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Wrapped up in Science:
Top 50 Science Toys for Mighty Girls

Posted on November 20, 2016 by Katherine

A Mighty Girl's top picks of science, math, and programming toys for curious Mighty Girls from toddlers to teens.

science-toys-blog-2016-webKids are full of curiosity about how the world works, so why not give them a gift that helps them explore it? With a high-quality science kit or toy, kids can incorporate the wonder of the everyday world into their play. In fact, it's amazing how much they can learn that way!

In this blog post, you'll find our favorite science, math, and programming toys and kits for curious kids of all ages. Whether you know a would-be star-gazer, a budding biologist, or an eager young robotics specialist, there are options here that will fascinate them. And who knows? Play alongside them and you might just learn something new too.

For more fun STEM-related toys and kits, visit our Science & Math Toy Collection. You can also discover many books about science-loving girls and women in our two blog posts: Ignite Her Curiosity: 25 Books Starring Science-Loving Mighty Girls and Science Is For Girls: 25 Books About Female Scientists

The Rules of the Universe: Chemistry, Physics, and Math

Do you remember how incredible it was to learn that certain principles of math, physics, and chemistry were behind all the complexity of the world around us? With these toys, kids can explore what the rules of the universe are and how they affect everything that we do.

Periodic Table Building Blocks

Most wooden blocks feature the A, B, Cs — but why not Au, Be, and Cu? This beautiful set of solid-wood blocks from Uncle Goose features all the elements of the periodic table, complete with symbol, name, and atomic number These ethically-made and eco-friendly blocks would be a hit with an adult chemistry fan, too!

Jungle Crew Lab Set

Get roaring into science with this set of real lab tools with a fun animal theme! Six pieces — including lion and cub test tubes and an elephant funnel — let kids experiment with real scientific principles using items they find in their kitchen or backyard. An included activity book provides plenty of inspiration! Kids will love the whimsical design of these tools, and they'll be thrilled that they're sized just for them.

Primary Science Set

Get the youngest scientists hands on with this set of real science tools perfectly sized for little hands! The set includes lab staples like a beaker, a flask, a large test tube with a stand, and a magnifying glass. It even comes with a set of goggles so you can teach lab safety from the beginning! Ten double-sided activity cards complete the set, ensuring that you can spark an interest in science from a young age.

Super Sorting Pie

This is a delicious way to teach early math skills. Place the sorting cards in the bottom of the pie to practice different ways to separate objects: color, shape, and number are all covered. There are 60 colorful fruit pieces to sort, 7 fruits in five different colors, and the top "crust" becomes a bowl to hold pieces while kids play. As an added bonus, the tweezers help develop fine motor skills.


These thoughtfully designed wooden blocks are a great way to introduce measurement and proportion! Each inchimal is a different size, from the 1" ladybug to the 12" giraffe. Using the blocks and the 100 write-on/wipe-off math puzzles, kids will explore counting, number value, and scale, as well as developing language, fine motor skills, and more. When math time is done, the colorful animals also make great pretend play toys. They're a colorful way to build excitement about numbers.

Mix and Measure Set

Now preschoolers and young school-aged kids can explore some of the foundations of chemistry with this set, which includes tools sized for smaller hands and experiments that are safe for younger chemists! As kids make puff paint, mystery goo, slime, and more, they'll also be learning about volume, weight, and fractions, as well as practical skills like accurate measurement.

My First Super Science Kit

Kids will love discovering the world of science with this kit from Be Amazing! Use the giant magnifier to examine the details of everyday objects; make a human circuit board with the Energy Stick; and even grow a giant crystal ball and then make it "disappear" in a bowl of water. The 75 experiments you can do with the supplies in this kit provide a wide range of intriguing science for kids to explore.

My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

Show off some flashy science with this fun and accessible kit! With this set, both adults and kids can learn about solutions, acids and bases, and more — and how you can use them to create truly impressive results. From a color-changing volcano to growing jiggly crystals, these experiments will truly blow your mind. The detailed instructions ensure that you don't need an extensive background in science to make the experiment work or to understand why they do.

Super Magnet Lab

When you think about it, magnetism is pretty amazing — and this kit provides plenty of opportunity to explore it first-hand! This 224-piece kit includes magnetic chips, metal ring magnets, mini metal horseshoe magnets, metal bar magnets, and much more. An included activity guide provides lots of ideas for exploring how these magnets works and what they can do.

