One thing nearly all parents have in common is their desire for their children to achieve the brightest futures possible. Education is a great way to reach that goal, and in addition to the humanities, STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are fundamental learning blocks for kids of all ages. 

STEM projects are wonderful ways to complement home time with school curriculum. Believe it or not, they can be quite fun for children, but the critical piece is the toys or projects themselves. Not all STEM kits are created equally, and before we get into some of the best kits available today, we’re going to provide some background on why these subjects are so important.  

What Exactly is STEM?

What exactly is STEM?

While STEM subjects aren’t necessarily new, they are evolving at a rapid rate compared to the humanities, for example. Via science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, kids learn to problem solve, critically think, build initiative, push creativity, work in teams and communicate and collaborate effectively. Employer demand for STEM qualifications is at an all-time high. Many of the jobs from our parent’s and grandparents’ generations have been made obsolete due to automation. Technological advances are creating new jobs and many of them require a firm grasp of STEM subjects.

There is currently a shortage of these skills in the global marketplace. This is potentially good news for kids as uptake of STEM will make them highly competitive once it comes time to work. Roughly 75% of new jobs over the next decade will require STEM skills, and the demand for health care STEM skills is estimated at 20% while professional, scientific, and technical services is 14%.

What do STEM Activities Teach Children?

What do STEM activities teach children?

STEM activities teach kids to think creatively; these activities push the creative thought process to come up with different ways of solving a problem. Speaking of solving problems, STEM skills do just that! Nearly everyone describes themselves as capable of solving problems. Heck, every time you step out the door there are likely three or more problems that await. But one thing is solving problems reluctantly and getting frustrated and irritated along the way, as opposed to solving problems as if they were puzzles – rationally and learning along the way.

Finally, STEM skills teach children how to take calculated risks and test solutions. Kids approach tasks knowing that risks will need to be taken to arrive at a potential solution. Not all risks are the same, and the riskier ones lead to potentially undesired consequences. Calculating risks is vital in STEM activities, and then testing out the proposed solutions gets kids to an answer. 

What Makes a Good STEM Project?

What makes a good STEM project?

There are plenty of elements that go into making a good STEM project, but the first box to check is whether the project is hands-on. Actively interacting with something via design, building, role-playing, or creating is vital. Discovery-based processes lie at the core of good projects and this also builds attentive learners.

Second, good STEM projects should be relevant to everyday problems. When kids can relate to the problem or activity, their ingenuity shines. One of the most frequent questions from children of all ages is, “why do I need to learn this?” This is quite common with math concepts, for example. Yet, when you can show algebra at work, applied to a real word problem, the discovery process suddenly becomes real.

Third, the incorporation of the engineering design process (EDP) in STEM projects is fundamental. This is a process that provides students a way to think systematically about a problem. With EDP, children define problems, conduct research, and then hash out the different ideas for solutions. The next phase is developing and creating prototypes, testing and evaluating them, and then redesigning if necessary.

Educational STEM Projects and Activities for Kids

Stem Projects for Kids Ages 8-12 Remote Control Robot

STEM robot project for kids 8-12 years old.

Want a sure-fire tip to get your kid into STEM? Buy them a robot! The beauty of this set is it challenges kids with a whopping 358 pieces to build their very own 7-inch tall remote-controlled bot. Robotics is full of wonderful STEM lessons, and this robot also includes coding blocks to add movement, interactions, timing, and much more.

The main module comes with a powerful motor which enables this bot to rotate a complete 360 degrees. The track is also loads of fun, propelling the robot across surfaces with up to 20 meters of remote control distance coverage. Great times for all!

To learn more, click here.

4 Set STEM Kit

Wooden STEM engineering kit for kids by Poraxy.

We’re jumping from robots into a wooden engineering kit, outfitted with pre-cut wooden boards that turn into an electronic coin bank box, various music boxes, and a cool password lock case. Here is where engineering meets true artistry, and these are art projects combined with building skills that result in some astonishing models.

Designed to spark creativity and ingenuity, all of the parts of this kit are easy to assemble, made of high-quality wood, and can be assembled in up to four different ways. Ideal for educational and entertainment purposes, boys and girls ages 8 to 12 will certainly not grow tired of this set.

To read reviews, click here.

RCSPACEX Remote & App Control Dragon Toy

Remote control dragon toy for kids.

This remote control dragon is not only extremely realistic, but you can assemble and reassemble it in countless ways. Perfect for kids anywhere from 8 to 12, the graphical programming learning is perhaps the most recognizable feature.

The coding interface features something known as “drag and drop,” where kids can turn their ideas into reality at the drop (or drag) of a button. Once it’s together, the dragon’s mouth opens to an impressive width, as well as the wings and a giant swishing tail. A fabulous gift to pull your kid away from the screen, guaranteed.

Love it? Click here to buy now.

STEM Inventions Engineering Creation Kit

STEM engineering creation kit for kids.

