Video & board games:
*There are some games which are more based on visual perception & fine motor skills but which have a science theme to them (e.g. Dr. Beaker, Dr. Microbe). I have not included those or the games which have a science theme without really engaging the players with STEM in a more than superficial way (e.g. Astronomy Fluxx, Chemistry Fluxx, Anatomy Fluxx, Math Fluxx, Nature Fluxx). The same applies to games which are basically memory games, e.g. Draw 4: Dig for Dinos. While these games would be entertaining & valuable for skill-building in some sense, they only have a STEM “skin”, not real STEM content. I also did not include puzzle games unless they had some real STEM content, e.g. coding.
Game companies which focus on education or working with teachers:
The company’s mission is to bring real STEM content into the classroom in a fun manner. They do education bundles for schools. They also offer games based on science history, as well as puzzles & children’s books focusing on women in science.
The website has resources, not just games, but focuses on gamifying education. They have downloadable games, options for ordering for classrooms, etc. They’re probably best known for their Rush Hour puzzle games or for their Math Dice. They also feature problem-solving & mystery themed games.
Online, downloadable, and print-and-play games:
Some of these may require you to create a Steam account (easy & free to do). Some sites have multiple games, some of which require Flash, which is no longer supported, so be aware of that.
Free online math games for preK-middle school.
NASA Space Place
Free Earth & space science games. K-middle school+
National Geographic kids
Games & puzzles for K-elementary, maybe some middle school.
Online STEM based games, mostly for the younger students.
Free online games, preK-early high school, math, science (including dinosaur themed games)
Online games for ages 5 – 18, variety of topics. Also includes online resources & tools.
BrainPOP STEM games
Online games for K – 8th. BrainPOP also includes ELL resources.
Smithsonian Science Education Center
Free online & downloadable games, mostly K-middle school
Grades 3-8, chemistry
Grades 6-12, images & videos, etc. with cells
STEM games of all types. Requires an account, but apparently you can rent games.
There are a variety of games for different levels, mostly focusing on fractions, unit circles, distance vs. time, division, etc.
Bioman biology games
Free online biology games, elementary/middle/high school, scroll to the bottom to see the games.
cK-12 Exploration series
Free simulations & games based on them, physics & chemistry.
Free online game about overfishing.
Digital Commons @ Georgia Southern U
A list of free STEM apps for the common core. Many of these, such as Crayon Physics & Celestia, are games or simulations.
Steam is an online store for PC games. Not all of the games would lend themselves to enhancing STEM education, and very few of them have free versions, but Steam does have sales. The games are more likely to be better family resources than classroom resources. Some examples of decent educational games include: Universe Sandbox, Sokobond, and Plague Inc. There also many simulators, e.g. Rover Mechanic Simulator and Reentry (based on NASA missions).
Kerbal Space Program (& 2)
There is a free to try version as well as a paid version. Create your own space program, with all of the challenges, etc. It can be a tough game to master, but a lot of students seem to enjoy it. The second edition should be out soon. Can be purchased via Steam.
Happy Little Farmer
Younger kids, showing kids challenges involved in growing plants.
Educational App Store
Here is a list of free & paid STEM apps for kids, generally around preK-8.
Middle school, design, build, & test bridges, etc. Minimal cost
A collection of games, ~elementary-high school, mostly math based. Free. Includes King of Math.
Common sense education
STEM apps for higher-order thinking – a list of free & paid apps for ~preK-12. Some of the apps turn your phone into a measuring device for data collection.
ASME – STEM apps for students
A list of free & paid apps, most of them gamifying educational concepts. ~K-12. The list also includes platforms which allow students & teachers to create their own games.
Math tic tac toe
Elementary & middle school, free but requires crafting
Institute of Play free downloadable game for grades 6 – 8, about operations with integers & absolute values. Includes common core standards alignments. They also have Socratic Smackdown for humanities grades 6 – 12 & a how to design your own teaching game resource.
Five Field Kono
Korean game, free printable board, requires objects used as counters, based on logic/spatial thinking. https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/five-field-kono/
Maori game, free printable board, requires tokens which can be crafted, based on logic/spatial thinking. https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/mu-torere/
Teachers Pay Teachers
Some of these are digital, some are downloadable, all are developed by teachers.
Free printable addition Bingo version.
BoardGameGeek – general games list
Most of the games below can be found on BoardGameGeek, which is the definitive list of board games. Their search engine can be a little annoying, so it might be best to Browse by Category. They update their list & ratings all the time. They include games in multiple languages as well as out of print games, so be careful. History games can also be found under educational games.