Magic School Bus: Chemistry Lab

Jump on The Magic School Bus with Ms. Frizzle and the gang to learn about the basics of chemistry! Kids will use litmus paper to measure pH, make sticky ice, form a bouncy ball, plate copper, and much more. This bus-shaped kit packs a lot of learning into a small package: 51 experiment cards, some supplies, and a data notebook to record your observations. Seatbelts, everyone!

Magic Science for Wizards Only

The way that science works, it can sometimes seem like magic! In this kit, kids will test 11 different experiments with results that seem magical, but are actually based in the principles of chemistry. From color-changing spells to smoke from your fingers, these experiments are sure to delight kids. Plus, they get to customize their own "magic wand"! This kit is a great way to show kids that science is often stranger — and more magical — than fantasy.

Glow In The Dark Crystal Growing Kit

Enjoy a classic hands-on science experiment with a twist: these crystals glow in the dark! Follow the instructions to grow your own crystal using the included powder; then, compare it to a real fluorite specimen to see the similarities and differences. The included guide provides lots of interesting information about crystals and about natural rocks that glow in the dark.

Big Bag of Science

Start digging into the foundations of science with this kit from Be Amazing Toys. The kit lays out the three areas of science, physical, earth, and life, so in addition to teaching chemistry and physics, kids will also touch on concepts in biology, geology, and more. More than 70 unique and fun hands-on science activities will give kids a good sense of what the different ares of science explain and which sciences they find the most fascinating.

The Ultimate Secret Formula Lab

She'll feel like a real scientist with this great lab set from SmartLabs! Their unique valve and plunger system allows kids to measure, mix, and transport liquids, exploring chemistry, fluid dynamics, and pressure along the way. An included lab book provides over 40 experiments to try, including a CO2 Detector, Crystal Splinters, and the Amazing Breathing Marshmallow!

Physics Workshop

Everyone's heard of a chemistry set, but a set that teaches physics is far more rare. Fortunately, leading science kit maker Thames and Kosmos is on the case! This set begins with building simple machines, like a pulley, to learn about basic forces, then expands to complex machines, like a pendulum clock, to teach advanced concepts like measuring work and centripetal force. With 300 pieces and 36 models to build and experiment with, there's plenty to satisfy your curious young physicist.

Magic Penny Magnet Kit

With the magic of magnetism, these pennies can connect, stack, and almost seem to float! This classic toy has been a best-seller for years, but in the last few years it's been updated to provide even more activity options. By experimenting with the two block magnets and the 32 pennies, kids learn about shapes, positions, orientation, planes, symmetry, and more. It's an artistic way to explore the physics of magnets.

Crystal Growing Kit

Chemistry is a beautiful thing with this kit from Thames and Kosmos. Kids will learn how they can use dyes to make colored crystals, and why different compounds create crystals of different shapes. They'll also mold plaster into different shapes to see what happens when the crystals grow on different surfaces. With 15 experiments to conduct, as well as a clear locking treasure chest to display their crystal creation, kids will be intrigued by this set.

Prime Climb

This award-winning, colorful mathematical board game lets you deepen your mastery of multiplication and division in a whole new way! Roll the dice and add, subtract, multiply, and divide your way towards the center of the board. Pick up Prime cards and bump your opponents back to the start. The first person to land both pawns on 101 wins! This unique game builds deeper understanding of math while you enjoy traditional board game play.

C3000 Chemistry Kit

Advancing young chemists will love this set that gets them learning about core chemistry concepts like chemical equations, atomic structure, and the periodic table. Compared to simpler sets, the C3000 kit includes dozen more tools and components and over a hundred more experiments that are perfect for preparing tweens and teens for high school-level chemistry. It's the perfect set to foster the budding chemist on your gift list!

Nanotechnology Kit

Explore the world of nanotechnology, with structures only a few atoms across, with this intriguing kit from Thames & Kosmos! You'll start out by conducting experiments that explain size, scale, and order of magnitude, then learn about how laser light, electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy can make these tiny machines visible. There are 41 experiments included in this kit to get you exploring the big world of little technology!

