This week’s installment of the GeekDad gift guide covers science gifts as well as green gifts. Please leave a comment if we missed any, and don’t hesitate to click on the graphic above to see more gift suggestions.
Mythbusters Science Kits
Everyone’s favorite faux scientists, the Mythbusters have been explaining things forever on their awesome show. Now they’ve come out with a small assortment of science experiment kits. Here’s two: MythBusters Weird World of Water and MythBusters Forces of Flight.
Molecular Model Kit
Connect colored spheres (the atoms!) with simulated bonds to make your own molecules! The set comes with 52 atoms, three dozen bonds of various types, and instructions. Great for classroom, home or cubicle. Buy it on ThinkGeek.com
Living Green: The Missing Manual*
Your guide for living green. Packed with suggestions and resources for living as benignly as possible. How to green your lifestyle, explore alternative power sources, and ethically source your next home improvement project. It even covers such radical notions as zero-consumption living. Buy it on Amazon.
Oregon Scientific Solar Weather Station*
Counter-top weather station detailing date & time as well as a variety of weather stats such as humidity and pollen count. Comes with two sensors, one for outside and one for inside — but you can buy additional sensors. Best of all, it has a large solar cell on the back of the unit, so it recharges as long as there is light. Buy it on Amazon
Made from mostly recycled plastic milk containers, Green Toys makes pleasantly colored toys for kids for kids like trucks, tea sets, sand toys, a tool set and more. The sets designed for food play are dishwasher safe and FDA approved for food contact. Buy them at Amazon.
LifeGear 6-in-1 Flashlight*
Power grid down? Don’t fret when you’re packing this 6-in-1 crank flashlight. It features a flashlight, emergency flashers, FM radio, cell phone charger, and emergency siren, making it perfect for your next society-crippling disaster. Can also be powered by regular AAAs or DC12 in. Buy it on Amazon.
Uberstix is a fun building set that can also link up with other major build systems as well as recyclable materials such as straws, popsicle sticks and paper cups. The company makes a wide variety of building sets from skyscrapers to pirate ships. Once you’re done building a set according to plan, use your imagination and design your own creation! Buy it at Amazon.
From the conventional cow and horse to the more unusual emu and reindeer, Anamalz Environmentally Friendly Animals are posable figures made out of wood and other materials for kids aged three and up. The toys are made from maple wood from sustainable forests. Each figure is handmade using waterbased paint. The fabrics are even formaldehyde free and the packages are made from recycled paper. But most of all, they are very cute. Buy
them at Amazon.
Vers Audio Bamboo iPod Dock
Bamboo has a reputation for being a green material (it’s renewable, grows quickly and pretty much anything is better than plastic). Vers, the maker of cool natural wood iPod cases, also offers the Vers 2X iPod Sound System. Hand finished bamboo makes a green statement while filling your room with 30W of premium sound. The $169 price tag includes a 14 function remote.
SolChat Solar Powered iPhone Speakerphone
When driving, handsfree talking is the way to go with your iPhone, regardless of whether it’s the law where you live. The <> lets you be doubly-virtuous with fully hands free operation combined with a solar recharger; voice dialing makes it especially appropriate for the iPhone 3GS. Scosche says the solChat’s lithium ion battery is good for 10 hours of talk time. Car charger and USB cable is also included in case your auto conversations exceed the sun’s output that day. Buy it on Amazon.
QX-5 USB Microscope
200x microscope with a twist… the images of amoeba and hangnails you stare at can be saved to your computer. Imagine the killer science reports! Also records 640×480 VGA video. Mac compatible but you need to buy the software separately. Buy it on Amazon.
Soopsori Wood Toys
These wood toys are 100% recyclable made using natural wood without paint or bolts. Soopsori has chosen 20 types of wood to create the color differences in the toys. There are no sharp edges, and the wood is finished with linseed oil. The packages are recyclable, and all sawdust generated by the company is also recycled. Toys are available for kids of all ages, including infants. Buy a few of them at Amazon, or visit their website for more locations.
