Only toys, games, books and apps that promote problem-solving and critical thinking make the annual list. About 120 gifts are on the 2019 guide but new this year — a Top Ten List.
"If you're a kid and you get a really bad coding toy, is that going to turn you off of coding for the rest of your career?" questioned Purdue sophomore Andrew Lake. "It's not so much for me about finding parents and kids the good toys as it is making sure they can kind of avoid the bad ones."
Lake is one of 16 undergrads who works at the INSPIRE Research Institute to test toys with kids in the community.
"On the selfish side, this is just really fun," said Lake.
6-year-old Lukas Gajdzik explores coding and building with Botzees, and his 8-year-old sister, Natalia, creates a treehouse complete with an electric circuit.
"We had to put on all these wires and connect this on so the lights would turn on," said Natalia.
Their mom, Elizabeth Gajdzik, is the Associate Director for the INSPIRE Research Institute, and she started the Engineering Gift Guide six years ago.
"Kids learn fast when they're playing, so when you give a child an educational toy — especially an engineering toy — it tends to provide them with something where they can be creative," said Elizabeth. "They're applying different math, science and thinking skills, so they're thinking of problem solving, critical thinking and so when they're doing that through play, they kind of explore that. It's a really safe place for them to have failure but also to learn something and to apply it and see how it actually works."
The guide is all online this year, complete with hyperlinks that will take you directly to where you can purchase the gift. Ages are clearly marked in the guide, as well as the educational aspects for each gift.
Gifts range in price from $3-$500.
"We try find a wide range of things that fit a wide range of budgets," said Elizabeth.
Previous guides have received more than 100,000 views from people all across the world.
"It's so fun to see when that little light bulb goes on, and they get excited about learning and so the toys that are included in the guide all do those things," said Elizabeth.
Click here to check out guides from previous years.