Desk Toys

Most kids learn that toys are fun learning tools from watching desk toys demonstrating scientific principles live.

This sparks curiosity and then an avalanche of questions simply flows. Once that domino effect starts, it is very hard to stop it. But all of this can start with a toy on a desk that is 50 USD or less.

Let’s explore some of the best physics desk toys you can find online.

The best desk toys

What are the best desk toys?

Why are desk toys good as learning tools?

Decorative set

These gadgets people have on their desk, that do some sort of movement, are designed to do various things, but one of them is: being observed.

Throughout the years, and the history of science thus narrates it, big questions have risen from the simple act of observing something.

It could be the stars’ movement, the way fluids behave, the sky and its thunderstorms. You see, the most amazing answers to these questions have come from the simple act of observing phenomena.

These desk toys do that, more than anything else. They grab attention and people, especially kids, stare at them wondering why they behave the way they do.

In my experience, there is no better way to produce self interest in explaining something. And when this happens, your kid will drive him or herself to research, study, and learn about that which governs the behavior of such objects.

This is why desk toys are perfect learning tools.

What other benefits do these desk gadgets have?

Benefits of desk toys

Stress relief is one of the biggest benefits of desk gadgets.

The brain is a super computer that is always analyzing things. It wants to give an explanation to everything it perceives. 

When it succeeds, some chemicals are sent to the rest of the body that produce relaxation and comfort. This is how desk toys, as simple as they are, help relieve stress. 

These gadgets present so simply, phenomena that demand to be observed, and that just by observing it, have a healing effect for the body.

Some jobs can be stressful, so there is no question why these toys are present on people’s desks.

The colors, the materials, the speeds, the effects, all of this combined is the perfect recipe for a bit of relaxation and peace.

Are these gadgets safe for kids?

lava lamp

They are. Yet even a fork can be a weapon if misused. I would say these specific types of toys are designed more for adults than for kids.

These desk toys are designed to be observed, more than they are designed to be manipulated. Some of them will have glass and other materials that add to the visual effects, but that is all.

This doesn’t mean they should not be manipulated, but it will largely depend on the nature of such toys.

For instance, a levitron, which is a popular and mesmerizing desk toy, will do its best job only when it is not manipulated. 

The magnetic levitating effect disappears if you remove the levitating part from the area where the magnetic field has influence.

Other toys such as a metallic model of a ship, may have sharp parts that could be dangerous if touched, but that look pretty cool.

For the most part, these toys are not to be manipulated.

Yet, there are some types of desk toys that are designed to play around with them. Again, these should be manipulated with an adult present, since most of them have small parts that add to the fun, but can be risky to little kids.

What types of desk toys can I find?

Magnetic balls

There is a vast variety of these gadgets and I’d like to explore some of these options.

Tops and spinners

These may be the most common physics toys to put on a desk. Tops and spinners do just that, and there are some very high quality ones that display gyroscopic effects very well.

The quality of these add to the visuals and like said before, they help relieve stress.

While these are simple in nature and function, spinners are used all the time in pretty advanced technology that helps astronauts find their position in space.

Definitely a good choice to have around.


Magnets are fantastic tools for learning. Their inner works are complex, but the magnetic effect is so intuitive that kids love to play with magnets and learn at the same time.

This is why magnetic desk toys are an all time favorite. In this category you’ll find mostly magnets to assemble structures and use your imagination.

These are great to spend 5 minutes relaxing and then get back to work after a revitalizing break.

Levitating gadgets

These are magnetic toys as well in nature, yet I wanted to spend some time talking about these because while most magnetic toys are designed for manipulation, these are not.

Magnetic levitation is a phenomenon that occurs when a magnetic field has influence over an object. Thus, this object levitates.

This magnetic field and object, require specific positions and configurations to work, or the object will not levitate, and the whole effect is lost.

This is the main difference between levitating magnetic toys, and other gadgets that use magnetism in some way or form.


As you can imagine, these refer to motion. The kinetic desk toys are very popular as well, and have a mesmerizing effect that most people can’t resist.

Kinetics is a very important part of physics that uses math to study and predict the motion of objects. This discipline allows us to give shape to the modern world we live in.