If engineering is your little one’s strong suit, look no further. This creation kit features a host of projects that will be tough to draw them away from. With over 400 pieces and 25 projects to choose from, everything from planes to cars, arrows, or even catapults are available here.

 But perhaps the best part about this engineering kit is the cool videos on the STEM Inventions Store site that complement the projects. The video explains the main science behind each project and the engineering principles at work. It’s one thing to jump into a project and learn as you go, but quite another to understand how the fundamental principles are integrated into the final product.

Like it? Click here to buy now.

Be Amazing! Big Bag of Backyard Science STEM Science Kits

Big Bag of Backyard Science kit for kids.

Anytime a product promises a big bag of anything, you know you’re in for a treat. Sometimes we hear kids proclaim, “I’m not a math person or a science person.” But in the case of this kit, when you bring a product to market that works to develop a passion for science in young people, that certainly catches a parent’s attention.

With a realistic magnifying glass, experiment bottle, pipette, and microscope, this kit helps kids to understand how plants breathe, the best ways to construct an ant farm, and even how to build their very own bird feeder. An excellent choice for kids aged 8 years and up.

To learn more, click here.

Let’s Start Coding Store Ultimate Coding Kit

Ultimate coding kit for kids by Let's Start Coding.

If coding is your kid’s thing, then this is the place to start. Appropriate for children ages 10 and up, this kit includes a whopping 17 components! Everything from a LED light strip, speakers, temperature and sound sensors as well as a super cool LCD screen, this set is no joke. The coding software is free to download and this kit was built by designers, engineers, and teachers, so you know the learning is fun and highly interactive.

Most kids want projects where they can see immediate results. The Coding Kit understands this and via the maker screen, children can witness their projects move and light up in real-time. There’s nothing more interactive on the market, guaranteed!

To read reviews, click here.

Remote Control Building Kit

Remote control car toy for kids.

Warning – one look at the online pics of this tank robot car and your kid will be bugging you for weeks to buy it. There are few things as rugged as a tank car, but this isn’t simply a tank car. No, it’s an afternoon project, full of pieces, two power motors, and a wealth of gadgets that will please any kid from 8 to 12.

The motorized racing kit comes with a 2.4Ghz remote control, and the robot car can spin a full 360 degrees once assembled. The manufacturer also markets this car as a stunt racer as you can pull off wheelies thanks to the power motors. The controller does require 3 AAA batteries, but that’s a small additional price to pay for the entertainment you find here.

Love it? Click here to buy now.

Hands Craft Globe Earth Model

3D wooden puzzle Earth globe for kids.

Do-it-yourself projects are great for many reasons. First is the challenge of creating something on your own without a clear sense of where the project will take you. Second is the satisfaction once it’s complete that you have truly created something yourself. This 3D wooden puzzle is made of natural wood and the challenge is clear – build a globe earth model.

Not only do kids get to fine-tune their engineering and math skills, but they also receive a geography lesson on top of it! No glue or tools are required, and the final result is great to display on a shelf or prominently on your child’s desk. They did it themselves!

To learn more, click here.

Gems Dig Science Experiments Kit

Digging for gems rock science kit for kids.

One of the oldest activities around – digging for gems. Who doesn’t dream of discovering a rare gem and then living the high life for their remaining days? Don’t we all, and while that isn’t always the case (if ever), digging for gems is fun and this kit doesn’t disappoint.

Many gem kits include the basic ingredients, but few include real excavation tools. Yes, you read that right – chisels and hammers are included and every young scientist needs excavation tools to get at the heart of those gems. Once they’re uncovered, there are brushes and microscopes to analyze the findings and then a classification guide to see if you’ve struck it rich. Fingers crossed!

To see pricing, click here.

Magnets for Kids STEM Learning Toys 3D

3D magnets building toy for kids.

Out of all the items on this list, these magnets might be one of the more popular; these colorful magnets can be found everywhere these days. Toy stores, museum gift shops, even knock-off versions selling on the street. But there’s a reason for this – they’re loads of fun!

This set comes with an impressive 56 pieces with a nice mix of squares, triangles, isosceles triangles, rectangles, a couple of fences, and some doors. STEM curriculum is front and center here, with engineering and math skills really getting a work-out. It’s no wonder many schools have these 3D learning toys integrated into their lesson plans. This is STEM learning at its finest.

Love it? Click here to buy now.

To Sum it Up

STEM projects and activities can be loads of fun and highly beneficial for kids as young as 7. This article touched on a lot, but we began detailing just exactly what it is, what these activities teach kids, and how to know when you’ve got a good activity on your hands.

We then moved into reviewing some exceptional toys, and the hardest part at this point will be selecting which ones to go with. Reviewing this list with the kiddies might be a good first step. You’ll get their buy-in, but even more important, excited about the activities and projects that await. 

Check out Awesome Backyard Water Toys for Kids next!