When you’re looking for a STEM toy, ten-year-olds are a fun age to buy for. They’re still young enough to enjoy playing with toys but they’re old enough to try some more challenging products. It’s a small window in time before the moody teenage years kick in!
STEM toys are a great option for this age group. Ten-year-olds are curious about the world around them, have started to develop particular interests and already have some STEM skills under their belt.
Our Top Picks for the Best STEM Toys for 10-Year-Olds
|LEGO Mindstorms 51515
|Kiwi Tinker Crate
|Snap Circuits BRIC: Structures
Related post: Best Architectural Modeling Kits for Kids (and Adults!)
Coding and Robotics Toys
Best Overall – LEGO Mindstorms Robot Inventor Set 51515
If your kids are into programming and coding, you won’t get better than the LEGO Mindstorms 51515 robot inventor kit. It’s just like regular LEGO, only much more advanced!
This is one of the more expensive options, but it’s certainly a quality product. Kids will love building their own robot then coding it to walk, talk, play games and shoot targets. Using a free app on their tablet, coders use the intuitive drag-and-drop interface to control their creation.
Your little engineers will be able to build five different robot models from this set, and unlimited options from their own imaginations. The set comes with 949 pieces including color, touch and IR sensors and an infrared remote control is included. A pricier product, but if your kids are keen to learn more about robotics, you can’t go wrong with LEGO Mindstorms!
Best for Young Coders – Sphero BOLT App-Enabled Robot Ball with Programmable Sensors
This programmable robot ball will impress budding coders with its impressive LED light matrix that’s hard to take your eyes off! We were certainly impressed with Sphero BOLT when we reviewed it!
The Sphero BOLT is a great way to learn to code and your kids can take on more advanced programming as they get more experienced. The app-enabled robot ball has all the sensors you’d want in a little robot, like a compass, light sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, motor encoder, and infrared communications. It’s the 8×8 matrix that’s really cool though and you can use it to display characters, vector graphics or even play games.
Parents will be pleased with the robot ball’s durable scratch-proof clear plastic shell that allows for kids’ enthusiastic play. I also like that the Sphero charge pretty well and can work for more than two hours.
The Sphero Edu app is good too, with plenty of ideas for STEM activities at home. An excellent option for coders of all levels.
Best for Creating Digital Magic – Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit
Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit
Your wizards will love this magic introduction to coding
A great introduction to coding – you don’t even need to be a Harry Potter fan to enjoy this Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit (but if you are, even better)!
The kit has everything your kids need to build their own Bluetooth wand that will eventually respond to their movements. Once they’ve put the wand together they just need to connect to their tablet and start learning about loops, logic, and variables. There are more than 70 challenges (each with simple step-by-step instructions) and before you know it, they’ll be waving their wand to create wizardry on their screens.
The kit comes with a free Kano app and instruction book. It starts with fairly simple activities for beginners, but more advanced coders are catered for too. It’s quite satisfying to see instant effects on the screen just by waving the wand and adults will be lining up for a go, too.
Whether your kids are into wizardry or not, this is a fun way to learn programming.
Best for Robot Fans – Discovery Kids Mindblown Solar Robot Creation Kit
Robots are always cool, but I like the solar-powered engine on this one. The Discovery Kids Mindblown Solar Robot Creation Kit is pretty versatile and includes all the parts your kids will need to make a range of different working robots. There are instructions for 12 models, but kids are free to come up with their own designs.
There are 190 pieces in this set including moving and connecting parts like gears, plates, tires, and shafts. Their robots will be able to walk, float or roll!
Once they’ve built their robot, they just need a sunny day to charge up the solar-powered motor. Its solar panel powers the positive and negative cables and the robot will be up and about before you know it.
The instructions are clear and easy to understand, but even so, the robots are not easy to put together. Your 10-year-old will probably need some adult help to assemble their creation. Their fine motor skills will certainly get a workout.
Once built, the robots are fairly straightforward though and this kit should keep your robotic engineer busy for hours.
Best for Ongoing Learning – KiwiCo Tinker Crate
This product is such a good idea and kids will get a real thrill when it arrives in the mail.
The KiwiCo Tinker Crate is a different STEM project delivered to your door each month. The Tinker Crate is designed especially for ages 9 to 16 and it is really well done. Your child will receive all the materials they need to create their project as well as detailed instructions on what to do (full-color with lots of photos!). For example, the trebuchet project will have your kids launching a ping pong ball across the room while they learn about slings, levers and air resistance. They might also make a fibre optic star or a hydraulic claw.
