15 Gifts for the Techie Kids In Your Life

No one who has ever watched a toddler methodically taking apart a Tupperware drawer can doubt that many children are natural-born (ha ha!) engineers. Your only job as a parent is to nurture their creativity … and, well, clean up the mess afterward. Wrap up a few of these STEM toys and books for your future scientist to blow up, burn up or dismantle.

11 Experiments That Failed

It’s one of the first and most important science lessons your kid will ever learn: most experiments won’t work. Scientists need to learn how to fail, and fail often, with grace and good humor. With accompanying illustrations from Nancy Carpenter, author Jenny Offill walks kids through twelve absurd and hilarious “hypotheses” (can you survive on ketchup and snow alone? Can a washing machine wash dishes?) that are tested with a step-by-step process and disastrous results. Kids: It’s OK to mess up. We’re contractually obligated to love you anyway. Buy for $15.

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It’s one of the first and most important science lessons your kid will ever learn: most experiments won’t work. Scientists need to learn how to fail, and fail often, with grace and good humor. With accompanying illustrations from Nancy Carpenter, author Jenny Offill walks kids through twelve absurd and hilarious “hypotheses” (can you survive on ketchup and snow alone? Can a washing machine wash dishes?) that are tested with a step-by-step process and disastrous results. Kids: It’s OK to mess up. We’re contractually obligated to love you anyway. Buy for $15.

Minecraft

We may or may not be preaching to the choir. Odds are your child is already obsessed with this world-building game. What you might not know is that in addition to flying, building and making obnoxious YouTube videos, Minecraft is also a powerful platform to practice skills like communication, collaboration, and systems design. If you already have the PC version, you can also download Minecraft: Pocket Edition for your kid’s Android device. Buy for $27.

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We may or may not be preaching to the choir. Odds are your child is already obsessed with this world-building game. What you might not know is that in addition to flying, building and making obnoxious YouTube videos, Minecraft is also a powerful platform to practice skills like communication, collaboration, and systems design. If you already have the PC version, you can also download Minecraft: Pocket Edition for your kid’s Android device. Buy for $27.

Air Hogs Micro Race Drone

Even seasoned drone pilots sing the praises of this starter micro drone. This tiny toy has the capacity to both fly at incredible heights outdoors and to navigate tight indoor spaces. Flight assist technology helps first-time flyers master taking off, height-lock, and landing. And at this price, you can afford to buy a couple so that you and your kid can race. Buy for $22.

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Even seasoned drone pilots sing the praises of this starter micro drone. This tiny toy has the capacity to both fly at incredible heights outdoors and to navigate tight indoor spaces. Flight assist technology helps first-time flyers master taking off, height-lock, and landing. And at this price, you can afford to buy a couple so that you and your kid can race. Buy for $22.

Math for Love Prime Climb

In this beautiful board game, the goal is to climb to the center of the board while bumping your opponents behind you. Picking up skills like adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing is secondary. The game can accommodate two to four players and an astonishing range of ages will find it entertaining, from adults, to teens, to even kindergarteners (with some adult help). It will be fun, that is, as long as you like math. Even if you don’t, this is a great way to start. Buy for $30.

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In this beautiful board game, the goal is to climb to the center of the board while bumping your opponents behind you. Picking up skills like adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing is secondary. The game can accommodate two to four players and an astonishing range of ages will find it entertaining, from adults, to teens, to even kindergarteners (with some adult help). It will be fun, that is, as long as you like math. Even if you don’t, this is a great way to start. Buy for $30.

Tegu Magbot

Magnetic wooden Tegu blocks have the strange and inspiring ability to hypnotize children as young as one or two years old into playing with them for hours. The latest in Tegu’s FUTURE series can seamlessly integrate with all your other Tegu block sets. They’re non-toxic and bereft of lead or plastic components, and because they’re magnetic they are also easy to keep track of and clean up. Buy for $30.

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Magnetic wooden Tegu blocks have the strange and inspiring ability to hypnotize children as young as one or two years old into playing with them for hours. The latest in Tegu’s FUTURE series can seamlessly integrate with all your other Tegu block sets. They’re non-toxic and bereft of lead or plastic components, and because they’re magnetic they are also easy to keep track of and clean up. Buy for $30.

