What to get my little female professor for Christmas?
December 6, 2011 6:17 PM   Subscribe

Help me find AWESOME Christmas gifts for my smart girl...

Mu 11 year old daughter is very geeky, gifted, smart and full of AWESOME! And very hard to buy for. We have a 4 year old too so Santa still is a big part of our Holiday but I'm lost on what to get her for Christmas. My husband is also a techno geek so she already has every gadget....she loves cooking and is obsessed with dogs, we have two. She can take a Macbook apart and put it back together in minutes. She has no interest in clothes or typical tween stuff, We have some books and a lego robot coming that she'll love but what else? Any ideas for an awesome, smart young girl? Especially since I want to foster that love of learning and exploration....
posted by pearlybob to Shopping (32 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I was going to suggest robotics of some sort. Sounds like that's covered. So, what about some kind of experience type stuff? Science museums? Car shows? Dog shows? Cooking classes? A cool cookbook that you can work through together?
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:23 PM on December 6, 2011

What about a class? Like animation or silversmithing or pottery?
posted by it's a long way to south america at 6:24 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Does she have a good microscope? (we got a real one from here for a reasonable amount of money: http://www.amscope.com)

Along the same path, a telescope?
posted by NoDef at 6:31 PM on December 6, 2011 [7 favorites]

Does she have an ereader? Because ereader+gift card=geek win.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:32 PM on December 6, 2011

I don't know precisely where you're located, but a weekend trip to visit a cool/techy museum might be kind of nice. Just her plus one parent doing an overnight in a hotel and a day full of geeky fun could be really special. You could make a themed box for her to open on Christmas -- a brochure about the museum, a small game to play in the car on the way there, some spending money for the trip, that kind of thing.
posted by kate blank at 6:34 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Chemistry set!

If she likes cooking, and she's geeky, then she'd probably love a chemistry set. In particular, there's lots of kitchen chemistry sets where not only are you using chemistry to make strange things... you get to eat them too. Think along the lines of rock candy and making your own butter.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 6:36 PM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

What about something that's crafty in an interesting way? Felted soap is pretty funky and pretty different from, uh, unfelted soap when you use it. You can get simple kits. Or a lip balm kit. Making useful stuff hands on is fun.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:36 PM on December 6, 2011

When I was about that age (maybe 9 or 10, actually?), I got really, really into making things with polymer clay. It's a hobby I still pick up every once and a while today. Maybe start her out with a beginner's book and some basic colors? She can make little animals, beads, jewelry (I recently pierced my ears and have been going a little crazy with silly earrings), gifts for friends, etc, etc. It's a good gift for kids who are naturally creative since you can do just about anything with it.
posted by phunniemee at 6:36 PM on December 6, 2011

She can take a Macbook apart...

Soldering kit...gun with solder and solder sucker etc. Circuit kits from radio shack or fry's electronics.

There are some seriously cool kits like mini amplifiers etc.
posted by snsranch at 6:39 PM on December 6, 2011 [7 favorites]

I'm getting my nephew of the same age and level of geeky awesomeness a metal detector for Christmas. You can get them in a huge range of prices from basic kids ones from around $50 and then the prices go up from there. He lives in a warm climate near a beach so perfect for one. Getting my niece a telescope. His parents got him membership to the local zoo one year and he loved that as he got to go on all sorts of tours and to help feed the hippos. But membership of a Museum or some sort of classes might be fun too.
posted by wwax at 6:39 PM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Some Sugru?
posted by stray at 6:41 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Does she like being outside? Maybe she would be interested in environmental science. I was a big computer geek at that age too - still am, really - and getting interested in environmental science (like birdwatching, rock collecting, bug collecting, etc) was and still is a great motivation for me to go outside and get some exercise & fresh air. When I was 11, I got really into geology and had my own field kit, with a streak plate and a little hammer & pick and everything - even a little display box for my cool finds.

At that age, I would also have loved some good field ID guides (plants, rocks, birds, insects, etc), a crystal-growing kit, simple water/soil testing kits, a pair of binoculars, a microscope, etc. I used to longingly go through the Edmund Scientifics catalog every year and circle all the cool stuff I wanted; they still seem to have a pretty good mix of simple field equipment, kids' kits, and serviceable equipment for a wide variety of scientific inquiries.
posted by dialetheia at 6:50 PM on December 6, 2011

1. Better than a microscope (as it can be used to instantly view many more objects w/o preparation) is a stereoscope. I bought one for my younger daughters years ago and set it up where it was always ready and available. Not a week goes by that it doesn't get use. Get one with zoom power from 10x to about 100x is plenty. Lighting is key -- you want one that has led lights mounted above and below. A nice one will set you back about $500.