This Little Piggy’s Playhouse
We reviewed the original This Little Piggy’s Playhouse for the holiday season last year, and they’re still going strong. The all-cardboard playhouse, made in the USA from 100% recyclable materials, is still a great gift for your little ones to begin testing their art skills. This year, they’ve added some premium selections in they way of hand-painted versions making them ready for play right away. The blanks TLPP is available for $49 in cardboard brown or white, and the hand-painted models II and III run $199. All can be found at This Little Piggy’s Playhouse.
Thames & Kosmos C3000 Chemistry Set
Chemistry sets have suffered a great deal of quality slippage lately, with litigation-fearful companies offering laughable experiments like making slime, basically amounting to magic tricks that don’t teach any science. But there’s still hope: the C3000 chemistry set packs 387 experiments covering 32 topics, leaving out only a couple of notable chemicals such as are used in meth labs and so on — chemicals that are easily sourced by other means. This set is definitely not watered down. Buy it on Amazon.
The Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments*
And to go with your awesome new chemistry set, this excellent book. Author Robert Bruce Thompson seems to be singlehandedly trying to stave off the decline of hobby chemistry. This book helps you assemble your own laboratory if you don’t simply want to buy everything in a kit. It follows up with chapter after chapter of sensible, intelligent and challenging experiments. One surprisingly important thing this book teaches is how to follow proper scientific journal keeping procedures to record your experiments. Buy it on Amazon.
Bedol Water Clock*
Cute little alarm clock, similar to many others except for one thing — it doesn’t use batteries, any batteries. Instead, it runs off regular tap water. Just make sure to fill it up periodically, because it doesn’t even have a button cell to retain your settings. Buy it from Bedol.
Sneaky Green Uses for Everyday Things
Sneaky Green Uses for Everyday Things, part of a series by Cy Tymony, includes instructions on lots of interesting projects kids and adults can do together, using easy-to-find materials, to save energy. The book serves as a useful guide to everyday conservation while also providing a fair bit of fun. Buy it on Amazon.
Kill-A-Watt Energy Monitor
That stereo is turned off, yet still has a LED glowing dimly. Clearly it’s still sucking power, but how much? With an energy monitor like this one, now you can tell. DIYers can even able tinker with the Kill-A-Watt — for instance, Adafruit’s Tweet-a-Watt reports your energy usage on Twitter. Buy it on Amazon
Celestron FirstScope Telescope
Celestron introduced this product in honor of 2009, the International Year of Astronomy. It’s a decent first telescope at a reasonable price. 76mm aperture rather than the typical 60mm; comes with two respectable eyepieces. Very compact, the FirstScope stores well and fits on a bookshelf. Buy it on Amazon.
Nice block set made by a small company in Saint Paul, Minn. This particular set has 68 pieces. They don’t use sweatshop labor to make their toys so of course they cost a little more. Beka also does awesome kid looms and easels. Buy them on Amazon.
Suunto MB-6 Matchbox Compass
While a variety of technological innovations have reduced the value of a compass, nevertheless there remain many reasons for having one — they store indefinitely without needing batteries, and are easy to learn how to operate. If you go the compass route, you can do a lot worse than this one: Swiss-made from a design intended for World War II-era officers, and comes in a “matchbox” cover keeping the unit safe in your pack or pocket. Buy it on Amazon.
Snap Circuits PRO SC-500
Kids’ electronics learning set. Build over 500 projects using over 75 snap-together components. Lots of flashy projects to keep kids paying attention. An easy way to spark a kid’s interest in the hobby of electronics. Buy it on Amazon.
Desktop Carnivorous Plant Set
Plant seeds for more than 10 varieties of carnivorous plant, and watch the magic. Grow them to protect your cubicle from pesky insects or simply for the cool factor. Also comes with ‘swamp rocks’ and ‘bog buddies’. Buy it on ThinkGeek.com.
Thames and Kosmos Power House
This model of an earth-friendly house features a solar array, green house, solar oven, air conditioner, a wind power generator and more, giving kids 30 experiments and 10 building projects. Buy it on Amazon.
*Indicates the reviewer who wrote that gift suggestion has received a free sample of the item described.