Thursday, 17 November 2016

Top Tech (STEM) Gifts for Teens 13+ Coding, Robots, Gadgets, Making

Teens become increasingly more difficult to purchase gifts for. They are aware of brands and tend to want or need more expensive technology.

We're assuming kids interested in tech at 13+ would have tried most of the tech from our younger age recommendations and would be looking for something more challenging.

Many of the products recommended work with a smartphone, which we assume most teens will have by this age. The teens' gift list includes gadgets, and tech kits to develop creative thinking and technical digital skills. It's important to note that most of the products in our teens list, is not recommended for kids under 13, some even have an age limit of 14 for health and safety reasons. Our recommendations would also make great gifts for techie students / even parents!

Below is our list (in no particular order) for recommended tech (STEM) gifts for teens that are fun, relevant and won't require you to remortgage your house (except perhaps a VR headset).

  1. littleBits for Teens - Mobile Connectivity

    littleBits is an electronics kit which allows you to experiment and invent with electronics without the need to solder. There are many different littleBits kits to choose from, but we've focussed on kits that can connect to a mobile phone / cellphone. The Smart Home kit allows you to explore how to automate your house, and the Synth Kit explores electronic music production. The cloudBit kit allows you to automate social media and connect to hardware like NEST and Phillips Hue. Finally, the Arduino Starter kit uses the Arduino coding platform and explores more advanced concepts.

  2. Kindle Paperwhite

    It's really important to still encourage teens to read, and what better way than with the new Amazon Paperwhite. It boasts as a distraction free device (helps you focus on one task, which is really hard for most teens!), a long battery life and access to a wide selection of literature. You can lend books from your local library (currently only available in the US) and the e-Reader has a built-in word lookup tool, to help improve vocabulary. Unlike tablets, the e-Reader doesn't have blue light, which can disturb natural sleeping patterns. The New Paperwhite comes with a high resolution screen and is built with reading books in mind.
    Read why we think eReaders are a good option for some kids / teens.

  3. Arduino Starter Kit

    The Arduino Starter Kit is a brilliant electronics kit to get started with electronics and Arduino programming for teens. The kit comes with all the parts (which is quite a lot of kit) to make 15 projects, including a music instrument, a code breaker and motorised pinball. There is a physical book included, and the software is freely available for download.
    Read our review of the Arduino Starter Kit.

  4. 3D Printer - XYZPrinting Mini Maker

    The XYZPrinting mini maker 3D printer is a perfect tool for teens interested in printing 3D models. The printer is WiFi enables and safe to operate by 14+ independently. We've been really impressed with the XYZPrinting 3D printer (read our review) and is a great low cost option for keen maker teens.

  5. VR headset

    VR (Virtual Reality) is huge this year, with VR headsets marketed for 13+ it's bound to appear on many teen's gift lists. It's worth reading our VR headsets for kids and teens recommendations when considering which headset to buy. It will very much depend on which game console you have as a family. We've recommended the Playstation VR set in this list, but you should check compatibility and consider which VR headset is best for you. These gadgets are not cheap, but they will provide a lot of fun and entertainment. We're only at the start of VR development and so you would be a really early adopter of the technology this year.

  6. 3D Doodler Pen

    The 3D Doodler Create allows you to draw in 3 dimensions. It's recommended for 14+ as the nozzle gets really hot to melt the filament to draw. At first it isn't as easy as it looks to draw with a 3D pen, but they are lots of fun and provide a wide range of creative possibilities. The pen comes with 50 strands of filament to get started, and more is sold separately.

  7. FLORA Wearable Electronics Kit

    The Adafruit Flora is a great platform for getting started. It's worth getting some extra add-on components plus conductive thread and batteries to make a complete gift.
    If you're not sure what to choose then just add a gift card so that your teen can get the extra bits once they have decided which projects they want to make. There is a guidebook for the FLORA wearable kit which is sold separately. (US | UK)

  8. DIY Gamer

    Technology Will Save Us, has a fab gamer, which you can build yourself. There's different configurations of this kit, but we recommend you get the one you need to build. It offers an opportunity to learn to solder, and then have something at the end that you can code your own games. We've reviewed the DIY gamer and been very impressed with the instructions, quality of materials and fun learning experience. The DIY gamer is recommended for 12+. Note if you already have an Arduino micro-controller you can get a cheaper version without it.
    Buy: Tech Will Save Us Shop
  9. Mini Portable Printer for the Insta Generation

    Mini Portable Printers makes it possible for you to hold and share printed photos with friends. The printer is small enough to be carried around and can print directly from your smartphone. Taking photos are really important to teens, and they would generally use their mobile devices. We think it's a great idea to give them an option to quickly get a physical product from their digital world.

  10. Ultimate Robot Kit

    We love Makeblock robot kits and the Ultimate 2.0 robot kit, allows you to build 10 different robots. It is recommended for 14+ and would be best suited to a robotics enthusiast. As well as learning about robotics, you will also do graphical programming and Arduino and Python programming. The robot can be controlled from a tablet or smartphone. Let's face it, what teen wouldn't enjoy making a robot that can pick up dirty laundry!

    Read our reviews of Makeblock robot kits.

  11. Craft Cutter

    The Silhouette Portrait craft cutter is the perfect tool to fuel the creativity of a maker. The cutter can cut materials like, cardstock, vinyl, heat transfer material, transparencies, paper and more. We love our craft cutters here at Tech Age Kids and use them in all sorts of creative and tech projects. It's a perfect gift for a enthusiastic teen crafter / maker.

    Read our review of the Silhouette Cameo 3.

Also See: Coding Kits for Teens 13+

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