10 Best Science Toys in 2018

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STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills are important in children of all ages. They help them to develop the cognitive abilities they need to understand the world around them and foster an early appreciation for the subjects that will improve their knowledge in the future. If you are buying a gift for a child, scientific gifts can be a great option. They allow kids to build their STEM skills in a fun environment, making it much more likely that they will retain the information they are learning.

Thanks to modern advancements there is now a bigger range of science toys than ever. From experiment sets and microscopes to robots and puzzles, their choice is endless and finding the right gift can be a bit of a challenge. First and foremost you should make sure the item is safe for kids and will be long-lasting. It should also come with some great educational value and be fun for them to use.

best overall rating
  • Great introductory set
  • Good variety of activities
  • Amazon’s Choice
premium choice rating
  • Classic science toy
  • Good zoom range
  • A wide range of activities
great value rating
  • Creates fascinating crystals
  • Trusted brand
  • Approved by University of Cambridge

We consulted experts, bloggers and customer reviews to bring you this list of the top 10 science gifts for children that you can buy online right now. We’ve also used this information to compile a short guide to the questions you should ask yourself before making a purchase.

View the Best Science Toys for kids, Below.

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1. Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

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As the name would suggest, this kit is a great introduction to the world of science for young kids. Recommended for kids from 6 years and up, excellent reviews mean this set has now been awarded Amazon’s Choice for toys for 6-year-old boys. It comes with twenty pieces to create a variety of experiments for kids to learn more about science. This set is very budget friendly and is ideal for gifting.

Experiments include classics like erupting a volcano and growing crystals. These give kids a good, fun way to learn more about the science behind how our world works. There are 11 different activities in total, and though it does require some extra items most of these can be found around the house. Customer reviews love the variety of experiments available in this kit and the quality of the learning materials.

Most of the materials will last for a couple of experiments so kids can repeat the ones they really enjoy to get a better understanding of what is going on. All of the components can be safely sent through the mail if required.

See more information on Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit.

Why We Like It
  • Great introductory set
  • Good variety of activities
  • Amazon’s Choice
Recommended Age
6 years and up
Battery Operated
No
Dimensions
14 x 11 x 2.8 Inches
Editor Rating
premium choice rating

2. Educational Insights Nancy B’s Microscope

Educational Insights Nancy B's Microscope

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Microscope s are a classic science tool for children and this one will have them investigating all of the small flakes and critters they find around the place. It functions as both a light microscope and a dissecting microscope, so kids also get to learn about the interaction between objects and light. The microscope zooms from 30x to 400x giving a good range of options. The kit comes with the microscope, 26 pieces of small scientific tools, and an activity booklet.

The microscope for kids has a rubber eye cap for maximum comfort during use, and a focus knob to help kids get as clear a view as possible. The activity book is created to engage a variety of skills in kids, from STEM activities to creativity and imagination skills. The lights do require 3 AAA batteries, so you should attach a set if you are giving this as a gift.

It is recommended for kids 3 years and up, and we suggest adult supervision for younger children. It is made out of plastic which is very durable and minimizes the risk of bumps influencing the magnifier. You can buy extra slides for a very reasonable price if the kid runs out.

See more information on Educational Insights Nancy B’s Microscope.

Why We Like It
  • Classic science toy
  • Good zoom range
  • A wide range of activities
Recommended Age
8 years and up
Battery Operated
3 AAA Batteries Required
Dimensions
8.8 x 9.2 x 4.2 Inches
Editor Rating
great value rating

3. 4M Crystal Growing Experiment

4M Crystal Growing Experiment

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Crystals can be fascinating for kids thanks to their shininess and bright colors. This kit allows kids to grow their very own crystals and learn all about how they are formed. The kit has enough materials in it for kids to try out seven different experiments, and really get a deep understanding of the science behind the crystals they are growing. Display cases are also included so kids can show off their creations once the experiments have ended.