Ages 3+, 1-4 players, counting/stacking/balancing game for younger kids
Ages 4+, 2-4 players, shorter game about addition & subtraction
Ages 4+, 2+ players, coding
Absolute Zero & Absolute Zero Jr.
Ages 5+, 2-5 players, combine positive & negative numbers to create zero. Available on Amazon. The Jr. version is simplified (smaller numbers, etc).
Ages 7+, 3-6 players, coding in the if/then manner
Ages 7+, 2-4 players, shorter game, counting, dividing.
Super Genius Addition
Ages 7+, 1-6 players, shorter card game based on building addition skills & focus
Ages 8+, 2-4+ players (co-op), shorter game, players cooperate to build molecules
Super Genius Multiplication 1 & 2
Ages 8+, 1-6 players, shorter card game based on building multiplication skills & focus. The first one uses times tables up to 5, the second goes up to times 9.
Ages 8+, 2-7 players, shorter game, card drafting game focused on building ions (or sets of noble gases)
Ages 8+, 1+, build a planet’s surface using biome tiles
Ages 8+ dice game, 2-5 players, math/probability
Ages 8+, 2+ players, uses dice to do mental math/create equations/etc. Uses d6 & d12 dice.
Also comes in Math Dice Jr (6+), My First Math Dice (3+), Math Dice Chase (8+)
Ages 8+/10+, prime numbers
Ages 8+, 2 – 4 players, longish game, about trees & photosynthesis, also has an Under the Moonlight expansion
Ages 8+, 2-5 player bidding/collection game focusing on components etc. of viruses
Ages 8+, 2-4 players, each player builds their own planet with different biomes & can win animal cards
Ages 8+ logic game, mostly solo, also comes in Jr. (5+) & Laser Chess (2 player)
Math Rush (1, 2, & 3)
1: Addition & Subtraction, ages 8+, 1-5 players, shorter
2: Multiplication & Exponents, ages 8+, 1-5 players, shorter
3: Fractions, decimals, percentages, ages 8+, 1-5 players, shorter
Ages 8+, 2-4 players, build constellations while learning about the spectral sequence of stars (note: final positions of constellations usually do not reflect that of the actual night sky)
Ages 8+, 1-6 players, shorter game, co-op superhero math game
Ages 14+ (honestly 8+), 2-6 players, fairly fast card-drafting game, about building an ecosystem
Ages 10+, 2-5 players, longer game, strategy game based on the periodic table
Aeon: The Emergence of Life
Ages 10+, 2-6 players, longer game. Focuses on what’s necessary for life to evolve on Earth.
On the Origin of Species
Ages 10+, 2-4 players, longer game, science history
Ages 10+, 1-4 players, build planets from materials around a newborn star
Ages 10+, 2-5 players, longer worker placement/resource management game about cell biology, has a virus expansion
Ages 10+, 1+ players, coding
Ages 10+, 2-5 players, fairly quick card drafting/resource management game about building proteins
Ages 10+, engine building game focused on birds & their habitats, longer game, 1-5 players, multiple expansions
Ages 12+, easily 2+ hours, will appeal more to people who like Sid Meyer’s Civilization games & other long strategy games, does a good job of showing how much work & what types of work would be involved in terraforming a planet, multiple expansions
Ages 12+, 2-6 players, longish game, but it’s really good at showing how evolution can make or break a species. This is highly competitive so it’s not really fun for only two players.
Ages 12+, 2-6 players, similar to Evolution but with a focus on how climate affects species’ adaptability
Ages 12+, 2-4 players, similar to Evolution but focuses on survivability in the ocean
Ages 13+, 2-5 players, longer game, strategic chemical compound building game
Ages 14+, 2-4 players, longer game, deck-building game based on atoms & subatomic particles
Lovelace and Babbage
Ages 14+, 2-4 players, shorter game, math & coding focused game, science history
Ages 14+, 1-5 players, longer worker placement/dice drafting game about mendelian genetics
Tesla vs. Edison
War of Currents: Ages 14+, 2-5 players, longer, science history game
Duel: Ages 14+, 2-player version, shorter, science history game
Ages 14+, 1-5 players, longer worker placement/resource management game about plant cell biology
Ages 14+, 2-4 players, longer game, power plants, card management, stacking
One player games (probably better for parents/students than classrooms):
Ages 5+, solo player, gravity, torque
Ages 6+, solo player, gravity, energy, etc.
Ages 8+, solo play, programming logic
Ages 8+, logic/gravity, uses marbles/build a tower, solo player
Ages 8+, uses logic/electricity, solo player
On the Brink
Ages 8+, solo player, coding
Ages 8+, solo play, coding/rovers
Ages 8+, solo play, coding