Sphero Mini

Hi! It’s me, Sphero Mini. You may know me from such YouTube videos as “Two Cats and a Sphero”, “Sphero 2.0 vs Cat”, or “Sphero mini could be greatest $50 cat toy of all time.” Oh wait, this is a gift guide for kids, you say? This adorable robot is the size of a Ping Pong ball but has a gyroscope, accelerometer and LED lights. You can bowl with it, direct it with your face, or use the ball as a controller to play video games. You can also buy different shells to race it or play with other mini Spheros. And if you get bored with it before an hour’s play time is up, the family pet will also find it hugely entertaining. Buy for $50.

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Hi! It’s me, Sphero Mini. You may know me from such YouTube videos as “Two Cats and a Sphero”, “Sphero 2.0 vs Cat”, or “Sphero mini could be greatest $50 cat toy of all time.” Oh wait, this is a gift guide for kids, you say? This adorable robot is the size of a Ping Pong ball but has a gyroscope, accelerometer and LED lights. You can bowl with it, direct it with your face, or use the ball as a controller to play video games. You can also buy different shells to race it or play with other mini Spheros. And if you get bored with it before an hour’s play time is up, the family pet will also find it hugely entertaining. Buy for $50.

Snap Circuits Electronics Discovery Kit

This Snap Circuits kit will make every Gen-Xer who grew up playing with a Lite-Brite turn green with envy. A circuit board is a fast and easy way to see instant, visible, and entertaining results from controlling the flow of electricity. Older kids can learn about resistance, open and closed circuits, and simple switches while operating glow-in-the-dark propellers, flying saucers and more. The kit has 55 color-coded pieces to build over 150 projects that all snap into a circuit board. Younger kids will want to play, too, but may require more supervision. Buy for $56

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This Snap Circuits kit will make every Gen-Xer who grew up playing with a Lite-Brite turn green with envy. A circuit board is a fast and easy way to see instant, visible, and entertaining results from controlling the flow of electricity. Older kids can learn about resistance, open and closed circuits, and simple switches while operating glow-in-the-dark propellers, flying saucers and more. The kit has 55 color-coded pieces to build over 150 projects that all snap into a circuit board. Younger kids will want to play, too, but may require more supervision. Buy for $56

Roominate Alice’s Mansion

A perennial question among corporations, academics, and parents alike is how to get more girls and women interested in engineering. The Roominate toy series is a great way to start. Most dollhouses come preassembled, but this set comes with house and furniture building pieces, as well as wheels and axles, a motor, battery packs, screwdrivers, stickers, wallpaper, and dolls. Your child can make rotating swimming pools or elevators that are actually motorized, or anything else that their heart desires. Buy for $40

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A perennial question among corporations, academics, and parents alike is how to get more girls and women interested in engineering. The Roominate toy series is a great way to start. Most dollhouses come preassembled, but this set comes with house and furniture building pieces, as well as wheels and axles, a motor, battery packs, screwdrivers, stickers, wallpaper, and dolls. Your child can make rotating swimming pools or elevators that are actually motorized, or anything else that their heart desires. Buy for $40

Kurio Watch 2.0

Whatever you have, your child wants. It’s only fair to hand them one of these child-friendly smartwatches, which have a startling array of features. The watch has a camera, included apps and games, and the ability to message other Kurio watches and Android devices and play music. On a more serious note, you can also input your child’s emergency medical information, such as contact info, allergies, and blood type. Buy for $30.

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Whatever you have, your child wants. It’s only fair to hand them one of these child-friendly smartwatches, which have a startling array of features. The watch has a camera, included apps and games, and the ability to message other Kurio watches and Android devices and play music. On a more serious note, you can also input your child’s emergency medical information, such as contact info, allergies, and blood type. Buy for $30.

