Science is cool and more teens are discovering that mainly due to shows like CSI, Bones, Numbers, Journey to Mars, Race to Mars, and Myth Busters. There are a lot of gifts available for teens who are interested in science and quite a few that will capture a teenager’s interest even if they are not interested in science. I have created a list of the top Christmas 2007 Science and discovery gift ideas for teens. As there are so many fields under the title science I have tried to give a variety of science and discovery gift ideas. You will also have to keep in mind that a 13 year old and a 19 year old are not going to be at the same science level and are not going to be interested in the same things. I have tried to give a variety of items that will be of interest for teens at multiple science levels.
1) Wear it: Teens love clothing. I have found some science themed clothing suitable for both the older and younger teens. I have only listed t-shirts though I did find some hoodies and hats.
The Periodic Table T-Shirt. The 7-color Periodic Table black t-shirt is made from 100% cotton and glows-in-the-dark. This shirt is $16.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
Heavy Metal T-shirt is 100% cotton heavyweight black tee with white and red depictions of 11 heavy metals from copper to bismuth doodled in the style of a 16-year-old metalhead. The shirt is $16.99 at www.thinkgeek.com.
Caffeine Molecule and Capsaicin Molecule T-shirts are great for both male and female teens. The caffeine molecule is printed in lime green on a navy shirt. The capsaicin molecule is printed in bright red on a maroon shirt. Both can be found at www.thinkgeek.com for $14.99.
Chocolate molecule ladies t-shirt. The Theobromine molecule is printed in magenta on a dark chocolate colored shirt and it is $17.99 at www.thinkgeek.com.
"Actually, I AM a Rocket Scientist" T-Shirt is $19.95 at www.findgift.com.
“You Are Here” 100% cotton heavyweight black t-shirt. On the front, a view of the Milky Way galaxy with a sign that reads "You are Here" pointing in the general direction of Earth. The shirt is $16.99 at www.thinkgeek.com.
2) Science Books and software packages: Always interesting and you can find some with quite a few more scientific experiments and information then are found in kits and are often less expensive then kits.
MythBusters: Don't Try This at Home book. This is a very popular show, its science but fun science. I am a huge fan of the show and even though the experiments are not done in the traditional scientific manner it is still science and very interesting. Not to mention very entertaining. Each chapter tackles a different myth, urban legend, or wives tale and gives an experiment a teen can do that's related to the topic. There's also BrainBusters true and false quiz for each chapter cool facts about stuff. $12.99 at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com.
Crime Scene Investigation. Learn how evidence from a crime scene is magnified, run through machines, separated into parts, and examined with x-rays and lasers as computer experts, forensic botanists, artists, microbiologists, dentists, forensic anthropologists, and chemists work to catch crooks, killers, counterfeiters, and computer hackers. Then hone your own reasoning skills to solve crimes from police case files. I am a CSI fan and think that this book would be great for any one who is a fan of the shows. This is for any CSI wanabe. This book is $15.84 at www.sargentwelch.ca.
Janice VanCleave book 200 Gooey, Slippery, Slimy, Weird and Fun Experiments book. This book asks question that are answered through the sciences of physics, earth science, chemistry, biology, and astronomy with 200 safe and low-cost experiments that can be performed at home or in the classroom. This book is $10.95 at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com.
"The Thomas Edison Book of Easy and Incredible Experiments", by James Cook. This is great for some one who is interested in general science. A great project book with 64 Edison experiments in physics, electricity, chemistry and energy. Includes full background information, scientific principles, procedures and expected results. Most experiments can be completed with household materials. This book is $14.95 at www.hometrainingtools.com
Usborne Science Encyclopedia. This is a great encyclopedia with tones of useful information on all science disciplines, over 8 sections with 20 major topics in each. It even has 140 experiment and activity ideas to do.
This book is $19.95 at www.hometrainingtools.com.
A+ Projects in Earth Science book By Janice VanCleave. This book explores 30 important earth science topics through hands-on experiments. Topic categories include mapping the earth, the earth in space, composition of the earth, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. The book is $12.95 at www.hometrainingtools.com.
Starry Night Enthusiast Astronomy Software. This software provides a comprehensive astronomy course. Using 3D graphics this software shows stars visible from a backyard to distant galaxies deep in space. You can also view live images from special observation equipment via the Internet, keep track of upcoming events, create videos and files to easily view an event again later and read detailed information about each of the 2.5 million celestial objects. This software is $79.95 at www.hometrainingtools.com.
3) Space and space travel: Space and rockets have been popular since before we landed on the Moon. Now that they are building space stations and talking about going to Mars it is only increasing in popularity.
Space Station 3 Crystals Kit. This kit will teach your teen how the ISS is constructed, why astronauts will grow crystals in space, and how to create their own dazzling collection of 3 sparkling crystals, Emerald, Quartz, and Amethyst, right at home. This kit is $14.95 at www.physlink.com.
