Smithsonian Toys Helped My Children to Look at the World Differently Through Waves, Magnets, Energy, & More!

As a Mom and Engineer, I love STEM toys that are engaging and encourage children to learn more about science and the world around them. I love when I find toys that my children view as fun and that I know are educational and give them an advantage in life. In today's post, I'll tell you about the latest Smithsonian toys that my children are enjoying. (Spoiler alert - these toys have provided hours and hours of fun!)

Let's start with a quick list of our favorite toys:

These kits not only taught my sons about important science topics like waves, magnets, potential and kinetic energy, and prehistoric creatures, but also helped them to view the world differently. It's pretty cool to look at the ocean and to realize so much science behind the waves. My children became more aware of potential and kinetic energy around them. They learned that magnets are more than things that stick to the refrigerator. They also fell in love with some prehistoric creatures.  My little guys spent hours and hours and hours with these sets. The had fun, learned new things, and grew thanks to their experiences with these toys!  

The Smithsonian Wave Machine is a cool way to learn about waves! Not only that but it's soothing to watch!  My son was able to put this together quickly and had a blast. This toy was inspirational for him to learn about waves and he wants to learn even more now that it has sparked his interests. He was able to observe a continuous wave simulation which was pretty cool. He could explore how waves impact the landscape. He learned about how waves and rip currents form. He couldn't learn enough - this kit really inspired his curiosity. It really inspired him to go out and learn more, including about the largest waves ever recorded, what causes tides and why they are good to track, rogue waves, tsunamis, and more!  This kit definitely made him view the world differently and he now has a better understanding of water, waves, and more! This kit is for ages 14+. It uses one C (1.5V) battery (not included).

The Smithsonian Prehistorian Sea Monster Kit is the coolest kit! Kids get to hatch their own prehistoric pets that grow to more than 20x their original size. It's really quite amazing to watch a 220-million year old species come to life.  This is another one of those toys that received hours and hours of attention from my children! This toy is for ages 7+. It does not need batteries. 

The Smithsonian Newton's Cradle Science Kit is another family favorite. I think that Newton's Cradle is a staple in many high school science classrooms, so I was excited to show this amazing concept to my son while he's just in middle school. It was fun to talk about Newton's Third Law of Motion - for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. It's so easy to observe how potential (stored) energy becomes kinetic energy and how momentum and energy are transferred from one side of Newton's Cradle to the other.  This toy provides the opportunity for many different experiments!  This toy is for ages 8+. It does not need any batteries. It just needs a little energy from your little ones to get it started by dropping one of the balls!

The Smithsonian Perpetual Motion Kit is a fun toy that you may recognize. Perpetual motion machines are often scene in movies when there is a science lab. If you were lucky as a kid, one of your teachers had one in a classroom. This Smithsonian Perpetual Motion Kit is mesmerizing!  It's powered by an invisible magnetic field.  Kids learn how batteries create the magnetic force to keep the machine working. This toy provides a fun opportunity to learn about first and second laws of the thermodynamics.  We had fun learning about magnets, their early uses, and some of the ways that they are used in contemporary times.  This toy is for ages 8+. It requires 4 (1.5V) AA batteries (not included).

I hope that you enjoyed this glimpse into our family and the STEM toys that made waves at our house! (Pun intended!) As a mom and an engineer, I love when I come across toys that inspire my children to have fun learning about science and the world around them. These toys were not only fun, but they helped my children to view the world differently. They now look at the ocean differently because they know more about waves. They realize that magnets are capable of so much more than hanging something on our fridge.  They are able to identify potential and kinetic energy.  They adore prehistoric creatures.  I can't say enough great stuff about how much we love these Smithsonian sets!  We definitely recommend them for holiday gifts!