Each project also comes with a magazine with background information and more activity ideas. Kids can also access video tutorials if they want to learn more. There are other crates in the KiwiCo range (try the KiwiCo Doodle Crate for some really awesome creative STEM projects for ages 14 plus) and they’re all done to a really high standard. If you’re after a toy that will really keep your child interested in STEM and allow them to try a variety of projects, this is definitely the one for you.
Best for Imaginative Designs – K’NEX 70 Model Building Set
The options are endless with this building set and it’s sure to keep your young engineer busy for hours!
The K’NEX 70 Model Building Set is made up of plastic rods and connectors that click together (and stay together without falling apart). What I like most about this set though are the moving parts. The wheels, rotors, wings, and tracks mean you can design things that move from vehicles to animals to machines.
The instruction booklet has 70 designs your child can have a go at, from scale models of famous buildings to creepy crawlies or a cool surfer on a surfboard. Of course, they can also come up with their own designs so it’s great for encouraging creativity, problem-solving and design.
There are 705 pieces in this kit and it’s easy to pull the models apart when it’s time to try something new. The set comes in a treasure chest which acts as a handy storage container that parents will appreciate. The pieces feel well made and your finished creations won’t fall apart easily.
For a building set with imagination in mind, the K’NEX 70 Model Building Set is a good buy.
Best for LEGO Lovers – LEGO Marvel Avengers: Avengers Ultimate Quinjet
LEGO’s always my go-to toy for budding engineers. Any set is wonderful, but I’m going with the LEGO Marvel Avengers: Avengers Ultimate Quinjet simply because it’s very, very cool.
Your tween will be impressed with the stud-shooting trike that fits in the jet’s rear compartment. The mini-figures include Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Rocket who are ready to do battle with two Chitauri minifigs. They all have little weapons and the Quinjet itself has two stud shooters and a fold-out rapid shooter. It also has an opening cockpit, adjustable wings, spinning rotors, and opening passenger compartment.
This is all very tricky, but how does it develop STEM skills?
LEGO is excellent at encouraging things like problem-solving, collaboration and creativity. Following the LEGO instructions is a great skill, as is planning, organization, and patience. Spatial awareness is improved as kids take an idea on paper and turn it into a 3D model. So if you’re looking for a good all-round STEM toy, you really can’t go wrong with LEGO!
Best for Aspiring Builders – Thames & Kosmos Structural Engineering: Bridges and Skyscrapers
Thames & Kosmos Structural Engineering: Bridges and Skyscrapers
A kit to get budding engineers thinking, experimenting and learning the tricks of the trade
This one is for the serious young engineers. The Structural Engineering: Bridges and Skyscrapers kit by Thames & Kosmos is very well done and will really challenge your young builder. Kids will get hands-on with basic engineering principles like force, load, compression, and tension as they try out 20 different models.
Starting with smaller models to develop an understanding of how bridges and skyscrapers work, your engineer will move onto more complex designs. For example, they’ll try their hand at different types of bridges like truss, arch, cantilever, rope, and suspension.
The kit comes with a full-color guide that not only provides directions on how to assemble each model, it also provides a short experiment for each design. It poses some really good questions to get your builder thinking. Before you know it, they’ll be thinking about strength and stability, how they’re going to maximize safety and minimize cost and prevent structural failure.
If your child has an eye for detail and a passion for building, this kit will be a winner!
Best for Geology Fans – 4M Crystal Growing Experimental Kit
This one requires a bit of patience but the results are definitely worth it.
Budding geologists will love this Crystal Growing Experimental Kit and the finished products are really quite impressive. The kit comes with everything you need to do seven different crystal growing experiments, including crystal growing compounds and mixtures, stirring equipment and display domes. Once grown, the crystals last indefinitely in their domes. They grow in several different colors so they make a pretty cool display feature.
The instructions for each experiment are included and they’re easy to follow. The experiment does require boiling water though, so adult assistance is a must.
The kit also includes information about crystal growth, which is great to read. It takes about a week for your crystals to fully grow, but you’ll start to see some action after the first day. A very cool science kit that kids will really enjoy!
