Wake Up Their Wonder!
Science Learning Begins Early
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Posted: 2012-08-13 09:30:57 By:

 

 

 


2011 Award
Smart Lab Squishy Human Body
(Smart Lab $24.99 Score: )

If you have a child interested in the human body and how it works, this is a must have kit. We love the  information about all the systems of the body in the book, as well as the model of the human body that comes with the set.  The skelton also has body parts for hands on exploration. Remember the first time someone told you how long your intensines are?  Could you visual it?  Here you get to see it!  Unlike so many science kits and books directed to kids, the folks at Smart Lab hit the balance of information just right!  It's this kind of science toy that makes us so happy-- it really celebrates science and encourages kids to learn more. They also have more specific kit and book on the Squishy Brain and a fun Extreme Secret Formula Lab for 20 science experiments to try at home.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
MindFlex Duel
(Mattel $99 Score: ) In 2009 we gave a Platinum Award to Mattel's innovative MindFlex. The toy "reads" brain activity and with that energy you move a little blue ball along the adjustable obstacle path. Now, as the name suggests, Mind Flex Duel allows you to battle another player for dominance over the little blue ball. As with the original both players put on the headgear and attach the sensor to your earlobe. Turn the game on--and see which player can concentrate enough to move the ball across the finish line. Really a mental tug of war-except here you are pushing the ball with your thoughts. Seriously! One of the most innovative toys we've seen in years. You can also play many of the same solo obstacle games you played on the original. If you have teens that are jaded and will only play video games--start playing with this toy and see what happens.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Laser Pegs 3D Lite Board
(Laser Pegs $99.95 Score: )

Our testers enjoyed playing with this construction toy both in an open-ended manner and by following the instructions for building the 21 suggested models.  The set comes with a light board and 115 laser pegs (a satisifying amount).  The board comes with a AC adapter but can also be run on 3 AA batteries. To make the laser pegs light up, you need to make complete the electrical circuit by making the proper connection (the pieces have male/female receptors)-- so there's some science involved here.  The real fun comes when you turn off the lights and see your build aglow!  Our eight and ten year old testers found the instructions easy to follow.  Pricey--but well worth it!  We also recommend the company's new Bug kits. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Make Your Own Kaleidoscope
(Creativity for Kids $12.99 Score: )

Here kids are getting an introduction to reflective properties of light and how different materials affect what we see. The set requires kids to follow step by step instructions for putting the kaleidoscope together. Comes with lots of materials to put in the end piece, but you can also encourage your child to experiment with things from around the house (small buttons, Cheerios, etc.).  Kit says 5 & up--and while a 5 year old will love playing with this toy, they will need your assistance to put it together.   We'd say  more like 8 & up for independent play.  The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.   We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Glow Rocks: Fluorescent Mineral Kit
(Dr. Cool Science $49.95 Score: )

Comes with a black (UV) light that enables you to see the fluorescent quality in the six rocks included in the kit. Also includes a booklet for other experiments to try with the black light.  We recommend then taking your kids outside to see what kind of rocks they can find and then start a journal.  School-aged kids love collecting and it's a great way to encourage your kids to do a little reading and research. This is one of those kits that can inspire a long term hobby.  There are also quarries in parts of the country where you can go "dig" for your own fluorescent rocks!  

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Strobotop Lightphase Animator
(Eye Think $24.95 Score: )

An interesting introduction to the art of 'moving pictures.'  It comes with a hand-powered spinning top with 18 disks that have images on them. Spin the top and then point the LightPhaser (a strob like light) at the images and they become an animated movie. Images of runners, animals leaping, cats , bugs, faces and others come to life. The hand held light only works when it is targeted at the disk, not a child's eyes. There are 18 disks and you can purchase an extra pack of images with another 18 disks. Kids can color in some of the black and white drawings or they might also be inspired to create their own drawings to make original animations. 6 & up.  The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2010 Award
Learning Resources Primary Science Set
(Learning Resources $29.99 Score: )

