What to buy my weather-obsessed niece for Christmas?
December 10, 2012 1:12 PM   Subscribe

I have a bright, funny 12-year-old niece who is in love with two things: One Direction and meteorology. I'd rather buy her something related to meteorology than Harry Styyyyyyles!!!!!!, but I'm having trouble coming up with a good idea of what to get her. Help!

Some background:

She was scared to death of things like tornadoes and thunderstorms as a kid, but (to my delight) that has evolved into a real fascination with them and an interest in how they work. She's not just a wanna-be stormchaser, she has a real interest in the science behind it. She found out about the Meteorology program at the University of Oklahoma and has vowed to go there for college (in seven years!!). She has an OU t-shirt which is her most valued possession.

She lives in a rather small house and doesn't have a lot of room for her to spread things out or set things up, so a weather station or other large piece of equipment would not do. She also has a three-year-old brother who will likely break anything that is set up in the family area of their house. Her parents do not share her interest in storms (in fact, her dad is scared to death of them) and I do not anticipate that she will receive a lot of encouragement from them along these lines.

One thing I plan to do is take her to Skywarn Training in her county in the spring. (We both live in Minnesota, different counties have different training systems) I've gone through the weather spotter training and I think she would like to at least attend the training courses, and maybe do some backyard observations. However, we will not be chasing tornadoes together because I live too far away...otherwise, I think we'd be an awesome pair of stormchasers.

Anybody have any ideas? Were any of you a stormchaser when you were 12? If so, what would have been the coolest gift that your faraway aunt could have bought for you? Let's pretend your awesome aunt has about $100 that she could spend on this.
posted by Elly Vortex to Shopping (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Galileo Thermometers and glass globe barometers are really pretty.

Weather Band Radio is fun too.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:18 PM on December 10, 2012

Something like this, perhaps... or maybe a barometer.
posted by markkraft at 1:22 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is a barometer too tame? They have such beautiful ones.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:44 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

hah, sorry didn't see prior, identical responses!
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:46 PM on December 10, 2012

I don't have specific suggestions, but have you seen Ambient Weather? I've heard good things about them.
posted by houseofdanie at 1:46 PM on December 10, 2012

I liked reading popular science magazines when I was her age - mostly National Geographic, since my older sister had a subscription, but also whatever else was around. This could encourage a general interest in science, and at $34 for Odyssey or $15 for National Geographic, it could fit in along with more specific presents.

You could pair it with a piece of cute storm-themed jewelry from Etsy - here are little cloud earrings for $18 and a little umbrella necklace for $14. Getting jewelry as a young girl made me feel grown-up in a nice way, and it could encourage her pride in her interests.
posted by dreamyshade at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2012

Maybe this book?

If you can find something she could hang from her ceiling--a mobile, even a pretty pendant if she likes those, with a weather theme--her brother likely couldn't reach it.
posted by homelystar at 2:08 PM on December 10, 2012

Weatherwise magazine might be a good subscription if she's as precocious as you say...
posted by Skwirl at 2:31 PM on December 10, 2012

I know you said no weather stations, but... this one looks pretty compact. It lacks the windspeed indicator, but it does at least show temp, barometric pressure, humidity, and trends. You could also show her Weather Underground which collects data from home weather stations, I believe, in additional to official ones. One of my colleagues in my old job had a very fancy weather station online about 1/2 mile from my house and I used to check it out here all the time :).
posted by elmay at 2:55 PM on December 10, 2012

You could get her a journal to keep track of the weather and weather patterns. Maybe one that is gridded/checked so she can make her own charts in there in addition to keeping track of rainfall and sunny days and types of clouds and windspeed and temperature and so on. It has the advantage of being traditional (everyone from Pliny to Jefferson used to keep track of the weather in detail), interactive, and will help her discover all sorts of cool stuff about weather from her own experience and from looking over her data to find patterns and trends. Some nice pens in different colors would be a nice complement.
posted by julen at 4:34 PM on December 10, 2012

A pre-college student associate membership in the American Meteorological Society (the professional society for meteorologists in the US) is only $15. It's a fun credential and will get her a subscription to Weatherwise (written for a non-technical audience) or the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).

Does she know about the Zooniverse Old Weather project? They're trying to get volunteers to transcribe old ship logs to get all the weather data for climate research. Not exactly a gift but I bet she'd be interested to participate.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:58 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I can understand the problem with the two interests. I had a one direction weather vane once and it turned out it just didn't work.

Anyway: a really good starting point if you're twelve is a rain gauge, a barometer, a thermometer and a weather diary so she can start recording the weather herself. This gives her a project with some purpose, and would allow her to, in the future, look at her own data and analyse it.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:02 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lots of good ideas so far. One thing my mom gets me every year is Accord Publishing's Weather Guide calendar. Besides lots of neat pictures, there weather facts for every day of the year, along with climate tables and articles for each month.

If she likes watching storm videos, there are lots available at the Tim Marshell's Stormtrack Shop. I've heard good things about the now defunct Stormtrack magazine, so the CD with all the back issues might be neat if she wants to learn about chasing for a future time.

Memail me when we get a bit closer to spring, I can probably help out for finding when Skywarn training is for her or your county in Minnesota.
posted by weathergal at 4:51 AM on December 11, 2012

I work at a local TV station and I can tell you that it's pretty easy to set up "shadow" days where someone can come in and basically look over a meteorologists shoulder and observe.

check with some of your local TV stations and I bet they'd be happy to let her come in and hang out with the meteorologist.
posted by tylerfulltilt at 5:02 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wet-dry bulb hygrometer?
posted by fullerenedream at 12:24 PM on December 11, 2012

I just happened across this Garden Weather Station which looks pretty cool.
posted by Acey at 9:12 AM on December 12, 2012

Response by poster: Update: I wound up buying her a Sooners hoodie, a rain gauge, and a book on weather phenomena. I also told her that I'd take her to Storm Tracker training in the spring. She loved everything and I'm really excited that we'll be able to do the training together. Thanks for the advice, folks!
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:30 AM on December 31, 2012

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