HomeGreat GiftsGolden Apple Awards

Best STEM toys ages 6 to 8

From treasure hunts to microscopic views, these 2011 Golden Apple Award winners will educate as much as they entertain.

By GreatSchools Staff

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Geomate Jr.

Appeals to ages 5-8

What it teaches: navigating and using a compass, exploring the outdoors, following directions, using technology

Catch the geocaching wave! This global phenomenon is a terrific way to bring out the explorer in young kids, and whether you live in city or suburb, give them a sense of adventure – along with getting them outside and moving. Not too shabby.

Turning the entire country into a giant Cracker Jack box, the device comes preloaded with 250,000 “treasure” locations nationwide. When you turn it on, Geomate finds your location and instantly locates the closest "geocache," sending you on your way to find a small treasure — coins, toy jewelry, plastic jewels, a note — that are hidden in, say, the crook of a tree, under a rock, or behind a brick in a wall. Worth noting: This easy-to-use handheld is better for younger than older kids who (as with one of our 10-year-old, tech-savvy testers) don't find it high-tech or sophisticated enough. (For older kids and adults, you can use a smartphone and an app to Geocache.)

Bottom line: A wonderful device to get the whole family outdoors and energized about going on a modern treasure hunt.

Where to buy it: Geomate Jr.