There’s probably a scientific explanation for kids’ eyes drying out and brains going mushy after prolonged screen time sessions, but that’s not the STEM lesson you want their toys to teach. Instead, give them something as educational to build as it is undeniably satisfying to stare at: a marble run.
Yes, a ball on a track promises to teach kids age 10+ physics and engineering, and legitimately entertain them. Marbelocity by Tinkineer is a line of dynamic wooden model kits accompanied by graphic novellas starring characters called “Tinkerers,” who introduce a particular concept that is reinforced through the construction of the marble maze and real-world examples. The kits are assembled using only white household glue (not just a tasty snack!) and can be hand-cranked or powered by a separately sold electric motor. They can stand alone with the marble recirculating after each run, or be connected to more kits to form giant marble labyrinths.
They’re part beautiful artwork, part educational toy, and thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, fully set to ship in the coming weeks, starting with the Dragon Coaster, the first of 9 planned Marbleocity machines. If you still think your kid would prefer another screen-based STEM toy to these humble yet intricate artifacts, watch this guy shred his hand-made, marble-powered music machine that looks like something he stole from the Seussical prop closet. As you try to figure out what the hell you just saw, admit that your kid — and you — could watch those marbles fly all day.