Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's Cool to Give Smart Gifts

Over the summer, we talked a bit about it being cool to be smart, and with Chanukah starting today, and other holiday festivities rapidly approaching, what better time is there than to give the girls* in your life gifts to encourage interest in science, maths, medicine and more? My niece isn't quite old enough for any of this yet, but that doesn't stop me from looking (or, truth be told, wanting to play with the stuff myself - most of these would make great gifts for curious adults, too).

The CSI franchise appears to have a virtual empire of fun lab-related sets, from the CSI Fieldkit, which "comes with a fold-open box containing fingerprinting brushes and colored powder, crime tape, gloves, glasses, crimescope, mini microscope, tweezers, evidence containers, data journal, binoculars, spray bottle, camera, and more" (although apparently not luminol, alas), to the incredibly awesome looking CS Facial Reconstruction Kit, pictured to the left. And of course, no crime lab would be complete without a DNA Lab. "The kit offers instructions for conducting 10 experiments and provides little scientists with a working centrifuge, an electrophoresis chamber, and a three-speed motorized lab unit to carry out the work."

If the creative mind you're thinking about tends more towards Harry Potter than crime scenes, you're covered there, too. Again, there are quite a few options, but this one stood out for me: the Spells and Potions Science, Chemistry, Physics and Hobby Crafts set. Why not? If we can teach philosophy using pop culture, why can't we teach physics with Harry Potter? I think it's a brilliant idea.

Of course, the other great thing about this is the potential for DIY Biotech - as the processes and chemicals become cheaper and more foolproof, not only do non-professionals and kids have a chance to play and learn, but people who want to experiment and step outside the norm can do things like make art, grow their own skin, or - really, I think the limits are simply your own mind.

I find this incredibly exciting - and really wish I was 10 again!

*Boys, too. But I know I was always the envy of the other girls in my class, just because I had a father who did buy me science kits, let me build computers, have toy microscopes - does anyone else remember those? - and other things that are "typically" considered boy gifts.


LB said...

My roommate has set out to buy her 2-year-old niece a toy toolbench for Christmas. :)

I was always more of a dolls-and-kitchens girl, but all through my childhood I wanted a remote control car.

SabrinaW said...

Awesome gift ideas! And I heartily second the benefits of getting cool science-related toys as a child. I loved my microscope set so much!

SabrinaW said...

Oh, and be wary of pink microscopes, especially from the Discovery Store.