STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) toys allow kids to take on challenging subjects using play. Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht stopped by the offices of Family Circle magazine to show off some of the hottest STEM toys on the market. For more on the products featured in this segment, check out the notes below, and be sure to view our complete holiday gift guide.

3doodler-start_3doodler13Doodler Start (Wobble Works)

  • With the new 3Doodler Start, kids can finally bring all of their wonderful and imaginative ideas to life in 3D.
  • This 3D printing pen extrudes an eco-friendly plastic that cools and hardens rapidly, allowing kids to literally draw in the air.
  • Specially designed to be clean and safe for kids, with no hot parts or messy resins or glues.
  • Easy to use thanks to one speed, one temperature, and no software or technical knowledge required – just turn it on, insert a strand and start doodling in 3D.
  • Ages: 8+
  • MSRP: $49.99
  • Available: Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble

barbiestemkit_thamesandkosmosBarbie STEM Kit (Thames & Kosmos)

  • Thames & Kosmos partners with Mattel for a science kit featuring Barbie and Nikki.
  • This project kit includes plastic building pieces and science experiment materials, as well as a Barbie or Nikki doll, to create a complete experience based on the concept “You Dream It… You Make It!”
  • Kids will build a washing machine, rotating closet, and more, all compatible with the Barbie Dreamhouse. Plus, design fashions for Barbie to wear.
  • Learn about chromatics, engineering, and more.
  • Ages: 4+
  • MSRP: $29.95
  • Available: Toys “R” Us, Target, Walmart

mighty-makers-directors-cut-building-set_knexMighty Makers Director’s Cut Building Set (K’NEX)

  • Film the next big movie with Lily and her dog, Zoom, with the Director’s Cut Building Set.
  • Build the stage where the video shoot takes place. Once filming has ended, rebuild the stage into a theater to watch the final cut!
  • Have a mobile phone, or small tablet? Kids can film your own movie by building the device stand to hold your phone or tablet, and watch it back with your friends and family!
  • Ages: 7+
  • MSRP: $34.99
  • Available: Toys “R” Us, Amazon

leapstart_leapfrog2LeapStart (LeapFrog)

  • The LeapStart interactive learning systems are designed to help build key skills and challenge kids to get ready for their next step in learning.
  • Using the stylus, kids can tap any page to activate audio responses and play activities designed to keep them engaged and coming back for more.
  • Each book in the library is packed with over 30 activities. Games, jokes and songs come to life, enticing kids to trace numbers, hunt for letters, compose their own music and so much more.
  • Ages: 2-7
  • MSRP: $39.99
  • Available: Amazon, Target, Toys R Us, Walmart

vex-robotics-zip-flyer-by-hexbug_hexbugVEX Robotics Zip Flyer (Hexbug)

  • Ready, set, take to the sky! The VEX Robotics Zip Flyer is a re-envisioned take on airborne adventures.
  • This robotic gadget is capable of shooting propellers more than 30 feet in the air once kids build the structure using snap-together pieces.
  • Pull the zip-cord stick to release, the faster you pull, the higher they’ll go.
  • The excitement doesn’t stop there, the VEX Robotics Zip Flyer can be built for both handheld and tabletop action; two ways to build, two ways to launch.
  • Once it’s up and running, this model is fun for hours. Includes 3 propeller flyers.
  • Challenge yourself and your friends, how far can you make your propellers travel?
  • Ages: 8+
  • MSRP: $12.99
  • Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us


BOSEbuild Speaker Cube (BOSE)

  • The BOSEbuild Speaker Cube uses high-quality parts and materials for durability. It’s easy to build, too. Its instructions involve discovery and education – from how a simple magnet and coil make sound, to how a speaker reproduces music.
  • The coaching is delivered through a free companion app that combines step-by-step guidance with hands-on interaction, confirming success along the way until the Speaker Cube is fully assembled.
  • Kids can add colored LED lights and silhouette covers, for a completely customized speaker.
  • The Speaker Cube pairs to any smartphone or tablet, so kids can stream their favorite songs in an instant.
  • Ages: 8+
  • MSRP: $149.00
  • Available: Amazon,

cognitoys-dino_cognitoys-by-elemental-path2CogniToys Dino (Elemental Path)

  • CogniToys are Internet-connected smart toy Dinosaurs that are changing theway kids learn and play.
  • The Dinosaurs are smart devices in toy form, tailored just for kids to provide an educational and entertaining experience without the need for a screen.
  • Powered by Elemental Path’s “Friendgine” and IBM’s Watson technologies, CogniToys respond to thousands of questions across multiple topics with age appropriate answers.
  • Additionally, the Dinos explore educational subjects like spelling, geography and math through games and stories designed to challenge kids’ problem-solving abilities.
  • While other tech toys rely on pre-programmed responses, CogniToys listen to kids’ questions and adapt to their interests, creating a unique opportunity for interactive learning.
  • The cute and curious 7-inch Dinos are Wi-Fi-enabled and Cloud-based and update regularly as new content becomes available.
  • The toy explores favorite colors, animals and more to customize engagement as well. Each toy comes with access to the CogniToys Parent Panel, a platform that provides analytics on a child’s progress across content modules for parents to review.
  • Ages: 5-9
  • MSRP: $119.99
  • Available: Toys “R” Us

little-scholar-mini_school-zone-publishing2Little Scholar Mini (School Zone)

  • With over 36 years of experience as the leaders in providing early education resources, School Zone Publishing Company continues to innovate and provide fun learning tools for kids.
  • The Little Scholar Mini is a 7-inch children’s tablet that comes preloaded with over 70 apps, books, games, videos and songs that improve your child’s reading, math and spelling skills.
  • The tablet includes Charlie & Company, School Zone’s Intellectual Property video series.
  • Ages: 3-7
  • MSRP: $129
  • Available: Amazon, Toys “R” Us

kurio-watch_kd-group1Kurio Watch (KD Group)

  • This Bluetooth smartwatch is made specifically for kids and features a sleek, modern design with smooth rounded edges,  an adjustable soft silicone band, and a responsive touchscreen with excellent resolution.
  • Features an alarm, calculator, music and video players, front-facing camera, activity tracker, and mini games that detect precise wrist movement thanks to its built-in accelerometer.
  • Kids can also message friends and family via other Kurio or Android devices, all within a safe distance using Bluetooth technology.
  • When connected to a parent’s smartphone, Kurio Watch also becomes a hands-free way for kids to take phone calls.
  • Parents can also enter vital ICE (In Case of Emergency) information, including blood type, any allergies and an emergency contact.
  • Ages: 6+
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • Available: Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Amazon

bloxelsblocksBloxels (Mattel)

  • Build your own video games with Bloxels!
  • Create and animate play spaces, characters and objects because you are the artist, fame designer, storyteller, programmer, publisher, and player.
  • The physical pieces in the Bloxels game set work with the free Bloxels Builder app to digitize your creations, put them on-screen and make them playable.
  • Each block represents a different element of the video game, so kids can place blocks on the grid, scan the grid into the app, and watch their video game level take shape!
  • Play levels created by other players online.
  • MSRP: $49.99
  • Ages: 8+