Best science sets for children

Child scientist
Looking for ways to encourage your child's interest in the world around them? These learning-through-play sets are perfect for budding scientists, allowing them to get hands-on and experiment with simple physics, meteorology, geology, anatomy, mechanics and more.

Amusement Park Engineer 

Thames & Kosmos, £55

A great kit for KS1 children, this comes with a storybook-style manual. By following the story you build models of 20 structures and machines (including a Ferris wheel, a carousel and a roller coaster) and understand simple physics concepts by experimenting with different tracks, slopes, bends and weights. The sturdy storage case for the pieces is a great extra!

Weather Etc!

KidzLabs, £23.99

Build a mini weather station and use your growing meteorology knowledge to conduct experiments and find out about climate change. The set includes plastic parts for assembling a weather station, thermometers, a water cycle demonstration set, a greenhouse effect demonstration set, a spiral template, pH paper, a seed tray and detailed instructions.

The Safe

Koontz Toys, £14.99

Construct your own safe out of chunky, recyclable cardboard and understand the inner workings of combination locks with this scientific puzzle toy. Includes step-by-step instructions and an information booklet. Other Koontz toys scientific sets include a sundial watch, a kaleidoscope, a periscope and a pendulum.

Geode Discovery Kit

National Geographic, £39.99

They look ordinary from the outside, but cracking open a geode reveals beautiful crystals, formed over millions of years. This hands-on kit contains 15 geodes, ready to be opened and examined to compare different crystal formation. Safety goggles, display stands and a full-colour learning guide are included in the kit.

Build Your Own Internal Combustion Engine

Haynes, £34.99

Got a car-mad child (or parent!) in the family? The mechanically-minded can get hands-on with this kit from iconic British brand Haynes and construct a fully working model of a car engine, complete with ignition sound and illuminating spark plugs. All the tools needed are included in the box, along with 100 parts and step-by-step assembly instructions.

Creepy Crystals

Horrible Science / Galt Toys, £6.99

Make your very own (creepy) crystals tree, discover the science behind crystals (and some gruesome science facts too, of course) and grow some crystals in a bottle. You'll make plenty of mess, too – essential for a horrible scientist! A great pocket-money kit.

GoldieBlox and the Parade Float

GoldieBlox, £15

Each GoldieBlox kit includes a construction set and storybook adventure to follow to put engineering principles into practice. Aimed at girl inventors, the Parade Float kit encourages your child to build a moving platform for small characters, putting their practical problem-solving skills to the test to try out nine different design ideas.

My First Lab Duo-Scope

My First Lab, £64

An excellent first microscope for future biologists which allows 40X, 100X and 400X magnification. The two-light-source construction means it acts as both a biological scope (allowing you to look at specimens on a slide) and a traditional dissecting microscope (to magnify solid objects like coins, stamps, insects). The microscope package includes real optical glass lenses (plastic is often used in kids' microscopes), dual focusing knobs and 10X eyepiece 4X, 10X, 40X objectives.

Solar System Planetarium

KidzLabs, £11.99

Build your own solar system (model) from scratch, painting, assembling and adding glow effects, then turn out the lights to see it in 'space'. A wonderfully science-themed crafting activity, the kit includes planet models to work with, a brush and paint pots, a stand with rotating arms, nine steel bars, sand paper and a ring template (for Saturn's rings).

DNA Detective

Science4You, £19.99

Find out what DNA is, why each of us is different and how genetic information is transmitted from one generation to another with this kids' genetics set. The hands-on tasks include collecting DNA from fruit and comparing fingerprints; equipment in the kit includes protective goggles and gloves, pipettes and test tubes, a magnifying glass and a Petri dish.

SmartLab Squishy Human Body

Smart Lab, £18.90

Conduct an interactive examination of the human body with this 12-inch model of a human skeleton with removable squishy organs as well as skeletal, vascular, and muscular systems, so you can literally see how it all works! The accompanying fact book offers illustrations, diagrams and information; as a budding medic, can you study the theory and then open up your 'patient' and put them back together again? 

Physics Discovery

Thames & Kosmos, £26.99

Mechanical physics is explained through 12 hands-on experiments for children aged 8+, starting with building small models to learn abour forces and simple machines (gears, levers, pulleys, wheels). There's a balance scale project to illustrate lever arms, pulleys are explained by a freight elevator model, a motion picture machine helps you learn about centripetal and centrifugal forces and a transmission gives a practical demonstration of gears. The accompanying manual gives illustrated instructions for the building projects.

LEGO WeDo 2.0 

LEGO Education, £130

Build a rover, add a motion sensor and tilt sensor and you're ready to try some hands-on physics experiments on your kitchen table (as well as putting simple coding skills into practice). The LEGO WeDo set is intended for classroom use, but the easy-to-follow instructions, associated app and project ideas (find out about pulls and pushes, speed, resistance, erosion and lots more) make science investigations brilliant fun at home, too.