STEM toys for girls a great way to inspire girls and get them interested in science, technology, engineering and math, whilst being tons of fun at the same time. If you’re new to the concepts, you may be wondering why we believe STEM toys for girls are so important, but to answer that question we will have to dive into some STEMtistics! When it comes to STEM fields, women are massively underrepresented. As of 2016, women made up just 26% of the computing workforce and 13% of the engineering. This becomes more alarming when you learn that STEM jobs earn significantly more than non STEM!
Most of the start-ups here were founded by young women with a background in STEM who wanted to inspire the next generation. However, you may notice that not all the toys here are specifically designed for girls. This is because many are gender neutral and the list would be incomplete without them. Otherwise, read on for our recommendation of the top 10 best STEM toys for girls 2018.
Founded by two female engineers from Stanford University, Roominate was created to inspire the next generation of innovators. The kits enable you to build your own structures using easy-to-fit together parts. You can then customize the inside by building furniture, staircases and adding stickers. Additionally, it comes with motors and electrical components which allow you to make an elevator, spinning windmill, carousel and more. The company also released an app allowing you to control and connect the different components. It’s like your very own mini smart-home!
Since being named the #1 toy of the year in Time Magazine a few years ago, the startup has expanded into an impressive range. From RV’s, to amusement parks, to mansions, the sets are all compatible with each other so your kids can let their imaginations run wild! Roominate is a great way to develop engineering skills, and the best part is it’s super affordable. It’s easy to see why these multi-award winning sets are number one on our best STEM toys for girls 2018 list!
Released by Anki in late 2016, Cozmo is the artificial intelligence (AI) robot you’ve only ever seen in movies. Reminiscent of Disney’s Wall-E, Cozmo is just as cute and packed full of emotions and moods which develop the more you hang out! Download the app to play games and unlock new skills, features and levels – this is where Cozmo really comes to life. If it loses it gets sad (only for a little while!), if Cozmo wins the robot is happy. If bored, it will nudge you to play, if you ignore Cozmo it can get cranky. Sometimes it’s easy to forget it isn’t alive – especially when Cozmo calls your name! (enabled with state of the art facial recognition software).
Cozmo Software Development Kit (SDK)
The Cozmo SDK is easily the most interesting and exciting feature. This platform allows you to write your own custom code for Cozmo, to create almost any experience you can think of! Anki provide 10+ example scripts to get things started, which include teaching Cozmo to sing a scale or patrol for intruders. But after this it’s up to your imagination. Due to the fact Cozmo can connect to 3rd party APIs like IFTTT and Twitter, there really are so many possibilities for exploring programming. If you want to find out more about the SDK, click here.
If you think this might all sound a little too advanced, Anki also recently added a graphical drag and drop styled programming option in the App. This simplifies the whole process as kids simply move blocks of commands into sequences and execute the commands, so is a good option for complete beginners to understand the basics. Cozmo provides hours of fun at the same time as teaching your kids the essential skill of coding. Our best STEM toys for girls 2018 list wouldn’t be complete without this awesome robotics set from Anki!
Similar to Roominate, Goldieblox is designed to develop mechanical engineering skills through creative exploration. Aimed at a slightly younger audience, the kit comes with a storybook where kids follow Goldie the inventor & her friends on adventures. In order to solve Goldie’s problems and challenges, you have to build simple structures and machines. These include anything from ice cream trucks to parade floats to a fully-functioning guitar! We really like this story line styled learning experience and think it is great for keeping kids engaged.
The most exciting set has to be the ‘Invention Mansion‘. The set comes with 2 builds complete with a trap door, zipline, balconies, bridges, and secret spots. Once built, you can then reconfigure to your heart’s content – doors become platforms and ladders become bridges! Girls are more engaged with building when what they are making has a purpose, says founder Debbie Sterling. So the story line is really what sets Goldieblox apart from the rest. If you are looking for something a little more basic than Roominate, this is a great place to start!
Similar to Cozmo, Wonder Workshop’s Dash Robot is the multi-award winning toy which makes learning to code fun for kids. Using the visual and intuitive apps, you can program Dash to do a bunch of things such as navigate around the house, dance, make sounds, light up, avoid obstacles, and even react to a voice! One of the best parts about this kit is that you don’t need any instructions. It’s ready to go straight out the box! The apps feature built in tutorials in a picture based format which makes it super easy to bring Dash to life and begin programming. There is literally hundreds of of challenges, projects and puzzles to get stuck into, as well as virtually unlimited free-play options.
We think this is one of the most engaging and inventive toys on the market and is a great way to begin learning to code. We’d highly recommend Dash to a younger audience or any parents who feel Cozmo might be to complicated for their child. It’s not hard to see why Wonder Workshop have won so many awards, they have certainly earned their place on our best STEM toys for girls 2018 list! Wonder Workshop also make a cheaper alternative called Dot, find out more here.
Science is an important, but often neglected, area of STEM. However, due to the high number of technology and engineering toys on the market, science toys tend to get drowned out. Nancy Bs Science Club Chemistry Lab & Kitchen Experiments is a great way for kids to safely learn basic chemistry and scientific principles. As such, it really deserves a place on our best STEM toys for girls 2018 list.