Earth, Sky, and Space: Biology, Geology, and Astronomy

Some kids are more interested in the specifics of earth and life sciences, rather than the guiding principles behind them! Whether your child likes studying microscopic creatures or gazing to the stars, there's a gift idea here to foster their interests.

Bug Blocks

Learning about insects is as easy as A, B, C with this set of blocks from Uncle Goose! In addition to the letters of the alphabet, this traditional wooden block set with a twist includes images of a wide variety of insects, as well as close-ups of some of their patterns. Kids will love learning more about the insect world, while parents will love that these blocks are made with sustainable hardwood and finished with non-toxic, eco-friendly dyes and paints.

My First Microscope

This microscope from Geosafari is specially designed to be rugged and easy to use for preschoolers! The extra-large eyepieces and chunky focusing knob are similar to the ones on an adult microscope, and the bright LED with an easy push-button activation illuminates even more detail. The 8X magnification is enough to make a noticeable difference, but still familiar enough to help younger kids connect what they see through the scope with the real-life object. It's the perfect option for an eager scientist who's not quite ready for the real thing. For more sophisticated scopes for older kids, check out our recommendations below.

Skeleton Floor Puzzle

Introduce her to what lies beneath her skin with this amazing 4 foot floor puzzle! This highly detailed puzzle is made of soft foam; when kids are done assembling it, they can lie down and compare their own bodies to the skeleton they put together. All the major bones are represented, and each is labeled on the reverse side, so kids can start learning the proper names of bones.

Solar System Puzzle

Learn about the features of our solar system with this extra-large 48 piece floor puzzle from Melissa and Doug! This 2 by 3 foot puzzle provides plenty of details, so kids can see things like the asteroid belt, the rings around Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus, and even all the planets' moons. The background, with its stars and galaxies, hints at the enormousness of the universe beyond our own star. Little space-loving kids will love to assemble this one again and again.

Your Body Layer Puzzle

Kids who wonder what their body would look like under the skin will love this puzzle, which features multiple layers depicting a clothed body, skin, muscles, organs, and bones. This high-quality wood puzzle provides a fun challenge, with 29 pieces making up the five different layers. Add the Your Body Boy Layer Puzzle to show the difference between male and female anatomy, or the Mother Layer Puzzle to show how a baby develops from conception to birth.

Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow Kit

Explore the fun of rockets — with the help of a little kid power! These rockets blast off thanks to air pressure produced by a blast pad, so kids can burn off a little extra energy leaping on and seeing how high they can make the rockets fly; they can get as high as 100 feet. Plus, the foam rockets in this set glow, so you can keep up the fun long into the night.

Crystal Mining Kit

From Kidzlabs comes the Crystal Mining kit with 8 genuine little crystals (clear quartz, agate, dolomite, amethyst or rose quartz) embedded in a big hunk of plaster. Us the included digging tool and brush to excavate your treasures, then study them with the magnifier and keep it all safe in the storage pouch. Let her search for real buried treasure!

Magic School Bus: A Journey Into the Human Body

Learn all about how the body works with this set full of breathtaking experiments. Kids will bend bones, make joints, map taste buds, measure lung capacities and heart rates, and much more! The kit includes a life-sized human body poster with eight sheets of body part stickers kids can use to show off all they've learned. It's sure to be a hit with budding doctors and anatomists.

Moon In My Room

Some might say the moon was the original nightlight! This moon replica includes rows of lights that glow behind a detailed lunar surface. As you adjust the time of month with the remote, the lights turn on and off to show the phases of the moon; you can change them manually or set them to change in sync with the actual lunar cycle. For budding young astronomers, there's no nicer way to drift off to sleep.

Mega Gemstone Mine Kit

She can dig her own gemstones from around the world with this kit from National Geographic! This massive digging brick conceals fifteen different gemstones; use the archeological tools to dig them out, then examine them with the magnifying glass to identify each stone. The included learning guide provides interesting facts about how each stone is formed and where in the world it appears. It's the perfect choice to start or add to your favorite rock hound's collection!

Diggin' Up Dinos: T-Rex

What dinosaur-loving kid hasn't dreamed of discovering their very own dinosaur bones? In this kit, a model tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is buried deep within a sandy block, waiting to be discovered. Put on your safety goggles and use your excavation tools to safely remove the bones, then assemble them into a display model. The set includes a color poster with intriguing facts about paleontology.

