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20 STEM educational gifts perfect for aspiring engineers this holiday season

Reed Langton | 13 December 2016

Professional engineers aren't the only ones who want cool toys this holiday season. For aspiring scientists, engineers, architects and more, we have provided a list of 20 STEM educational gifts to enlighten young minds. Starting from as young as one year of age, these gift ideas are sure to amaze as they encourage kids to create by providing the information and tools to make it fun and easy. Whether your child is interested in computer coding or working with his or her hands to build structures and even robots, these toys will enlighten as much as they entertain!

Our STEM educational gifts wishlist for 2016

Dado Cubes Recommended age:  1+ Dado is a colorful, fun, creative building toy for little ones of all ages. The cubes have slits in them so they can fit together to construct in all directions. With its fun, adaptable shapes, it helps kids develop spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills. When it's time to clean up, the blocks nest together for easy storage. Some of the cubes may be too small for kids younger than 3 (so you may need to hold on to them), but even toddlers will have a blast with this one!   magna-tilesMagna Tiles Recommended Age:  3+ Magna Tiles are a must-have for creative minds!  These can be used to teach shapes, construction basics, and problem-solving while encouraging creativity. Begin with the starter set, and you will probably want to add more to your collection as your kids get bigger and more capable of making larger structures.  Be warned, the grown-ups in our house tend to play with these too!   battat-take-a-part-toy-vehiclesBattat Take-A-Part Toy Vehicles Recommended Ages:  3+ The Take-A-Part Toy series gives an awesome opportunity for preschoolers to really see how parts assemble to make a toy. It has oversized screws, nuts, and bolts to make it easier for little hands. It even includes a real, power screwdriver! Most of the pieces primarily fit in their own correct position, which makes this great for kids that insist on doing it themselves, helping them solve the problem without getting too far off course. Check out the 4 different vehicle choices!   eti-toysETI Toys Construction Engineering Blocks Recommended Ages:  3+ For the future builder, we have ETI Toys Educational Construction Engineering Blocks. These blocks allow your child to build fun but challenging creations, such as trucks, helicopters, robots and much more. Children will also build communication and team-working skills while the blocks encourage them to work together to build awesome creations. It comes with a convenient, easy-to-carry, storage tub, and every piece is easily washable. Engineering blocks will help children build fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and enhance creativity while keeping them entertained for hours!   theo-kleinTheo Klein Service Car Station Recommended Age:  3-7 Got a curious little one who wants to know how things work? This toy car engine is a perfect way to learn the basics of how an engine works and other vehicle functionality. Kids can fix many different parts of the engine, change tires, check the oil and more. It has its own set of tools, just like the real mechanics use!   fisher-price-think-and-learnFisher Price Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar Recommended Age:  3-8 Code-A-Pillar allows kids to get a beginning understanding of coding in fun and easy way!  By rearranging the segments of the Code-A-Pillar, they direct their toy to move in all different ways, following the pattern they have created. It comes with 8 segments with lights, sounds, straights and turns. Additional segments can be purchased to help this toy grow with your learner.   krazy-gearsKrazy Gears Recommended Ages:  4+ Get your future mechanical engineer started early with Krazy Gears! With 81 pieces to explore with, they can create endless scenarios, giving them a chance to really explore cause and effect. There is no right or wrong way to build it, so it really allows them to experiment and see how different pieces relate to each other in any machine.   how-things-workSee Inside How Things Work Recommended Ages:  5+ Curious minds will be piqued with this interactive lift-the-flap book packed with information about how gadgets, devices, and machines of all kinds work. With more than 90 flaps to lift, the reader will be enraptured in learning about the inner workings of a wide range of inventions, from toilets and pipe organs, to car engines and can openers -- and many more inventions in between.   computers-and-codingLift the Flap Computers and Coding Recommended Ages:  7+ This book will help future software, electrical or computer engineers delve into the internal components of computers. Kids will learn each part's purpose and how exactly the machine converts coding to processes and programs. Through interactive flaps and bite-sized chunks of text, this is an engaging introduction to the "brain machines" that are very much a part of today's information and communication technology.  This has great information for curious minds of all ages!   architect-academyArchitect Academy Recommended Ages:  7+ This creative training workbook will give the reader a hands-on understanding of the skills required to become an architect. Activities include such tasks as planning and drawing structures, designing a residential street, reading floor plans and more! Whatever the innovative project, the reader will put imagination and problem-solving to the test. Also included: Architect Task stickers to affix to the page when a project is completed, a pull-out poster and press-out game cards to share with friends.   kanoKano Computer Recommended Ages:  7-14 For the future Computer Scientist, Kano Computer Kit comes with everything you need to make your own computer. A simple story will show you how to build it, bring it to life and start coding. No tools needed, simply plug the parts together. Kano introduces children to basic programming languages through fun challenges that use simple code blocks, typed code, and Linux commands. Python – great for web development. Javascript – for creating websites, games and apps. Terminal commands – to control computers faster. It’s also full of amazing apps that teach code, using favorites like Minecraft, Pong and Scratch. It features unique apps like Kano Code, Story Mode and Make Art as well as a web browser, YouTube and more.   wonder-workshop-dash-robotWonder Workshop Dash Robot Recommended Age: 8+ Dash is a real robot that can be programmed by your child to do 100’s of different things! Using your Apple or Android device, you can make it move, dance, and even respond to your voice. Kids learn how to program in fun tutorial challenges. This award winner is sure to keep your robot lover busy for hours. Check out the Dash and Dot set for even more fun activities!   