Toys and curriculum focused on improving children’s skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (collectively known as STEM) are commonplace today.
These learn-through-play toys and kits focus on developing skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, logic, and reasoning as they relate to the STEM subjects.
In fact, it seems that children are often outpacing adults when it comes to knowledge in these rapidly advancing fields.
That means that unless adults are keeping up with the newest developments and continually gaining new skills, the jobs for which they qualify will be steadily fewer in number as those skilled children grow up and enter the workforce. So, what about adults?
Are there STEM kits for adults? Few STEM kits are specifically labeled for adults; however, there are many kits that are advanced enough to present a challenge and learning opportunities to adults. Kits focusing on electronics, robotics, coding, programming, and engineering are ideal.
There’s really no need to feel out of the loop or as if you’re being left behind as technology marches along without you.
While taking a few classes could certainly help you catch up or improve your skills, there are various STEM kits that can sharpen your technology and engineering skills as you work independently at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home.
After all, you’re never too old to play and learn new tricks, right?
Want a sneak peak at a few of your options? Here are my top recommendations for STEM kits for adults:
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STEM Kits for Adults
In a world that is becoming more technologically advanced day by day, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest progress in fields such as robotics, coding, engineering, programming, and building computers, to name a few.
With the many responsibilities already shouldered by most adults, few have the luxury of taking supplemental classes to keep up with all the latest advancements.
That’s where STEM kits can prove to be valuable.
Who Would Benefit from STEM Kits?
STEM kits are not just for children, although there are certainly hundreds upon hundreds of kits geared for school-age kids and even preschoolers (see the best ones here).
Anyone interested in science, technology, engineering, or math would enjoy the challenge of learning new skills or improving their understanding of a particular subject.
Those who would benefit from working with a STEM kit include:
- Anyone with a love of learning.
- Science and electronics fanatics.
- Anyone interested in AI, robotics, and programming.
- Those who enjoy constructing models or are interested in engineering.
- People wishing to develop computer and coding skills.
Whether you’re just looking to sharpen your own skills or are trying to find the perfect gift for that die-hard science fanatic in your life, a STEM kit might be your answer.
You can even delve into the world of STEAM and STREAM kits if you choose (discover how they differ from STEM kits here) to further increase your adeptness at communication skills and your knowledge of the arts.
Are There STEM Kits Made Specifically for Adults?
While you may occasionally run across STEM kits advertised for both kids and adults, those aimed at adults specifically are few and far between.
This is because, from a marketing standpoint, it just makes more sense to focus advertising efforts on children.
However, don’t let this dissuade you at all. Many adults not only enjoy working on advanced STEM kits but benefit from them a great deal.
Learning by doing isn’t something just for children.
Based upon a scientific study on the brain-body connection, Professor Sian Beilock states:
“In many situations, when we allow our bodies to become part of the learning process, we understand better… Reading about a concept in a textbook or even seeing a demonstration in class is not the same as physically experiencing what you are learning about.”
This is true of all students of learning, no matter the age. So, learning via multiple means and taking a hands-on, self-directed approach is ideal.
As long as the STEM kit you’ve chosen peaks your interest, involves action on your part, and presents a challenge, it can be a valuable learning tool, regardless of the recommended ages stamped on the front of the package.
How Much Do STEM Kits for Adults Cost?
The price for STEM kits aimed at older students and adults tend to be a bit more expensive than those geared for young children because of the complexity and technology of the more advanced kits.
For instance, many of the advanced kits feature working sensors, processors, or motors (or the parts required to build one), all of which will drive up the price.
However, you can still find quality STEM kits that are ideal for your targeted skill set for less than $40. If you’re going for ultra high tech though, you’ll find that some of these kits can exceed $1,000 – by a lot!
It all depends on the type of kit, the machinery included, and the skills taught.
For a more in-depth look at how much you can expect to pay for a STEM kit, head over to my article, “How Much Do STEM Kits Cost?”
The 3 Best STEM Kits for Adults
Generally, adults will want to look for STEM kits marked for ages 12 and above.
Anything below that age range won’t likely present much of a challenge or learning opportunity but can still be a lot of fun, so don’t feel like you have to limit yourself based on the recommended age range alone.
Kits labeled for “kids and adults of all ages” could definitely be worth a look.
Here’s some of the best kits I’ve found to help adults develop existing skills or get their feet wet with new ones.
If you’re remotely interested in building your electronic, programming, and robotic skills, this kit is for you.
The Smart Robot Car features several different modes, such as obstacle avoidance, auto-go, and line tracking.
There are also various communication ports, such as Wi-Fi, infrared, and USB, meaning that you can use your phone or tablet to control it if you choose.
Best of all, it’s compatible with Arduino, an open-source electronics platform for reading and transforming data to an output.
The included CD provides complete assembly instructions and all the necessary programming information and codes.
Within the different modes, you’ll learn how to run programs that will direct the car to perform exactly as you instruct it.
The included expansion board allows you to add extra sensors (also included) to perform even more functions.
This educational model will teach you all about the construction and inner workings of an internal combustion V8 engine.
Upon completion, as you turn the hand crank, you’ll be able to see all the internal parts move just as they do in a real engine, thanks to the clear plastic pieces you assemble yourself.
Moving pistons, connector rods, camshaft rocker arms, and valves, a rubber fan belt, a water pump – you name it, you’ll see it in action with this replica of an old small block Chevrolet engine.
Though the instructions recommend paint, it’s really not necessary and might even obscure your view of the moving parts.
You will however need glue for several assembly steps. Epoxy is recommended, but some users had excellent results using clear parts cement instead.
You’ll be proud to display your finished results and demonstrate to others how a real engine works.
For those wishing to learn Arduino and deepen their understanding of electronics and programming, this sensor kit is perfect.
It features a controller board, an expansion board, and a ton of wires, controls, sensors, pins, and chips to enable you to complete 35 different projects, learning every step of the way.
The included CD contains a complete tutorial to walk you through each project step by step.
Create an RFID lock, track movement, detect water levels, and more with this Arduino STEM kit.
Honorable mentions worth investigating: