The Summer break is the highlight of the school calendar for any child, but parents and carers have to prepare for when their child goes back to school.
Here at space.com we've searched the internet for the best products and deals to prepare your child for when they go back to school. From science kits to essentials, model rockets to telescopes, we've got something for every budget to help your kids learn when the school year starts again.
You will want to hurry as the back to school rush is not far away but, for even more stellar gift ideas, check out our other buying guides:
- Space gifts 2021: The best gifts in the universe
- Best telescopes for kids: 2021 guide
- The best science toys for kids
The Best Telescopes For Kids
Celestron FirstScope 76 Tabletop
As we've said in our telescopes for kids buying guide, what we love about Celestron's FirstScope is that it's easy to use and pack away. There's also no need to set it up since it already comes assembled straight out of the box: a fantastic feature for the impatient youngster and parents who aren't keen on assembling a telescope on a regular basis.
The FirstScope is portable, weighing in at 4.5 lbs. (2.04 kilograms), while the build is of good quality despite the low cost. As a prime example, the instrument's plastics are not glossy and cheap when compared to other telescopes within a similar price range.
The Celestron FirstScope is ideal for little hands since the tube can be pushed to the desired target with ease. Meanwhile, this tabletop reflector comes fully equipped for good observations of the night sky: two basic eyepieces — a 4 mm and 20 mm — are thrown into the package, along with a basic edition of Starry Night astronomy software. A great download for young skywatchers wanting to learn more about the universe.
Whether you're looking for a telescope for a five year old or a teenager, Space.com has selected high-quality instruments from top manufacturers Celestron, Orion and Meade Instruments to ensure that you get the very best for your budget.
Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector
For slightly less than $200, Orion's StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector offers a generous aperture of 4.49 inches (114 mm). Akin to the FirstScope and FunScope, this pleasantly painted telescope is already assembled out of the box, making it perfect for kids who want to get stuck straight into observing what the universe has to offer.
The Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector is also fully equipped, furnished with Explorer II 6 mm and 17 mm eyepieces, EZ Finder II reflex sight finderscope, collimation cap, eyepiece rack and Starry Night Special Edition software. With the supplied accessories, skywatchers can achieve magnifications of 76x and 26x.
Yet with useful optical limits of 16x and 228x, the StarBlast 4.5 is an excellent piece of kit for nurturing a young skywatcher's interest in the night sky, while sating the observing appetite of the entire family. A comprehensive manual is included, however we feel that kids will find using this small telescope intuitive enough without it.
Weighing in at 13 lbs. (5.90 kilograms), youngsters will need assistance in carrying this reflector to an observing site but once there, the StarBlast 4.5 is as simple to use as any other tabletop telescope: the battery-operated red dot finderscope makes star-hopping a breeze, while the optical tube assembly can be pushed with ease to the skywatcher's desired target. We detected no stiffness in slewing from left to right or up and down, while the mount supported the tube adequately.
Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ
The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is a no-frills telescope that makes a good starter instrument for skywatchers aged seven years and up — particularly those who prefer not to stoop down to use a tabletop telescope. Some youngsters will need to be supervised while using the AstroMaster 70AZ.
Like many starter scopes, the AstroMaster 70AZ doesn't require any tools for settiing up and comes with everything the skywatcher needs to kick-start a rewarding hobby, including 10 mm and 20 mm eyepieces, an erect star diagonal as well as a battery-operated red dot finderscope.
A download of Starry Night Basic software is also included and features a database of 36,000 targets to explore, including printable sky maps, three-dimensional renderings of galaxies, exoplanets and stars. Whichever way skywatching pans out for your young astronomer — whether it's a passing phase or a lifelong passion — this refractor is a great option that doesn't break the bank.
This particular model comes with a smartphone adaptor so you can capture your discoveries and given the telescope's 2.76-inch (70 mm) aperture and useful magnifications of 10x and 165x, the optics can be pushed that touch further without compromising the image quality. We recommend looking to invest in a selection of eyepieces to show your young skywatcher more dazzling sights of the universe.
