Science toys have always been popular — think back to those retro chemistry kits and erector sets — but wow have they come a long way. When it comes to science, technology, engineering and math — collectively known as STEM — it's getting harder and harder to tell the toys from the real thing. And kids love using these educational toys for at-home learning: When Good Housekeeping conducts its yearly tests, STEM toys are always at the top of the list of hot new toys and gifts for kids. And, with toys that have kids coding before they enter preschool, constructing elaborate scenes, making their own room decor and even building their own robots, why wouldn't they be popular?
But which ones are the smartest purchases or make the greatest gift ideas? The Good Housekeeping Institute Parenting and Pets Lab put its own scientists on the case, evaluating STEM toys for quality, ease of use and whether kids engage with the concepts behind them. Then, more important testers — kids themselves — made sure they were fun, since no one's learning anything from a toy that sits in a closet. (Each year, the best of the best make it into the Good Housekeeping Best Toy Awards.) We put their recommendations together with some editors' picks and bestsellers to make this list of the best STEM toys of 2022.
Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award WinnerMagic Potion Science MindWare Read More
Kid FavoriteGeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope Educational Insights Read More
STEM Solo GameGravity Maze ThinkFun Read More
Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award WinnerPinxies Butterfly Hot Air Balloon Luki Labs Read More
Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award WinnerSnap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit Snap Circuits Read More
There are the usual microscopes and experiment sets, but also (programmable) magic wands, cool kits that blend science and art and lots and lots of coding robots. Your budding scientist won't know what to play with first!
Before including our favorite picks in an article, the Good Housekeeping Institute does rigorous toy testing to ensure we're recommending only the best. Many of our choices come from our yearly Toy Awards, where we test each item based on the following criteria:
✔️Safety: Our engineers and analysts make sure that each toy reaches all safety standards. They also assess things like pinch points and make sure toys won’t shatter into small pieces to pose a potential choking hazard.
✔️Ease of Use: We look at each toy to evaluate how simple it is to assemble, how well it’s constructed and how durable it is during play.
✔️Kid Approval: Aside from testing each toy for skill-building attributes, like how well it develops social-emotional skills, all our final decisions come from more than 100 children, ages 1 to 15, who assess the fun factor!
This guide was updated by Jamie Spain. In her role as Parenting & Pets Reviews Analyst, Jamie Spain brings years of experience to the GH Institute, having reviewed products for Good Housekeeping from the hottest new toys of 2022 to the best strollers.
Much of the toy testing for this article was overseen by Rachel Rothman, the Good Housekeeping Institute's chief technologist and director of engineering, with the help of Marisa LaScala, Good Housekeeping's senior parenting and relationships editor. For more than 15 years, Rachel has put her training in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics to work by researching, testing and writing about parenting products. She has been a judge for the Good Housekeeping Parenting Awards since its inception as well as Good Housekeeping Toy Awards and other industry awards, including the Best of Parenting at CES and JPMA Parenting Awards. Plus, as a mom to three kids under five, she's personally tested many of the products we recommend in real life.
Marisa has covered all aspects of the world of parenting, from the postpartum years through the empty nests, since 2015, and she's pitched in with Good Housekeeping's toy coverage since 2018. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter, who are both avid toy collectors.
Looking for more great gifts for kids? Let the experts do all the hard work for you! The Good Housekeeping Institute's Parenting Lab has expert-tested, kid-approved picks for the best toys and gifts for kids of every age, including:
- Best Gifts for 1-Year-Olds
- Best Gifts for 2-Year-Olds
- Best Gifts for Toddlers
- Best Stocking Stuffers for Toddlers
- Best Gifts for 3-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 3-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 4-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 4-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 5-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 5-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 6-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 6-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 7-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 7-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 8-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 8-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 9-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 9-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 10-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 10-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 11-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 11-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for Tween Girls
- Best Gifts for Boys
- Best Gifts for 12-Year-Olds
- Best Gifts for 13-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 13-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 14-Year-Olds
- Best Gifts for Teen Girls
- Best Gifts for Teen Boys
- Best Stocking Stuffers for Teens