Andrew B. Myers

When your kid wants to watch My Little Pony for the zillionth time, take a breath and substitute one of these brain-boosters instead.

1. Maker Lab | $20

Becoming an engineer means looking at the world with resourceful eyes—particularly when spying a shelf full of office supplies. With help from the Smithsonian Institution, author Jack Challoner has assembled 28 awesome STEM-inspired activities that involve only household items. When life gives you lemons, make a battery.

2. Osmo Coding Kit | $75

This iPad accessory turns coding from an abstract intellectual exercise into a playful, intuitive one. Kids manipulate colorful command tiles to build a program that controls a friendly onscreen monster, helping him on his strawberry-gobbling quest … or just making him run around in circles.

3. Anki Cozmo | $180

A mind-blowing amount of engineering—from AI to computer vision to sound design—is packed into Anki’s adorable palm-size package. Cozmo recognizes your youngling’s face and develops a complementary personality. Play learning games with him—he’ll remember your favorites. Can a puppy do that?

4. TeacherGeek Advanced Hydraulic Arm | $33

Kids apply basic fluid hydraulic principles to turn this remote-controlled arm into a back-scratcher or cat feeder. The kit encourages improvisation and includes extra components for variations that color outside the lines. Need more parts? Raid the recycling bin.

5. Sphero SPRK+ | $130

Youngsters can peer through the transparent body of Sphero’s latest ball-bot to study its electro-mechanical innards. The revamped Lightning Lab app lets kids use the company’s OVAL programming language to manipulate the LEDs and motor, making the orb follow a route of their choosing.

Styled by Grace Hartnett

Read more: https://www.wired.com/2016/10/5-great-toys-get-kids-brain-tickin/

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