The 10 Best Science Toys

Updated December 28, 2017 by Johnny Woodard

10 Best Science Toys
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We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. If you're worried about all the latest electronic gadgets dulling your little one's brains, give your child the best of both worlds with a mentally stimulating science toy. They'll think they're only having fun with one of these age appropriate kits, but you'll know they're also learning. Our selection includes a few classic choices, as well as some cutting edge options, so you can't go wrong. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best science toy on Amazon.

10. The Magic School Bus

Embark on a wild ride with The Magic School Bus and explore the field of chemistry, with 51 colorful experiment cards and a data notebook. Projects can be completed in one day, and frequently only require simple household items, like pepper, foil, and water.
  • teaches basic measurement skills
  • detailed task instructions
  • smaller elements easily lost
Brand The Magic School Bus
Model WH-925-1142
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Thames & Kosmos Crystal Growing Kit

The Thames & Kosmos Crystal Growing Kit is similar to the experiment many of us are familiar with from our childhoods. This will keep your kids busy for weeks and, more importantly, it also teaches them the scientific principles involved with the process.
  • teaches structure and geometry
  • up-to-date manual included
  • requires preparation and supervision
Brand Thames & Kosmos
Model 643522
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Thames & Kosmos DLX

Future engineers will love the Thames & Kosmos DLX. This kit allows the user to build 20 of their own complex motorized vehicles and machines. Players can control three motors at once, making for a creative and challenging array of possibilities.
  • not limited to models in guide
  • wireless remote control
  • might not interest younger children
Brand Thames & Kosmos
Model THA-085
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. 4D Vision Great White Shark

The intricately detailed and hand-painted 4D Vision Great White Shark is a fascinating model that contains 20 detachable organs and body parts. It also comes with a quality platform, making it a great choice for classroom display.
  • fun to reassemble
  • perfect for learning anatomy
  • won't stand up to aggressive play
Brand Fame Master
Model 26111
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Learning Resources Super Magnet Lab

Children will learn about magnetism in a whole new way with the Learning Resources Super Magnet Lab. The set teaches physics, vocabulary, and logic. Though it is worth nothing that it includes smaller pieces that won't be appropriate for preschool ages.
  • comes in a sturdy storage box
  • features group activities
  • improves fine motor skills
Brand Learning Resources
Model LER2064
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Klutz Chain Reactions Kit

The Klutz Chain Reactions Kit pairs the fun of Lego with a series of components that make building moving machines simple and educational. The included instructions are exceptionally clear, and the package boasts 10 complete modules.
  • projects vary in difficulty
  • ideal for older children
  • award winning set
Brand Klutz
Model 9780545703307
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Laser Pegs Space Fighter

The Laser Pegs Space Fighter inspires young engineers and thinkers to imagine a future they can design, while still teaching the fundamentals of structural engineering. This classic building toy can even be used in conjunction with Lego and K'nex.
  • numerous build variations
  • beautiful refracting light display
  • sound activated base
Brand Laser Pegs
Model G9030B
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Be Amazing Toys Science Kit

The award-winning Be Amazing Toys Science Kit allows kids to learn cool facts about life science, physical science, and Earth science through its more than 70 engaging activities. All items are included in an easy-to-carry zippered bag, making show-and-tell a breeze.
  • guide contains useful photos
  • great for science fair projects
  • powders and beads are safely sealed
Brand Unknown
Model 4120
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. My First Lab Duo-Scope

Discovery awaits young scientists using the authentic My First Lab Duo-Scope, which will function as both a compound microscope and dissecting stereo microscope. Images are magnified in amazing detail using real optical glass lenses.
  • impact-resistant frame
  • includes five blank slides
  • extensive accessory kit
Brand My First Lab
Model MFL-06
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Elenco Snap Circuits

Give your child a hands-on introduction to electronics with the acclaimed Elenco Snap Circuits, featuring over 60 snap-together pieces that can create more than 300 exciting projects. With this kit it's possible to build a number of devices, including a radio or doorbell.
  • lessons are widely applicable
  • clear and concise manual
  • parts are securely mounted on module
Brand Elenco
Model SC-300B
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Reaching The Minds Of Young Scientists

Relevance is a tough thing to impart in the sciences when you’re trying to relate to the specific interests of a group as diversified as a public high school classroom. What appeals to one kid in the room might not matter to anyone else, and as class sizes appear to be steadily on the rise in public schools, finding ways to engage with the group as a whole tends only to water down the depth of meaning for the young minds in question.