The Lego Batman Movie Batwing

The hilarity of Lego Batman’s hobbies, like beatboxing and watching Jerry Maguire by himself in the dark, may go over the heads of some little ones. But parents need to have fun sometimes too, and you might also have a good time watching or helping your kid assemble and fly around with this replica of Lego Batman’s intricate Batwing set, complete with rapid-fire buildable cannon and included villain Harley Quinn. Build on, Master Builders. Buy for $72

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The hilarity of Lego Batman’s hobbies, like beatboxing and watching Jerry Maguire by himself in the dark, may go over the heads of some little ones. But parents need to have fun sometimes too, and you might also have a good time watching or helping your kid assemble and fly around with this replica of Lego Batman’s intricate Batwing set, complete with rapid-fire buildable cannon and included villain Harley Quinn. Build on, Master Builders. Buy for $72

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Amazon’s affordable kid’s tablet is even more affordable right now. And as I mentioned in our review, the parental controls are bombproof. It’s hard to add even approved content to your child’s FreeTime profile, so imagine how difficult it will be for all the creepy-crawlies on the internet to sneak past Amazon’s sternly guarded age-appropriate controls. Select one of about a bazillion Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood videos available on Prime for when you need a blissful twenty minutes of peace. Buy for $90.

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Amazon’s affordable kid’s tablet is even more affordable right now. And as I mentioned in our review, the parental controls are bombproof. It’s hard to add even approved content to your child’s FreeTime profile, so imagine how difficult it will be for all the creepy-crawlies on the internet to sneak past Amazon’s sternly guarded age-appropriate controls. Select one of about a bazillion Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood videos available on Prime for when you need a blissful twenty minutes of peace. Buy for $90.

littleBits Droid Inventor Kit

Yes, we already included this in our Star Wars gift guide, but we’re posting it again because it is really that cool. No adults necessary—just hand them the box and let them endlessly reconfigure their droid with different motors, sensors, and stickers as they learn new skills and tackle special droid challenges. Buy for $99.

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Yes, we already included this in our Star Wars gift guide, but we’re posting it again because it is really that cool. No adults necessary—just hand them the box and let them endlessly reconfigure their droid with different motors, sensors, and stickers as they learn new skills and tackle special droid challenges. Buy for $99.

Osmo Genius Kit

This award-winning play kit is as irresistible to kids as The Monster at the End of This Book—it breaks the wall between the digital world and the physical one by hooking a mirror clip to an iPad. Kids can manipulate physical objects like tiles and pen and paper to draw, play puzzles or solve games that show up on the screen. The game’s AI capabilities make the digital/physical interactions seamless and mesmerizing. Buy for $80.

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This award-winning play kit is as irresistible to kids as The Monster at the End of This Book—it breaks the wall between the digital world and the physical one by hooking a mirror clip to an iPad. Kids can manipulate physical objects like tiles and pen and paper to draw, play puzzles or solve games that show up on the screen. The game’s AI capabilities make the digital/physical interactions seamless and mesmerizing. Buy for $80.

Tech Will Save Us Complete Dough Universe

When the kids started playing with this entrancing circuitry kit, even adults were slowly and inexorably drawn in. You can squoosh play dough and create animals, balls or shapes out of brightly colored, electrically conductive dough. You can also plug adorable little motors into the dough to power blinking LEDs or plunky pianos. It comes with a delightfully cute Android or iOS storytelling app to get you started, but after that the possibilities are limitless. Buy for $135

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When the kids started playing with this entrancing circuitry kit, even adults were slowly and inexorably drawn in. You can squoosh play dough and create animals, balls or shapes out of brightly colored, electrically conductive dough. You can also plug adorable little motors into the dough to power blinking LEDs or plunky pianos. It comes with a delightfully cute Android or iOS storytelling app to get you started, but after that the possibilities are limitless. Buy for $135

Anki Cozmo

When Anki’s Cozmo first debuted, it was hailed as stupendously charming little robot whose performance capabilities were, unfortunately, not as engaging as advertised. That changed with this year’s update, in which Anki debuts a new Coding Lab to teach youngsters how to manipulate their tiny bot with command chunks written in Scratch, the simple programming language designed for use by elementary and middle school students. Buy for $150.

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When Anki’s Cozmo first debuted, it was hailed as stupendously charming little robot whose performance capabilities were, unfortunately, not as engaging as advertised. That changed with this year’s update, in which Anki debuts a new Coding Lab to teach youngsters how to manipulate their tiny bot with command chunks written in Scratch, the simple programming language designed for use by elementary and middle school students. Buy for $150.

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