Holiday gift-giving is a great opportunity to encourage STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Science-based tools and toys are always a hit and they fill that desirable niche between fun and meaningful learning. Some of the best gifts will transition from the playroom to the homeschool room. STEM gifts can also be the answer for grandparents and aunts and uncles who will receive the added satisfaction of contributing to homeschool curriculum needs.
Choosing a STEM-oriented gift might seem a little overwhelming at first. There are countless expensive gizmos with educational claims. Making a selection that inspires immediate joy, serves a long-term purpose, and grows with your child is every parent’s goal. From old-school basics to cutting-edge technology, STEM gifts will not disappoint. We have gathered some of our favorite ideas for STEM gifts to inspire your child and exercise their creativity and science brain-power.
Science Museum Memberships
Many parents will delight in the idea of not getting another tangible item to crowd their homes and a science museum or technology center membership truly is the gift that keeps on giving year-round. The Association of Science and Technology Centers maintains a searchable list of centers by country and by U.S. state. Be sure to check your nearby science center for special homeschool programs, classes, and discounts.
Although many images can be accessed online, nothing will open the microscopic world to your student like the hands-on learning that a microscope provides. Working with a microscope helps to grow proper scientific technique, satisfy high school requirements, and foster an interest in science. Picking the correct microscope for your homeschool can be daunting. At a minimum, a good microscope should include: 4x, 10x, and 40x objective lenses; separate coarse and fine adjustment knobs; and an LED or cool fluorescent light source. The Home LED Microscope from Home Science Tools checks all of those boxes. Its sturdy build and lifetime guarantee make this a perfect choice for beginners and families with multiple users.
Computer Programming Classes
Elenco Snap Circuits allows kids to safely explore basic electronics. Snap Circuits uses solderless snap-together components to connect conductors, antennas, batteries, solar cells, and capacitors to create electrical circuits for electronics projects. Elenco offers an array of kits for kids ages 8 and up.
Geology Inspired Gifts
Rocks have long fascinated kids of all ages and there are quite a few gifts in a range of prices available for giving. A rock specimen set is a good choice as well as rock identification kits. A rock tumbler might be on the wish list for the serious enthusiast and this one from National Geographic is perfect for kids and beginners alike. It makes faux sea glass too! Finally, geodes are fun stocking stuffers with a built-in interactive activity.
Robotics Kits and Toys
An interest in robotics encourages coding and engineering skills as well as creativity. There are countless robotics kits at all price ranges and age levels to choose from. The LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox stands out as one of the best options for ages 7 to12. It features 5 different robot models that children can build and code as well as step-by-step challenges with increasing complexity that help grow skills.
The Mega Cyborg Hand by Thames and Kosmos was named STEAM Toy of 2021 by the Toy Association. Kids ages 7 and up will learn how to assemble and perform experiments on a mechanical hand all while learning about robotics and hydraulic power. Once built, the hand slips on like a glove with mechanical fingers that are operated by the child’s own fingers.
For ages 4 and up, the Learning Resources Code and Go Robot Mouse is an entry-level robotic toy that encourages beginning computational thinking. Children learn coding skills while building a maze for Colby, the programmable mouse.
Scientific Explorer’s Crime Catchers Science Kit is for ages 8 and up, but the entire family will enjoy this mystery-solving educational game. Players gather evidence by matching fingerprints, testing powders and liquids, and decoding secret messages. Students learn scientific investigation and observation while solving 2 exciting mysteries.
Engineering and Building
Magna-Tiles were created by a Japanese math teacher to help kids learn geometric concepts. These colorful magnetic tiles for ages 3 and up help develop a host of skills including: fine motor abilities; shape, color and pattern identification; counting; engineering; creativity; and problem solving.
Older students will enjoy the complexity of building with K’nex construction toys. K’nex’s rod and connector building system can be pieced together to form a wide variety of models, machines, and architectural structures. K’nex offers some awe-inspiring building kits such as the London Eye, the Eiffel Tower, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The holidays afford shoppers an opportunity to score a great deal on many of these STEM-inspired educational gifts. Look for these and many other gift ideas in this handy guide, 2021 Kids Black Friday Deals on STEM & Education. Any one of these awesome gifts is sure to put a smile on your child’s face and inspire their scientific curiosity and learning, all while adding value to their STEM experience, a true homeschool holiday win.