STEM Skills targeted: construction, engineering, physics
Recommended age range: 3-12
You’re probably with familiar with Hot Wheels as a brand of toy car and racing tracks but may not have considered it a STEM toy.
Actually playing with Hot Wheels tracks and cars develops a lot of STEM skills – engineering, construction, spatial awareness and physics. Even just playing with the cars themselves is a great opportunity for open-ended play, craft and construction if you encourage your kids to make roads and tunnels out of paper tubes and other odds and ends.
Most importantly, Hot Wheels is a toy that’s a lot of fun for kids of all ages. My 3 year old loves them and already requests them over any other toy vehicle (he thinks “hotwheelscar” is a word) and older kids enjoy them just as much – especially constructing and racing the more complicated and larger race tracks.
So the kids are happy and they’re learning at the same time – the best way through play and experimentation and they don’t even realize it!
Whichever race track you opt for, you’re going to need some cars to race down it. It doesn’t matter how many cars I buy, they always seem to go missing, so as far as I’m concerned, you can never have enough! This set is also great value and much cheaper than buying the cars individually.
There is lots of opportunity for play and STEM learning with these die cast cars – racing several of them down a slope to see which one is fastest provides an easy demonstration of aerodynamics and acceleration.
The real fun of Hot Wheels comes from constructing racing tracks with wild loops and crazy inclines.
This track set includes track pieces that can be put together in a variety of configurations to create several different racing tracks.
The set is cleverly designed so that building can be in any direction –horizontally and vertically. No boring flat race tracks here! Create spirals, loops, inclines and stunts. Whatever you think up can be created. Car launchers are included to add some extra speed to the racing fun.
Rather than being a linear racetrack, this kit can be cleverly engineered for use with multiple cars. The first car is launched from the top of the track and triggers 2 releases further down the track, causing a second and third car to be release at different points.
This set and all the Hot Wheels sets are compatible with other Hot Wheels race track kits or you can buy expansion pieces separately.
You do need more than one car to make the most of this track set and it only comes with one, so it’s worth buying a couple extra if you don’t already have any cars (or take my advice and buy the 20 car value pack above!)
This is a great toy for learning about forces and gravity. Looped race tracks are always really impressive but this one contains a massive 3foot tall loop that cars are sent flying around with a short cut that could cause a mid-race collision (boys love crashes!)
There are so many discussion points and experimentation ideas linking back to STEM from this kit:
This kit includes a battery powered car launcher so you can literally turn it on and watch the cars going round and round the track until you turn it off or flip the switch to cause a crash.
Hours of fun, learning and experimentation to be had with this kit!
I was really impressed when I saw this new range of race tracks by Hot Wheels as I think they’re perfect for STEM and offer a lot more opportunity for experimentation and learning engineering principles than the standard race tracks.
There are a few different Wall Tracks sets available. What they all have in common is instead of building them on the floor, you stick them to the wall using the included 3M strips.
Rather than fast racing, these kits are more about stunts and tricks. They’re actually designed by an engineer and include pieces like gears, levers, pulleys to learn engineering and physics principles
Your kids will get the most out of the Wall Tracks set if you combine a couple of different sets or get a few of the expansion packs and build some racing tracks / machines of their own design. They’re a bit like a souped up engineers marble run, using cars instead of marbles!