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The 30 Best STEM Toys for Kids, According to the Scientists at the Good Housekeeping Institute

Get them coding, building and mixing up concoctions in your at-home science lab.

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Science toys have come a long way since the old home chemistry set you used to have as a kid. Today's hot toys that focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) have kids coding before they enter preschool, constructing elaborate scenes, making their own room decor and even building their own robots. And since everyone is looking to build up their STEM skills, it's a sure bet that educational toys are a welcome addition to any toy library.

But which ones? The Good Housekeeping Institute Little Lab put its own scientists on the case, evaluating STEM toys for quality, ease of use and whether or not kids engage with the concepts behind them. Then, more important testers — kids themselves — made sure they were fun, since no one's learning anything from a toy that sits in a closet. We put their recommendations together with some editors' picks and bestsellers to make this list of the best STEM toys of 2021. There are the usual microscopes and experiment kits, but also (programmable) magic wands, cool kits that blend science and art and lots and lots of coding robots. Your budding scientist won't know what to play with first!

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Good Housekeeping Toy Award Winner
100 Animals Book
LeapFrog
LeapFrog amazon.com
$19.99

Kids learn animal names, sounds and fun facts through this book, which talks and plays songs. In our testing, parents appreciated the illustrations (and the break it gave them from making animal noises). Ages 2+

RELATED: The 2020 Good Housekeeping Best Toy Awards

Numberblocks MathLink Cubes
hand2mind
hand2mind amazon.com
$24.99

The "M" in STEM often gets overlooked, but this activity kit brings math into the spotlight, and will delight any fan of Netflix's Numberblocks. Kids can use the linking counting cubes to re-create their favorite characters, and wipe-clean cards give them ideas for math-based puzzles and activities. Ages 3+

GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope
Educational Insights
Educational Insights amazon.com
$49.99
$33.82 (32% off)

This interactive toy is all about science — magnifying animals, plants and household items times five — and with 100 facts and quizzes and more than 60 colorful slides (all of which go in built-in storage containers). The voice of Bindi Iriwin narrates the facts. Ages 5+

RELATED: The Best Educational Toys, According to Experts, Parents, and Real Kids

Artie Max
Educational Insights
Educational Insights amazon.com
$99.99

Kids can program Artie to draw different designs, and Artie will bring those creations to life on paper. With this new-for-2021 iteration of the bot, kids can code Artie in Blockly, Snap!, JavaScript, Python and C++  or they can use easy-to-decipher pre-programmed codes in Artie's own UI. Ages 8+

GeoSmart Mars Explorer
Geosmart
GeoSmart amazon.com
$69.99

Budding engineers use magnetic pieces to build a one-of-a-kind exploring vehicle in this set, building skills in engineering concepts as they learn the construction of each moving vehicle. It comes with how-tos for four designs, but kids in our testing preferred dreaming up their own creations. Ages 5+

Looking to do more hands-on science at home?
Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping amazon.com
$22.00
$15.76 (28% off)

Check out this book! Budding scientists will thrill to the 83 hands-on experiments included here, which are led by the scientists from the Good Housekeeping Institute. The book goes from room to room through a house and explains the scientific concepts behind the phenomena you might find there, like why bathroom mirrors get foggy or what makes sweaty sneakers so stinky. Then, the experiments let them dive deeper into the concepts. Ages 7+

RELATED: Easy Science Experiments for Kids You Can Do at Home With Everyday Items

Paper Butterfly Science Kit
Crayola
Crayola amazon.com
$22.99

A set that's half-art, half-science, the Paper Butterfly Kit uses the power of capillary action to make 12 wicking-paper butterflies. Kids can also combine colors to make different designs. Ages 7+

Fun STEM Toy for Preschoolers
Design & Drill See-Through Creative Workshop
Educational Insights
Educational Insights amazon.com
$39.99
$27.95 (30% off)