Wee Enchanted Fairy Garden

Combine science and art with this charming little garden kit from Faber and Castell. After you paint your planter, fill it with soil, and add decorations like a fairy house and little gems, plant the mixture of wheatgrass seeds and beans and watch your garden grow! Kids will be fascinated as they guess which plants will grow first and observe the differences between the two kinds of plants. Plus, they'll be proud to say the little garden on the windowsill is theirs — no fairy magic required!

DNA Experiment Kit

You can dive into the world of DNA with this set from ScienceWiz! 18 activities teach kids all the key basics about DNA and genetics: everything from assembling a DNA puzzle to extracting DNA from fruit! You'll even get to sample your own DNA and use it to make forgery-proof DNA ink. To take the lesson further, check out the ScienceWiz website for animations and additional explanations.

National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler

See the true beauty of the gems you find with this high-quality rock tumbler. This set from National Geographic has an automatic shutoff timer, so it will run for just the right length of time, and a rubber barrel that reduces noise, making it a pleasure to use. It comes with 0.5 lb of assorted stones to get you started, but every rock hound knows the real fun will begin when she gets outside and hunts down her own!

Nancy B.'s Mighty Microbes Lab

Bacteria, fungi, and viruses... there's a whole world of microbes to explore! Kids will grow harmless microbe colonies and learn how to count microbe populations, learning more about how this tiny world works. You can even test common beliefs about germs — like the 5-second rule! The included germ journal provides lots of experiment ideas and places to record your observations.

ScienceX SmartScope

Explore the microscoping world using a smartphone or tablet with ScienceX's SmartScope! The SmartScope lets you magnify your finds, take pictures, and even send your images to a TV screen so that multiple people can view them. Two different magnification levels and a removable light source allow you to get great pictures, and the set even includes a carrying bag so you can take the SmartScope out into the field.

You Explore It: Squishy Human Body

Enter the world of the human body — with a little gross factor for some extra appeal! This 12" figure from SmartLab has removable squishy organs, as well as representation of the skeletal, vascular, and muscular systems. In the accompanying guide, research physician Lucille Kayes explains how the organs work together to digest food and provide energy and oxygen to the body. It's a unique way to examine the complex workings of the human body.

Nancy B.'s Way to Grow Hydroponics Kit

Did you know you don't need soil to grow plants? Learn all about hydroponic growing with this great kit from Nancy B. and Educational Insights! Kids will learn to sprout seeds, then transfer them into seed baskets over water-filled flasks and see how they climb the trellis as they grow. An included journal includes experiment ideas, interesting facts, writing prompts, and more.

K'Nex DNA Replications and Transcription Kit

Learn about genetics with K'Nex? It's not as far-fetched as it sounds! After all, a building toy is an excellent way to show how four molecules not only build the famous double helix, but also how splitting them in half allows genes to reassemble themselves correctly after cells divide. By following the projects in this kit, kids learn the structure and processes of both RNA and DNA, the building blocks of life.

Break Your Own Geodes

Now kids can discover their own remarkable gem landscape inside this box of geodes — but first, they'll have to break them open! 12 geodes are included in each kit, ranging in size from a large marble to a golf ball; Gem Center USA guarantees that 90% of them will be hollow. Find clear quartz, smoky quartz, or maybe even amethyst! The included guide teaches budding geologists how to safely crack their geodes, as well as providing information about the minerals and crystals they'll find inside.

Solar System Planetarium

With this kit from 4M, you'll build a solar system with planets that can really orbit around the sun! The planet models include textured details, making them easy to paint, and the base's moveable planet stands will allow kids to see how planets circle the sun and how their orbits come together in conjunctions before separating again. It even comes with a teeny set of rings for Saturn! It's a fun hands-on way to learn more about the planets.

Master Detective Toolkit

Solving crime these days takes more than interviewing suspects: it takes a lot of science! With this kit, budding forensic scientists and crime scene investigators will learn how to secure a crime scene, how to process and preserve evidence, and how to use the information you glean to make conclusion about what happened. From pulling fingerprints to testing soil samples, this toolkit will highlight the importance of the scientific mind in law enforcement. As an added bonus, kids can try their hand at solving the sample mystery included in the manual.

