2021 is the perfect year to give a STEM related gift, as distance learning has ushered in a new generation of tech-savvy kids. We here at Career In STEM® believe that STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math – is a mindset. And to be successful in our rapidly advancing world, we need kids who can think critically and DO things with their knowledge – in other words, apply STEM as a mindset to all situations. Here are my top 5 Best STEM Gifts of 2021 to help the kids in your life build a STEM mindset (and have a TON of fun)!
Best STEM Gifts 2021
- November 23, 2021
- Posted by: Ashley Pereira
- Category: STEM education
#1 = 3Doodler
The 3Doodler is hands down the best way to introduce kids to 3D printing. As 3D printing technology becomes more advanced and widely applied (homes, organs, computer parts, toys – you name it, a 3D printer can create it!), familiarity with what 3D printing is and how it works are must-have 21st century skills. I got the 3Doodler Start+ for my son, who is eight. Right out of the box it was exceptionally easy to use; he created his first 3Doodle within 5 minutes! I love the 3Doodler because it makes 3D printing technology accessible to everyone, even young children. My daughter, who is six, was also able to create her own creations! The 3Doodler is affordable, easy, comes with everything you need to get started right away, and scaffolds advancement of skills with a colorful, helpful getting started guide. I also like that add-on accessories such as a project book, refills, carrying case, and project kits are available for the 3Doodler, making it a long-lasting gift with real impacts. Most importantly, the 3Doodler has helped instill a ‘maker mindset’ in my kids. For example, a piece fell off one of my son’s toys. Without my prompting he said, “Hey, I wonder if I can use the 3Doodler to fix it!”. He gave it a try; it wasn’t perfect but it worked! He’s also been using the 3Doodler to make his own figurines to play with. ‘Making’ at its finest! The 3Doodler earns the #1 spot on our Best STEM Gifts 2021 because of its ability to cultivate a maker mindset in children from a young age. A MUST HAVE this holiday season! Get the 3Doodler for every kid on your list here. ages 6+ MSRP $49.99
Coding and computer science is the language of the 21st century. Despite its preeminence, few schools teach this critically needed skill. ANd not only will your kids learn computer science (without even realizing it!) they will also be building skills across all domains of STEM:
- Science & Math = applications of physics and motion, plus the vast array of sensors onboard the mBot for experimentation and fun
- Technology = use the corresponding Makeblock app to learn coding, program your mBot to do whatever you want, and level up as your skills advance
- Engineering = assemble mBot Ranger with easy to follow instructions (akin to Legos), and try three different versions of mBot for further experimentation & testing
The Makeblock mBot Ranger earns the #2 place on our Best STEM Gifts 2021 list because of its unique ability to teach computer science and STEM skills through natural play. It is like a remote control car but MUCH cooler! Get your mBot Ranger here! ages 6+ MSRP $149.99
# 3 – STEM Kits
No doubt you’ve seen a variety of STEM kits advertised, and their all-in-one nature is appealing. That being said, not all STEM kits are created equally! When considering a STEM kit as a gift this holiday season, here are the top two things to look for:
- Easy to use right away. Before purchasing a STEM kit, it should be immediately clear what you will get with the kit, what kids will do using the kit, and that everything they need to do it immediately (out of the box) is included.
- Matched to a specific interest. It’s no secret that the best gifts are meaningful gifts – that someone knows your interests and spends the time to find and give a gift that matches! See below for examples & ideas.
- Variety of hands-on options. The biggest thing to watch out for when considering a STEM Kit is the ‘one and done’. Avoid kits that have students follow a linear path to arrive at a predetermined conclusion, and that’s it! The best STEM kits will allow for flexibility, creativity, and multiple different types of uses throughout the year. In other words, make sure it is a gift that will keep on giving!
Here’s some of my top picks for STEM Kits that meet the criteria above:
Yummy Rainbow Lip Balm Lab
Why gift pretend makeup when you can get a STEM Kit that empowers kids to make their own real thing! Mix up a rainbow of mouth-wateringly delicious lip glosses, experiment with a vibrant spectrum of colors and flavors, and create your own personalized lip products. This cosmetics laboratory includes a special workstation and all the ingredients, containers, and tools you need! ages 8+ MSRP $29.95
Mega Cyborg Hand
Build your own BIG hydraulic hand! Using over 200 pieces, use this STEM Kit to assemble a cyborg hand, fill the piston tubes with water, and adjust it to fit your own hand. Challenge yourself to configure the hand to grip various items like bottles, balls, pencils, small items — anything within reach! Ages 8+ MSRP $39.95
Gumball Machine Maker
Build your own gumball machines and learn physics lessons in the process with this super fun and super yummy STEM Kit. Create an almost limitless number of different gumball machines with cool stunts and tricks. Each segment of the track teaches a different lesson in mechanical physics – simple machines, force, motion, momentum, gravity, Newton’s laws, energy transfer, and more! ages 6+ MSRP $39.95
Have an outdoorsy kid that loves to hunt for cool rocks? Then this hobby Rock Tumbler from Nat Geo is the perfect fit! I really like this gift because it promotes outdoor exploration, hones observation skills, empowers kids to get dirty in the name of science, and captures the beauty of scientific discovery. It came with everything needed right out of the box, and some extras like jewelry fasteners to wear discoveries! My daughter loves to dig for cool rocks…in our driveway unfortunately. In addition to everything I just mentioned, this was the perfect gift for her because it enhanced something she already loves to do, which is my definition of a perfect gift! She loves to dig for rocks, and this rock tumbler helps her take her love of geology and archeology to the next level, while unearthing the beauty of everyday rocks right here at home. ages 4+ MSRP $59.99
#5 – 3DuxDesign
If you have a kid that likes to build stuff and get creative, 3DuxDesign STEM modeling sets are a perfect fit, and include everything you need to get your young designer thinking outside the box! With a huge assortment of geometric forms and connectors engineered to fit most cardboard, children never run out of raw material to work with and learn about creative repurposing while they build. 3Dux also includes STEM challenge cards to give kids a launch point, with limitless possibilities. Unlike Legos, 3DuxDesign is very inquiry based and leverages natural interests and curiosity. Thus 3DuxDesign earns its place on our Best STEM Gifts post for its ability to unleash the imagination and inspire the change-maker in every child. Get your 3DuxDesign STEM modeling set here. ages 4+ MSRP $24.95
And of course, cool STEM BOOKS are always a must!
Want even more ideas? Check out our top 5 STEM Gifts from last year – still just as STEMtastic!
So there you have it! Five super cool STEM gifts for this holiday season. As I mentioned earlier, the best gift is one that enhances something your child already loves to do. When thinking of the ultimate gift this year, first make a list of everyone on your list. Then for each kid on your list, add his or her top three interests (music, basketball, bugs, etc.). Then use the options above as a starting point to find something that matches. From the Career In STEM® family to yours, wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!