snap-circuitsSnap Circuits R/C Snap Rover Electronics Discovery Kit Recommended Ages: 8+ For the future Electric Car Enthusiast, we have Snap Circuits R/C Snap Rover Electronics Discovery Kit.  The Snap Circuits RC Rover kit comes with over 30 pieces to create a remote-controlled rover and other devices. With its easy-to-follow instructions, Snap Circuits gives your child a hands-on education in how electrical circuits work to run their rover and everyday devices they're familiar with. They'll also gain valuable lessons in building and following instructions. The project manual starts out with instructions for creating a rover with a working LED headlight and features several other rover configurations. Kids can also put together a rotating light, a generator, a saltwater detector and other devices. While they're completing these projects, children will learn about electric switches, radio reception, gear movement, Morse code and more.   snap-circuits-sound-electronicsSnap Circuits Sound Electronics Discovery Kit Recommended Ages: 8+ For future Sound Engineers, you can create your own sound studio and Theremin with the Snap Circuits Sound Electronics Discovery kit. This kit uses clearly marked electrical devices such as resistors and capacitors to help the understanding of the circuits used in sound production. The devices created can range from a Theremin to a sound studio with light effects. The projects are arranged in order of complexity, and kids can build on their skills as they progress through the manual.   ultimate-secret-formula-labSmartLab Toys Ultimate Secret Formula Lab Recommended Ages:  8+ This at home Science Lab helps kids do over 40 experiments (without ruining the house)! With some basic necessities from the kitchen, elementary age kids can explore all the great science concepts they are learning in school, allowing them to really reinforce their learning. Give your kids a chance to really see the wonders of science with this secret formula lab.   roominate-cotton-candy-carnivalRoominate Cotton Candy Carnival Recommended Ages: 8+ As girls grow up, they tend to lose interest in STEM and are less likely than boys to have a career in engineering. Roominate Cotton Candy Carnival is a fantastic construction toy series designed for encouraging girls to stay interested in engineering. It’s cute and certainly passes a young girl's “is this for boys or girls?” test… But guess what else? They can build a working Ferris wheel!  This toy incorporates more of the social, pretend play girls tend to be drawn to while teaching them how to build, power and even add lights to their toys! There are several choices in this product line. So you won’t have a hard time finding something exciting to try!   makey-makeyMakey Makey Recommended Age:  8+ Does your child see the possibilities in even the most mundane household object? If so, this toy may be for them. With the Makey Makey, you can transform ordinary objects into touchpads which can then be mapped, using the included software, to perform functions such as sound effects or replicate typing on a keyboard. The kit is simple to set up and works with any medium that is capable of conducting a small amount of electric current. Turn a banana into a space bar or draw a dinosaur and configure its roar.  Connects to your computer and needs no software to install. Makey Makey is safe for kids of all ages with adult supervision   coding-for-beginnersCoding for Beginners Recommended Ages: 8+ Coding for Beginners is a friendly and accessible book that will teach children the basics of Scratch (a free, online program developed by MIT which is widely used in elementary schools). It allows them to get inside the code of their computer and create simple games and animations. Work with straight-forward, step-by-step directions alongside visual screen captures to walk through the process of writing code for computers. Easily create simple games, fun animations, and shape-based drawings. This foundation of coding will serve as a gateway to understanding other computer languages, which is essential in the modern-day engineering field.   knex-educationK'NEX Education - Intro to Simple Machines Recommended Ages:  8-12 Using an included experiment guide/instructions, kids can build 8 fully-functioning replicas of real-world machines. Instead of just reading how a level or pulley can be useful, kids can actually build it and see for themselves. This set has 178 pieces allowing kids to explore their own creativity and work on problem-solving.  The free-form play allows them to continually improve on the design and really develop their skill set as a future engineer.   xyzprintingXYZprinting da Vinci miniMaker 3D Printer Recommended Ages:  12+ For future Manufacturing Engineers, we have the XYZprinting da Vinci miniMaker 3D Printer. With this printer and the free 3D resources, you can create 3D plastic models of anything you can dream up in a 5.9” cube space. The printer automatically calibrates and balances for ease of use, and the plastic PLA material is nontoxic. This printer also comes with access to online curriculum programs that continue to provide fun, challenging materials. So, as your child grows their designs can grow with them.  
Betsy Beaudoin
Betsy is a Business Support Specialist with Bastian Solutions. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Michigan State University. Her family has been involved in material handling for over 30 years. As a mom of three kids (2 girls and a boy), she has taken an interest in how to promote STEM learning in our home.

Author: Reed Langton

Reed Langton is Regional Manager of Bastian Solutions Florida. In this role, he overseas all field application engineers and customer projects within Florida. Reed has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame. He has been with Bastian for 13 years as an application engineer and then regional manager.


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