Now, more than ever, it’s vital that we find ways to get our kids interested in math and science fields. Regardless of your political beliefs or interest in climate change, the fact remains that mathematic and scientific exploration of our environment and universe is a cornerstone of the successful 21st century economy. The fewer children we see graduating into these fields, the worse our economy will perform in years to come.

So, if our public schools aren’t in a position to engage our young students in STEM programs, it falls to parents to find ways to inspire their children to find a personal connection to the field. One of the best ways that you can help instill an interest in the sciences in a child is to equip them with a science toy that they will love.

When I was little, that meant a microscope set complete with slides, various tools, and a slew of chemicals that were safe for kids to play with. I could watch a variety of chemical reactions under the lens of a microscope, perform dissections, and keep detailed notes of my observations.

There are science toys available today that appeal to more than just the budding biologist, however. You can find toys designed to unlock the mysteries of magnetism and electricity, to engage the architectural mind of a young builder, and to provide your kids with hours of educational fun along the way.

Natural Selection: Choosing The Right Science Toy

While a great science toy can open up a child to a world of wonder as well as a potentially lucrative and rewarding career, the wrong science toy may begin to build up the kinds of divisions among the sciences that plague even the adult scientific community. There’s a good chance that any animosity between an astrophysicist and a marine biologist started long before either set foot on a college campus. If a good student of the sciences remains open to the interconnectedness of all scientific inquiry, he or she will have a much wider view of the possibilities of their own specific field.

Imagine, for example, that your child has a group of friends all of whom are deeply interested in electricity. They take apart old radios and trace the lines of their circuits until they’ve developed a deeper understanding of the machines than you might have. Now, imagine that you get that child an anatomical model of the human body as a gift, and that, despite her desire to play with it, her friends make fun of it (ignorant as they might be to the electrical impulses that power the heart). In that moment, a bias is born in your young scientist’s mind against the science of people and toward the science of things.

The key here is to put your ear against the railroad tracks for a day or two (please, don’t literally do this) to get a sense of what the child for whom you’re shopping is into. Try to find something in that wheelhouse, or at least something close to it. The budding electrical engineer mentioned above might have had better success receiving a chemistry set, as she might have involved different chemicals in her and her friends’ electrical experiments. A tiny bit of attention and critical thinking should do the trick.

A Brief History Of Educational Toys

The earliest known toys, found in the ruins and histories of cultures from North Africa, Greece, and Rome, were almost all dolls of one kind or another. In many ways, these dolls likely served an educational means by which a child could learn about their body, the bodies of others, and how to care for a young infant child. Later toys in these and other regions also served educational purposes, as these took the form of rudimentary weapons including toy bows and arrows and toy spears. With these early tools in hand, children could learn how to hunt and protect themselves and the members of their community.

Even as toys evolved with the times, they were rarely manufactured outside the home, with the notable exception of dolls and military figurines made for wealthy children. Here we can also see the same impetus behind the toys of early civilization; wealthy young girls were given ornate dolls to develop maternal features, and rich young boys were given the opportunity to command a mock military battalion, should they one day have control over an actual group of soldiers.

As early as the late 17th century, educational philosopher John Locke posited that blocks with letters on them could enhance a child’s study of his or her letters, providing a source of fun while also accelerating learning. These blocks, and jigsaw puzzle maps for geography, were soon available in niche shops around Western Europe.

Germany saw the next wave of educational toys aimed at increasing a child’s spacial and tactile awareness. These were the famous Froebel’s Gifts, which included a wide array of colored and unpainted shapes of varying sizes that could line up and interact on a series of wooden dowels.

Similar sets cropped up over the course of the next 150 years, with the advent of plastics providing a canvass upon which toymakers could create the modern incarnations of these early educational toys.

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Last updated on December 28, 2017 by Johnny Woodard

Johnny Woodard fled the sweltering South and a career in journalism to pursue comedy and edit a popular comedy/sports website in Los Angeles.

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