The Best STEM Science Kits For Kids
Bill Nye's VR SCIENCE KIT
This amazing, affordable VR science kit is from one of our favorite science guys, Bill Nye. When kids pop on the virtual-reality goggles in Bill Nye's VR kit, they'll find themselves standing in his science lab, learning hands-on experiments from the science guy himself. The kit comes with 50 pieces for kids to not only watch Bill do 30 of his favorite experiments, but do them along with him.
With this science kit, kids will be able to do their experiments like building their own lemon battery, create a lava lamp, "tattoo" an egg, make slime, make perfume, and trap gas in a balloon.
In addition to these hands-on experiments, kids will also get the chance to explore far-off destinations in virtual reality. Bill Nye takes kids on trips to volcanoes, waterfalls, icy caves and more.
Discovery #MINDBLOWN Action Circuitry Electronic Experiment Complete STEM Set
The Discovery #MINDBLOWN Action Circuitry Electronic Experiment set is a fun way for children aged 8 and above to conduct their own experiments and learn about the principles and nuances of electricity, engineering and circuitry design.
The set includes 3 unique experiments which include rocket launch, spinning robot and floating ball. You will need 2 double A batteries for this set which are sold separately.
This set works perfectly as a STEM toy and encourages children to learn how to engineer their own experiments as well as take a deeper interest in science. Easy to use modules and clear instructions means the keeps on coming with this set.
STEM Toys 6-in-1 Space Solar Robot Kit
This next STEM toy is an excellent way to capture your child's interest in all things space whilst teaching them about renewable energy and how to build robot kits.
Easy to follow instructions allow your child to build - without frustration - 6 different solar powered toys that include Space Station, Space Explorer, Space Rover, Space Shuttle, Astronaut and Dog.
The robots collect solar heat energy in the panel provided for smooth outdoor use but can use battery power for indoor use as well.
Kano Star Wars The Force Coding Kit - Explore The Force
Save a whopping $50.04 when you buy this Kano Star Wars The Force Coding Kit from Amazon!
Your kids can use the Force to swing lightsabers, Force push enemies and even pilot X-Wings! They will be able to create their own story with hundreds of characters, weapons, planets and starships available to use.
Children can build a motion sensor by following an instruction manual which will allow them to use the Force and navigate their way through the stories they choose to create.
This kit is from the most-award winning STEM company and is a super-fun way to teach children all about coding. Children can code their own beats, melodies and sound effects with music inspired by the films.
To see their creation come to life children will need a tablet (which isn't included) and the Kano device is compatible with: works on recent iPads, Macs, windows 10 computers, fire 10 tablets, and selected other devices.
4M 3D Glow In The Dark Solar System Model Making Kit:
Suitable for ages 8 and above, this Glow-In-The-Dark Solar System Model Making Science Kit is a simple but effective way of engaging your child's interest in the planets within our solar system.
The completed models can hang from the ceiling using the hanging frame and string provided or can work just as well as a static display. Assembly and painting instructions are included in this set as well as a poster with fun facts about our solar system.
Two strips of paint, two glow paints and a paint brush are included so it truly is a DIY glow in the dark set and that is a great way to engage your child and peak their interest in the wonders of outer space.
The Best Model Rockets For Kids
Estes Big Daddy Flying Model Rocket Kit
Bigger is better when it comes to the Estes Big Daddy Flying Model Rocket! Standing at just under 20 inches, this model rocket can reach dizzying heights of approximately 900 feet.
The kit contains a high quiality body tube, laser cut balsa fins, a molded plastic nose cone, a colorful preassembled 24 inch parachute and easy to apply waterslide decals.
Parental supervision is probably needed for anyone under the age of 18 and Estes model rocket engines, starters and recovery wadding are required to launch this model rocket and sold separately.
