Best For Science
- AmScope M150C 40x – 100x microscope & glass slides
Best For Engineering
- Tinkering Labs Robotics Engineering Kit
Best For Programming
- Sphero Mini
You’ll probably have to give gifts to kids throughout your life, whether they are your own or those of your friends or family. Simple toys can be fun, but novelty tech items can be fun and useful. Some of them can even be educational.
And who knows, your gift could help to kickstart a lifelong love of a STEM subject. If you’re looking for some fun gift ideas for kids that aren’t just simple toys or the latest tablet, this list is for you. We’ve drawn up our list of the best novelty tech items for kids in 2022.
- Pikachu styling
- Parental control volume limiter
- Audio splitter
- 3.5mm jack
- 3 levels of volume limiting
- 4cm of adjustment
The Pokemon Pikachu Kids Headphones are, as you might expect from the name, a set of headphones with Pikachu styling sure to be a hit with any Pokémon fan. Kids often end up playing audio from tablets and phones. This can be annoying enough in small doses. Hence, parents subjected to this constantly are likely to appreciate a set of good headphones. These ones are especially likely to be appreciated by parents as they feature a parental control volume limiter. The volume limiter has three maximum settings, so it is nicely configurable.
These connect via a 3.5mm jack and have an integrated splitter port, so a friend or sibling can plug in and listen too. The headphones are reasonably cushioned on both the headband and cups, which are also adjustable for the best fit. The only downsides are the price and the fact that they don’t have a microphone built-in.
- Combo of microscope and glass slides
- Enough zoom to be able to see cells and bacteria
- Dimmable LED backlight
- 40x, 100x, 250x, 400x, and 1000x zoom
- 72 glass slides
- 100 glass cover slips
The AmScope M150C 40x – 100x microscope & glass slides is a combo pack. The microscope itself doesn’t come with any slides by default. Microscopes offer an intriguing view into the tiny world, with interest-only being limited by the ideas of what to look at. They’re great at encouraging an interest in the sciences. This microscope offers five zoom levels between 40x and 1000x, which is powerful enough to allow you to see cells and bacteria. It has a dimmable LED backlight powered by either 3 AA batteries or an AC adaptor, which are included.
The structure of the microscope is made entirely of metal, while the glass is of decent optical quality. A dual-speed focus wheel allows for easy focus adjustments. The lack of a top light can make it awkward to view larger solid objects as you have to provide your own lighting. Then there is the lack of a camera is a minor inconvenience with the prevalence of smartphones with high-quality cameras. One thing to be aware of is that the glass slides are thin and therefore very fragile and easy to break into sharp fragments, so they may not be too safe for younger kids.
- 21-page guide
- Set of tools to create your own solutions
- Tasks are designed to take 30-60 minutes to solve
- Wooden parts
- 10 challenges
- 50 parts
The Tinkering Labs Robotics Engineering Kit is an excellent toy for kids interested in electronics and engineering. It comes with a selection of wooden parts, tools, and generic hardware to help you solve the ten included challenges. To help with the basics, there is a small guide booklet that even provides examples of three of the challenges. However, there is not supposed to be a single correct way to solve a challenge. The guide isn’t supposed to just be followed like an Ikea instruction manual.
Each of the included challenges has been designed to take between 30 and 60 minutes to solve. It feels like the kit and challenge list should be a little larger. However, as a starting point, this is pretty great. The customer service from Tinkering Labs appears to be excellent, so you can be confident that they’ll help resolve any issues you have.
- Can be controlled directly with a phone
- Can be programmed with scratch blocks
- About the size of a ping pong ball
- Gyroscope, Accelerometer, LEDs
- 1 hour battery life
As well as being controlled by the phone, the mini can be used as a controller for a few games in the Sphero app. It comes with three tiny traffic cones and 6 tiny bowling pins as obstacles or targets for you to include in your play. There are larger, slightly more complex versions available around the baseball size. However, these are more expensive. Frustratingly, the app functionality is split across multiple apps, which is unnecessary. The outer shell, despite its toughness, generally appears relatively fragile.
That was our roundup of the best novelty tech items for kids in 2022. Have you recently bought a novelty tech item for a kid? What sold you on it, and what has your experience been with it so far? Let us know down below.