Using the included real working drill, screwdriver and combination wrench, builders can learn all about different drill bits and construction as they practice fine motor skills. It comes with 10 activity cards to help inspire design ideas, or they can build their own. Fans can then introduce some imaginative play into the mix with the Design & Drill Bolt Buddies. Ages 3+

Creativity for Kids Sunflower Garden
Creativity for Kids
Creativity for Kids walmart.com
$14.55

Grow a sunflower like a scientist! This kit comes with everything you need to grow sunflowers (including a pot kids can decorate with paint and stickers), along with a notebook they can use to keep track of the growing process with stats and sketches. The kit comes with lots of seeds, so they can do it over and over again. Ages 6+

Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit
littleBits
littleBits walmart.com
$65.75

In our testing, kids loved building their droid as much as they got into driving it. It includes electronic blocks and the special 9V battery it requires to come to life. Young inventors will learn all about circuits as they construct this toy, and can even add or remove parts to form their own creation, practicing creativity and engineering. Ages 8+

Stegosaurus 3-D Puzzle
Studio Roof
Studio Roof kidochicago.com
$12.00

Any soon-to-be paleontologist out there will thrill to have this on their bedroom shelf, and putting it together will help their logical and spatial reasoning skills. It's made of recycled cardboard and printed with vegetable inks. Ages 3+

Fun Coding Toy for Preschoolers
Code 'n Learn Kinderbot
Fisher-Price
Fisher-Price walmart.com
$85.91

Kids will have so much fun controlling their new friend’s movements with easy-to-press buttons that they’ll have no idea they’re practicing colors, letters and early math! There's even a "secret code" mode for older kids. Ages 3+

Dash Coding Robot
Wonder Workshop
Wonder Workshop blacktoystore.com
$149.95

On its own, Dash is a pretty fun robotic toy, and it responds to voice commands right out of the box. But things really get interesting when you use it with one of its five apps, and kids can program it to do things like sing, draw and move around in specific patterns. Ages 8+

Magnetic Human Body Anatomy
Melissa & Doug
Melissa & Doug amazon.com
$10.99

Introduce little ones to anatomy with this magnetic playset. Great for sparking interest in science, it lets kids mix and match the 24 included pieces to learn about different systems in the body. Ages 3+

Roller Coaster Challenge
Sphero
ThinkFun amazon.com
$31.56
$26.32 (17% off)

Bring STEM learning to game night with this roller coaster game that transforms kids into roller coaster engineers. Players design a 3-D adventure ride with real loops and drops based on the challenge card they draw. Then, they send the car speeding down and hope for success. It comes with 40 challenge cards ranging from beginner to expert, and while it's meant to be a single player game, it can be more fun working in teams to solve the challenges. Ages 6+

Boost Creative Toolbox
LEGO
LEGO blacktoystore.com
$219.00

You'll want to designate a special storage area for this 840-piece mega set. Using the free LEGO Boost app, your child can customize Vernie the robot in one of five different ways and use encoded monitors and tilt sensors to make him do special tricks — perfect for learning coding and robotics. Ages 7+

Best Coding Toy for Tweens
Sphero Mini
Sphero
Sphero amazon.com
$49.99

This mini toy packs a lot of fun while introducing kids to the world of coding. Available in lots of colors, kids use the Sphero app to learn how to program games. When they aren't coding, it can be driven around using the app based remote, implementing fun technology like facial recognition as they play. Ages 8+

Best Coding Toy for Preschoolers
Coding Critters
Learning Resources
Learning Resources amazon.com
$29.49

Kids can learn screen-free coding and get the critter to do things like fetch or play hide-and-seek. There's also an interactive mode where kids can just play and take care of their pets without coding. Ages 4+

Creatto
Thames & Kosmos
Thames & Kosmos amazon.com
$9.95

It takes some effort to master these kits, but once kids do, they can use plastic tiles threaded with LED wires to make light-up creations. There are lots of kits to choose from, and each kit makes multiple projects. When they're done, kids can display them in their room as light-up decor. Ages 6+

Gravity Maze
ThinkFun
Think Fun amazon.com
$29.99
$24.70 (18% off)

