The Best Solar Toys in 2020 for Learning about Renewable Energy

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Renewable energy is the future and there is no denying it. Not only because solar is now the cheapest form of electricity production in history, but also because cutting our carbon emissions is essential for reducing the impacts of climate change.

As such, we think it is critical that the kids of today are learning about renewable energy and its importance, and there are a lot of great kits which aim to do just that! Below we have compiled what we think are some of the best solar energy toys for kids in 2020, as well as other renewable energy toys for learning about other forms of renewable energy like wind and hydro power.

1. OWI 14-in-one Solar Robot

This innovative kit is great for teaching kids about robotics and renewable energy

 

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  • Best for Learning: Engineering, Solar Energy.

  • Recommended Age: 10+ years.

We think one of the best ways to learn about solar energy is to see it in action, which is why we love the 14-in-one solar robot from OWI. The idea is that kids snap together K’Nex type pieces to assemble different robots. When sunlight hits the solar panels on the robots, it is then converted into kinetic energy for movement.

This is great for learning about cause and effect, plus experimenting with the designs can help build other STEM skills like the basics of engineering. However, you should note that this is a science toy and not an RC kit, so don’t expect the robots to be whizzing around the place! Regardless, we think this is one of the best solar powered toys for learning about the links between solar and kinetic energy.

2. OWI Super Solar Recycler

 

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  • Best for Learning: Engineering, Solar Energy.

  • Recommended Age: 10+ years.

The Super Solar Recycler is another solar kit for kids by OWI where young renewable energy enthusiasts build their own solar-powered robots. However, where this solar power educational kit differs from the solar robot above is that each build features recycled materials such as plastic bottles, drinks cans or old CDs! The builds include a walking robot, bottle yacht, street roller, and a tricycle.

We think this renewable energy kit is really innovative and a great way to teach kids about recycling in addition to solar energy. Plus the fact that you are using everyday items is great for inspiring creativity. It’s certainly another one of the best solar toys for learning about renewable energy and reusing materials!

3. K’Nex Education Renewable Energy Set

This K'nex kit is one of the best renewable energy solar toys in 2018

 

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  • Best for Learning: Engineering, Solar, Hydro & Wind Power.

  • Recommended Age: 10+ years.

The above two solar toy kits are great if you are looking for an inexpensive way to show kids about how solar panels works. However, if you have a bit more of a budget the next two kits offer a more complete renewable energy learning experience.

First up is the Renewable Energy Set from K’Nex, which as you would expect, features signature high quality K’Nex snap together parts. In addition, it also includes a motor, solar cell and blades for powering the wind turbine! There are ideas for 9 builds with this renewable energy kit, which aim to teach kids about solar, hydro and wind power.

However, the best part is that it is compatible with all other K’Nex pieces, which means there is lots of room for open ended play. Kids can create their own designs and then try to power them with renewable energy! As such, this kit is great for building engineering skills, as well as inspiring creativity and learning about forces, leverage, simple machines and more.

And if that wasn’t enough, K’Nex also include a complete teaching guide designed to align with national standards including NSES, ITEEA, NCTM and Common Core Mathematics. So this is great for classroom, homeschool and home learning. The versatility and all-round learning experience in this renewable energy toy is why we think it is one of the best eco toys in 2020.

4. Horizon Renewable Energy Science Education SetThe Horizon set is a great eco toy for learning about renewable energy

 

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  • Best for Learning: Solar, Hydro & Wind Power, Electronic Engineering Basics.

  • Recommended Age: 10+ years.

Similar to the K’Nex set above, the Renewable Energy Science Education Set from Horizon is another top solar toy designed for experimentation. However, where it differs is the design and creativity aspect as all the parts are mostly assembled. These include a miniature wind turbine kit, a solar photovoltaic panel, an electrolyzer, a PEM fuel cell, and hydrogen storage system!

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Following the included assembly guide, kids can learn how to put together and configure an entire mini renewable energy system. Additionally, it also includes an experimentation manual to further complement the learning experience, so is a fantastic tool for educators. We think the Horizon Renewable Energy Kit is one of the best eco toys for learning about renewable energy systems, the only downside is it lacks the creative engineering aspect of the K’Nex set. 

Powering a New Renewable Energy Future

Whichever of the renewable energy toys above that you select, we are confident that your child will have a blast, and you can rest assured that they are learning all about solar power, plus wind and other renewables, while they have fun!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best renewable energy kit for kids?

That’s a tricky question to answer because there are lots of great options available! It depends on the age and interests of the child, and your budget. There are solar toys from OWI that are a great starting point. At a higher price point, K’Nex and Horizon make more comprehensive renewable energy toys that include more options. STEM Toy Expert has a guide to some of the best renewable energy toys on the market right now.

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How do solar power toys work?

Solar-powered toys work using the same principles as other solar-powered devices. Light striking a solar panel surface is converted into electrical energy, which flows through to a motor, light or some other component that undertakes work using that energy.

Do solar-powered toys need direct sunlight?

It depends on the exact toy, but most solar toys need direct sunlight to provide enough energy to the working parts of the toy, especially if movement is involved.

Where can I buy solar-powered toys?

Solar-powered toys are available at most reputable toy stores. You can also select from a wide range of solar toys and renewable energy kits on Amazon.

 

Mark Coster, BSc(Hons) PhD MRACI CChem