We review and research STEM products that promise to help kids learn to be critical, creative, and coding-enabled. This includes toys, apps, and beyond.
Our mission is to help you spend your money wisely when it comes to all these possible products. We buy or borrow these products, test them out with real, live kids, and evaluate them for the quality of their experience and learning outcomes.
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Check out our product reviews and comparisons below -- and let us know if there are other ones that you'd like to know about before buying yourself.
|What does it offer?||How much does it cost?||What’s the verdict: is this a good STEM toy?|
|The Sakkaro Geometry Toy||
An early learning toy for 2-5 year olds, that helps them make shapes, experiment with building structures, with creative and interlocking shapes.
|It costs $24.99 for a 15 piece set as of Dec. 2017 (buy here at Amazon)||7/10 for little ones : its unique shapes that nest and combine make for more experimentation than your average building blocks, but with a small number of pieces for the price, it is not a must have|
|Skoolzy Straw Structures Kit||
Skoolzy Straw Structures Kit for parents of 4 year olds and up. It is a great engineering and design toy, to get creative, to try different strategies, and to feel a real payoff for the hard work in creating structures out of straws.
|It costs $37.99 for a set of 400 Piece Straws and Wheels Connector pieces (buy here at Amazon)||7/10 for little ones :This toy allows younger kids to benefit from sorting, patterning, and sequencing the colors to learn computational thinking concepts and practices.Older kids will learn more about design and computational thinking, as they try to figure out how best to create the structure they have in their brain — or how to experiment to see what’s possible.|
|Emido Building Block Toys||
A STEM toy for young kids, this set of colored interlocking bubble-network shapes allow toddlers through Pre-K kids to make new shapes and connections — taking the building block idea and expanding it to allow more ingenious constructions.
|It costs $16 for a set of 120 pieces (buy here at Amazon)||9/10 for little ones : the toys allow for organic and unexpected building, so there is more of a challenge for you and your kids to get to the shape that you are thinking of — and it also allows for more inspiration as you build. This is a tool for creativity and construction — to encourage more experimentation and thoughtful play!|
|Gears! Gears! Gears! Building Set||
A STEM toy for parents of 4 year olds and up. It’s a huge set of interlocking gears, for your little ones to craft into huge, interactive, moving creations.
|It costs $34.99 for a set of 150 pieces (buy here at Amazon)||6.5/10 for little ones : The toy is fun and lively, and great for experiments. We were ambitious and tried with our 2 year old — but we’ve concluded the real educational STEM value is only for 4 and up. As a parent, it is fun to get a long chain of gears going and watching them all spin together — but that doesn’t quite hold 3 and younger kids’ attention for very long time. Watching older kids play with it, though, it seems much more effective.|
The Dash Robot is easy to understand for ages 5 or 6 on up. It’s fun and engaging, as your little one can take it apart, figure out cool ways to reassemble it, and then make it do different things.
|It costs $150 (buy here at Amazon)||7/10 for little ones : The Dash Robot introduces your kids to apply computational thinking and experimentation with programming –while also bolstering the skills of kids who are already somewhat experienced with programming. It’s fun and engaging, as your little one can take it apart, figure out cool ways to reassemble it, and then make it do different things.|
A STEM toy for parents of 3 year olds and up — though probably the full computational learning payoff won’t come until 5 and up.
|It costs $39.99 (buy here at Amazon)||8/10 for little ones :The toy is fun and lively, but only for 4 and up. Little toddlers like it for the lights, sound, and train-like travel around the floor — but they can’t figure out the commands or sequencing lessons we have been aiming for (or at least our toddler couldn’t!). Watching older kids play with it, though, it seems much more effective.|