Though this engages a number of STEM skills, it is particularly great at helping kids understand basic geology. It is recommended for kids from 10 years old and up. It was one of the selections made at the University of Cambridge Science Festival, and the instructions are very in depth. 4M is a trusted brand for science toys and they specialize in using fun to help kids learn about complex scientific concepts.

This is Amazon’s Choice for crystal growing kits for kids thanks to the immense quality of the materials and educational information. It is also very budget friendly and great for gifts at any time of year.

See more information on 4M Crystal Growing Experiment.

Why We Like It
  • Creates fascinating crystals
  • Trusted brand
  • Approved by University of Cambridge
Recommended Age
10 years and up
Battery Operated
No
Dimensions
8.5 x 9.5 x 3.2 Inches
Editor Rating

4. Mini Explorer Light-up Terrarium Kit

Mini Explorer Light-up Terrarium Kit

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Terrariums are like miniature gardens that can be tended to and developed. This set is designed specifically for kids to be able to use and will help them learn all about basic plant biology. It also gives kids with issues focussing a long-term project to work on, helping to build their patients. The lid has a small LED light inside so they can light up their garden at night and admire their work. The LED lamp can be recharged via USB so no need for batteries.

The kit includes the terrarium jar and lid, soil, sand, rocks, wheatgrass, chia seeds, and small miniature toys. The instruction book allows kids to grow the wheatgrass as their first project, however, they can also add to it with other plant seeds. The kit is recommended for kids from 6 years old and up, so is great for fostering an early interest in how the world around us operates.

The plants will eventually overgrow the container so they will need to either maintain it or start with new seeds. Plants will begin to sprout by the end of the first week and will be fully grown within a month and a half.

See more information on Mini Explorer Light-up Terrarium Kit.

Why We Like It
  • Learn about plant biology
  • Long term project
  • No batteries required
Recommended Age
6 years and up
Battery Operated
1 Lithium Metal Batteries Required
Dimensions
7 x 4.5 x 7 Inches
Editor Rating

5. Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions

Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions

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LEGO kits are already a good way to build STEM skills, but this kit takes it one step further to give kids a more in-depth understanding of science. Awarded Amazon’s Choice for gifts for 8-year-old boys, this set allows kids to build up to 10 different functioning machines to learn about engineering and how all the components work together.

It won the silver award at NAPPA, who provide awards for great STEM toys. It comes with a full instruction manual, 33 LEGO pieces, plastic balls and plenty of other components necessary to build the machines. It is recommended for kids eight years old and up. The instructions are very well written so that they are easy for children to understand.

Customer reviews absolutely adore this kit, however, they do suggest you will need some extra LEGO pieces for some of the projects - although most of them work fine with everything that is included in this set. It is, like all great LEGO kits, fully compatible with other products in the LEGO range, so kids can easily use their imaginations to come up with their own machines.

See more information on Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions.

Why We Like It
  • Trusted brand
  • Amazon’s Choice
  • Award-winning toy
Recommended Age
7 years and up
Battery Operated
No
Dimensions
9 x 1.2 x 10 Inches
Editor Rating

6. Be Amazing Toys Big Bag Of Science

Be Amazing Toys Big Bag Of Science

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Awarded Amazon’s Choice for science experiments for kids 9-12, this is a great bumper science kit for older children. It has enough materials inside the bag for more than 70 different activities, and the instruction booklet is very clear and easy for kids to understand. These experiments require a little less adult supervision than other science kits, though we do recommend their parents skim through the instructions to see if they think they should assist.

The kit has experiments from a range of sciences - from biology to physics, from rocks to the weather. This helps to give the kids using the set a broad knowledge of the scientific principles that influence their life and the world around them. It is a very well priced product for the number of experiments included and would be a great gift for birthdays or at Christmas.

For full use of the kit, there are an additional 33 items required however the vast majority of these are inexpensive and can easily be found around most households. If you are giving as a gift, you can check this list with the parents to make sure at least some of the experiments can be tried out from day one. This is recommended for kids over the age of eight years old.