Star Pocket Accurate pocket size star finder to identify 70 constellations and 42 main stars. This kit includes 2 star maps, one for each hemisphere, 4 latitude attachments, built-in compass, protective sleeve, and an instruction booklet. It is $29.95 at www.physlink.com.
Hydrogen Fuel Rocket Kit. This is to make a rocket that runs on hydrogen fuel. This new hydrogen fuel technology uses water to generate the hydrogen fuel needed to thrust a sleek rocket 200 feet into the sky. The Hydrogen Fuel Rocket is a wonderful mixture of science and fun. This kit is $39.95 at www.physlink.com.
Astro Pack. This handy pack is a great tool for the beginning astronomy hobbyist. It includes a planisphere that shows the positions of the stars and constellations for any hour in the year; a book on how to choose, set up, and use a telescope; a month-by-month guide to the night sky; and a star chart that contains detailed comprehensive maps of the heavens. This is $21.95 at www.hometrainingtools.com.
Astrolabe Kit. Use this handy device to determine the declination (elevation) and azimuth (horizontal arc) of any star or celestial body. You provide a compass. Astrolabes have been used in navigation for more than 2000 years, although their heyday was during the explorations of the 1400-1500s. Now the Global Positioning System has eliminated the need to rely on the stars for navigation, but using an astrolabe is still a fun astronomy activity! Instructions are printed right on the plastic body. This is $13.50 at www.hometrainingtools.com.
Home Planetarium. This unique Space Theater home planetarium enhances your astronomy studies by projecting star positions as white points of light onto any wall or ceiling. Positions are accurate for each day of the year. The home planetarium includes five changeable constellation masks that show 5-7 constellations for each season plus circum-polar (unsetting northern) stars. This planetarium includes a 32-page activity guide with planet locator tables and an instructional audio CD with facts and ancient stories about the night sky, plus set up and viewing tips for each mask. This is $27.95 at www.hometrainingtools.com.
4) Cars and robots: There are a lot of advances in solar and robotic technology every day. There are new science projects in both these fields available all the time. I have found some that look like a lot of fun and are educational.
OWI Robots Amphibious Solar Vehicle kit. It is a toy vehicle that works on land and on water and uses solar power. As a teen builds this vehicle they will be learning what materials solar batteries are made from and the characteristics of solar batteries, advantages, and disadvantages of solar power and robotics. This is a non-soldering robot building kit recommended for beginners. No batteries required, it's solar powered and the solar cell is included. Screwdriver and pliers are required for assembly. This kit is $38.95 at www.discoverthis.com.
Solar Grasshopper. This is an easy to build mini-robot that runs on solar power. It comes with all the pieces your teen will need plus detailed diagrams and instructions. Assembly time is approximately 15 minutes and it does not involve any soldering. This kit is $12.95 at www.physlink.com.
Intelligent Fuel Cell Car. The Car Kit Manual features experiments and background information to help your teen explore the history and future of emerging fuel cell technology. The Intelligent Fuel Cell Car is powered by the PEM Reversible Fuel Cell, which safely converts the chemical energy of hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy. The clear plastic "intelligent" car backs up and turns 90 degrees when it hits a barrier. This kit is $79.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
Elenco Photon Solar Racer Kit. This is such a cool kit. It is a toy race car that runs on solar power. Teens get to build it and learn about solar energy and how to convert it to useful applications, or at least fun ones. No soldering, no batteries needed for the science kit. Comes with high-energy solar panel. The solar car comes in clear plastic. The car can be painted any color scheme that you desire (paint is not supplied). The body of Photon is even made from recycled pop bottles. This kit is $31.95 at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com.
Bioloid Humanoid Robotics Kit. The Bioloid can be configured as the default human form, or assembled into any one of dozens of different robotic creatures. 18 servos, a full motion editor and visual programming environment allow a teen to make the Bioloid interact with it's surroundings while performing complex movements that put other toy robots to shame. The Bioloid comes with several example programs to make it walk, avoid obstacles and interact with sound. The sensor module in the head of the robot features an IrDA receiver (for communicating with other robots via infrared), three proximity sensors (left, right and front) that can measure distance and luminosity, a microphone for sound detection and a piezo-electric speaker that can be used to play musical scales or generate simple beeping sounds. Robot can be programmed custom movements and behavior logic. This kit is $899.99 at www.thinkgeek.com.
Ultimate Robot Kit All you need to make 5 amazing robots. Ultimate Robot Kit comes with everything you need to build four robots: from plastic gears to a power pod, from cardboard frames to instruction cards with detailed photographs. Once you’ve mastered the BounceBot, CreepycrawlyBot, KnotBot and Gobblebot, use the extra pieces and create a fifth robot of your own design. This kit is $29.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
5) Science games: It is always great to learn when you are playing a game you are enjoying. You often don’t even realise how much you are learning.
