The top 10 STEM and tech gadgets to keep kids entertained this summer

These tech gadgets provide kids with ways to learn coding, build a computer, fly a drone, and more, giving parents who are working from home a no-guilt break.

By now, with 90% of schools moving to remote learning in March, parents and caregivers are well familiar in dealing with their kid(s) at home. But there is a modicum of reprieve during the day, with the time given to the actual homeschooling. But soon, school will be, as Alice Cooper once crowed, "out for summer." 

Those same said caregivers are going to have to step up their game soon, if they hope to truly engage and entertain kids at home. Learning something would be a welcome addition. Fortunately, toy manufacturers have been on the ball, and recent releases cite fun and education. Here's a look at 10 of them.

Disclosure: TechRepublic may earn a commission from some of the products featured on this page. TechRepublic and the author were not compensated for this independent review.

Mould King Remote Control Building Block Robot

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Image: Amazon

An intelligent building kit designed for children 6 to 13, this educational coding kit is great for hands-on skills and creativity. A 2.4G remote-control design makes robots easy to move smoothly in all directions. Available in blue, navy, purple, and red. 

$40 at Amazon

Gravity Maze Marble Run Brain Game

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Image: Amazon

This game helps develop critical skills; as participants play through the challenges, it builds spatial reasoning and planning skills. It is partly an engineering and building toy that also provides a great stealth learning experience for young players. For ages 8 and up.

$30 at Amazon

Mini Drone with 720 camera for kids and adults

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Image: Amazon

This mini drone is equipped with a 720P HD camera that can take aerial photos and videos. With the built-in Wi-Fi module, a user can see exactly what the camera sees with a live video on a mobile device by installing the APP. It includes 3D rolling special effects. The drone returns automatically with a one-key return function. Players learn how to take a photo, take-off, landing, how to set up TF cards, and general maintenance and repairs.

$43 at Amazon

Smart Buddies "Camp in a Box" character robots teach coding

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Image: Smart Buddies

Smart Buddies are promoted as "teaching everybody to code." Users take their Smart Buddy character for an adventure, build a maze or obstacle course, all while coding. Smart Buddies foster a fun relationship between kids and robots, characters, and apps. As a response to the COVID-19 school closures, Smart Buddies developed a two-week online course, which can be used with its "Camp in a Box" for home use, and comes with the Siggy Robot scooter and USB charging cord. The Smart Buddy characters are a diverse group and include Maria, Lee, Jenn, Jodi, Matt, Sebastian, Zara, and Theo. Designed for kids 6+. The regular price is $175, and the sale price is $100.

$100 at Smart Buddies

Pai Technology's Botzees, a coding and robotics kit

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Image: Botzees

The Botzees, a coding and robotics kit for ages 4 and up, lets kids create, program, and play, and to introduce younger learners to the world of AR and coding. Kids can program and code their Botzees, which can be trained to move, drum dance, make sounds, and light up using the free, intuitive app. Botzees is compatible with iOS 12+ or Android 8+. The kit comes with two motors, one sensor, in addition to pieces needed. 

$100 at QVC

Electric Motors Catalyst (EMC), a kit to build and rebuild robotics creations

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Image: Tinkering Labs Electronics

Kids can build and rebuild robotic creations with a single kit, and can build doodling robots, power electric model cars, add motors to LEGOs, and more. The DIY kit has 50+ real parts: Build robots with 10 challenge cards, wood, electric motors, and hardware. For ages 8 to 12.

$59 at Amazon

KIBO robot kit, a screen-free robot kit

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Image: KIBO

KIBO is a screen-free robot kit for kids to create, design, decorate, and bring their robot to life. They code with KIBO and learn skills to jump-start success in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). Through play, young learners discover concepts by coding with wooden building blocks, creating sequences, and learning design processes. For ages 4 to 7. The prices range from $220 to $590.

KinderLab Robotics

UBTECH Iron Man MK50 Robot

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Image: Amazon

Inspired by Marvel's Iron Man, kids can create, control, code, and battle against enemies. With a mobile device, kids can control the robot's motors, lights, and sounds, taking on complete augmented reality (AR) missions. The Iron Man MK50 can be customized and personalized--in addition to programming sequences of moves, a child can upload an image of their face on Iron Man, which is revealed when its helmet is lifted. Work through different layers of difficulty and encounter specialized enemy drones by Iron Man's iconic villains, like the Chiari and Ebony. They can use block-based programming to code customized hero moves and scripted sequences. The app requires 1 GB RAM, works with Apple iOS 11. 0+/ iPhone 6S+/ iPad Pro+ and Android 7. 0+. best experienced with devices with ARCore. For ages 8 and up.

$200 at Amazon

The Piper Computer Kit, a STEAM learning kit

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Image: Piper

The Piper Computer Kit is a hands-on STEAM learning experience that teaches children computer science, electronics, and coding as they build a fully functioning computer. Assemble the computer's hardware using the Piper Computer Kit's engineering blueprint, then learn STEAM concepts in Piper's custom-built software. Recommended for ages 8+.

$299 at Play Piper

Piper Sensor Explorer, ages 8-13 adds the use of sensors to the original computer kit

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Image: Piper

The Piper Sensor Explorer pushes the existing Piper computer kit experience further for possibilities with hands-on STEM learning. Use sensors to measure temperature, compute distance, and detect color. Find three new StoryMode worlds and three new PiperCode projects exclusive to the Piper Sensor Explorer hardware. The Piper Sensor Explorer is recommended for ages 8+.

$49 at Play Piper