Gifts Under $30

Spin Plus 6 Piece Set Spin Plus 6 Piece Set

Ages: 3+

The Spin Plus 6 Piece Set by Magformers presents an effortless way for a child to hone their spatial reasoning and pattern recognition abilities while accessing their creative side. While the Spin Plus set appears to simply be a fidget spinner at first glance, the magnetic construction parts that come in the box can attach to each other or the fidget spinner to allow for many different designs and patterns to be created. Users can simply stack varying colors onto the fidget spinner to achieve different spinning visuals, or create three dimensional shapes with the spinner and pieces fixed on a surface. Overall, the Spin Plus Set is a fantastic start to getting children to think creatively and critically about the processes of design. ― Jaden Hernandez, Purdue Reviewer

Challenger 14 Piece Set Challenger 14 Piece Set

Ages: 3+

Although the fourteen pieces in Magformers’ Challenger 14 Piece Set may not seem like a lot, the possibilities for construction are endless with the set’s intuitive building scheme. This set is a great way for children to practice their spatial reasoning, pattern recognition, and even mathematical skills as they keep track of the various shapes and colors of Magformers’ signature neon, magnetic parts. While the set itself encourages free-form creation, an idea booklet also is included in case children run out of ideas, or don’t know where to start. The Challenger 14 Piece Set is one of the many Magformers’ products that you can add to your collection that allow children to harness their creativity while practicing engineering skills. ― Jaden Hernandez, Purdue Reviewer

Tactile Turtles Math Activity Set Tactile Turtles Math Activity Set

Ages: 3+

Learning to count and developing basic pattern recognition are vital skills to gain for any young child. The Tactile Turtles Math Activity Set by hand2mind provides a fun and hands-on experience that develops these skills. The included turtle-shaped pieces have many different patterns, sizes, and colors that can be sorted in many different ways by themselves. This toy also comes with different activity boards which can encourage the user to find different groupings and patterns between the turtles. With the guidance of a trusted adult, young children can start making connections between numbers and the different patterns they find. ― Daisy Coble, Purdue Reviewer

Reel Big Catch Game Reel Big Catch Game

Ages: 3+

Teaching abstract concepts like measuring can be a challenge. Why not make it fun? With the Reel Big Catch Game by Educational Insights, let your child develop math and science skills while having a blast. With easy-to-understand instructions and a variety of measuring tapes that build in complexity, learning about measurements becomes an engaging activity the entire family can enjoy. ― Erica Corbeels, Purdue Reviewer

How to Explain Coding to a Grown-Up How to Explain Coding to a Grown-Up

Ages: 4 - 8

Many adults and even engineers struggle to understand programming. However, the book How to Explain Coding to a Grown-Up by Ruth Spiro makes complicated programming topics accessible through the lens of a child explaining coding to an adult. Functions are summarized by playing on a playset, while algorithm flowcharts are interspersed among the beautiful illustrations. Driving home core engineering competencies of computational thinking, logical thinking, and problem-solving, this beautifully written and illustrated book will be fun and informative for children and adults alike. ― A.R. Miller, Purdue Reviewer

All About Smart Manufacturing All About Smart Manufacturing

Ages: 5+

Know a curious kid who wants to learn more about how things are made? The All About Smart Manufacturing picture book from Industrial Insights LLC demonstrates how every item in your house is a product of engineering. Manufacturing engineers have a hand in getting every product that we use onto store shelves. This book shows the process of manufacturing, and what different processes and robotics are used to store and transport products. Learn to question where the items you use and see every day come from, and how much work goes into producing them. Readers can expect to practice their engineering communication skills, and logical and computational thinking skills. ― Daisy Coble, Purdue Reviewer

Dream, Invent, Create: Engineer the World Dream, Invent, Create: Engineer the World

Ages: 5 - 8

While practicing engineering skills is important, so is understanding the challenges engineers tackle. With Dream, Invent, Create: Engineer the World by Start Engineering, explore the world through technological achievements and the problems engineers are currently facing. Help the children in your life to understand the context of engineering and how they can use engineering to solve real-world issues with this engaging educational book. ― Erica Corbeels, Purdue Reviewer

MathLink® Cubes Brain Puzzle Challenge MathLink® Cubes Brain Puzzle Challenge

Ages: 5+

Looking for a gift for a young math whizz? Clocking in at $19.99, MathLink® Cubes Brain Puzzle Challenge from Learning Resources is an affordable collection of games and puzzles that packs an educational punch. Practice counting, pattern recognition, and even basic coding skills in a fun and engaging way. This gift grows with them through different activities for all ages. Give the gift of math proficiency this year with MathLink® Cubes Brain Puzzle Challenge. ― Erica Corbeels, 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

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

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