STEM offers the best in educational toys for kids

Most learning experts agree that children learn best through play; providing them with the right toys can improve this process even more. Toys that are STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) certified have been reviewed and approved by educators for play-based learning. Here's a rundown of our picks for the best STEM toys to give to curious kids.

Best biology experiment

Insect Lore Butterfly Garden

Staff Pick

The metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly is one of nature's most captivating miracles. Kids can become a part of the transformation with this kit from Insect Lore that provides everything from live caterpillars to a butterfly enclosure. Even the insect food is included in this complete set.

$43 at Amazon $30 at Walmart

Best use of marbles

Gravitrax Starter Set Marble Run

Children learn about engineering, gravity, magnetism, and kinetics as they construct different marble tracks for races, challenges, and trick shots. Not only is it educational, this set from Gravitrax promises hours of entertainment for kids ages eight and up.

$57 at Amazon $60 at Target

Best value

Mattel Bloxels Build Your Own Video Game

Aspiring game designers will love the Bloxels video game set. Here, children are given a set of small colored blocks that can be used to design backgrounds, landscapes, characters, and gameplay features. These objects can be digitized through the Bloxels apps to construct a real digital video game that kids will design, build, and play.

$18 at Amazon $22 at Walmart

Best for preschoolers

Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit for iPad

If your little ones have just begun learning their letters, this is the STEM product for them. The Little Genius Starter Kit comes with handheld pieces that can be used in conjunction with the iPad to create letters, shapes, and a variety of educational games. The set encourages tots to learn about letters, phonics, and vocabulary.

$80 at Apple $80 at Amazon $80 at Target

Best for young astronauts

4M Water Rocket Kit

Here's one that even adults can enjoy. The water rocket kit comes with materials and instructions for kids to build a real water-powered rocket that shoots 90ft into the air. Everyone will enjoy watching it blast off over and over again, learning about physics, pressure, and motion at the same time.

$21 at Amazon $22 at Walmart

Best creative potential

Magna-Tiles Clear Colors Set

Let young creative minds run wild with Magna-Tiles, a building set that works through magnetic energy. Kids use the geometric shapes to construct three-dimensional buildings, robots, animal shapes, or anything else they can imagine.

$29 at Amazon $50 at Target

Best for learning to code

Bit Coding Robot...