A Holiday Gift List for Science Lovers

Some books, toys, art and clothing for the scientist or geek in your life

Science on Ice
In this image from Science on Ice, graduate student Maria Tausendfreund collects a water sample from an Arctic melt pond during a brief period of 'ice liberty.' Chris Linder

Find the perfect holiday gift for each person on your list can be difficult, especially if you don’t share the same interests or hobbies. What can you buy for someone who loves science? Here are some ideas from the Smithsonian staff; add your own in the comments below.

For the photography lover
Science on Ice: Four Polar Expeditions: Photojournalist Chris Linder has been documenting polar science expeditions for the past several years, and he’s collected his best photos in this new book. The beautiful photography is accented by essays from the science writers, including Smithsonian freelancers Helen Fields and Hugh Powell, who accompanied Linder on the trips (Helen’s trip may seem familiar to blog readers; she wrote to us from the ship Healy in the Bering Sea). What makes this book truly special is that Linder’s photos include not just adorable wildlife and stunning Arctic landscapes but also fascinating images of scientists at work and at play. “The scientists I know are as tough as they ships they sail on,” Linder writes in the book. “By photographing scientists working in the field, I hope to create a new stereotype… by extension, I hope that readers, particularly students, will develop a stronger interest in science as a career.”

For the book lover who doesn’t need another book
The Origin of Species on a T-shirt: Out of Print Clothing sells t-shirts, tote bags, stationary and other items emblazoned with iconic book covers, such as Charles Darwin’s classic work. And for every item sold, the company donates one book through Books for Africa, so your holiday giving goes just a bit further.

For the animal lover
An “Ape-stract” Painting
: Chimpanzees, Cheeta and his grandson Jeeter, use a paintbrush dipped in bright colors to create their abstract creations, which are available with a donation to the C.H.E.E.T.A. Primate Sanctuary in California.

For the stuffed animal lover
Biochemies DNA Molecule Plush Dolls
: Chemical biology graduate student Jun Axup started making these cute little toys a couple years ago to promote science education. The cute little molecules, with smiley faces, come in a set of four: A, G, C and T.

For the neuroscientist or brain surgeon
Brain Freeze Ice Cube Tray
: This silicone tray makes four brain-shaped ice cubes (or jello molds) at a time. Perfect for when you need a cooler head.

For the mathematician
I Heart Math T-shirt
: Express your love of mathematics in a way only people who remember what imaginary numbers are will understand.

For the budding inventor
Reinventing Edison Build Your Own Lightbulb Kit
: If someone wants to build a better lightbulb, she can start by learning how to build the kind Edison invented. Perhaps tinkering with the original model will lead to insights about where to go next on the inventing path.

For the budding biologist
Bacterial Growth Science Kit
: This kit contains enough petri dishes, agar, pipettes and test tubes to run your own mini science lab. What kind of bacteria could you grow? It’s all around you, from your skin to your computer to your kitchen sink. Just be prepared to be grossed out when you discover just how many microorganisms are there to be found.

For the budding chemist/environmental scientist
Environmental Student Lab Test Kit
: With this kit, your little scientist can perform five different tests on water and four on air, examining things like dissolved oxygen levels in the creek down the street or particulate levels outside your home. And unlike a standard chemistry set–always a fun buy for a little chemist–you may get some useful information from this gift.

And for yourself, to wear around your anti-evolution relatives
“My ancestors spent 3.8 billion years evolving out of the primordial ooze and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” T-Shirt: This tee, from the National Center for Science Education (it’s the last item on the store page), will let you promote the teaching of evolution while heeding your mother’s advice to keep your mouth shut on the topic during that holiday visit to Uncle Fred’s house. (And if you want to be sneaky with the gift giving on that trip, you could get your niece or nephew an Evolvem stuffed animal, which evolves from one creature to the next.)

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