COMMENTARY: Not All Science Toys are Created Equal

Not all science toys are created equal. Today’s kids live in a world oozing with technology, discovery, gizmos, and gadgets—and toy store shelves reflect this environment. Classics, such as volcano kits and fossil excavation sets, will always retain their charm and their ability to excite and inspire kids. However, more high-tech items, such as solar-powered robots and hovercrafts, are the toys of today—and tomorrow.

There is immeasurable value in science toys. Kids gain knowledge and understanding of the world around them by immersing themselves in a hands-on activity that lets them comprehend how things work, where things come from, or how to use one thing to power another. Providing kids with fun and exciting alternatives to mind-numbing video games or TV shows is a great way for parents and caregivers to encourage learning and positive play, even outside of school hours.

Hovercrafts, once a thing of sci-fi and fantasy, are now a reality. Thames & Kosmos offers kids the opportunity to build their own working hovercraft with the Air Stream Machines kit. The kit teaches kids about air mass and air pressure by letting them experiment with propellers, impellers, blower motors, and fans. Kids can even build a batting machine that suspends a ball on top of the stream of air.

Christine.Sept9

Licensed science items are a great way to engage kids before they even open the box. The presence of their favorite character or superhero is often enough to capture kids’ attention, and to interest them in the activity within. Uncle Milton has done this with the Marvel Science Spider-Man Web Creator Lab, which lets kids make red or blue webs, web balls, or web nets, which they can then use for further play with others. The Young Scientists Club’s Clifford Rainbow Science Kit features the lovable Clifford the Big Red Dog. The kit teaches kids about rainbows with various experiments such as Catching a Rainbow and Moving Colors.

There will always be room for the classics, and with so many options, parents may forgo the modern choices for a good old-fashioned excavation kit like Geoworld’s Tyrant King T-Rex model kit. Kids get to dig for dinosaur “bones,” and then assemble the model and display it on a rock-like base. The Orb Factory’s Curiosity Kits Lava Rock Volcano set is one many parents can not only enjoy as well, but have also likely experienced themselves when they were kids. Kids design their own volcano, and then mix common household ingredients to create a chemical reaction that causes the volcano to “erupt.”

Learning is a lifelong process, and kids can have fun learning even after they leave the classroom. With so many options available today on mobile devices and computers, science toys are a refreshing way to keep kids’ minds active and promote healthy and productive play.

For more commentary from Christine, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!