Child playing with Magformers' Challenger toy.


Inspiring children and teens through the wonder of play

The INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering at Purdue University works to integrate engineering with science, math, and language arts in pre-college classrooms, and we do this by engaging learners and promoting participation of students from groups underrepresented in engineering. Our 2023 gift guide (released 11/15/2023) is filled with more than two dozen toys, games, kits, puzzles, and books to engage children and teens in engineering thinking and design.

Faculty with the Purdue University School of Engineering Education and our dedicated INSPIRE Student Research Team search for and evaluate items that promote various engineering practices ranging from coding and spatial reasoning to problem solving and critical thinking. We put all the items we consider through an extensive review process.

For ten consecutive years, our annual gift guide has helped millions of parents and caregivers to choose thoughtful, engineering-inspired holiday presents that encourage kids to design, build, code, play, and discover how things work. 


KIBO 15 Robot Kit
The KIBO 15 STEAM Robot is a toy that uses infrared scanners and bar codes on physical blocks to code a robot that can listen for noise, move, and even put on a light show.

Spintronics Act One
Spintronics Act One is toy that teaches kids about making circuits without the use of electricity or batteries.

KAI: The Artificial Intelligence Robot
KAI: The Artificial Intelligence Robot is a toy that introduces kids to the basics of artificial intelligence (AI), explaining why and how AI is used in different fields while allowing them to train and build a robot.

Reel Big Catch Game
The Reel Big Catch Game is a toy that helps kids learn to measure things.

How to Explain Coding to a Grown-Up is a picture book that makes complicated programming topics accessible through the lens of a child explaining coding to an adult.

Research Base for Engineering Gift Guide

Moore, T.J., Glancy, A.W., Tank, K.M., Kersten, J.A., Smith, K.A., & Stohlmann, M.S.  (2014). A framework for quality K-12 engineering education: Research and development. Journal of Precollege Engineering Education Research, 4(1), 1-13. 

Dasgupta, A., Rynearson, A., Purzer, S., Ehsan, H., & Cardella, M. (2017). Computational Thinking in K-2 Classrooms: Evidence from Student Artifacts (Fundamental). 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings.


Learn more about the Engineering Gift Guide's submission process.

Questions? Contact our team at

Mailing Address

Purdue University, Wang Hall, Suite 3500
ATTN: Tamara Moore
516 Northwestern Avenue, Room 3506
West Lafayette, IN 47906

Financial Support for Gift Guide

General Motors Foundation