Quite literally, science has transformed our world. Everything from the gadget we’re using to read and write the words here to the way we light and heat our homes depends on science. And science toys are a great way to encourage brain development, stimulate the intellect, and teach children about the way the universe works.
The very best science toys are a combination of fun and learning, firing up the imagination while providing a structural foundation for academic success. And while we’ve divided our reviews by age group, the best science toys provide fun and learning for all ages.
The toys, books, and games included in our list are ideal for gifts, eagerly appreciated just as much by kids as by parents. We’ve worked hard to ensure that the play factor of the toys on our list is equally balanced with the learning factor for the perfect combination of fun and brain development.
After carefully assessing cost, design, educational value, and real-life play feedback, here is our collection of the top science toys and games for kids.
Best Science Toys for Babies
Ideal for young ones rapidly developing their minds, these are our top three favorites for babies:
Yes, you’re reading that right. Taking a difficult concept like calculus and using it to create a storybook adventure ideal for little ones to understand is why this book is so amazing. Written by a computer programmer, Calculus for Infants is 54 pages of educational fun that you and your kids will enjoy reading over and over again.
- Has a positive story about friendship
- Encourages being nice to others
- Teaches math in a non-scary and unthreatening way
- Artwork is quite cute and humorous
- Similar to an ABC book in design
Combining the pleasures of bath time play with a soft toy that teaches kids about physics, the Moluk Rain Cloud tub toy is made from high-quality ABS plastic. Playing with the Rain Cloud teaches little ones about how water changes and flows as well as elementary hydraulic principles with a soft, kid-safe toy.
- Very cute design
- Very engaging for young minds
- Hidden parent-only mechanism ensures toy never gets mildewy or moldy
Mobiles placed above a baby’s bed are popular choices as they give baby something to engage with from their crib. This toy takes the standard mobile and turns it into a complete replica of our solar system. Using the included remote control, yo can set the planets spinning in their orbits and the auto shut-off mechanism kicks in after 20 minutes. Also includes a light pointer so you can begin teaching baby the names and characteristics of the planets right from the comfort of their crib.
- Sun lights up
- Comes with the option to download a companion audio guide
- Features nine planets, including Pluto
- Makes for a great older kids toy later on
- Works great as a standard nightlight
Best Science Toys for Toddlers
It’s never too early to start developing the mind. Here are our top three choices for young kids:
This five-piece set of colorful, angled tubes are amazingly fun to play with. The soft end can be suctioned onto the side of the bath or the wall and joined together to create an infinite variety of tubes. Pour water into the open end and watch with fascination as intuitive learning about physics and hydraulic principles happens. Something about the fun, colorful shapes makes this toy irresistible, and the BPA and phthalate-free design means it’s safe for your little one.
- Pieces designed perfectly for tiny hands to manipulate
- Each piece has its own unique shape
- Each piece has its own color
- No tiny parts to get lost or form a choking hazard
- Even adults love playing with these in the shower
(Note that these ship from China and so will take a little longer to reach you.) A cute twist on the stackable blocks we grew up with, the Big Mango Super Fun pack includes bright, colorful shapes that have a letter or number on the side as well as a unique color. Perfect for toddlers developing their hand-eye motor skills, the shapes are fun to stack even for the youngest kids while the numbers, colors, and letters on the side add additional learning opportunities as kids get older.
- Set of 9 PCS Colorful Stacking Cups
- Features albhabet and numbers
- Tough, resistant plastic that can handle being thrown and chewed
- Safe for kids
- Bright and colorful design attracts toddlers like a magnet
Ideal for toddlers but cool enough to be used even into adulthood, the Educational Insights beanbags are a novel twist on learning colors, shapes, and words. Each bean bag is a soft, fun toy but comes with its own color, shape, and the name of the shape written out in English on its face. The felt bean bags can be machine washed for durability, and the included drawstring bag makes it a cinch to scoop them up and store them after playtime is over.
- Comes with eight different bean bags
- Included activity guide comes with 7 fun things to do
- Soft felt design
- Drawstring storage bag looks and works great
Best Science Toys for Kids
If you need some quick gifts idea or simply want to bring the joy of learning to a child’s life, here are our top three picks:
A fun, safe way to learn about the complex relationship between electricity and magnetism, the Thames & Romos kit is rated for kids aged 8 and up. Using blocks that can be snapped together, a motor, and an electromagnet, kids will have a blast learning about how electromagnetism.
- Comes with a huge, 64-page, manual
- Kit comes with 60 components
- Manual includes 62 different experiments
- Completely safe for unsupervised play
- Includes light bulbs, buttons, and switches
Fabulous for encouraging kids to get outdoors and learn about nature, this cool toy is made of near-indestructible ABS plastic that can handle just about anything your kid throws at it. The trigger operation makes it easy to catch a bug in the viewing chamber while the adjustable viewing lens makes it fun and educational. After your kid is done inspecting their catch, simply squeeze the trigger to safely release it back into the wild.
- Excellent design has no sharp edges or rough surfaces
- Safe for kids aged 3 and up
- Encourages outdoor play and independent learning
- Ideal for budding young scientists who are curious about the world
- Super durable design
Perhaps the most iconic tool of modern science, the microscope gives us access to the hidden world of the very small. The Educational Insights microscope goes up to 8x magnification and has two eyepieces perfect for kids. The microscope comes with an LED light, a sample tray, and an easily adjustable focusing knob.
- Runs on 3 AAA batteries (not included), perfect for field trips
- Doesn’t require glass (or other material) slides to work
- Two eyepieces mean no squinting necessary
- Fun, colorful design encourages curiosity about the world
- Designed by a scientist and mother of two young children
Best Science Toys for Teens
Whether your teen is already committed to a science track in academics or just wants to have fun learning more about the world around us, here are our three top choices:
The mother of all volcano kits, the NSI Smithsonian Giant Volcano bills itself as the most realistic volcano you’ll see outside of the genuine article. Ideal for science aficionados, the kit does much more than just explode with glow-in-the-dark lava. The volcano kit comes with detailed instructions, eruption tablets, and teaches your child the difference between the six types of volcanoes. Great for a science fair project or collaborative build with parental input.
- Includes two build-it-yourself volcanoes
- Comes with detailed instruction manual
- Tons of accessories to customize your volcano
- Needs baking soda and vinegar (not included) to work
- Volcanoes can erupt multiple times
Geodes are special kinds of rocks that have gorgeous crystalline structures in their hollow interior. This amazing kit from National Geographic has four hand-selected rocks that your teen will crack open to learn more about crystals and mineralogy. The whole family will have fun cracking open the geodes to see what lies within.
- Kit includes safety goggles and four hand-selected geodes
- Full-color learning guide included
- Once cracked open, geodes look great on the included display stand
- Perfect for budding rock collectors
- Kids love smashing open things with parental permission
Adding a modern twist to one of science’s most ubiquitous tools, the coolest feature of this microscope is the built-in smartphone adapter that lets you use a smartphone to photograph and record anything you put under the microscope. The microscope is a lab-quality item with up to 400x magnification and a 360-degree rotating head. The microscope also has both a top and bottom LED for illuminating samples.
- Universal smartphone adapter works with both Android and Apple phones
- Smartphone adapter can also be used with telescopes, binoculars, and other types of optical equipment
- Rubber components glow in the dark
- Rugged design for years of investigatory fun