Handheld Digital Microscope

This compact and fun digital microscope makes it easy to examine the world all around you. Its magnification ranges from 10X to 220X, and the four LED lights ensure that your field of vision is always bright enough to see all the details. Connect it to your computer with a USB cord and use the included software to easily capture and annotate the images you see. This basic version is a good starting model, but as her skills develop, other models from the series offer additional features. Or, for a simpler version for younger kids, check out the Zoomy Handheld Microscope for ages 4 and up.

Duo Scope Microscope

This flexible microscope offers easy use for a variety of different samples! It has 40X, 100X, and 400X magnification options, and the dual lights allow you to observe both prepared slides and solid objects with ease. The set includes over 50 accessories, including materials to make your own slides, and a detailed instruction manual.

Telescope and Astronomy Kit

Get your budding astronomer started with this entry-level kit from Thames and Kosmos. This high-quality refractor telescope features coated glass optics and includes plenty of accessories to get your observations started, including a stand and a variety of eyepieces for different purposes. The included guide teaches you how to properly care for and view through your telescope. With a maximum magnification of 140X, kids can easily view the planets, their moons, and several galaxies and nebulae.

Tandem-X Launch Set

Launch not one, but two different rockets with this set from Estes! You'll build two popular rocket models: the Amazon, which is almost three feet tall and can reach heights of 600 feet, and the Crossfire, which is small but powerful and can soar as high as 1,150 feet. Both rockets are outfitted with parachutes to float them safely to Earth — so they can take part in future launches! Any would-be rocket scientist will get hours of fun out of this kit.

LEGO Ideas: Birds

Build and display models of three well-loved birds — out of LEGO! This set was designed by gardener and bird enthusiast Thomas Poulsom and selected by the LEGO Ideas community. Each bird represents a different continent: the robin for Europe, the blue jay for North America, and the hummingbird from South America. The detailed models come with presentation stands featuring their scientific names, as well as booklets providing more information about each species. It's sure to delight building fans and birdwatchers alike.

Power Up: Energy, Robotics, and Programming

For many kids, the most exciting part of science is everything that it lets us do! From learning about electricity to building robots that really work, these kits will get kids into the engineering and design that goes into the technology we use every day.

Kid Galaxy RC Robot

This is the world's only RC robot specifically designed for preschoolers! This cheerful bot has working lights and fun sounds, and and its moving eyes give it fun expressions. Simple button commands control its direction and speed, so its remote is easy to use. Equally importantly, both remote and robot are sturdy enough to take all the rough and tumble play a preschooler has to offer.

MaKey MaKey

This is an invention kit for everyone! Using the pieces in the MaKey MaKey set, nearly any ordinary object can become an input device for your computer. As long as the item you pick is mildly conductive, you can make it work with any program — so you can type a letter using an alphabet soup keyboard, or play a song on a keyboard made out of bananas! This creative and inspiring kit can be used by kids as young as three with adult assistance; older kids can let their imaginations run wild on their own.

Robot Turtles

Programming is going to be a key skill in the future, and this game teaches programming fundamentals to kids aged 4 and up. By using a system similar to the Logo programming language, kids write a program with playing cars so the adult "turtle mover" can direct their turtle through a maze to claim a jewel. As they progress, mazes get trickier, introducing longer code strings and functions — and, of course, if things don't go as planned, kids will have to debug! This clever game was a hit on Kickstarter, and it'll be a hit with your family too.

Think and Learn Code-A-Pillar

Learn the basics of coding with Fisher-Price's friendly Code-A-Pillar! With 9 easy-to-connect segments, each of which provides a different instruction, kids can direct their Code-A-Pillar to move, wiggle, dance, or pause. Kids will love swapping around the segments to create interesting new moves. You can even get expansion packs that provide additional basic moves, more complex moves, silly sounds, and more!

Dash and Dot Wonder Pack

These clever little robots can do amazing things — with a little help from you! These fully-assembled robots perceive the world with sensors, so they can hear sounds, observe objects, and sense if you are moving them. Using the compatible apps, you can direct them to do all sorts of things, learning programming concepts as you go. This set also includes accessories for Dash and Dot, including a xylophone for some musical fun!