A 12 piece set, all chunky but realistic and safe for kids. There are plastic beakers, test tubes, tweezers, magnifier, protective goggles, eye dropper and 10 activity cards. These experiment cards have one side that shows what you need; the other side tells you what to do. An adult is needed to read. Many items needed such as vinegar, raisins, baking soda, seeds, and other items are not in the set. But these are age appropriate experiments in color mixing, sprouting seeds, bugs, make a volcano—to name just a few. Marked 4 & up, but this will be a set you can use with 1st and 2nd graders.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Our tester sent these comments:
"The kids loved the idea of the kit and were excited to conduct the experiments. The chunky size beakers and test tubes were fun and they liked the laminated cards with the experiments. The downside was that several of the experiments required materials not included in the kit (which is fine as long as you know it is not a self-contained activity going in) - things that might not be on-hand in the average home, like seeds for planting, bugs for examining, food coloring, etc. The activities that we did went over really well and got them thinking. The only other comment is that the tweezers are really pretty useless. They are made the right size for preschoolers, but they really don't grasp anything and are hard to maneuver - both for kids and adults."

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 

Break Open Real Geodes
(Dr. Cool Science $49.95 Score:)

Here's a chance to break open geodes (that are formed by prehistoric bubbles in lava). The kit comes with 15 geodes from 3 different mines so there will be a difference in the crystals that have formed that can include: quartz, fluorite, calcite and amethyst. The kit includes a pair of safety glasses (a must!). We also like their suggestion that you can put the geode in a sock- a much safer way to go with younger kids.  It does not come with a hammer or chisel (the two recommended tools for breaking them open).

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Kid Concoctions Bouncy Ball Blast
(Alex $9.95 Score: )

This science kit comes with enough ball powder to make six bouncy balls. There are three different molds. A fast project with a great payoff! It takes approximately 2 minutes to soak the ball in the form, 3 minutes to dry before you can take it out  - and then you're good to go. A fun science lesson of what happens when you combine water and a powder to form a solid --that bounces! Pretty amazing.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Ceaco Kids 2-sided Dinosaur Floor
(Ceaco Kids $11.99 Score: )

A huge 2' X 3' floor puzzle with 48 big sturdy cardboard pieces with an added twist. There are two sides to this, so you do one puzzle and then take it apart and do a completely different puzzle. One side shows a scene with many prehistoric creatures. The other side has multiple creatures, but a close up of T-Rex with its big mouth open displaying a lot of sharp teeth. This is marked 4 & up and we suspect some fours are going to need some lessons in using the image on the box to figure out what side the puzzle pieces belong to.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Imaginetics Aquarium
(International Playthings $7.99 Score: )

Kids can create their own stories as they slide magnetic cutouts of giant squid, sharks, sea turtle, sting ray, whales and so many other creatures of the sea. A perfect take along travel toy to make time fly in car or plane or train. The 24 pieces cling to the 18" X 12.5" magnetic board that features a giant aquarium window. It's a good way to expand the knowing and naming process of sea life, as well as inspiring dramatic play and story telling. There are no detachable or small magnets since the images are backed with magnetic sheeting. However, this is not for kids who still mouth their toys. The label says 3 & up, but this is a better choice for older kids. Bring home some non-fiction books about fish and sea mammals to share, as well. This is a great follow-up toy after a trip to the nearest aquarium. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 

 
1999 Awards
Gears! Gears! Gears!
(Learning Resources $35 Score: )

This is a more open-ended set than the motorized models like Oogly Googly. Kids can build horizontally or vertically. There are sets with small gears only- a good place to start. There are also sets with large gears with optical patterns on them and other doo-dads. All in all it's a great building system that allows kids to experiment with making machines. Great for solo play as well as co-operative building.

SNAP INFO: Fitting gears together not only develops dexterity; it's a challenging way to promote problem-solving skills as kids make moving "machines." Motors can be added, but start with hand power. ACTIVITY: Play a game of "Keep It Going!" Players take turns adding one gear at a time but every gear added must connect and keep the motion going.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 1999. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 
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