If you are looking for STEM gift ideas this holiday season, here are six products that I have come across this past year that are bound to get kids excited about technology.
I sponsored the Party Lamp Kit by Brainy Yak Labs on Kickstarter because it was a STEAM-focused product that combined engineering and crafting. Kids create a working lamp that projects beautiful light patterns on the walls of their rooms. Assemble the housing, connect the simple electronics, and decorate with colorful, reusable ornaments, stickers, and dry-erase markers. The parts and decorations were very well made and the instructions and engineering explanations were useful and informative. My daughter loved making and decorating her lamp and it’s now proudly displayed in her bedroom. (Cost: $44.99)
Ara the Star Engineer is a delightful new picture book for young kids written by Komal Singh, a Program Manager in Engineering at Google and a mother of two. Komal wrote this book with assistance from fellow female Google engineers to inspire girls and children of color to explore STEM. I loved the book and the fact that women engineers were profiled and celebrated for their work. All profits from the book sales will be donated to charities encouraging girls’ and underrepresented groups’ participation in STEM fields. Komal also has free activity sheets on her website so kids can learn about algorithms, computers, and robotics. (Cost: $11.10)
I really like when you can work on a project and create a tangible product as a result. My daughter loves to ride her bike, so I thought the idea of building a bike light and being able to power it wirelessly was a very cool concept. The materials and instructions for this kit are great, and in the process of building the bike light, you will learn how wireless electricity works, use capacitors and led lights, and learn how simple components come together to capture electricity through the air. (Cost: $24.99)
The Build-It-All Starter Kit is an at-home electronics and circuitry kit I supported on Kickstarter this year. Circuit Lab, the creator of the kit, is based in Boston, MA and offers educational programs about electronics and computer programming to elementary and middle school children. The Build-It-All Starter Kit is Circuit Lab’s at-home learning kit based on their tried and tested electronics curriculum. The kit includes an Uno R3 microcontroller board and a variety of sensors and small circuitry components, 12 fun electronics projects with step-by-step video guidance, and access to their unique online visual coding platform called CodeLab. All the components are well labeled and the online tutorials are instructive. The company plans to add tutorials for projects like a touchpad keyboard and burglar alarm. (Cost: $70)
The maker of Modarri Cars sent me samples of their modular toy cars. My daughter’s eyes lit up when they arrived and she quickly started building them. These cars are sharp and very well made. They are easy to assemble, fully customizable, and zoom really well on the floor. Modarri Cars will appeal to kids who love to design and build things. (Cost: $24.99+)
As a long-time fan of littleBits’ electronics blocks, I have written about many of their products in the past. If you’re looking to try littleBits for the first time and your child likes STEAM projects, I thought this night light was a neat product and a great way to experiment with light. (Cost: $39.99)