Toy Insider Associate Editor Maddie Michalik was on NBC Connecticut to show off some of the smartest STEM toys that make great holiday gifts. For more on the items featured in this segment, check out the product notes below, and for the complete rundown of the best toys of the holiday season, be sure to check our complete Toy Insider Holiday Gift Guide.


  • Rocktopus is a STEAM toy that brings creativity to the learning process by allowing kids to explore a variety of musical styles while learning about different instruments, rhythmic patterns, and more.
  • Rocktopus features 15 unique instruments across five different genres of music, enabling a truly hands-on physical approach to learning as preschoolers mix (and remix) their own musical creations.
  • Kids are in control of their very own compositions by adding or subtracting instruments, changing the tempo, and layering in fun sound effects.
  • Features three interactive play modes: Math, Music, and Game.
  • Ages: 3+
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • Available: All major retailers


  • Enjoy racing adventures with the Magformers Sky Track 44-piece play set! Equipped with a sky shuttle and multiple track accessories, kids can create loops, ups and downs, twists and turns for endless flight fun.
  • Watch as your shuttle does a 360 spin and climbs the lift elevator!
  • When your track is completed, the Sky Shuttle will go off-road in its Sky car!
  • Ages: 3+
  • MSRP: $99.99
  • Available: Amazon, specialty


  • Beaker Creatures is a new line of science-themed collectibles from Learning Resources that combines the thrill of collecting with hands-on science experiments that build skills and spark curiosity.
  • Includes 35 collectible characters from five different families for children to discover, classify, and explore. 

  • Beaker Creatures is founded in real science, from the fizzing Reactor Pods that reveal the creatures to the classification cards that help children identify their creatures. 

  • Beaker Creatures sets also double as working lab sets, complete with included science experiments that encourage hands-on learning. 

  • Each Beaker Creature also comes with facts and quizzes about real- world creatures and phenomena that sparks curiosity in the world around us. 

  • Ages: 5+
  • MSRP: $24.99 for the complete Science Lab which includes two dissolvable collectible eggs / $4.99 for individual eggs 

  • Available: Amazon


  • With 50 different colorful experiments designed by real Crayola scientists, this lab set teaches kids the magic of science, math, and art through color at S.T.E.A.M. principles.
  • From an erupting volcano to glow worms and slime, kids can embark on experiments using core Crayola products and household items, stretching their imaginations while also reinforcing their subject matter skills.
  • For continued creativity, kids can use the included illustrative guide to conduct experiments again and again using everyday items.
  • Ages: 7+
  • MSRP: $24.99
  • Available: Amazon, Walmart,


  • Immerse yourself in a playful, imaginative world of stories with the new Pepper Mint STEM kit line from Thames & Kosmos!
  • The Pepper Mint line offers experiments and activities that follow the adventures of Pepper Mint, a curious, skillful, and creative young engineer.
  • The activities are presented in storybook manuals with illustrations and step-by-step instructions. As you read the stories of Pepper Mint’s adventures, you build the projects and conduct the experiments that appear.
  • After assembly, the large wooden model of the treehouse doubles as a play set where kids can continue to act out stories about Pepper Mint with the scale figure included.
  • Ages: 8+
  • MSRP: $39.95
  • Available: Amazon


  • Conduct over 20 fun experiments and simple chemical reactions for a fun, hands-on, interactive learning experience with the Discovery Extreme Chemistry Lab!
  • From fizzing and foaming eruptions, to glowing worms and galactic spheres, kids will love the opportunity to experiment and make their own crazy concoctions!
  • Along with the easy-to-follow instruction booklet is a colorful fun-fact illustrated poster that offers children additional insight into the science behind their creations
  • Ages: 12+
  • MSRP: $19.99
  • Available: Amazon, Walmart


About the author

Bill Reese

Bill Reese

Bill Reese is Business Operations Manager at Adventure Media & Events, where he's worked since 2014. A former editor at Playbill and graduate of SUNY–Purchase, he spends most weekends rooting for the New York Red Bulls pro soccer team and making subway systems out of Brio trains with his little boy Jonah.