PLTW's 2018 STEM Gift List

Inspire and engage the young inventors, coders, builders, and makers in your life with gifts from our 2018 STEM Gift List!

The fifth edition of our annual list includes ideas for exciting and educational gifts that support young people’s exploration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. Our list was compiled thanks to help from our wonderful PLTW Outstanding Teachers, who identified toys and other gifts that help children develop STEM skills.

Check out the gifts on our list:

Cat Crimes™, $12.99, Ages 8+

Ginger, Sassy, Mr. Mittens, and the rest of the crew help promote logical deduction, reasoning, and visualization.

Elegoo MEGA 2560 Starter Kit, $59.99

“We use this to go beyond block coding. There are several labs included as well as several sensors that give students the chance to see how to prototype circuitry and begin to understand parallel and series circuits. There are code labs included to help guide students through the coding process.”

– Brian Bobbitt, PLTW Engineering

Pepper Mint in the Great Treehouse Engineering Adventure, $39.95, Ages 8+

Pepper Mint and her treehouse help kids learn about pulley systems and electric circuits.

Smithsonian® 150X, 450X, 900X Microscope Kit, $24.99, Ages 8+

“I am recommending this toy because most kids aren’t exposed to the use of a microscope until their high school biology course. For just $24.99, a child could start exploring the world of life science at home at a young age. It is important to me that all children are encouraged to be curious, and what better way to foster their interest in science than by giving them the tools to practice at home! This microscope comes with 36 additional accessories including specimen vials and prepared slides.”

– Ashley Cosme, PLTW Biomedical Science

Wiggle-Bots, $7, Ages 5+ (with adult supervision)

Wiggle-Bots encourage kids to create a design – and then iterate on that design to create something completely new.

Makey Makey Classic, $49.95, Ages 8+

“This gift is a great way to introduce students to basic electricity and connections. Through this activity, students can learn about conductors and insulators as well as how to create closed circuits. Many students learn how it can be used to create a video game controller.”

– Brian Bobbitt, PLTW Engineering

Shadows in The Forest™, $24.99, Ages 8+

This game promotes exploration of light and shadow physics concepts, as well as critical thinking and collaboration.


Programmable LED Nametags, $9.80

“Programmable LED nametags are a great introduction to wearables and mobile technology. They connect to a computer via an included USB cable, and the required software is loaded on the name tag, so it’s easy to install and intuitive to use. The software inspires amazing creativity!”

– Scott Bawden, PLTW Gateway

Laser Chess™, $39.99, Ages 8+

This twist on an old classic helps promote exploration of light and reflection physics concepts, as well as general STEM learning.

Snap Circuits®, $20 and up

“Students really get interested in creating circuits. We use this before we get into any robotics at all to show students different circuits, different control methods, and the different components of a circuit. All come with a manual including diagrams along with a summary of outcomes that should happen. This gift is a great way to introduce electricity and troubleshooting.”

– Brian Bobbitt, PLTW Engineering