Science kits are typically geared toward kids ages 8 and up. There have been plenty of logical reasons for this—for one thing, kids need to be able to read the manual to do the experiments; and for another, science experiments can be complex, requiring kids to have longer attention spans and higher critical thinking skills. However, at this year’s North American International Toy Fair in NYC, many companies have found ways to introduce science to a younger audience.
Snap Circuits Beginner (Elenco)
Elenco’s Snap Circuits line teaches kids about building circuits, and each kit includes dozens of projects per pack to keep kids engaged and learning. The new Snap Circuits Beginner kit is designed for kids ages 5 and up, and will be available this summer. The kit caters to young kids with its visually driven manual, so even kids with minimal reading skills can follow the projects. It offers elementary STEM concepts as kids make 20 projects from the 12 easy-to-identify color-coded parts.
Heirloom Vegetable Seeds Just for Kids (Powerful Plants)
Kids ages 4 and up can start learning about healthy eating, plants, and organic vegetables through augmented reality with Powerful Plants. Powerful Plants is a line of 36 organic heirloom vegetable seeds, such as Country Gentleman (sweet corn), Snow White (snow white cherry tomatoes), Cole (golden acre cabbage), and Sugar Daddy (sugar snap peas); as well as an interactive storybook. When the seed packets and book are viewed through a smartphone using the free app, the characters come to life to share growing information, preparation tips, and other fun facts. The impressive art and animation, along with the fun story, keep kids engaged as they learn about the health benefits of each type of food.
Kids First Level 1: Amusement Park Engineer (Thames and Kosmos)
Thames & Kosmos introduced the Kids First Level 1: Amusement Park Engineer set at Toy Fair, which provides kids ages 3 to 5 with a 24-page storybook manual, and chunky, colorful, durable building pieces and accessories. The story follows two kids and the fun rides they encounter on their family trip to the fair. The kids build, fix, and enjoy the park throughout their trip, and kids can build and experiment while learning the fundamentals of physics and engineering. In addition to the Amusement Park Engineer set, Level 1 in the Kids First series includes the Science Laboratory, the Aircraft Engineer set, and the Automobile Engineer set. As kids grow, they can move on to Level Two (for kids ages 5 to 7) and Level Three (for kids ages 8 and up).
Science Utility Vehicle (Educational Insights)
Educational Insights has added new items to its Geo Safari Jr. line. The Science Utility Vehicle features a 3x magnifying glass and night-vision LED lights. Kids can get a close-up view of things on the ground, such as carpet, grass, dirt, or cement. When kids push down on the handles, the magnifier is revealed to show what’s underneath. The vehicle also features a turning steering wheel and tires.
Dinocular Kit (Geoworld)
Dr. Steve Hunters, from Geoworld, teaches kids about dinosaurs and excavation. The Dinocular Kit is designed for kids ages 4 and up and includes three dinosaur figures, “dinoculars” (binoculars), and a scientific educational fact card for each dinosaur featured in the pack. The fact cards are presented in six languages.
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