Using everyday household ingredients, you can make your own ‘bubbling lava’ in a bottle, cause chemicals to change colour, extinguish a flame with invisible gas and much more! But don’t worry, this is all safely taught through an exciting and educational activity journal which introduces atoms, molecules, density and teaches testing against variables. The set also includes a beaker, 4 test tubes, a rack, a graduated cylinder, lab glasses, a dropper, a funnel and a stirring rod, which makes it a perfect introduction to scientific equipment.
What we love about this set is that it all the experiments can be carried out with things found in the kitchen. This is inspiring for kids because it turns otherwise uninteresting things into something exciting, and helps foster a natural curiosity for science. With a masters in Science Education, Nancy Balter designed this kit to encourage confidence in science in young girls. And we think it does just that!
Founded in 1932, Lego are one of the oldest and most recognised STEM toys on the market. The sets are great for all ages and genders, but with the launch of Lego friends they have become that little bit more accessible for girls. The series features 4 characters who go on adventures together to build an amusement park, a puppy day care, a pizzeria and much more! The amusement park set features a full functioning, giant 27” long roller coaster and 12” high ferris wheel complete with lights and accessories. This may sound complicated, but the build is made easy with Lego’s signature easy-to-follow instructions.
It’s a super exciting build and a great way to get started with Lego. There are also loads of other sets in the Friends series that you can buy to expand the collection, with new sets being added all the time. Our best STEM toys for girls 2018 list would not be complete without a classic Lego set, and we believe this is one of the best on the market for girls. That said, it does seem a little counterintuitive to be designed ‘girly’ Lego sets and in some ways it seems as though we are playing into stereotypes. Is it harmful or is inspiring girls to get into engineering a good thing regardless? We will let you be the judge of that…
Similar to Lego, K’Nex are a household name when it comes to construction toys for kids. However, it differs in that the models are made up of simple rods and connectors, which provides greater flexibility. Additionally, they also cater to a slightly older audience. The Mighty Makers series is designed to inspire girls through creative, story-based building sets – a recurring theme throughout STEM toys. In the World Travels set we follow Ava and her pet panda as they travel the world and construct famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Empire State Building plus 10 other cool builds!
What we love about this set is that it not only teaches engineering, but a little geography as well. With fun, interactive play, it teaches how diverse and interesting different cultures are around the world. If your child gets on well with this set, The Mighty Makers series has tons of other great sets to get stuck into. Our best STEM toys for girls 2018 list would not be complete without this classic construction toy!
The Gears! Gears! Gears! building sets by Learning Resources are designed to develop early STEM skills in young children. The ultimate goal of this set is to learn cause and effect – if I make this design decision, what will be the result of spinning the gears in this way? Figure out how to make cascading flower streams, build horizontally and construct your garden bed complete with flowers, ladybugs and butterflies. Children have to experiment, test and tinker to make their creations come to life and work. These are exactly the kind of skills required in STEM fields. And there’s no better way to learn than with play!
This is a great way to get young girls started with construction and engineering toys. A great precursor to Lego or K’Nex, this set should keep your kid entertained whilst learning at the same time. Furthermore, if they get on well with it, there is tons of expansions in the series! It’s not hard to see why it has won several awards from both the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio and The Toy insider…
We’ve told you that science is one of the most neglected areas of the STEM toy market, but have yet to introduce another science based toy. Our best STEM toys for girls 2018 list would not be complete without a microscope, and Educational Insights Geo-Safari Microscope is certainly one of the best value kits available. With magnification of 50x, 100x, 150x, 300x, and 600x, this microscope has the power to turn everyday things into something exciting. Check out butterfly wings, ants and more under the lens. Observe spongy leaf cells or the crazy crystalline structure of a strand of hair – this microscope is a curious kids dream!
Additionally, this 48-piece kit comes with a whole load of accessories. Three prepared slides, 3 specimen vials and 8 guided activities help to get things started. It also comes with lots of other basic scientific equipment such as petri dishes, pipettes and test tubes! This is a beginners microscope and serves that purpose fantastically, but it won’t produce a very high resolution image under high magnification. If you are looking for a more advanced piece of kit, read on for our recommendation.
If you are looking for a high quality, beginners microscope, we think the My First Lab Duo-Scope is one of the best out there. Lab-grade parts produce high resolution images from 40x to 400x magnification. You may have seen cheaper microscopes which advertise higher magnification, but this is essentially pointless as the low quality parts used mean you can’t focus the image. To contrast, the Duo-Scope only uses glass optics, which produce a crystal clear image. The kit comes with 4 prepared slides, as well as tons of other bits of scientific equipment and 2 non-toxic stains to make viewing specimens easier.
One of the best things about the Duo-Scope is that it functions as both a compound and stereo microscope. The first is where light shines from beneath in order to view slides, and the second when light shines from above to view solid objects. Usually they are sold individually, but with the Duo-Scope you have the freedom to choose. Additionally, it’s battery powered which gives you even more freedom – take it out into the yard and explore! The users manual is also great for further discovery. Packed full of pictures, it clearly explains what all the parts are and how to use them. It also features loads of cool ideas for observations such as onion cell mitosis, staining specimens, comparing different fibres, mould growth and more! This microscope has won a ton of awards, and has definitely earned its place on our best STEM toys for girls 2018 list.
Summary of the Best STEM Toys for Girls 2018
If you felt the toys we featured here were a little to complicated for your child, check out our reviews for preschoolers or toddlers. A lot of research goes into each and every one of our reviews, so we hope you’ve found our best STEM toys for girls 2018 list useful!