Sick of chemistry sets? Fed up with potato batteries? When it comes to kids and science, there are a set few toys that everyone seems to come back to, but there’s a whole lot more out there than the standards. These toys let kids learn while doing really cool things – so cool, you might have to steal a turn with them yourselves.
I’ve always considered Lego one of the crown jewels of creative toys. There’s just something about giving kids the freedom to build whatever they want. The Mindstorms line adds an extra dash of geekery by including bricks with mini-computers so you can build and program Lego robots. It’s been around since the early 1990s, but the computers included today are understandably more sophisticated than when I was a kid. The newest version is Mindstorms NXT 2.0, which comes with colour, ultrasonic, and touch sensors, and includes a CD-ROM with the NXT-G programming software so you can go beyond the prepackaged programs. Available for $280 US/$350 CDN from the Lego store.
We’ve mentioned ThinkGeek before as a great place for your geeky merchandise needs, but we also love its toy selection. Doodle Track is an ingenious little invention for any kid who loves Hot Wheels and other race car toys. The Doodle Track car contains optical sensors that sense black lines and guide the car along them. All you need to do is draw a line in black marker and the car will follow it. Now your child can truly create her own racetracks in whatever shape she likes. Recommended for ages 3-7. Available for $14.99 US from ThinkGeek.
What a sweet way to learn about the science of taste. This kit gives you everything you need to create your own confections except the actual foods. (But that’s good, because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to sip it outside the US.) It comes with spatulas, molds, baking cups, lollipop sticks and more, plus a 48-page book of recipes, experiments, and science facts. Mix, stir, mold and bake while learning about the molecular reactions that make candy taste so good. Just make sure you don’t hog the results for yourself. Recommended for ages 10 and up. Available for $49.99 US from Steve Spangler Science.
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