Smart Lab Science & Nature Computer-Book Challenge. This is a wonderful combination game that uses the computer and a book. Teens can play by themselves or in a 2-player game. This game is fun and they learn all about nature and science as they play. Here is an example of some of the questions. What is the only rock that floats in water? What animal sleeps just two hours at a time, and always keeps an eye open? Where did the world's first industrial robot go to work? This game is $17.95 at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com.
Smart Lab Weird & Gross Computer-Book Challenge. This is a wonderful combination game that uses the computer and a book. Teens can play by themselves or in a 2-player game. As the name indicates it is also bizarre, disgusting and nasty so teens love it. It is $17.95 at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com.
AristoPlay Mars 2020 game - A race to Mars. It's a race to Mars in the year 2020. This game is for 2-6 players and has over 550 space travel and astronomy questions, endorsed by Jack Lousma, U.S. Astronaut! This is actually a fun game to play. Each player is an astronaut. Astronauts choose a spaceship and a crewmember and try to land on Mars first. This game is $31.95 at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com.
Cogno Deep Worlds Game. This game is for 2 to 6 players and takes 30-50 minutes to play. This game looks like it is fun to play and you learn all about space as you play. How do you play game? Pick your favourite alien game piece; there are 8 wild looking pieces each with different capabilities and personalities. Be the first to collect three fuel cells by answering fun, unusual science questions. The questions are not trivia; they're about space and the universe. Avoid the Alien Whirlpool, Deep Trench, and survive the DiveZones, using strategy to race others safely back to the beach. Leave the main board and enter the Parallel Universe where anything can happen. You might get lucky and suck another player in. And use your greatest weapon wisely - the Time Machine Token. Free inside every game is the 28-page "Book of Y" which reveals the science behind every one of the board game's 261 questions, in fun, easy to understand language. This game is $28.95 at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com.
Educational Insights Bioviva. Ecological Adventure Game. This game is for 2 – 6 players. Bioviva is an Eco-Trivia mind challenging game that is fun to play as you learn all about ecology. It does not sound like a lot of fun, until you see some of the questions. Here are a couple questions. Do you know which "polluted" city sells fresh air by the pound? What ice cream flavor comes from an orchid? Which spider is a true "quarter pounder"? How about which plant prevents tooth decay? Which U.S. city has the most polluted air? Or which animal spits blood from its eyes? This game is $28.95 at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com.
6) Slime: How much fun is it to play with slime, even older teens enjoy these projects and kits.
Slinky Science Slime Science. Mini-Lab. Your teen can make 5 different kinds of slime with this kit. He or she will learn the science behind the ooey, gooey, ooze. They can create a jiggle slime, a sticky ooze that can glue things together, a mystery material that's solid one minute, liquid the next, a rubbery, stretchy putty, and a classic horror-movie slime. This kit is $9.95 at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com.
Scientific Explorer Sci-Fi Slime. Teens learn about hydrophilic polymers while mixing up gobs and gobs of slime. A few of the slimes they can make are heat sensitive color changing slime, slime that glows in the dark, or one that moves towards magnets. This kit is $17.95 at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com.
7) Edible kits: Teens get to eat or drink their experiments.
Make your own bubble gum kits. Teens get to learn how bubble gum is made, and what it is made of and then they get to try their experiments. This can be a lot of fun. I found two kits that are great and both are $12.95.
Bubble Gum Kit. The kit is at www.stevespanglerscience.com.
Scientific Explorer Bubble Gum Fun. This kit is at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com.
Scientific Explorer Ice Cream Science. Teens get to create their own ice cream using science and a T-shirt. This is a fun and tasty gift. The best part is that they learn all about solids, liquids, and gases as they experiment with making ice cream. This kit is $17.95 at www.sciencestoreforthestars.com
8) Just for fun science gift: It is nice to give gifts that are just fun even though they revolve around science.
Giant Plush Microbes is a plush microbe 1,000,000 times bigger then the real thing. They are actually cute. The only time someone will thank you for giving him or her a cold. These are funny, and unusual. You can pick from a huge selection of icky things to give her, including a brain cell, mad cow disease or the plague - Black Death. They are $7.99 at www.thinkgeek.com.
Magic Garden. Art is science and this is science art. This is science but it does not seem to be. The kit comes with mountain, trees and flowers made of paper and a plastic base. Assembled the paper garden, pour the magic garden solution on the paper. Within hours, the flowers bloom, the trees bud and snow appears on the mountain. This spectacular scene and its metamorphoses is fun to watch. This kit is $5.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
AntWorks - Space Age Ant Habitat. This just looks cool. This is just one of those things that has to be seen. I have to say I don’t actually like ants but I like this ant habitat. AntWorks is based on a 2003 NASA Space Shuttle experiment to study animal life in space and test how ants successfully tunnel in micro gravity. The AntWorks Gel (Non Toxic) is complete with nutrients to promote healthy growth in the new colony. This kit is $29.99 at www.thinkgeek.com.
Written by: Lori-Lee Craig