STEM Development for Kids: Basic Biology
There are quite a few amazing STEM and STEAM toys for kids interested in chemistry and engineering/electricity. The Thames & Kosmos chemistry and other science kits fill quite a few holes there, and the Elenco Snap Circuits are pretty safe go-to options as well. Even though Thames & Kosmos has some biology options, there are actually a wide variety of under the radar things for your child to study with from models and slides to living creatures that will show your kids how to discover the joy of learning biology. Best of all, these are great ideas for Christmas, birthday or other gifts.
One of the most obvious choices for toys teaching biology is the classic microscope. You can get something as basic as the Elenco EDU-41003 for under $10 and in the same price range you can get the EDU-37674 Handheld Mini Field Microscope that can be used on a nature walk to look at bugs or an impromptu prepared slide if you brought some with. If you want something a little with a little more options, you can try the EDU-41004. For more serious pursuits you can upgrade to the EDU-41009 which is a much sturdier microscope and contains a number of extras in the form of tools and shrimp eggs with a microhatchery. It also gets in much closer than others. If your child is in their teenage years and quite serious about their science, you shoot for something that’s nearly professional grade, but still affordable. The Barska AY13110 and the AY13072 are bother great options.
Some popular accessories for the microscope are the Barska AY12586 which is a piece that goes over the eyepiece of a microscope or even a telescope and interfaces with your Android or Apple device allowing you to record your observations and see them in video. Perhaps you could even upload your finds onto YouTube. Some other popular add-ons include the EDU-36730 which is a set of 12 previously prepared slides with 36 samples and six extra blank slides that you can use to make your own, should you find things worth inspecting. Pretty much the same set, but minus the extra slides, is the EDU-36729 which has 12 slides and 36 samples to look at. Of course, if your intrepid scientist has already done those, there’s the EDU-36700 which is a slide making kit. All of these are great accessories to getting your child using their microscope and learning about all of the really small life forms around us.
Another great way to encourage the study of biology is through the study of living things. One great way to study living things is with the EDU-37700 Worm Habitat which includes basically the transparent container and some colored sand which seems to allow you to track the movement of the worms. Soil, seeds and worms are not included though, given how common these all are, so you can use this as part of an exploration/specimen gathering activity as well. The next few items all go well together in varying combinations and they’re all meant to help your child discover the insect life in the world around them. The EDU37058 Nature exploring kit features a small net to capture, forceps for hopefully gentle grabbing a magnifying glass and a ventilated container. The great thing about this set is that it’s not only good for bugs, but can be used to catch sea creatures from tide pools and other small critters. Once you’ve captured something worth studying, the EDU-37683 Bug House is a slightly larger container so if you catch more than one thing, or you want to do an extended study, you can store them in here with some food. It’s a perfect setup for watching the behavior of your little science project. The EDU-36888 Two Way Bug viewer is another container like the first two, however it features a powerful magnifier with two vantage points. It also comes with a rubber spider to help your child develop the fortitude to study a real one. This item, or one very similar to it also comes with the EDU-BL131 which also includes an ant farm with ant tunnel. Presumably you’d put food or something into one end of the tunnel and watch the ants laboriously break it down and bring it back to the hive. These kits will stimulate interest in the natural world around them as well as help develop observation skills as they watch the bugs and animals they’ve collected.
Last but not least, we all know that one important part of biology is dissecting things and seeing what’s inside. We all remember dissecting frogs, maybe mice and pigs too, maybe more. But it’s so gross, right? Now you can have simulated dissections in the comfort of your living room! First, the s EDU-37307 Simulated Frog Dissection not only gets rid of the smell and gross out factor of a real frog, it also is reusable allowing one to look at the frog’s anatomy over and over again. If your child wants to be a doctor, or you want them to be, the EDU-41006 Human Torso Model is a great piece that is really well made with hand painted pieces. It has eight pieces and is an excellent way to drive home lessons from health class or get kids studying the human body. Going a step further, the EDU-41007 Human Anatomy Model AR Edition is nearly twice as tall and has three more pieces. The best part is that it takes advantage of Augmented Reality with your smartphone or tablet. Easy, non-messy and non-gross ways to figure out how bodies work and what’s inside all of us.
All of these toys are great ideas to focus in on teaching your children about biology. They’re great for home and even tutoring or special workshops. What do you think about all of these STEM toys? Be sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!