Science toys foster exploration of STEM concepts from archaeology to zoology. We spent hours testing in the Lab and at home, plus conducted research to round up the best science toys, evaluating each model on concept, ease of instructions, quality of materials, and interactive tools. All of the models featured enrich a variety of STEM learning concepts for kids of different ages.
Ahead, find the best science toys to foster science curiosity in kids of all ages.
Gskyer AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope
Encourages open-ended play exploration
Introduces kids to astronomy
Equipped with quality optics, the Gskyer AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope lets children get a closer look at the natural world, as well as explore the cosmos, introducing concepts of astronomy. Designed to be entry-level and kid-friendly, this model comes with multiple eyepieces for comfortable viewing. Each lens is treated with transmission coating to create stunning images and protect your eyes. Also included is a tripod and carrying case, so it's easily portable for outdoor adventures.
Price at time of publish: $130
Dimensions: 24.8 x 4.92 x 8.46 inches | Material: Aluminum , glass | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Snap Circuits Junior
100 different problem-solving projects
Suitable for various ages
Fosters knowledge of circuitry
No step-by-step instructions
This award-winning Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Discovery Kit teaches kids about electrical circuits and systems while fostering problem solving skills. Users can choose from 100 different projects to build by easily snapping pieces together. Thirty different color-coded circuit components allow for electric exploration. When these have been completed, you can purchase additional upgrade components to add more systems.
Price at time of publish: $37
Dimensions: 10 x 2 x 15 inches | Material: Plastic, circuits | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
4M Bubble Science
Fosters hands-on explorative play
Does not come with bubble solution
Bubbles can capture a young learner's attention, making science exploration fun and whimsical. The 4M Bubble Science kit includes a variety of bubble frames of different shapes and sizes as well as recipes to create special, high-quality bubble mixtures, plus fun facts about bubbles. The kit allows kids to design their own experiments while learning principles of physics and geometry as they play with bubbles.
Price at time of publish: $15
Dimensions: 7.2 x 3.4 x 8.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 5 years and up
Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow
Introduces kids to physics concepts
Glow-in-the-dark rockets suitable for nighttime play
Easy to assemble
Interacting learning kids love
Launchpad can be flimsy
The Original Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow introduces STEM concepts like physics and engineering as kids launch glow-in-the-dark rockets high in the air. This design feature makes this easily portable toy ideal for outdoor play, any time of day. We love how easy the toy is to assemble and for kids to master.
Price at time of publish: $17
Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 10 inches | Material: Foam | Recommended Age: 3 years and up
"The foam rockets are very soft, so they won’t do much damage if they hit anyone below the neck. Although the manufacturer notes that the toy is good for indoor and outdoor play, we really only recommend the latter, as we had a few close calls with our TV and other objects."—Danielle Directo-Meston, Product Tester
Thames & Kosmos Kids First Chemistry Set
Introduces kids to chemistry
Some customers report the kit items are flimsy
The Thames & Kosmos brand focuses on tactile learning to guide student exploration of chemistry concepts. The Kids First Chemistry Kit includes test tubes, measuring cups and spoons, pipettes, a petri dish, magnifying glass, pH test strips, and color mixing solutions. Kids can conduct their own acid tests and water solubility tests, as well as make their own crystals.
Also included is a 48-page, full-color manual to guide experimentation with clear step-by-step instructions and further reading to contextualize the experiments in easy-to-understand terms. It's a great resource for kids to learn why chemists perform experiments and what science can teach us.
Price at time of publish: $45
Dimensions: 16.8 x 3.2 x 11.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Be Amazing Toys! Interactive Human Body
Accurate anatomical representation
Durably constructed for use as a learning aid
Great for interactive, open-ended play
Small parts not recommended for young children
Like a 3D puzzle, the Interactive Human Body lets kids explore anatomy, as customers note an accurate representation of body parts. The figure features 25 skeletal pieces as well as removable muscles and organs to teach body functions. Illustrated activity cards provide information on all body parts and biology facts. Once assembled, the figure features realistic movements built into the joints and can take on a variety of poses to mimic how the body really moves. Customers note that although the figure is durable, it's designed to be a learning tool and not an action figure.
