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 cafepress.com 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.