Kids will have to flex their building, spatial reasoning and critical thinking muscles to solve the 60 challenges that come with this marble run. Or, they can just free-play and build cool marble tracks. Ages 8+

Bill Nye's VR Science Kit
Abacus Brands
Abacus Brands amazon.com
$49.99

Little scientists don VR goggles for experiments in virtual and augmented reality. Each kit comes with step-by-step videos — starring STEM legend Bill Nye! — along with IRL lab equipment like beakers and brushes. It's the perfect mix of high-tech and hands-on. Ages 8+

RELATED: The Best Sensory Toys for Exploring Different Textures, Sights, and Sounds

Magna-Tiles
Magna-tiles
Magna-Tiles amazon.com
$49.99

Kids can dream up their own creations with these magnetic tiles that make construction (and deconstruction) a breeze. They're a great introduction to educational topics like shapes, principles of magnets, symmetry and spacial reasoning. If you have a magna-tiles super fan, you can opt for a larger set or even glow in the dark tiles. Ages 3+

Harry Potter Coding Kit
Kano
Kano walmart.com
$67.49

This kit will have Harry Potter fans feel like they're performing their own magic as they build, use and modify code. Using a tablet, they'll feel like they're learning spells at Hogwarts as they wave their wand and build spells (with coding) to make make feathers float and pumpkins grow. It also has lots of free-play options for continued play, and if Harry Potter isn't their favorite, you can try coding kits for Frozen or Star Wars. Ages 6+

Ooze Labs: Soap & Bath Bomb Lab
Thames & Kosmos
Thames & Kosmos amazon.com
$29.95
$24.95 (17% off)

It's STEM meets beauty: With this kit, kids take on the role of a chemist for a bath and body products company, exploring ideas like pH levels and the biology of skin. Our testers loved making their own bath bombs. Ages 6+

Botley the Coding Robot
Learning Resources
Learning Resources blacktoystore.com
$49.27

No phone or tablet required to practice coding with Botley! In our testing, kids took to this coding robot immediately, without even realizing they were learning coding logic. With this version, kids can program Botley to do a sequence of up to 80 steps — with 40 more to discover — to complete coding challenges. Ages 5+

Good Housekeeping Toy Award Winner
Dimpl Digits
Fat Brain Toys
Fat Brain Toys amazon.com
$19.95

Who says the teeniest kids can't get into STEM? This toy offers a head start on numbers and colors. Each petal has a bubble that gives a satisfying pop when it's pushed in, like those trendy pop fidget toys. On one side, the petals are numbered 1 to 10, with each of the numbers written out as well. On the flip side, the numbers are in Spanish, and there are raised dots that represent each number. Ages 1+

Color Chemistry Set
Crayola
Crayola walmart.com
$24.76

Mini chemists can perform 16 experiments in this science kit, learning about chemistry while erupting volcanos and making tiny tornados. The instructions are easy for adults to guide kids through the activities (you'll want to have adult supervision while playing). Good to know: It can get messy fast, so be prepared. Ages 7+

Genius Kit for iPad
Osmo
Osmo blacktoystore.com
$99.99

Bringing screen time into the real world, this kit works with an iPad uses letter, number and shape tiles that kids can use in conjunction with tablet games. They can play tangram puzzles, build words, practice math, solve physics problems and make art. And, for little ones, there's also a "Little Genius" version for kids ages 3 – 5. Ages 6+

Learn to Build Super Set
Plus Plus
Plus Plus amazon.com
$59.99

These interlocking bricks can be combined in tons of ways to make different creations, and these super-sets offer opportunity for open-ended building and step-by-step guides for different projects. You can go for a basic set, or choose a theme like jewelry or sports. Ages 5+

Cute STEM Toy for Babies
Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank
Fisher-Price
Fisher-Price amazon.com
$14.99
$13.49 (10% off)

Practice counting by putting the 10 colorful coins inside this piggy's belly. It'll count along with more than 40 tunes and phrases. Ages 6 months+

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