Price at time of publish: $25
Dimensions: 13.5 x 12.5 x 2.75 inches | Material: Plastic| Recommended Age: 8 to 14
Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Science & Building Kit
10 different engineering projects
Introduces physics concepts
Detailed instructions encourage kids to follow direction
Some builds may be too challenging for young kids
The Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit is ideal for fans of LEGO sets, letting kids build 10 different types of machines, including a seesaw and ramp, a falling hammer, and elevator ramps. Each machine is designed to perform a specific action, allowing for interactive fun while introducing ideas like physics and engineering.
Price at time of publish: $25
Dimensions: 1.25 x 9 x 10 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit
Encourages kids to explore physical science
Can be used with other rocks not included
Transforming natural rocks is a long process
The National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler turns rough stones into smooth, shiny gems using grit. Introducing learners to physical science, the kit also encourages kids explore rocks in their own environment for open-ended exploration play. The tumbler itself has an automatic shut-off timer and a noise-reducing barrel, and the kit includes rough gemstones to get kids started, four polishing grits, jewelry fastenings, and instructions.
Price at time of publish: $70
Dimensions: 13.81 x 4.88 x 8.06 inches | Material: Stainless steel | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Educational Insights GeoSafari Micropro 48-Piece Microscope Set
Easy to use
Affordable compared to competitors
Comes with prepared slides
Pieces can be flimsy
The GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Kit is a kid-friendly microscope with up to 600x magnification. The kit includes tweezers, petri dishes, empty slides, and vials as well as a few slides prepared with specimens to encourage biological and chemical learning. The 48-piece set is priced affordably for an entry-level microscope designed for student learning.
Price at time of publish: $50
Dimensions: 3.8 x 10 x 13 inches | Material: Plastic, glass | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Dino Fossil Dig Kit
Includes real dinosaur fossils
Comes with learning guide
Low replay value after all fossils are found
The National Geographic Dinosaur Dig Kit lets kids excavate real dinosaur remains from a brick, introducing them to concepts of paleontology, making this the perfect gift for dinosaur lovers. Included is a “digging brick,” as well as digging tools, magnifying glass, and learning guide. Once they’ve separated out the fossils, players can use the learning guide to help them identify their discoveries.
Price at time of publish: $15
Dimensions: 9.25 x 2.25 x 6.25 inches | Material: Not Listed | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
4M Clean Water Science
Lets kids conduct their own experiments
Includes four different projects that teach different concepts
Some customers note the plastic beakers are flimsy
The 4M Clean Water Science kit lets kids create a carbon filtration system, a solar water purification unit, and a water desalinization system, teaching them about green energy. This kit contains contains a plastic filter system, active carbon, sand, rock, and filter paper. As kids build the systems, they learn the value of water conservation and recycling. Detailed instructions help kids learn the value of following directions, and fact cards enrich knowledge of environmental science.
Price at time of publish: $15
Dimensions: 5.5 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set
Suitable for younger children
Introduces kids to primary science experimentation
Some materials needed for experiments not included
The Primary Science Lab Activity Set helps kids conduct their own experiments, introducing them to chemistry concepts. Included in the 12-piece set is a beaker, magnifying glass, funnel, tweezers, and test tubes. Every piece is designed for little hands and durable enough for playtime. The kit also includes 10 activity cards with beginner experiments like mixing colors and examining insects.
Price at time of publish: $37
Dimensions: 10.2 x 4.8 x 13.8 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up
Nature Bound Bug Catcher with Habitat Bucket and 7 Piece Nature Exploration Set
Teaches kids about physical science
Comes with activity booklet
Requires access to outdoor environment
The Nature Bound Bug Bucket Habitat Nature Set encourages kids to explore their backyard, catching and examining insects. The seven-piece set includes a bug bucket, tweezers, tongs, a net, and a magnifying glass each which allows kids to examine insects safely, without touching them. An activity booklet teaches kids to identify different types of insects, fostering interest in the natural world.