Code and Go Robot Mouse

You can explore coding in a playful way with this set from Learning Resources! Build a maze, put the cheese block at the end, then use coding cards to teach your mouse the path. 10 double-sided Activity Cards provide suggested mazes to build, while 60 double-sided Coding Cards provide plenty of steps to get you through almost any list of twists and turns. You can even get a second mouse (sold separately) to create a multi-player maze challenge.

Puzzlets Starter Pack

Turn STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) into a puzzle with this fun learning system! Puzzlets combine hands-on play with interactive gaming to help teach kids key concepts from STEAM. Put the puzzlet pieces into the Play Tray to solve the puzzles on the screen. The Starter Pack includes the game Cork the Volcano, which teaches programming fundamentals; future expansions will include special puzzlets to teach chemistry, music, and more.

Ozobot 2-Pack

This is one of the world's smallest programmable robots — only 1" in diameter! — but it offers some big fun. Ozobot uses an easy to understand, color-based programming language, so kids can start out by drawing their programs on paper or on a tablet screen, then set their Ozobot down to watch it follow their commands. You can also download the free compatible apps to create custom maps, challenge friends to games, or even make their Ozobot dance to music! Parents and educators alike will appreciate the free lesson plans and workshops available so kids get the most out of this little package. This set includes two Ozobot Bit robots, one white and one black.

Piper Craft a Computer Kit

Aspiring young techies will love this set that allows them to craft a real computer! By following the included blueprint, kids will build a Raspberry Pi computer in a beautiful wooden case, then run a custom Minecraft Pi adventure that will get them building and programming more electronic modules using buzzers, lights, sensors, and more. This unique set, with its combination of physical building, engaging storyline, and Minecraft gameplay, is a great way to use an interest in video games to prompt an interest in coding and computer engineering.

Snap Circuits: Light

The innovative Snap Circuits sets allow kids to explore electronics with easy, snap-together modular components — no soldering or glue required! With this kit, kids can explore how fiber optics, LEDs, and other light sources work to make light a key — and often underappreciated — part of technology. The 55 pieces can create 182 projects, or you can add the pieces of this kit to other Snap Circuits sets for endless possibilities. For a similar set that explores sound and recording, check out Snap Circuits: Sound, also for age 8 and up.

Solar Power Kit

Harness the power of the sun's rays to power six different models with this kit! The special solar panel included with this set has three solar cells which generate 1.5 volts of electricity in bright sunlight. You can attach the panel to your models directly, or use it to charge a battery to use on cloudy days. Kids will be amazed when their own bulldozer, single-prop plane, or helicopter gets moving with nothing but solar power. The pieces in this set are compatible with several other Thames and Kosmos kits, so you can also experiment with powering other devices.

Circuit Scribe Basic Kit

With this set, you can design circuits as easily as you can doodle! Circuit Scribe uses a pen with conductive ink, so you can draw out your circuits, either to prototype or to create unique effects. This kit includes the pen as well as some of the most common components, like LEDs, transistors, and capacitors, and a workbook full of projects that's sure to inspire her to come up with her own creative ideas.

Snap Circuits: Alternative Energy

One of the great challenges of this century will be developing alternative energy sources, and this kit teaches kids about some of the most common ones! Using the guide for this kit, kids will learn about solar power, hydroelectric power, windmills, geothermal energy, and more. Then, they'll learn how batteries can store that power to be used in the future. Use this kit alone, or combine it with other Snap Circuits kits to power your own projects!

Super Solar Recycler Robot

Explore both solar power and the potential in recycling trash with this fun kit, which shows kids how they can turn plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and old CDs into solar powered robots! Kids will make fun projects like a street roller, a walking robot, or a flying bird. This eco-friendly kit gets kids thinking about how they can limit waste and reuse valuable materials.

Snap Circuits: Motion

The true power of electricity is what it can do, and this kit explores how electric power can make things move. Kids will power things like pulleys, fans, and motion detectors, as well as building cool models like a propeller plane and a robotic crawler. Because the modular pieces snap together and apart easily, kids can easily reconfigure things if they haven't got them quite right. It's the perfect kit for a budding electrical engineer.

