Gifts for Ages 8+

Electronics & Robotics Kit | Plug & Play, No Coding Required Electronics & Robotics Kit | Plug & Play, No Coding Required

Ages: 8+

Electronics can be a tricky concept to understand, but the Electronics & Robotics Kit* by TinkL Tinker Lab@Home from Butterfly EduFields allows children to build their own machines and robots complete with circuitry. Use wires and sensors to build many unique machines, from musical alarms to drawing robots. Learn how to build different designs with complex sensors and integrated robotics while also testing and improving on your design. Concepts of engineering, iterative design, and spatial reasoning are all practiced using the Electronics & Robotics Kit. ― Jaden Hernandez, Purdue Reviewer

Newton's Apple: Tightrope-Walking Gyrobot Newton's Apple: Tightrope-Walking Gyrobot

Ages: 8+

Has your child ever wondered how rockets steer, plane controls work, or space telescopes maintain their position? The gyroscope, the amazing technology behind all of these inventions, is a great introduction to complex machinery to any child. The Tightrope-Walking Gyrobot by Thames and Kosmos uses a motorized gyroscope to walk along thin objects including the edges of rulers, ropes, and anything else you dare to try. Accompanied by a detailed manual, users gain knowledge about gyroscopes and the roles they play in our world, as well as the physics behind them. This toy is a great choice for any user looking to improve their physics knowledge, practice spatial and logical reasoning, and learn more about the technology around them. ― A.R. Miller, Purdue Reviewer

Spintronics Act One Spintronics Act One

Ages: 8+

Upper Story LLC’s Spintronics Act One is a uniquely inventive toy that teaches kids about making circuits without the use of electricity or batteries. Users mimic different parts of an electrical circuit with physical hardware; wires become chains used to link together different resistors and connect switches to the motor. The included graphic novel encourages users to safely build different types of mechanical “circuits'' driven by the included pulley powered motor, while evaluating different circuits and communicating their findings in a way that meets professional standards. Allow a child in your life to go on a fun adventure while learning how to draw and construct circuits used in a variety of engineering jobs. ― Daisy Coble, Purdue Reviewer

Spintronics Act Two Spintronics Act Two

Ages: 8+

If you can’t get enough of UpperStory LLC’s Spintronics and want a bit more of a challenge, Spintronics Act Two is a great addition. Act Two builds upon all of the concepts of Act One by introducing even more physical representations of elements of circuitry. While you do need Act One to play Act Two, Act Two adds many more complex challenges for any child yearning to learn more about circuitry. Along with more base tiles and chains to allow for bigger more complex circuits, the set includes new pieces to learn about circuit components such as inductors and transistors. You also can buy the Spintronics Power Pack if you want to make your circuits even bigger by providing more resistors. These additions to Act One allow for even more freedom in designing and building safe, mechanical "circuits." ― Daisy Coble, Purdue Reviewer

micro:bit Base Kit V2 micro:bit Base Kit V2

Ages: 8+

Is your child a coding pro? Offer a new challenge with the micro:bit Base Kit V2 by Boolean Girl Inc. Use the provided sensors and parts to measure noise, display text, and so much more. With limited direction and additional sensors, this gift would be best for a child with some previous coding and/or micro:bit experience, or an older teen who is just beginning to understand the world of computers. This kit is incredibly versatile, allowing a wide variety of projects and endless creativity. The micro:bit Base Kit V2 promotes coding, problem solving, design, creativity, and science knowledge, all wrapped up in a fun and engaging package. With micro:bit Base Kit V2, anything is possible. ― Erica Corbeels, Purdue Reviewer

Water Filter Kit Water Filter Kit

Ages: 8 - 12

Pinwheel Crafts brings the wonder of a science classroom into the hands of a child with their Water Filter Kit. While the experiment setup can be time-consuming, users benefit from working to understand the problem at hand, recording observations and using those observations to come to evidence-based conclusions. Although this gift may not immediately seem like an engineering toy, the skills learned by the children playing with the toy are certainly transferable and overall valuable in their development. ― Jaden Hernandez, Purdue Reviewer

Solar Race Car Solar Race Car

Ages: 8+

The Solar Race Car from Thames & Kosmos takes the elusive concept of solar energy and packs it into a compact, affordable, and easy-to-understand kit that doubles as both a toy and a learning experience for a child. While users play with a toy car whose assembly promotes problem solving, spatial reasoning, and logical thinking, they will also get a better understanding of how solar energy is harnessed, the benefits and drawbacks of using solar cells, and how these concepts can be applied in the real world. If you want a simple and cost-effective toy to help a child in your life learn about alternative energy sources, the Solar Race Car is a great choice. ― Jaden Hernandez, Purdue Reviewer

