Science Christmas gifts
November 22, 2005 3:42 AM   Subscribe

I would like some cool, yet inexpensive, science gift ideas I can give my co-workers this Christmas. [MI]

I run a research goup of biologists, and every year I hand out some small off beat gifts to my team. For example, last year I handed out Thinking Putty and some candy canes shaped like a coffee mug (can't seem to figure out how to set links here, and if you're interested). I saw a previous post like this for a marine biologist friend posted last year, but would like some updated suggestions as alot can change in one year. Any cool items you know of that would be inexpensive and fun?
posted by genefinder to Shopping (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
From the same people that continue to bring us all Thinking Putty, ThinkGeek has a few great products.

Nerdy shirts, cool lamps, fun gadgets, things with magnets. All the best from your local science center, (which would also be a great place to go) all in one place.

posted by disillusioned at 3:59 AM on November 22, 2005

American Science and Surplus has a lot of cool and inexpensive science gifts.
posted by Fat Guy at 4:16 AM on November 22, 2005

20Q. I read about it here and bought it here.
posted by snowjoe at 4:20 AM on November 22, 2005

I'm a biologist - you can't go wrong by giving me triops, plants, or any small container of living creatures to keep in my office.

If you wanted to spend more money, these are good things: a *good* quality loupe or folding magnifying glass, a mushroom growing kit, a crystal growing kit.

My favorite related gift of all time is an Ecosphere, which sounds out of your range, and which is only included for people who might be shopping for their favorite biologists.
posted by arabelladragon at 4:35 AM on November 22, 2005

I really like the stuffed giant microbes at ThinkGeek. They only cost a little more than the candy cane mugs.
posted by Alison at 4:43 AM on November 22, 2005

Best answer: another thing that might be out of your range but how about a darwin doll.

the dna store also has a number of other biology related gifts that might be appropriate.
posted by tnai at 4:51 AM on November 22, 2005

if you're looking for plant-type gifts, Gardens-in-a-bag might be cool. Grow flowers, herbs, even tomatoes right in the bag.

An ecosphere would make an awesome gift, but they're expensive. I know I had one a few years ago that I got from Target (I think) - it was square, and much cheaper. Maybe you could find some cheap ones somewhere?
posted by geeky at 6:21 AM on November 22, 2005

Oh, and kinda along ecosphere lines... There are some beta fish that share a little beta bowl or vase with a plant. I don't imagine they would be too expensive to get at a pet store. Might be challenging to transport though.
posted by geeky at 6:27 AM on November 22, 2005

Stuff from Infectious awareables goes well with biologists and giant stuffed microbes. They have bioboxers, biotees, and such. (We got a biologist friend of ours some gonorrhea boxers, but there's a good selection of virulent and bacterial patterns.)
posted by whatzit at 7:00 AM on November 22, 2005

I'd stay away from living things. Being a biologist doesn't mean that you're good with plants or fish. [I've certainly never managed to keep a fish or plant alive longer than a few months. Good thing I'm not doing any research on them, I guess.] Giving a plant or animal as a gift makes the recipient responsible for another living thing, which they may not want to be.
posted by ubersturm at 7:21 AM on November 22, 2005

What Fat Guy said. Though technically it isn't a science gift I just bought a bunch of Pez Survival Kits* to give away.

*I couldn't figure out how to link directly to the description (item #36013) but here's the description:
Nothing, absolutely nothing, makes us happier than things that do a whole lot of different stuff. (A quality we happily share with all 10-year-old boys.) Herewith: the Slovenian "Jungle Mission" PezĀ© dispenser, with tiki head, flashlight, small magnifier, smaller compass, and a 5cm ruler. Plus a belt clip. And (2) packs of candy. It's 6" long in red and green plastic and takes (2) "AAA" batteries (not included). Don't leave the compound without it.

posted by Opposite George at 8:02 AM on November 22, 2005

Magnetic sticks-and-balls. I have a bunch of these and math/science types can't seem to keep their hands off them. Close to the same price as the thinking putty. Also, magnetic marbles.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:23 AM on November 22, 2005

This isn't necessarily inexpensive, but I saw the Smithsonian/DK "Animal" book in Borders the other day and shrieked like a little girl because I was so excited about it. There are also "Human" and "Space" books, and they are amazing.

(I am a marine biologist.)
posted by nekton at 8:44 AM on November 22, 2005

You'd probably have to find a local supplier, or (cheaper) DIY, but pehaps a fruit salad tree?

This store was on the blue recently. Most of the items have large price tags, but there are some neat little cheap things.

Also check out SciToys. They used to have really neat stuff, but now they have really some really neat stuff amidst of a bunch of mediocre stuff, so you might have to poke around a little.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:46 AM on November 22, 2005

Response by poster: Excellent, thanks everyone. I marked the DNA store as best because we do a great amount of DNA and RNA work, and I hadn't seen this site before. Most others I have, and they are also great. Thanks for the suggestions.
posted by genefinder at 12:38 PM on November 22, 2005

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