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Top Ten Toys’ Allen Rickert: My five favorite science kits

Allen Rickert is a man who is passionate about toys that inspire children. He and his staff literally travel the world, seeking toys that enhance play — toys that are educational, ecologically friendly, multicultural, less sexist and nonviolent.

Allen’s background in developmental psychology drives him. “Nobel scientists often attribute their interest in science to the gifts they received as kids. Thoughtfully designed toys lead to hands-on encounters that stimulate creativity. We sell toys that stretch the mind, empower individuals and help them succeed in life,” says Allen.

For the upcoming holiday season, Allen shares his five favorite science toys and why he enjoys them:

Primary Science Lab

My boys and I had fun playing mad scientist with this. The sight of your child with a test tube and goggles will send you running for the camera and fill you with dreams of future Noble Laureates. Ages 3+. $29

Snap Circuits Jr.

I grew up with bad directions and lead-soldering electronics kits that never worked for me. Snap Circuits has color-coded instructions and parts that snap together to easily make circuits for space sounds, lights and propeller launches. My boy enjoys playing with it; yes, we even got things to work. Ages 8+. $33

Owl Pellet

Copernicus Toys (and some cooperative owls) produce this curiosity. Come now, who can resist owl puke? Okay, maybe lots of people. Owls have to spit up the hair, teeth and bones of whatever they’ve eaten. You get to soak it in water, pick it apart and look at all the cool stuff. Ages 7+. $7

Gyrobot Science

Kids can build seven different gyroscopic machines. There is something about gyroscopes that fills us with wonder. Ages 8+. $45

Saltwater Fuel Cell Motorcycle

Like the model kits of yesteryear, lots of little plastic parts that in the end result in a sleek working model. Ages 10+. $25

Top Ten Toys (toptentoys.com; 120 N. 85th St.) in Greenwood is Seattle’s largest toy store. 

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