TrainBots: 2-in-1 Steam Maker Kit TrainBots: 2-in-1 Steam Maker Kit

Ages: 8+

Get ready for an exhilarating STEM adventure with TrainBots: 2-in-1 Steam Maker Kit by Thames & Kosmos! Explore clean energy and the environmental impacts of industry through an engaging comic, and build the steam-powered robot that will save the world. Users practice real-life circuitry and fabrication skills to create a robot that turns water into mist. The TrainBots: 2-in-1 Steam Maker Kit promotes problem-solving, creativity, and applying science knowledge. ― Erica Corbeels, Purdue Reviewer

Hydraulic Boxing Bots Hydraulic Boxing Bots

Ages: 10+

Thames & Kosmos' Hydraulic Boxing Bots are a fun and creative way to allow a child in your life to play with a toy they spend the time building themselves. Children learn how the internal mechanisms of the toys operate, as well as how hydraulics are used. An attached booklet allows children to make connections between the hydraulic systems they are fabricating, and the usage of hydraulic systems are in real-world engineering disciplines. The Hydraulic Boxing Bots are great fun to play with siblings or with friends, since users build two robots and battle against each other. While building the kit can take a while, children practice not only spatial reasoning and fine motor skills, but also perseverance and engineering communication. ― Daisy Coble, Purdue Reviewer

KAI: The Artificial Intelligence Robot KAI: The Artificial Intelligence Robot

Ages: 10+

Artificial Intelligence has been a blossoming topic this year that will only continue to grow. Introducing your children to the basics can give them a head start, and make a seemingly scary topic a lot more accessible. This toy takes the wide, complex topic of artificial intelligence and makes it simplistic enough that children as young as ten can understand it. An included booklet explains why and how artificial intelligence is used in different fields while the KAI toy allows children to train an “artificially intelligent” robot that they build themselves, practicing a hands-on understanding of the topic. Build a robot, gather data, and execute code with KAI: The Artificial Intelligence Robot by Thames & Kosmos. ― Daisy Coble, Purdue Reviewer

Ada & Zangemann: A Tale of Software, Skateboards, and Raspberry Ice Cream Ada & Zangemann: A Tale of Software, Skateboards, and Raspberry Ice Cream

Ages: 10+

Technology is for least, that's the moral of Ada & Zangemann: A Tale of Software, Skateboards, and Raspberry Ice Cream by Matthias Kirschner and Sandra Brandstätter. This beautifully written and illustrated story follows a technological revolution that occurs when an inventor becomes enraged by the use of his creations for fun, rather than their intended purposes. Encouraging creative, out-of-the-box engineering thinking, problem-solving, and perseverance, as well as endless tinkering, Kirschner and Brandstätter weave a story that will encourage children to question who owns the technology around them, and why. ― A.R. Miller, Purdue Reviewer

Outsmart Cyberthreats Outsmart Cyberthreats

Ages: 10 - 14

In this new world of internet access, teaching and prioritizing internet safety is of the utmost importance. Outsmart Cyberthreats by Start Engineering would be a great guide for many children new to the internet that introduces them to everything from ransomware to safe passwords. Interesting programming guides in the back of the book reinforce computational and logical thinking, walking children through the world of cracking passwords and explaining how short and simple passwords are less safe than long, complex ones. A perfect stocking stuffer or educational item, this guide would be perfect year-round for children learning to use the internet. While this guide is more informative than fun, reading like this is essential to maintain proper internet safety. ― A.R. Miller, Purdue Reviewer

The LEGO Engineer The LEGO Engineer

Ages: 12+

Do you have a blossoming Master Builder in your life? Ever wondered how to transition their love of LEGOs to actual engineering projects? The LEGO Engineer by Jeff Friesen may be for them! With beautiful photographs and detailed explanations, Friesen provides information on some of the world’s most amazing engineering inventions, and then gives detailed steps on how to build LEGO models of each. This book challenges children’s spatial reasoning skills and logical and creative thinking skills while teaching them more about the world built around them. ― A.R. Miller, Purdue Reviewer

The Smart Student's Guide to Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 (2021 Edition) The Smart Student's Guide to Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 (2021 Edition)

Ages: 15+

Do you have a high schooler in your life who is looking at careers in STEM but does not know where to start? The Smart Student’s Guide to Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 by Mike Nager may be the perfect book for them. The art of combining everything from eco-friendly factories to new-age automation to even artificial intelligence, Nager convinces any reader that smart manufacturing is the wave of the future. Challenging an older reader’s logical and critical thinking skills, perseverance, and principles of science, engineering, and math, The Smart Student’s Guide to Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 is a great introduction to the 4th industrial revolution and opens reader’s minds to the career opportunities that lie ahead. ― A.R. Miller, Purdue Reviewer