Price at time of publish: $30
Dimensions: 6.2 x 6.2 x 8.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Mega Crystal Growing Lab
Introduces kids to physical science
Includes high quality crystals
Instructions can be hard to follow
The Mega Crystal Growing Lab teaches about chemistry and crystal formation through hands-on experiments that result in colorful crystals. Step-by-step instructions guide kids through the process of growing a crystal from powder and rock seeds in a special growing chamber. The set also includes five crystals: quartz, rose quartz, fluorite, calcite, and amethyst, which kids can examine and identity.
Price at time of publish: $40
Dimensions: 12 x 3 x 10 inches | Material: Various Materials | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
4M Solar System Planetarium Kit
3D, hands-on learning
Easy to assemble and paint for young learners
Some customers report flimsy construction
Not proportionately scaled
Create a glow-in-the dark galaxy with the 4M Solar System Planetarium Kit. This set fosters artistic expression while teaching kids about the solar system, and it gives them a tactile experience so they can apply what they know. The set includes planets, stencils, squeeze glow paint pen, rods, string, a fact filled wall chart, and 10 sets of questions to quiz kids about the solar system. We love that kids can assemble and paint their own Milky Way as they learn about the planets.
Price at time of publish: $15
Dimensions: 8 x 4 x 5 inches | Material: Plastic, paint | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
What to Look for in Science Toys
Senior editor at The Toy Insider, Jackie Cucco says that there is not a set recommended age for all science toys across the board. Instead, she explains, "Toy manufacturers might look at whether or not the toy includes small parts, the difficulty level of the activities, and what science concepts are covered." She notes that when playing with science toys, it's important for them to be age-appropriate.
Safety can be a concern with some science toys on the market. According to Cucco, parental supervision is required. "Some science kits involve hands-on experiments that may require goggles or parental supervision," she says. "For example, if kids are playing with a candy-making kit that teaches them about the science behind cooking or mixing different ingredients, adult supervision would be required for handling a real stove. Kids should follow safety precautions so that they don’t get hurt."
Science toys foster learning through play. Cucco says they can cover topics like astronomy, anatomy, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, zoology, and more. "Kids can learn about the world around them and how things work by completing projects, experiments, and hands-on activities while they play," she adds.
What science toys are the best for kids 5 and under?
For children that are 5 years of age and younger, you'll want to avoid toys with small pieces, liquids, and anything that could pinch a finger or has sharp points. Simple toys, such as books, stuffed animals, large figurines, or soft-sided science-themed items are great options.
What are the least messy science toys?
Avoid science toys with liquids, powders, and tiny pieces if you want to keep messes to a minimum. Stomp rockets or other toys that only have a few larger pieces can provide science-themed fun while avoiding the mess of chemical and liquid experiments. Otherwise, playing with science toys outdoors can help keep the mess out of your home.
Where can I find a long-lasting science toy that works across various age groups?
If you're looking for science toys that work across various ages, Cucco suggests hands-on kits, as they're not too complex. Look for a toy that is not an experiment or something your child needs to break open or dig into (ex. a geode or fossil kit). Toys sold for schools to use in classrooms are usually designed to last a long time and include things like anatomy models, magnets, and puzzles that have science themes.
What are the best science toys for kids who love chemistry?
Kids who love chemistry usually enjoy doing experiments. Chemistry sets for children will include ingredients and supplies to perform basic experiments at home and can introduce kids to common chemical reactions. Be sure to check the recommended ages for the specific chemistry set you are looking at before purchasing it. Not all sets are designed for all ages of kids.
What are the best science toys for kids who love biology?
Biology is the study of life; there are a lot of different living things in the world, so biology toys are numerous. They can include human and animal anatomy models, microscopes to look at cells, botany kits, and more. Depending on which aspect of biology your child is most attracted to, great ideas in this category include plant-growing kits, insects in resin, or a human anatomy model that you and your child can put together.
Why Trust the Spruce?
This article was written and researched by Jill Di Donato, a lifestyle editor with over 15 years experience reporting on products, including those in the parenting space. For this roundup, she considered dozens of science toys. She took into account customer reviews from real users, as well as reports from our own product testers, who spent hours in the Lab and at home testing products.
Additional input was provided by senior editor at The Toy Insider, Jackie Cucco.