Fun sciency things for stocking presents?
December 9, 2020 11:31 AM   Subscribe

In the past I've gotten things like supertaster test strips, pH test strips, and miniature UV flashlights for my family as gifts. What other fun, inexpensive things are there that you can use to do little experiments around the house? Preferably under $5 each.
posted by exceptinsects to Science & Nature (15 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Blood test kits.
posted by RoadScholar at 11:41 AM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

A gyroscope will probably run you a couple bucks over your budget but I got a gyroscope as a stocking stuffer as a small kid and had a lot of educational fun with it.
posted by phunniemee at 11:43 AM on December 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

Not a particular endorsement of this product but Outlet Ground Testers are stocking stuffer sized and relatively cheap.
posted by mmascolino at 11:51 AM on December 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: American Science & Surplus is like Archie McPhee for gadgets. They have all sorts of stuff in their toy section that could work; here are some of my faves:

Magnetic Pole Finder
Crystal Growing Kit
Glow in the dark skeleton kit
Balloon Helicopter
Gyroscope as suggested by phunniemee just outside your price point
posted by assenav at 11:52 AM on December 9, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: This is a little over your budget but there are little digital thermometers that log temperatures and send them to your smart phone and they're SO COOL. (Yes I am an HVAC engineer, your definition of cool may vary.)
posted by beandip at 11:56 AM on December 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

UV reactive beads are kinda fun and cheery. They turn different colors when exposed to sunlight/ UV light, then revert back to white/ translucent when they're out of it. You could get one package and divide them up.

Educational Innovations link - I've bought these in the past and I think they are my favorite, plus they have lesson ideas

American Science and Surplus link - still good and fun! esp. if you are already ordering from them so the shipping cost is spread out

Sample Amazon link - cheaper, esp. with free shipping, but I haven't bought this exact kind
posted by adventitious at 12:04 PM on December 9, 2020

Best answer: Foldoscopes can be $35 for 20.
posted by foxfirefey at 12:08 PM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Miracle Fruit tablets are under budget on a per-tablet basis. Make sure you've got some sour foods in the house. (the time I had one was at a science outreach event and they were handing out quarter-tablets. The effect was still notable.)

My local toy shop sells single unbroken geodes for under 5$.

Solar eclipse glasses. Get ready for 2024 now!
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:15 PM on December 9, 2020 [9 favorites]

Cloud ID Cards (on this same page, the Survival Knot cards are also in budget)
posted by jquinby at 12:20 PM on December 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

Memory wire. Super cheap and cool science magic. Bend it in to any shape when cool, then drop in to hot water and watch it spring back to its original shape!
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:26 PM on December 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

Came here to suggest Miracle Berry tablets but I see tchemgrrl beat me to it. Super fun!
posted by mekily at 1:27 PM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Pocket microscope is only slightly more than that.
posted by gideonfrog at 1:29 PM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oooh, American Science & Surplus! My brother used to get that catalog and I would read it cover to cover.
Fire Color-Changing Crystals and Break-Your-Own Geodes are just the kind of thing I'm looking for.

So many great ideas in this thread, thanks everyone! Feel free to keep adding.
(Forgot to specify these are for adults, if it matters)
posted by exceptinsects at 2:35 PM on December 10, 2020

My first thought was drug tests but they would probably be inappropriate. 😀
posted by bendy at 9:36 PM on December 10, 2020

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