See more information on Be Amazing Toys Big Bag Of Science.

Why We Like It
  • Bumper set
  • Easy to use instructions
  • Good variety of experiments
Recommended Age
8 years and up
Battery Operated
No
Dimensions
13 x 3.6 x 12.8 Inches
Editor Rating

7. ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run

ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run

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The Gravity Maze is a unique logic puzzle using 3D blocks and a board. It can be played individually as well as competitively with friends and family. This not only builds their STEM skills but also their interpersonal skills and sportsmanship. A set of problem cards are included, which kids must solve using the 3D blocks and included marbles. It is recommended for kids 8 years old and over. The set includes 60 different challenge cards, a game grid, 9 towers, 3 marbles, and a target piece.

It is designed to help kids expand their critical thinking skills, and is a great toy for STEM development. It has won numerous awards including Toy of the Year from the Toy Industry Association and the Parents’ Choice Gold Award. It has also been selected as Amazon’s Choice for games for kids from 8-12 years old.

Due to the small marble pieces, it really should only be used within the recommended age range. The other components are made with child-safe plastics that are non-toxic to humans. It is quite lightweight and can be easily stored and taken on family trips to keep them entertained.

See more information on ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run.

Why We Like It
  • Can be played solo or with friends
  • Award-winning
  • Safe and durable
Recommended Age
8 years and up
Battery Operated
No
Dimensions
9.4 x 3 x 10.5 Inches
Editor Rating

8. Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Microscope

Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Microscope

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Unlike the Nancy B Microscope , this one is specifically designed for very young children to use and is incredibly safe and durable. The bulky eyepieces, chunky design, and easy zoom mechanism make it great for even toddlers to use and foster an early appreciation for and understanding of science. It operates as a dissecting microscope, and slides are not required as it can easily magnify 3D objects as well as flat objects.

It is not as powerful as other microscopes, as it is just a basic set for young children. It will magnify up to 8x the size. It has won multiple awards including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal, and a Parents’ Choice Silver Award. It is also the number one best-selling kid's microscope on Amazon, with great reviews to go along with it.

It requires 3 AAA batteries which are not included so you should purchase a pair of these if giving as a gift. It is suitable for kids from one and a half years to six years old. The double eyepiece means kids will not have to close their eyes to use it, making it more comfortable and convenient for such young children.

See more information on Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Microscope.

Why We Like It
  • Great for toddlers and young kids
  • Award-winning
  • Best-seller
Recommended Age
3 years and up
Battery Operated
4 C Batteries Required
Dimensions
10 x 7.5 x 6 Inches
Editor Rating

9. Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100

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Snap circuits are a fun and safe way for kids to learn all about electronics that are approved not only by parents but by teachers and educational establishments. This kit comes with the parts necessary to build over 100 different electrical circuits, and works in a way that is safe for kids and minimizes all risks. Kids simply snap the components into place on the board and switch them on when necessary.

Projects include building a photosensor, setting up an alarm and connecting lights. Projects vary in complexity and a handy instruction booklet guides kids through all projects from the easiest to the most time consuming, helping them to grow their skills and understanding at a natural pace. No tools are required, however, it will require a pack of AA batteries to get started.

This set has won multiple awards including The National Parenting Centre Seal of Approval and Dr. Toy’s Best Educational Products. There are thousands of excellent customer reviews, all praising the educational value and sturdiness of the set, as well as the quality of the instruction guide for teaching kids about electronics.

See more information on Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100.

Why We Like It
  • Easy to use
  • Award-winning
  • Great reviews
Recommended Age
5 years and up
Battery Operated
2 AA Batteries Required
Dimensions
10 x 2 x 15 Inches
Editor Rating

10. Learning Resources Science Lab Set

Learning Resources Science Lab Set

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This basic science lab activity set is perfect for younger children and is recommended for kids from as young as four years old and over. The instruction booklet teaches kids the names of all the science tools used and goes through some of the simple experiments which will have them learning all about various scientific concepts in a fun and age-appropriate manner.