Best for Learning Anatomy – SmartLab Toys Squishy Human Body
Kids are usually fascinated with the inside of the human body. All the guts and bodily bits are hard to resist when you’re ten years old, so the SmartLab Toys Squishy Human Body will be sure to impress.
Use the forceps and tweezers to remove the 21 organs, bones and muscle from the model, then put them all back together again in the right place. It includes an organizer mat, an instruction sheet, and an illustrated anatomy book to help get everything where it belongs. This kit also has realistic skeletal, vascular and muscular systems, so your kids will know all about the inner workings of their own bodies.
The organs are as realistic as possible (they’re soft and squishy) and the included anatomy book is impressive. I think it will really appeal to children as it shows how a slice of pizza makes its way through the body and interacts with all the bodily systems along the way. Our bodies are complicated things, but this kit shows how it all works in a simple, straightforward way. Very well put together!
Best for Bug Lovers – National Geographic Real Bug Dig Kit
National Geographic Real Bug Dig Kit
Get a closer look at some real creepy crawlies with this fun insect kit
Most ten-year-olds love creepy-crawly stuff, so this National Geographic Real Bug Dig Kit should put a smile on their face. Use the archeological digging tools to unearth the bugs from their digging brick (tip: put some old newspaper down first because this bit gets messy). Your bug lover will get a spiny spider, a fortune beetle, and a scorpion. Parents might be disgusted to have these creatures in their home but kids will surely be delighted!
Once their insects are on full display, you can then take a closer look using the included magnifying glass. The bugs are all preserved in transparent acrylic, so you can see them from all angles. The full-color learning guide that comes in the kit is excellent.
Kids will surely enjoy learning all about their new specimens as well as many other insects, arachnids, and arthropods with this kit.
Best for Budding Rocket Scientists – Hand2mind Launch! Rocket Science Lab Kit
Hands-on learning doesn’t get much more fun. Hand2mind’s Launch! Rocket Science Lab Kit is a great introduction to the world of rocketry with 18 very cool experiments. Kids will love making and launching their own rubber and chemical rockets, measuring wind speed, predicting the weather with a homemade barometer and building an anemometer. They’ll also get to make a scale of the solar system and hold rocket races!
Everything you need is included like protective gloves and an air pump, right down to decorative stickers for the rockets.
The guide is very informative and each experiment has simple step-by-step instructions. Kids will learn a lot about rocket propulsion and how it relates to the real world. I love that it also includes questions parents can ask when they’re talking to the child about each experiment. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to focus on, but this guide is very helpful with that.
Best for Creativity – Elenco Snap Circuits BRIC: Structures
A great combination of construction and electronics, the Snap Circuits BRIC: Structures kit provides building bricks (like LEGO) so your kids can build a house, tower or bridge, then wire it up with circuitry to get lights, sounds, and moving parts.
It includes an ideas book to get them started (with 20 suggested projects), but the kit is really designed to spark their imagination and get them to come up with their own designs. They can make a skyscraper with working lights or a build a drawbridge with working gears!
The BRIC-2-Snap technology is very cool and it means the circuitry is really part of the build. It’s a great example of hands-on learning and kids will really enjoy seeing their creation light up or hearing their alarm sound. They’ll probably need some help from parents to begin with, but collaboration is all part of the fun. If your child loves building or electrical work, they’ll get a kick out of this set.
Best for Fun Circuitry – SmartLab Toys Smart Circuits Games and Gadgets Electronics Lab
SmartLab Toys Smart Circuits Games and Gadgets Electronics Lab
A fun way to learn about electrical circuits with plenty of projects to keep kids busy
If your child is into all things electronic, this could be the kit for them.
The Smart Circuits Games and Gadgets Electronics Lab makes learning about electrical circuits fun as they create 3D games and gadgets with lights and sounds. The projects are really cool like making an electronic dice, a motion-sensing room alarm, and even a light-sensing rooster! When kids are more familiar with the set up they can design and create their own projects.
The kit comes with 48 pieces – including a microprocessor, speaker, battery pack, light sensor, LED array, tilt switch, resistor, pushbuttons, modular boards, and jumper wires. There’s also an illustrated manual with 50 step-by-step projects covering all aspects of electronics from currents to circuits to microprocessors and sound frequency.
The first few projects cover the basics of electronics and they get more complex as your child moves further through the manual.
Best for Beginners – Elenco Snap Circuits FM Radio Kit
Today’s kids might be more familiar with YouTube than FM Radio, but I like this little project anyway. It’s a simple design, but kids will really enjoy it when they finally get to tune their creation into their local FM radio station.