Space and aircraft would not be possible without the study of kinetics. And that is why having a kinetics toy on your desk is very popular.

Fluid related

These are among those that produce a mesmerizing effect. 

It is no secret that fluids behave differently than solids. For instance, fluids can be mixed until you can’t distinguish the initial ingredients, while solids can always be differentiated.

Yet, there are some fluids that don’t go well with other fluids and they don’t mix, yet the way they interact is very interesting to watch.

A common lava lamp is a good example of this. And the governing principle ruling these interactions has to do with the density of fluids.

When two or more fluids, or even solids, with different densities interact, the visual effect is pretty amazing.

These help with stress relief, and are perfect to spend a 5 minute break to then go back straight to work with fresh ideas.


This is and always will be an all time favorite.

Do you know what a Tesla Coil is?

Well, while I won’t give a detailed answer to that question here, I will tell you that a Tesla coil is also very fun to watch and experiment with.

Tesla coils are the icon of desk toys related to electricity, but there are plenty more.

I just think that nothing illustrates electricity better than a Tesla coil, and they are pretty fun to watch as well. 

Like I said, there are more desk toys related to electricity that are safe, fun, and cheap.

I would definitely spend some time with these. They are fantastic for sparking your kids’ (or anyone’s) imagination and interest.

Decorative and assembly

Have you seen those ships inside a bottle? 

Some of these come fully assembled and you just put them on your desk, but some… need to be assembled using skills.

It is obvious that the ship could not fit inside the bottle if you wanted to assemble it and then put it there. 

The only way to do this, is to assemble the ship inside the bottle with tweezers and other tools.

This is both fun and challenging, but once you finish putting all the parts together, it is a tremendous satisfaction.

What I just described is only a form of desk toys that require assembly, but there are many more. 

Like I said, these are more decorational than anything else, and often people use them to play, and these break apart.

Even if the manufacturer shows images or videos of these toys in action, I would suggest to only use them for display and decorative purposes only.

How to find the best desk toys?

Tesla Coil

In order to find the best desk toys available, it makes sense to watch at certain features to then make a decision.

Also, it would be useful to decide the type of toy you want first, to ensure you are completely satisfied with your purchase.

After all, if you are going to spend money on this, it makes sense to make an educated decision about it.

Type of toy

Like I said, the first thing is to define the type of toy we are after. The types of toys I mentioned here are just the most common, but you could find many more.

Whatever the type of toy you choose, just make sure you like and enjoy it.

Size and weight

This toy has to be the right size and weight to fit on your desk. Think about the layout of your desk and decide in advance what you want it to look like.

You want this toy to add to the view of your desk and not to hinder or interfere with the space and functionality of your work area.

Thus the importance of choosing something that has the right size and weight. 


I like to check places like Amazon to do this.

People not just buy things from Amazon, they also talk about what they buy and tell Amazon about it.

Reading reviews from current owners will help you understand a bit better the nature, look and feel of the gadget you want.

Also, these comments help people know about the quality, functions, and overall performance of such products.

I tend to look for toys with hundreds or even thousands of reviews. You’ll find that bad quality products never get too many comments from people, and if they do, the seller removes these from the public, since these comments are negative.


There is not much to say about price. Don’t think that something cheap is low quality or something expensive is high quality.

I would suggest you go with something that makes sense with your wallet and don’t break the bank doing this.

In my mind, if the comments are good, you like it, and the budget is there, then go for it.

Last comments about these desk toys

Levitating lamp

Desk toys are fantastic for a series of reasons. 

First of all, they look amazing on a desk and people usually start interesting and mindful conversations around them.

Also, they can help relieve stress, because of its simplicity and beautiful elegance. Most of these toys have a mesmerizing effect that people can’t avoid, and this relaxes them as well.

The very young ones as well get caught by the charm of these gadgets and they can’t help but ask questions and research until they quench their thirst for knowledge.

And finally, most people may have their very first contact with true science by observing these gadgets and how they work. This usually triggers all the benefits and goodness of desk toys.

Make sure you find the one you like and enjoy the most, and go from there.