As I’m sitting here ordering things on line and last minute for people’s Christmas presents (there, I said Christmas. Take THAT Bill O’Really!) I thought I’d make a few suggestions for my readers.
For the K-6 age scientist:
The 7-Function Binoculars For Kids An inexpensive science trans-formative toy, the “Binoculars for Kids” which also transform into a microscope, magnifying glass (good for observing bugs, starting little fires, or both at the same time), includes a compass, and a signal mirror to warn off the helicopters.
This cool Head Light, again for kids but actually quiet useful for adults (I actually keep one of these in my tool box. Used it just a few weeks ago to assist in relighting the pilot on the water heater.) will keep the tykes busy for minutes.
For much older kids:
A nice set of binoculars is an excellent gift. I have a nice set (a type no longer available) and the last set I recommended here is now out of production, but the following are close to these, mid-size to small, excellent optics and good for birding, much better than the el-cheapo mini binoculars everyone seems to use these days (to little effect):
The Orion UltraView – Binoculars 10 x 50 – wide angle – porro ‘nocs are designed for star watching but I’ve found star-ready binoculars are great for birding. Many birders prefer a wider field of vision, but I’m not sure why. You scan with your eyes, you look at their little heads and stuff with the binoculars.
Equally good or may be better, and more in the range of what most birders like to use, would be the Olympus Magellan 10×42 EXPWP Binocular.
For the person who needs a new push here stupid camera
I don’t like Sony, most of their products or the company. They have caused me too much pain in the past. So it is with my nose firmly clamped shut that I say that the camera my sister gave my daughter last year makes me wonder why I use a Nikon SLR! The newest version is even cooler, having and advance panorama feature. If you look around at cameras being produced by other companies now, many are imitating this one. I’d love to know if anyone out there has tried both the Sony and the equivilants to see if there is a difference. There’s more than one model out there but this seems to be the most current one.
For anyone with a geeky streak, but NOT AROUND LITTLE KIDS (Toddlers or younger) because it’s a little dangerous:
Nanodots Magnetic Constructor Thingies. One thinks its maybe silly. One picks them up and starts to play around with them. Yes, silly. Hmm, I wonder if they’ll do this… Hmmm, I wonder if they’ll do that….. Hmm, this is kind of cool when they do this. I wonder what happens if I … Holy crap, look at that. NO LEAVE ME ALONE I’M PLAYING WITH MY NANODOTS!!!
They are rare earth magnets that are very very powerful. That’s the danger: If a person swallows a bunch of them, they will attach to each other across the intestinal walls where the intestines loop around near each other and eventually drill a hole through the gut! How cool is that!
So not around kids. But do get two sets so that you can let someone else play with one set. They’ll be ore likely to leave you alone.
For fifth or sixth graders:
This is a classic. You can get it cheap (but don’t buy a used one for obvious reasons!) and it is a great way to entertain the kiddies with science! SOme of the information is out of date but not as much as you might think: The Human Evolution Coloring Book. And now available, though I’ve not see it (have you? It looks cool!): The Marine Biology Coloring Book and the Microbiology Coloring Book.
I’ve looked at a lot of science kits for kids and most of them look like junk. These two, however, look pretty good for younger kids: The Magic School Bus: A Journey into the Human Body and Magic School Bus Secrets of Space.
And, of course, books are always good.