Elenco’s Snap Circuits FM Radio Kit has easy to follow instructions and the parts snap together nicely. There’s nothing complex about this kit, so it’s a great introduction to electronic circuitry. Maybe a good stepping stone to gauge interest before you invest in a more challenging version.
There are three other projects you can tackle with this kit: a power amplifier, an electronic kazoo, and a trombone. Be aware though, that the instructions for these designs are not as clear. While the FM radio project has visual instructions, these ones are text only.
Kids may find these directions a bit trickier to follow but should be fine with adult help. Overall, a nifty little project to get your child interested in electronics!
Best for Bright Sparks – Circuit Cubes Bright Lights
If your kids already love building but want to add a bit more to their creations, these little blocks could be just what they need. The Circuit Cubes Bright Lights kit is compatible with other brick sets like LEGO or Mega Bricks. Your kids will be able to add to their brick designs with light, power, and motion. They’ll learn how electrical circuits work and the snap-together pieces make the process pretty simple. I love that the cubes are semi-transparent so kids can really see what’s going on.
The kit has three different cubes to cater to any type of design. There’s a battery cube that’s rechargeable, a motor cube with variable speeds, and a LED cube to light up all your kids’ projects. There’s plenty of design ideas in the kit but why not encourage your kids to come up with their own creations or add the cubes to something they’ve already done? Your budding electrical worker will surely love experimenting with circuits in a fun and safe way!
What to Consider When Buying a STEM Toy
Your Child’s Interests
Make your child’s particular interests your number one consideration when buying a STEM toy. There’s no point spending a lot of money on a chemistry lab set if your child has no interest in that area. Instead, look at what your child is passionate about and use STEM toys to encourage that interest. If they love to build, you might like to invest in a quality construction set. If rocket science is their thing, you could buy some great experiment kits. There’s a lot of really good toys out there, so be guided by what your child loves to do.
Your Child’s Age
Always think about your child’s age and experience when you’re choosing a STEM toy to buy. The toy needs to suit their skill level – if it’s too hard they’ll lose interest fast and if it’s too easy they’ll get bored with it.
Most STEM toys have a suggested age range on the box so use that as a guide if you’re not sure. Even if a toy is designed for their age group, young children may still need some help from their parents, especially if they’re beginners. This is a perfect opportunity to develop collaboration and teamwork skills!
It’s very easy to break the bank when you’re shopping for a STEM toy. There’s a lot of toys on the market and some of them are quite expensive, so think carefully before you open your wallet.
Do you know your child is interested in this area of STEM or are you just gauging their interest? Is this a toy they will get a lot of use from or is it likely to have a short run then end up back in the box? Do you need a top of the range model or will a less expensive option be just as good?
You might decide that the STEM toy you have in mind is well worth the investment, but make sure you do your research before coughing up the cash!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a STEM toy?
A STEM toy is any toy that develops skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. Toys might cater to a particular area of interest (eg. construction or biology), but they may also address key STEM skills like problem-solving, teamwork or creative design. STEM toys can be quite complex and challenging or they may be simple and play-based. Remember though, that just like regular toys, STEM toys need to be fun.
Do I need to spend a lot of money?
When you’re shopping for STEM toys, you’ll probably notice that some of them are quite expensive. Usually, the cost is reasonable because of the quality of the technology and materials involved. Not all STEM toys need to be pricey though. Kids can learn a lot from less expensive toys, so be sure to shop around. Sometimes, things you already have at home can make great STEM toys too!
What skills will a STEM toy develop?
STEM toys should develop the key skills used in science, technology, engineering, and maths. These are things like critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving. Inquiry skills are important as being able to work in collaboration with others. STEM toys should promote curiosity, encourage design and develop a big imagination. Don’t worry if the toy you’re thinking of doesn’t tick all these boxes though. Most importantly toys should be fun and should keep kids wanting to come back to play more.
What is the best age for STEM toys?
Children of all ages should be playing with STEM toys (adults too)! From very basic building blocks for babies right up to sophisticated robotic programming kits for older teenagers, there is a STEM toy to suit every child. Of course, STEM toys can become more challenging as children get older and more experienced, but regardless of their ability and skill level, all children should be playing with toys that encourage an interest in academic disciplines.
Last update on 2023-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API