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12 STEM Learning Toys to Gift for the Holidays

Lindsey Hunter Lopez is a freelance writer and general mother hustler with degrees from University of California, Santa Cruz and New York University. Lindsey resides in Northeast Los Angeles with her husband, bulldog, and two hilarious p...

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Science rules

real444/E+/Getty Images
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Science rules

The holidays are here, and it's time to buy all the STEM toys — because educational gifts are the best gifts, right?

But what exactly is this STEM business you keep hearing about? STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math, and STEM toys help kids develop skills they'll need in our increasingly tech-driven world. This toy trend encourages problem-solving, experimentation, creativity and logic — pretty amazing, right? When you gift STEM toys to the kids in your life, you're setting them up for success. Plus, their eyes will seriously light up when they get to play with them because STEM play is just as much fun as mindless entertainment.

We've rounded up some of the coolest new STEM toys for your future scientist, doctor or coder.

Originally published July 2017. Updated November 2017.

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Young Survivor

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Young Survivor

This new STEM activity set teaches basic survival skills to children age 6 and up. Experiments include distilling water and lighting a fire (sans matches), plus kids can build a solar stove, a compass and a sundial. The colorful tin package makes this a perfect Christmas gift.

The Purple Cow Crazy Scientist Lab Young Survivor Survival Skill Box, $20 at Amazon

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Stomp Rocket LED

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Stomp Rocket LED

The popular Stomp Rocket launchers now come in an LED version with a built-in light for night launches. Stomp on these lightweight toys to shoot them up to 150 feet in the air — the perfect kid-powered science game. The ultra LED package includes a stomp launcher and four foam-tipped rockets for loads of fun for kids ages 6 and up. 

Stomp Rocket Ultra LED Kit, $14.98 at Toys R Us

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Let's Go Code

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Let's Go Code

This activity set teaches computer whiz kids beginners coding. Best for ages 5 and up, this toy lets kids build gross motor skills as they stop, hop and turn to follow the "programming." Included is a full-color guide, 20 foam maze mats, 20 double-sided coding cards and game pieces.

Let's Go Code Activity Set, $34.99 at Learning Resources

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Magna-Tiles Glow Rocket

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Magna-Tiles Glow Rocket

These popular magnetic tiles just pop right against each other, allowing kids to create anything they can dream up. Magna-Tiles have been around for a minute, but they have all sorts of cool new additions, like the clear Ice set and glow-in-the-dark Glow set.

Magna-Tiles Glow 32-Piece Set, $54.99 at Magna-Tiles

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Three Little Piggies

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Three Little Piggies

Position the Three Little Pigs' homes in various positions to protect them from the Big Bad Wolf in this game of logic. Best for preschoolers and grade schoolers, Three Little Piggies features 48 different challenges and includes a colorful picture book.

SmartGames Three Little Piggies Deluxe, $24.99 at Amazon

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Dash Robot

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Dash Robot

This little robot packs a big punch. Grade school kids can learn to program with the award-winning Dash, who will dance, light up, make sounds, avoid obstacles and even connect with Lego- and Lego Technic-compatible bricks. Dash rolls around on three wheels and responds to voice cues or app-based commands. 

Wonder Workshop Dash Robot, $149.94 at Amazon

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Lego Duplo My First Cars & Trucks

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Lego Duplo My First Cars & Trucks

Little kids who love vehicles will be delighted by this 36-piece Duplo building set. Kiddos ages 2 to 6 can get creative by putting together their own vehicles using wheelbases and bricks, or they can follow the pictures to make a dump truck, crane and more.

Lego Duplo My First Cars and Trucks, $28.89 at Kmart

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The Underwater World

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The Underwater World

Kids age 7 and up can explore their own little aquatic tank with this new science kit from Clementoni. The underwater observation kit includes a periscope, LCD thermometer, mirrors and almost everything you need to create a flourishing water world — except the fish. 

Clementoni Underwater World Aquarium, $49.99 at Walmart

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Safe Breaker

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Safe Breaker

This electronic board game from Yulu Toys will take family game night up a notch. Kids ages 6 and up can use their spy skills and memory to figure out how to crack the safe and win the game. Math-related clues lead to the right combination: Get it right, and you can access the coins via the fingerprint scanner.

Spy Code Safe Breaker Board Game, $24.99 Target

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Primary Science Deluxe Lab Set

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Primary Science Deluxe Lab Set

Budding scientists (3 and up) will adore this realistic little lab, which features activity cards with instructions for performing real experiments. There's even a journal for jotting down findings. Also included are test tubes and a stand, safety glasses, an eyedropper, funnels, a ViewScope, connector tubes and more.

Primary Science Deluxe Lab Set, $49.99 at Learning Resources

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Edu Science Lab Squishy Human Body Model

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Edu Science Lab Squishy Human Body Model

Learn anatomy with this cool human body kit. Kids ages 8 and up can use plastic bones, muscles and nine squishy organs to put together the body and learn how it all works with the help of a lab guide and poster. The kit also includes tweezers and forceps to remove parts from the model. 

SmartLab Toys Squishy Human Body, $21.97 at Amazon

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