles to fall a particular way to exit the maze. The pack contains 60 different games. Surprisingly addictive.
Science Museum Soda Can Robug
A very simple and engaging science project. The challenge is to use ann empty drinks can and fit the vibrating device, using the guide, to allow the can to travel across the floor.
LEGO Architecture Studio
A stunning kit that explains how to create scale models replicating buildings. Ideal for teaching symmetry, scale, form and the fundamentals of design. This set is endorsed by leading architects.
Haynes V8 Model Combustion Engine
A detailed and stimulating STEM 3D combustion engine that replicates a muscle car petrol V8. Great for budding mechanics. Note – this set uses batteries and doesn’t require petrol.
4M Kids Labs Anti Gravity Magnetic Levitation Kit
Make physics magical! This set will show children how to make a pencil levitate and spin, using gravitational forces. Very eye-catching.
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