Science/Tech Toys For Kids : New gizmos, Gadgets gazette Blog

Friday, November 30, 2007

Science/Tech Toys For Kids

Kids love to play with the usual plastic junk as much as any child obsessed with colorful, shiny objects. I've grown weary of giving them stuff that won't teach them anything and will just end up at Goodwill (or a landfill) in six months' time.

This year I set out to find some gifts that would at best teach them something about science or technology or, at worst, at least get them inspired and interested in learning a little more about science. Here's what they liked best.

Roboquad - This quadruped robot from Wowwee (which offers a number of fun Wowwee quadruped robotrobo-companions) was the biggest hit with both kids. You can use a remote to order him around the house, step by step (or dance, which the kids like to see at least 10 times a day), or put him in a semi-autonomous mode to blip and beep and explore on his own. He even has LED eyes to light up dark closets. Older kids can program the robot to follow a sequence of instructions. Yeah, he gets stuck in the corner sometimes, but don't we all? $90

Bladerunner III
- It's a pint-sized helicopter which you can fly in your house. Nothing was better at quieting a screaming toddler than picking up the Bladerunner and having it land on his mom's head, then lecturing him about Leonardo da Vinci. Be warned: Kids will have to be content to watch, as the controls are extremely difficult to master. I'm also sure it will break in relatively short order, as crashes are all too common. $50

Ice shattering mammoth dig
Ice Shattering Mammoth Dig - A huge hit with the kids. You freeze a miniature mammoth skeleton in the included tray, then they whack at it with plastic chisels and warm water to "excavate" the bones. Once the work is done, it goes together like a puzzle. If you want to get kids excited about archeology, it's this, or Indiana Jones. Be prepared for a wet mess, though. $20

Rainbow In My Room
- No, it doesn't do much: It puts a rainbow in your room. My daughter loves it nonetheless, and even though it doesn't apply a real prism to create its colors (colored LEDs mimic a rainbow instead), it has let me discuss light with her more scientifically. Like she cares... she just wants a rainbow in her room! $30

Digital Speed Sensing Baseball - Why play ball with a standard baseball when you can use this one, which has a speed sensor built in. I have no way of knowing if it's very accurate (other people's reviews are mixed), but it does at least offer something new instead of the usual game of catch. $25

R2-D2 robot toy
R2-D2 Interactive Droid - I was hoping this miniature R2 unit would get higher marks, but adults liked him more than the kids. Unlike Roboquad, R2-D2 is voice activated, responding and reacting to 30 phrases. My 5-year-old just didn't have the patience to master the required phrasing, though, and R2 didn't like it when two kids just sat there yelling at him. $120.


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