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Product Spotlight: Inventive Toys
By Karen Mendez Smith
1, 2003

Budding scientists of all ages (and upcoming science fair entrants) are sure to be inspired by some of today’s highly inventive and instructive toys.

DIG IT UP dinosaur set

Any child interested in dinosaurs (name one that isn’t!) will really dig Spring International’s DIG IT UP dinosaur assembly and fossil excavation kits. Construct a WOOLLY MAMMOTH skeleton (DIU-SV:3D-4, $79.95) or a 1/5 scale GIANT T-REX SKULL (DIU-GK, $110.00) or experience one of 8 Dig It Up Dinosaur sets ($39.95), where a fossil replica buried in a plaster block is unearthed with simulated tools. Says Kin C. Tong, “Even professional paleontologists find them fascinating.”

Middle grade through high school students will find DISCOVER THE WONDERS OF WATER by Creative Teaching Associates makes a big splash, with 20 experiments on the properties of water to spark creative spirits (6552, $6.95 or 6553, with board game, $26.95). Tried and true are EXPERIMENTS WITH MAGNETS AND ELECTRICITY (6514) and PRIMARILY PLANTS (7083, $18.95), among other science and technology aids. Teachers will appreciate that they meet curriculum needs and contain reproducible materials.

Beginning inventors ages 9+ will take like ducks to water to OWI, Inc./Robotikits Direct Company’s AMPHIBIOUS SOLAR VEHICLE (OWI 688, $39.95), a cool land-to-water vehicle that shows kids first-hand the fundamentals
of solar power. More advanced students 10+ will be wowed by HYPERLINE, a cyber bug with sonic light tracking ability (OWI 973, $59.95). President Craig Morioka notes that, "Benefits such as creativity, design, durability, ease of use, educational value, and the accreditation of ‘100 Best Children's Products’ and ‘10 Best High Tech Products’ have all contributed to consumers' belief in our products."

Future mechanical geniuses will gravitate to Appleheart’s ANTOID ($49.95) and SOUNDTRACKER ($24.95) iBOTZ robotics kits. Elementary students, especially, will relate to Appleheart’s MAPLESEED COPTER. At only $5.95, it’s a real standout, and includes a real maple seed.

Odd pods by Dunecraft

It’s cosmic, baby. Inquiring minds will quickly grow attached to Dunecraft’s ODD PODS ($12.99). With over 20 varieties of cactus seed including Star Cactus and Giant Saguaro, this space-age sprouting greenhouse and planter will provide young botanists with on-going interaction. Observes Grant Cleveland, President of Dunecraft, “Toddlers, college students and senior citizens alike seem to get a kick out of them.” Kids can have added fun creating a personal moonscape and background.

Atollo 240

Lastly, get in the groove with Atollo’s award-winning creative construction sets. Originated by Scottish architect Donald McDonald and developed by his son Euan, building with flexible, hinged joints allows for unlimited free-form design. For maximum excitement, go for the ATOLLO 240, a four-color 240-piece set (a240, $25.99).


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