Renewable energy is the future and there is no denying it. Not only because solar is now the cheapest form of electricity production in history, but also because cutting our carbon emissions is essential for reducing the impacts of climate change.
As such, we think it is critical that the kids of today are learning about renewable energy and its importance, and there are a lot of great kits which aim to do just that! Below we have compiled what we think are some of the best solar energy toys for kids in 2023, as well as other renewable energy toys for learning about other forms of renewable energy like wind and hydro power.
Best for Learning: Engineering, Solar Energy
1. OWIKit 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot
14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot
We think one of the best ways to learn about solar energy is to see it in action, which is why we love the 14-in-1 Solar Robot from OWI. The idea is that kids snap together K’Nex type pieces to assemble different robots. When sunlight hits the solar panels on the robots, it is then converted into kinetic energy for movement.
This is great for learning about cause and effect, plus experimenting with the designs can help build other STEM skills like the basics of engineering. However, you should note that this is a science toy and not an RC kit, so don’t expect the robots to be whizzing around the place! Regardless, we think this is one of the best solar powered toys for learning about the links between solar and kinetic energy.
2. OWIKit Super Solar Recycler
Super Solar Recycler
The Super Solar Recycler is another solar kit for kids by OWI where young renewable energy enthusiasts build their own solar-powered robots. However, where this solar power educational kit differs from the solar robot above is that each build features recycled materials such as plastic bottles, drinks cans or old CDs! The builds include a walking robot, bottle yacht, street roller, and a tricycle.
We think this renewable energy kit is really innovative and a great way to teach kids about recycling in addition to solar energy. Plus the fact that you are using everyday items is great for inspiring creativity. It’s certainly another one of the best solar toys for learning about renewable energy and reusing materials!
Best for Learning: STEAM, Recycling
3. 4M Green Creativity Recycled Paper Beads Kit
4M Green Creativity Recycled Paper Beads Kit
If your kid is more into creativity and the artistic aspect of STEAM, 4M Green Creativity Recycled Paper Beads may be just for them. This kit will teach them about reusing and upcycling things in the sneakiest of ways – by having them turn just about ANY piece of paper into beautiful and colorful paper beads that they can wear!
The activity is as simple as it gets. Take various scraps of paper, tear them into strips, put those strips into the mill, crank it and voila! A bunch of colorful beads that you can then use to make jewelry.
And wait until they start gifting the bead bracelets and necklaces to their friends… It can easily turn into mass-upcycling activity!
This is just one of 4M’s many wonderful play sets from their Green edition. Make sure to check out their Wind Turbine, Weather Station, Potato Clock and Clean Water sets too!
Best for Learning: Solar, Hydro & Wind Power, Electronic Engineering Basics
4. Horizon Renewable Energy Science Education Set
Renewable Energy Science Education Set
Similar to the K’Nex set above, the Renewable Energy Science Education Set from Horizon is another top solar toy designed for experimentation. However, where it differs is the design and creativity aspect as all the parts are mostly assembled. These include a miniature wind turbine kit, a solar photovoltaic panel, an electrolyzer, a PEM fuel cell, and hydrogen storage system!
Following the included assembly guide, kids can learn how to put together and configure an entire mini renewable energy system. Additionally, it also includes an experimentation manual to further complement the learning experience, so is a fantastic tool for educators. We think the Horizon Renewable Energy Kit is one of the best eco toys for learning about renewable energy systems, the only downside is it lacks the creative engineering aspect of the K’Nex set.
Powering a New Renewable Energy Future
Whichever of the renewable energy toys above that you select, we are confident that your child will have a blast, and you can rest assured that they are learning all about solar power, plus wind and other renewables, while they have fun!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best renewable energy kit for kids?
That’s a tricky question to answer because there are lots of great options available! It depends on the age and interests of the child, and your budget. There are solar toys from OWI that are a great starting point. At a higher price point, K’Nex and Horizon make more comprehensive renewable energy toys that include more options. STEM Geek has a guide to some of the best renewable energy toys on the market right now.
How do solar power toys work?
Solar-powered toys work using the same principles as other solar-powered devices. Light striking a solar panel surface is converted into electrical energy, which flows through to a motor, light or some other component that undertakes work using that energy.
Do solar-powered toys need direct sunlight?
It depends on the exact toy, but most solar toys need direct sunlight to provide enough energy to the working parts of the toy, especially if movement is involved.
Where can I buy solar-powered toys?
Solar-powered toys are available at most reputable toy stores. You can also select from a wide range of solar toys and renewable energy kits on Amazon.