2. I assume you have snap circuits ?

3. Model rocketry or radio controlled aircraft. These are two big, long term growth industries still in their infancy -- plus dad might like joining in the fun.

4. Reusable plastic molding like this: http://compositherm.com/composimold.html

5. How about music ? Like a keyboard or electric guitar?
posted by Land Ho at 6:50 PM on December 6, 2011

11 years old? How about some model rocketry?
posted by snsranch at 6:50 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

How about an experience she hasn't had before? Take her to the ballet or the symphony, or to a professional play or a rock concert.
posted by chickenmagazine at 6:50 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Model rockets!!!!
posted by mr_roboto at 7:02 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

ThinkGeek sells a molecular gastronomy kit. I think you can also find them on Amazon.
posted by Gilbert at 7:08 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe a molecular gastronomy kit? Chemistry you can eat!
posted by shownomercy at 7:10 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maybe some Sifteo Cubes? Cool new geeky gadget in my book. And if she has or might one day be interested in programming, she might even be able to develop some apps for it of her own.
posted by DaftMythic at 7:12 PM on December 6, 2011

The lily pad arduino can be built into anything, to make an infinite amount to cool projects. Basically everything on the sparkfun website sould work, check out the awesome things they have.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 7:27 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Get her an Apple Time Capsule and/or Apple TV and let her wire your home. She'll be busy for months with all the possibilities this will open up. She can spend time setting up the following, for example.

• Make the family's entire Music, Video, and Photo collection available on your television sets.

• Watch recorded shows on IOS devices.

• Backup every computer in the home wirelessly, automatically.

The possibilities are endless. I'm a geeky female adult who can't take apart her MacBook and put it back together and I'm having loads of fun with these projects. I'd have even more fun if I were as smart as she.
posted by R2WeTwo at 7:35 PM on December 6, 2011

Not necessarily on point for the scientifically/intellectually challenging element, but I lovethis magazine and have gotten great feedback from moms whose girls I've got subscriptions for. It's a huge departure from most of what's marketed towards girls this age.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:15 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Along the magazine subscription line of thinking, when I was a geeky science girl of that age I loved Discover magazine.
posted by vytae at 8:45 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Get her an Arduino. It will get her started on electronics/programming, it will be fun, and your husband will have a blast doing projects with her.
posted by fightoplankton at 9:45 PM on December 6, 2011

Molecular Gastronomy starter kit. (I don't know if this is a good deal-- it may make more sense to assemble one yourself).
posted by acidic at 10:11 PM on December 6, 2011

Swap cats in for dogs and I was that eleven year old!

Nerdy + Cooking to me = Alton Brown, so maybe the Good Eats Cookbooks? The Cookbooks are very colorful and entertaining to read through, they are still books though... I would say DVDs of the show, but they don't seem to have been released in any useful manner.
posted by miscbuff at 10:14 PM on December 6, 2011

Best answer: Perhaps a subscription to Make magazine? It's older-kid friendly, and full of cool projects.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 11:22 PM on December 6, 2011

I second ThinkGeek.com. T'm a geeky girl and they have so many things I'd want for Christmas. I bet you'll be able to find many things she'd like.
posted by ATX Peanut at 6:02 AM on December 7, 2011

Try American Science & Surplus.
posted by nonasuch at 8:54 AM on December 7, 2011

+1 to the molecular gastronomy idea. Molecular gastronomy might be right up her alley -- with supervision, at 11 she'll have fun with this. ThinkGeek has a molecular gastronomy starter kit, but it's fairly limited -- Amazon has a number of better (but more expensive) options.

A "pro" subscription to instructables.com is around $20 and makes the thousands of totally geekish DIY projects much easier to access.

The USB nerdkit with the LED addition is a great introduction to basic electronics and helps bridge the gap between electronics and video.
posted by Kalatraz at 11:09 AM on December 7, 2011

Response by poster: Such GREAT ideas!!! Thanks to all for the suggestions!! We bought the simeo cubes, I'm getting all the magazines....We already do lots of theater and symphony stuff (I'm a music nerd) but the molecular gastronomy idea will probably happen too. Dad builds and flies model helis and I'm encouraging him to refurbish one of his smaller ones for her. All these suggestions (even though she already does some) are RIGHT down her ally and I appreciate the effort. I feel so much better about my options for her gifts. Love having a resource that actually cares about fostering the incredible, awesome geek-ness of our girls!! Thanks all!!
posted by pearlybob at 8:17 AM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sifteo cubes......EPIC!!!! Huge, huge hit. Best gift EVER!!!!

Thanks Mefi!!!
posted by pearlybob at 2:21 PM on December 25, 2011

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