Dear Reader, This year, Gardner’s many b-to-b industrial manufacturing editorial teams collaborated on our first ever Gardner Editors’ Great Big Holiday Gift Guide. But there were so many recommendations that were more geared toward the FUTURE manufacturers in your life, that it became clear we were in need of a second list.
The beautiful and common thread in these entries is the particular joy in sharing a piece of yourself with the kids in your life—showing off your vocation through creative play is a pretty amazing way to connect. These STEM-rich toys are great for explaining (and more importantly, enjoying!) robotics, mechanical engineering, electronics and additive manufacturing with the special little people in your life.
Wishing you and yours a very healthy and happy holiday from all of us here at Gardner,
– Kate Hand, Director of Content and Web, Gardner Business Media
PS. If you buy a present from our list—please take a pic and post to social media so we can bask in all that second-hand gift-giving glow!
If you want your kid to learn more about STEM and manufacturing (but don’t have the patience for dealing with multiple D batteries) this hydraulic arm teaches kids how to do robotics the old-fashioned way.
My sister, who is an engineer and lives long-distance from us, purchased a 3-month subscription to these boxes as a way to connect with my 6-year-old son, and they have been such a hit in our house that she decided to continue them indefinitely. The green box that arrives every month is met with shouts of glee, and its contents never fail to delight our whole family. They are so clever and fun to work on together. Teaching science and mechanics and engineering, and filled to the brim with fun facts and even suggestions for related DIY side projects. They are available for all ages and I can't recommend highly enough." -Kate Hand, Director of Content and Web, Gardner Business Media
“This is a favorite at the Skavlem house!” – Melissa Kline Skavlem, Chief Marketing Officer, Gardner Business Media
Give your kid some experience in assembly as they put together this robotic arm, and then sit back and relax as they learn how to control the grip and positioning. A great start to learning robotics!
“If you’re thinking about bringing a 3D printer into your home, keep in mind that even “safe” filaments like PLA still release nanoparticles that you don’t want to breathe. Look for an enclosed printer or consider adding one on to your purchase to minimize contact with emissions. Some enclosed models even include air filters, like the Tiertime Up Mini 2, which has a HEPA and activated carbon filter combination to deal with both nanoparticles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). As an added bonus, an enclosure protects your 3D printer from drafts, dust, pets and other things that can interfere with a build. – Stephanie Hendrixson, Senior Editor, Additive Manufacturing Media
Modularity and motors are the name of the game here, with a set of parts that can form 10 different planetary exploration-themed vehicles and a remote control for the ‘Martian Rover’ vehicle. Educational sections in the manual help kids learn more about the real sources for the models they’re creating.
Awesome Engineering Activities for Kids by Christina Herkert Schul
This winter will likely include lots of time indoors. This book lets kids explore basic engineering tasks with craft supplies you can find around your home.
If you or your kid is always asking how something works, this is the perfect book for you. Gray examines the principles behind the functioning of many everyday objects, and includes a lot of interesting trivia besides. Mann's pictures, meanwhile, show off the many ways people have built things from clocks to sewing machines over the ages.
“I think the ‘Lego Adults’ line actually seems pretty great for kids 10 and up who might have a mechanical aptitude. The end products are intriguing and the building offers an exercise in following instructions and thinking about the forms and components of structures and machinery around us. Also, a great respite into physicality for kids whose parents are worried they spend way too much time on screens and don’t know what to do about this.” – Peter Zelinksi, Editor-in-Chief, Modern Machine Shop
This book (and included LEGO set) has ten different set-ups to introduce kids to the wacky world of Rube Goldberg machines.
Dive into the inner workings of clocks and gears with this DIY wooden clock.
This combination of storybook and model kit helps little ones practice their reading while getting hands-on with building some adorable little aircrafts. They may need you to help them – but your little aviator will love it!
History and innovation collide in this book for a full STEAM experience. Claybourne discusses the stories that resulted in the invention of several common devices we use today, with fun illustrations.
This kit includes pieces for multiple working models, with an accompanying book to provide instructions and teach the theories behind how gears and worm drives affect force and speed. Kids will be able to experiment at their own pace, with a quiz at the end if they’re feeling curious.