MudWatt Clean Energy from Mud

Did you know that you can create a small fuel cell using mud? With MudWatt's set, which lets kids create a living fuel cell full of electricity-generating bacteria, you can learn all about this unexpected energy source! Kids can try different types of soil — and even leftovers from the fridge — in their fuel cell, then use the MudWatt Explorer app to measure their power output. It's a fascinating hands-on way to explore unexpected alternate power sources.

Snap Circuits 3D Illumination

Snap Circuits will drive you up the walls with these new 3D kits! New Snap Modules allow you to go vertical with Snap Circuits pieces, allowing you to work in multiple dimensions rather than just on a flat board. The 3D Illumination kit allows kids to explore electricity and light with their Snap Boards in a variety of different configurations. Directions for over 150 projects are included, or let your imagination run wild!

Wind Power Set

Wind powered generators have surprising potential — an old technology turned new! With this set, kids will experiment with two different wind turbine blades and a gearbox with three different gear ratios to determine how they can get the most power to charge their rechargeable batteries. Then, use those batteries to power the models you build, including a glider, a racecar, and a tricycle. It's a fun way to explore the possibilities of this free source of renewable energy.

Snap Circuits Extreme

Fans of Snap Circuits will be over the moon at this enormous kit! All the parts you need for over 750 different projects are included; you'll build a sound activated switch, a lie detector, and adjustable light controller, and more. 80 color-coded pieces make it easy to assemble the projects by following the detailed manual, or to work out your own ideas. It even includes a computer interface so you can view waveforms and frequencies, just like a real electronics engineer.

littleBits Gizmos and Gadgets Kit

The Gizmos and Gadgets Kit is the ultimate invention toolbox. Motors, wheels, lights, switches, servos, buzzers, even a remote control -- snap it all together to spark creativity and fun. Want to invent a remote control racecar? Do it. Create an automatic bubble blowing device? Go for it! This new and improved second generation kit comes with 16 electronic building blocks, detailed instructions for a variety of projects, and all the accessories and tools you need to unleash the inventor within and create countless inventions of your own design!

Raspberry Pi Ultimate Set

Imagine building your own real computer for under $100! Raspberry Pi's Ultimate Set includes everything you need to build your own processor, including a case, a power supply, and an SD cards with New Out Of Box Software (NOOBS) to get you started. Once you've built your computer, connect it to a screen and an input device and you can dive into programming. An active online community and flexible design make this a great option for would-be computer engineers.

Sparki: The Easy Arduino DIY Robot

This is a fun and easy to use introduction to programming, electronics, and robotics. This open-source robotics kit will teach you how to build a robot that can avoid an edge, follow a line, navigate a room, and draw shapes... and that's just the beginning! A wide array of components are included, and you can also connect Sparki to and Arduino or Raspberry Pi computer. Accessible to beginners and feature-packed for experts, everyone will love Sparki! For another highly recommended DIY programming set, check out the popular Raspberry Pi Ultimate Set.

littleBits Rule Your Room

You can create touch-activated inventions that control your stuff with this fun and inspiring set from littleBits Electronics! Step-by-step instructions for 8 projects are included — including a Burgler Buzzler, a Top-Secret Safe, and more — but once you've tried those, you can experiment with your own ideas without having to solder or glue. Plus, all littleBits components are compatible with one another, so you can build just about anything you imagine.

Arduino Starter Kit

Explore both electronics and programming with this flexible, fascinating Arduino set! Arduino is an open-source electronics platform that's easy to use so budding engineers and inventors can easily experiment. This kit includes some of the most common and useful components, as well as a 72-page book providing instructions for interactive projects to help tweens and teens learn the basics. Then, they can explore on their own! Additional Arduino components are available separately so kids can design whatever they imagine.

LEGO Mindstorms EV3

Combine the versatility of LEGO with robotics and programming thanks to this enormous kit! Build one of a variety of different robot models — or come up with your own — and then use the intuitive icon-based programming language to direct your robot. You can use the enclosed remote to control your creation, or download the app to control it from your tablet. There's an active, exciting community of Mindstorms fans just waiting to share ideas with you — and to hear yours!

Additional Recommended Resources

This post was posted in Front Page, A Mighty Girl Top Pick and was tagged with science, math, holidays, gifts, gift ideas, engineering, alternative energy, science kits, 2016 Holiday Guide