Remember constructing your own pinhole camera to learn how photography works? Now kids can build a hand-crank digital camera to learn about electronics, optics, mechanics, and more. There’s even a mode that takes 3-D photos (glasses included.) $50.
This little microscope snaps over the camera of a smartphone or tablet (it claims to work with iOS and most Android devices), allowing kids to take their own photos and video of the microscopic world. When used with digital zoom, the microscope offers 30x magnification. $15, Skyrocket Toys
The newest generation of the classic robot-building toy is the first to include a Bluetooth radio that lets builders control their robots via an app, and a new sensor suite enables creations to navigate and react autonomously. EV3 also comes with faster motors, a faster processor, and more sensitive sensors. $350, Lego
This underwater ‘scope features 5x magnification and built-in thermometer, ruler and LED flashlight. An included activity journal encourages kids to record their aquatic observations in words and drawings. $27, Nancy B’s Science Club
You may have heard of GoldieBlox last month, when its creators released an ad set to the Beastie Boys and featuring a pink-themed Rube Goldberg machine. GoldieBlox is a great construction toy aimed at girls; kids learn simple engineering principles from the pegboard kit’s axles, blocks, cranks, and wheels. $30, GoldieBlox
To win this single-player game, arrange the mirrors on the grid to direct the laser beam (laser beam!) to the target. There are 60 different challenges, with varying degrees of difficulty. $25, ThinkFun
Grow your own meat-eating plants! This 9-inch terrarium comes with fly trap and sundew seeds, USB power cord, germination disk, and care guide. Fifteen micro-LEDs provide the heat and red and blue light the carnivorous plants need to grow. $35, DuneCraft
Clearly, the ideal way to learn about flight is to build your own working hovercraft. This kit helps kids experiment with propellers, impellers, air pressure, and air flow. Also buildable with the 59-piece set: a batting machine that tosses a ball upward, a fan-driven car, and a basketball launcher. $70, Thames & Kosmos