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15 Toys That Will Turn You Into Some Kind Of Super Genius Or Something

STEAM stands for “stimulating toys educating adults (like) me”... or something. I didn’t grow up with these incredible toys so I’m not a genius who knows what every acronym stands for.

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1. Kano Pixel Kit

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Credit: Kano

Core Skill: Programming

The Kano Pixel kit is essentially a super basic computer attached to a 16x8 resolution “screen” that you can program with different designs and games using your home computer. If your family is into playing video games together, this kit will help you understand how the digital sausage is made.

2. Shifu Orboot: Augmented Reality Interactive Globe

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Credit: Shifu

Core Skill: Geography

It’s always diverting to take a spin around the globe and discover new places or maybe plan some spontaneous world travel with just your index finger, but the Orboot globe uses an augmented reality app on your phone to bring the world to life. Just point your camera at any spot on the world to learn a bit more about the local culture, landmarks, flora, and fauna.

3. Plugo Tunes by PlayShifu

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Credit: Shifu

Core Skill: Music Performance

Did you know that by the age of six, Mozart had already performed for two imperial courts? What’s your excuse? Oh, imperial courts aren’t really a thing anymore? Fine, but you can still get a head start on learning the piano with the Plugo Tunes, which connects to a tablet to teach the basics of reading and playing music.

4. Kids First Automobile Engineer Kit

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Credit: Thames & Kosmos

Core Skill: Automotive Engineering

This kit probably won’t give you the skills to rebuild the carburetor in your Toyota Camry or anything, but it’ll help you understand the basics of locomotion. Follow along with the 32-page narrative to guide your builds, or go off-book to design your dream car with as many wheels and engines and cup holders as you want.

5. GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope

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Credit: Educational Insights

Core Skill: Microbiology

The GeoSafari Jr. is sort of like if you took a classic Viewmaster toy and combined it with a microscope and then gave it Bindi Irwin’s voice. That’s right, the late Steve Irwin’s daughter has become a well-respected conservationist in her own right in recent years, and she’s lent her voice and expertise to this toy, which will let you take a really close peek at the tiny world all around us.

6. Code Car Circuit Board

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Credit: Let's Start Coding

Core Skill: Circuitry

This bundle includes the Let’s Start Coding basekit and a neat little circuit board shaped like a car, complete with lights, sirens, working buttons, and a horn. The basekit includes all the components you need to learn about how circuit boards work, and the Code Car will teach you all about programming circuit boards. Think of this toy as a prereq for an inevitable electrical engineering degree.

7. Grow 'N Glow Terrarium Kit

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Credit: Creativity for Kids

Core Skill: Ecology

Has your family ever wanted to play god? Building a world and cultivating life according to your own design? Watching benevolently as an entire ecosystem bursts to life by your hand? Well now you can! As much of a craft as a toy, this kit lets you design your terrarium however you see fit before you plant your chia and wheatgrass seeds.

8. National Geographic Light-Up Sky Rockets

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Credit: National Geographic

Core Skill: Rocketry

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use most of the toys on this list, but for this air-powered rocket kit, you actually kinda do? These soft foam toys don’t rely on rocket engines, but rather a blast of air generated by jumping on a launch pad. You’ll still learn plenty about flight and propulsion, especially if you send one of these things soaring into a neighbor's yard by accident.

9. Cubelets Robot Blocks - Discovery Set

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Credit: Modular Robotics

Core Skill: Robotics

This handsome little robotics kit uses modular “cubelets” to let you build and code a handful of little robots and devices. The Discovery Set includes five cubelets to build with, but there are expansions and other kits with more (and more variety of) cubelets to build even more impressive robots. Just avoid bringing about the singularity, if you can.

10. MEL Chemistry Subscription Box

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Credit: MEL Science

Core Skill: Chemistry

MEL Chemistry is a monthly subscription box that will give your family a handful of new chemistry experiments to try each month. When you sign up, you’ll get a free starter kit with all the gear you need to do each experiment, as well as some VR goggles and access to MEL’s library of live and VR chemistry lessons.

11. Perplexus Beast 3D Maze Game

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Credit: Spin Master

Core Skill: Logic

The Perplexus toys are like 3D marble mazes, where you need to figure out how to navigate a small metal bearing through a series of obstacles. It’s great for spatial reasoning and all that, but it’s also one of those toys where you’ll pick it up and suddenly an hour has passed without your even noticing. They’re also pretty challenging to beat and require a lot of patience and problem solving to overcome.

12. National Geographic Mega Fossil and Gemstone Dig Kits

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Credit: National Geographic

Core Skill: Archeology and Geology

This is as close as your family is ever going to get to legitimate treasure-hunting. (Unless your last name is Jones and you have a habit of naming kids after U.S. states.) The kit comes with the excavation tools you’ll need to dig through the included block of hard-packed dirt with embedded gems and fossils just waiting to be dug out and donated because THEY BELONG IN A MUSEUM!

13. Think Fun Laser Maze

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Credit: Think Fun

Core Skill: Lasers

Laser Maze is technically a game, but you’ll learn a little bit about how lasers work and a lot of a bit about reasoning and logic as you play. Place lasers and mirrors to reflect beams around the board to activate beacons and overcome challenges. The play is a bit more structured, but that’s probably for the best when you’re dealing with lasers.

14. Gskyer Refracting Telescope

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Credit: Gskyer

Core Skill: Astronomy

This one barely qualifies as a toy because it’s a totally legit telescope that you can actually use to do some stargazing right from your back yard. It comes with some additional swappable parts that increase magnification and let you capture photos of the cosmos with your smartphone. Keep watching the skies!

15. Boolean Box Build a Computer Science Kit

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Credit: Boolean Box

Core Skill: Computer Science

This kit will legitimately teach you actual programming languages like Python and Javascript. And according to this one article I found, the average Python programmer makes $113k per year, so the Boolean Box will essentially pay for itself!