Fun Science Related Gifts

By Michael Edmonds 13/12/2010 9

One of the things I enjoy about Christmas is finding fun gifts for children that are also educational or science related. Last year this included books about science written for different age groups, with a preference for those that were well illustrated and/or interactive in some way. And earlier this year, much to my delight, one of my friends texted me to tell me that her eight year old son had been telling her all about the four states of matter, how to convert Kelvin to Celcius, what absolute zero is, the strange behaviour of Helium close to absolute zero, atomic structure (neutrons, protons, elctrons and orbital shells), quoting the different isotopes of uranium and hydrogen, defining a half-life and describing what happens when an element loses an alpha particle. All this from just reading the book I gave him, all by himself. How I envy the sponge like nature of children’s minds.

This year I have found myself more interested in buying puzzles and games for my niece, nephew and other children I know. Toyworld in particular has an excellent card version of Cluedo, called Clue which I have test run with a group of friends and personally I think it is better than the board game (and nice and portable for those holiday trips away). A fun game and a great opportunity for children to develop observational and reasoning skills. I also came across several puzzle games as well, including one called LINK which has a DNA-like motif, where you must join all the coloured strands on the puzzle squares so they all align.

Science orientated presents are not just for children. I have discovered a wonderful site called which has a wonderful and clever range of t-shirts, mugs and fridge magnets with clever science messages (there are also so very clever atheist ones as well).

Some of the messages include:

DO NOT make me use my molecular biology voice!

Chemists have all the solutions.

Why be a regular scientist when you can be a mad scientist.

Wanted, Dead or Alive. Schrodingers cat.

Science is awesome.

Things you shouldn’t say to a PhD student …

Evolution. How can 100 bazillion antibiotic-resistant bacteria be wrong?

If it moves, it’s biology. If it stinks it’s chemistry. If it doesn’t work it’s physics.

Pluto. 1930 – 2006.

I teach science. What’s your superpower?

Evolution is just a theory. But then again so is gravity.

Which day did God make all the fossils?

4 out of 5 primates don’t want to be related to you either!

There are also mugs with the chemical structure of caffeine, chocolate, etc on them. Others with words spelt out in chemical symbols (including CHoCoLaTe and GeNiUS)

There are thousands of other very clever, pro-science items as well. My favourites, which I bought several months ago is “The element of surprise” t-shirt and a Scientist sticker (see below).

Disclaimer – I receive no financial benefit from promoting any of these products. Just the satisfaction of sharing games and items that I think are fun.



9 Responses to “Fun Science Related Gifts”

    • Unfortunately, I don’t make a note of the titles or authors. I just read through them, see if the science is good, well explained and engaging. I’ll see if the friends I gave the book to can give me the title.

    • Some of the books were from the Young Oxford Library of Science series – atoms and molecules and light & sound

  • I would like to be able to say that the “Angry Birds” game would count here because you have to think about things like velocity, momentum, timing & so on… But actually it’s just plain fun 🙂

  • >Wanted, Dead or Alive. Schrodingers cat.

    Shouldn’t that be “Dead and Alive”

    I will confess to having a coffee mug emblazoned with the abbreviations for the elements Samarium, Argon, Tellurium, Arsenic and Sulphur, from cafepress. The mugs and t shirts from this site are very good quality.

  • Could I also suggest a few very good science-related, and very CHEAP gifts for children (and adults):

    Hand lens. Great for persons of all ages with any interest in natural history: useful to help identify minerals, plants and closely examine small animals. But whatever you do, never buy one of those dirt-cheap microscopes — they’re rubbish.

    Magnets. There are some small, very powerful ones around. A pair of bar magnets is ideal, eg one can be put in a toy truck and the other used to push it along without touching it.
    Compass. For all ages. Kids enjoy learning how to use a compass, e.g. to navigate through long grass. Auto accessories shops sell car compasses quite cheaply and these are a great navigation and orientation aid on a car journey.

    Simple electrical circuit. Assemble a battery, switch and light bulb on a wooden board using nails or screws and bits of wire. Great fun demonstrating series and parallel electrical circuits with two or more bulbs. Also fun to crack a bulb so the glass falls away, then hook it up and watch it flare, then burn out.

    Basic chemistry set. All you need is small bottles of a dilute mineral acid, caustic soda, ammonia solution, salts like iron sulphate and copper sulphate, a couple of test tubes and safety glasses. Other handy extras include iron and aluminium filings snd sulphur. Most of these are household items or available from garden shops. Make a test tube rack from pieces of wood with holes drilled through. With these you can do interesting things like acid/base reactions, double replacements and more. No need for any bunsen burner. Obviously, not for younger children.

    I am sure other readers may have further suggestions …