4M 4605 Water Rocket Kit
If something slightly less powerful but no less fun would be ideal for your child then look no further! The 4M 4605 Water Rocket Kit uses the power of water to launch a recycled plastic soda bottle up to heights of 90 feet.
Detailed instructions are included and adult supervision is advised but this is a great gift for any young science enthusiast. All you need that isn't included in this set is a bicycle pump.
With the help of the pump the bottle uses water pressure to transform itself into a rocket as it soars up into the sky - a great way to capture the imagination of any child interested in rocketry or science.
Estes Tandem-X E2X 2 Rocket Launch Set
You can double your flying fun with the Estes Tandem- X E2X Rocket launch set. Each rocket will require Estes engines (sold separately), which allows you to propel to 1,200 feet. They only take a couple of hours to assemble and are easily retrieved thanks to colorful parachutes.
Again with parental supervision, the heights that can be reached with these rockets along with the aesthetic of them make for a great gift for anyone interested in rocketry and space.
Star Wars Mandalorian Baby Yoda 16 Inch Backpack
This stylish back pack is going to be an instant favourite! The 16 inch back pack is perfect for any day at school or camp and contains plenty of room for books, binders, folders and any school equipment necessary.
The backpack has one main compartment that opens with a zip and one smaller, front compartment along with two mesh holders, one either side of the bag that is perfect for holding water bottles.
The backpack also comes with adjustable foam padded shoulder straps so your child will be protected from any stress caused by carrying a bag around all day. The design itself features everyone's favorite Star Wars Mandalorian characters: The Mandalorian and The Child (who we all know as Baby Yoda).
It's made with durable materials, it's stylish, featuring fan favorite characters and it's reasonably priced! Which means that this would be the perfect back-to-school gift for your child!
Kids' 3pk Star Wars Face Mask
Since the start of the pandemic, face masks have been a prominent feature in all our lives. But now children can return to school safely with these cool Star Wars face masks.
Included in this are 3 face masks suitable for children with the designs of Star Wars favorites on them. The likes of Darth Vader, Chewbacca, C3-PO, R2D2 and Yoda feature on the front.
The masks are machine washable so you can freshen them up between uses and have an adjustable nose piece for a comfortable and secure fit.
Astronaut Floating in Outer Space - Boys / Girls Red Pencil Case with 2 Zippered Pockets and Velcro Closure
The obvious back-to-school accessory is the pencil case. This one is perfect for any space lover, of course for its design, but because of the cool looking astronaut on the cover of it.
The case itself comes with two large zipped pockets for extra organisation. One larger one with an inner zipped pocket to allow for carrying extra equipment and one smaller zipped pocket all made with high quality heavy canvas material.
whether its arts and crafts, mathematics or just general school equipment like pens, pencils, rubbers, rulers and more that your child is going to be carrying around, this pencil case is a must for the coming school year.
ASUS VivoBook 15 R564JA-UH31T Thin and Light Laptop
Save $140 when you buy the ASUS VivoBook from Microsoft! This laptop has a 15.6 inch full HD touchscreen which is great for viewing and learning but still compact enough that transporting it is easy enough.
4GB of memory means your child will be able to store their homework and assignments in one place and not have to worry about running out of space. Intel's Core i3 processor means they will be fast enough able to keep up to speed with whatever it is they need to do.
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus 20TG000MUS Laptop
This dual screen Lenovo laptop more than packs a punch as it comes with Intel's Core i5 10th gen processor and has 8GB memory, meaning your child will be able to run whatever program they need to smoothly, and save plenty of school work to their laptop without having to worry about space running out.
Spanning only 13.3 inches with a full display, this laptop is compact and convenient to transport to and from school. Of course, this is an expensive product but it is also a top quality product and by saving $400.00 when you buy from Microsoft, now is a great time to get it!
Follow Alexander Cox on Twitter @Coxy_97Official. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.