The set includes beakers, magnifying glass, funnels, eyedroppers, a flask, tweezers, safety goggles, test tubes and ten different activity cards with clear instructions. The pieces are all specifically designed to be easy to use for small hands. We do recommend adult supervision with very young children. It has won multiple awards thanks to the simplicity and attention to the needs of young children when learning about science.

It is very much an introductory set so kids who are used to basic scientific experiments may be better served with a more advanced kit. Nevertheless, customer reviews love how easy it is to use and how well it gets young children engaged in science.

See more information on Learning Resources Science Lab Set.

Why We Like It
  • Great for young kids
  • Designed for small hands
  • Award-winning
Recommended Age
4 years and up
Battery Operated
No
Dimensions
10.2 x 4.8 x 13.8 Inches
Editor Rating

Buyer’s Guide

Is it age Appropriate?

Different science toys are appropriate for different ages and you should be sure to double check this before making a purchase. The recommended age group will usually be in the information given in the seller’s description, but always double check reviews as these will give you more accurate information about what ages enjoy what gives.

Keep in mind that you should always aim for a toy which is suitably challenging and entertaining. A gift that is recommended for a 5-10-year-old might not be as enjoyable for the ten-year-old as it is for the five-year-old – who might find it too challenging. Always aim to have the ideal age being somewhere in the middle of the recommended age range for the gift you are purchasing.

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Certain science kits are recommended for a wide age range – and it is true that most of these can be enjoyed by kids from as young as four to as old as 12, but you should be aware that younger children will require adult supervision with these kits. If they have very busy parents, it might be a long time before they actually get to enjoy the gift.

Is it safe, and will it last Long?

All of the kits on this list are safe for children, but some of them will run out after a couple of uses. If you are buying one of the experiment kits you should aim for one that comes with a lot of different experiments so it lasts longer, as most of the components are disposable after the first use. For the more permanent items, like the microscopes and science games, you want to make sure they are made out of high-quality materials.

Plastics should be non-toxic, and metal items should be designed so they have no sharp edges. Reading customer reviews will give you a good idea of the durability too, as most customers will write some sort of complaint if it fell apart too quickly.  In terms of safety, kits that are made in the US, Canada, and EU are usually made under strict manufacturing standards.

Most of the toys made elsewhere, but still sold in the US, will also be fine but you should definitely double check the reviews for these items to make sure.

What is the Educational Value?

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills are important for children to grasp, and at this stage in life, it is good for them to get a wide variety of these skills. Experiment kits are the best at giving a broad range of skills as they usually come with the items required for a variety of experiments across different disciplines. Other toys may be more specific, and if you can it is best to try to get a toy that will enhance their development in an area that the other toys they have will not.

Construction based toys will develop engineering skills, and puzzles will develop their math and critical thinking abilities. For technology, it is best to try and find a toy that has been made quite recently so it is up to date with modern standards. Robotics toys are great for this as they teach about programming and basic computing skills.

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Any sets which come with instructions should also have an explanation of how the science behind them works. Simply doing the experiment can be fun, but for them to gain true educational value from it, they should also be learning about what the experiment is showing them and the steps to getting there.

Conclusion

Science toys are a great way to foster an early interest in STEM subjects in children and come in a wide variety of styles. From experiment kits to robots, each set will encourage a different set of skills in children and truly enrich their educational development and make learning much more fun. Safety and durability are of course the most important factors, but you also want to make sure the toys are fun.

The more fun they are, the more likely kids will be to want to keep playing with them and to learn something from them. When you check customer reviews for the other factors, also keep note of the toys which consistently have reviews praising how well they keep children entertained. These are the best toys to get for kids.

Expert Tip

Scientific toys often win multiple awards in a variety of categories so you can check these out to see which toys have been classified by experts as having great educational and fun value. The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio and Parents’ Choice awards are some of the best ones to keep a lookout for.