The holidays are just around the bend, and it's time to prepare to stuff the stockings … with science-related goodies, of course. If you have a budding Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace or Albert Einstein in your life, we've got gift ideas to spark their curiosity and enhance their love for science.
My first microscope
Every little scientist needs a microscope, and the My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope fits the bill. Rated the top kids' microscope of 2013 by LiveScience sister site TopTenReviews.com, this scope magnifies up to 400x. The glass-and-metal construction makes the microscope sturdy, and the AA battery power makes it portable – perfect for beginner's fieldwork! The microscope even comes with slides, stain and slide labels so junior scientists can build their own library of microscopic wonders.
In addition, can function as a compound microscope, which uses two converging lenses, for viewing slides, or a dissecting stereo microscope, where the light shines down for observing solid objects. BUY >>>
Nurture the future engineer in your life with this Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 kit. Kids can snap together reusable pieces to create real electric circuits, powering projects including a doorbell, a fan and a burglar alarm. Kids can experiment with their own circuits, too, and can even submit them to snapcircuits.net so that other children can try their hand at recreating your little one's invention. BUY >>>
Maybe the child in your life is the outdoorsy type. If so, they're sure to love the NAT GEO Critter Catcher Bug Vac. This battery-operated gadget enables kids to suck up creepy-crawlies and view them, alive, through a viewing chamber with a magnifying glass.
Even the squeamish can enjoy the insect world with the bug vac – and the bugs are easy to release safely into the wild after your little biologist is done observing them. Plus, what better way to get spiders out of your basement? BUY >>>
The Little Scientist
What better Christmas gift could there be than the ability to make your own acid rain? The My First Lab Scientist Kit will give your kiddo that power, along with the equipment they need to grow bacteria in a petri dish, build their own battery and crush a soda can using the power of air pressure. An instruction manual provides guidance for experiments.
Pro tip: Don't culture the dog's mouth bacteria. You do not want to know. BUY >>>
The Mars Rover
Mission to Mars anyone? Mattel created this 1:64 scale model of Curiosity, the Mars rover which is currently trekking toward the Martian Mount Sharp, investigating sites of geological interest along the way. A space-aged addition to any kid's toy chest, this Mars rover model has its own teeny-tiny drill, camera and laser.
The mission: Find out if the Red Planet could have ever supported microbial life, and for the explorers, start planning your trip there. BUY >>>
Here Comes Science CD
Here's why They Might Be Giants should be every scientist's favorite band: In 1993, the band released a song called "Why Does the Sun Shine?" alternatively titled "The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas." There was just one problem, which is that the sun isn't a gas — it's plasma. And when the band set out to put out a kids' album, "Here Comes Science" in 2009, they knew they had to get it right. The solution? A remake of the original titled "Why Does the Sun Really Shine?" or "The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma."
"Here Comes Science" features a full line-up of catchy science tunes, as well as a DVD with cartoons illustrating the concepts. Want to get your 5-year-old interested in the circulatory system or teach them what a paleontologist does? This is the CD for you. BUY >>>
Glowing Solar System
Space enthusiasts will feel like a part of the universe with this glow-in-the-dark solar system gracing their bedroom ceiling.
This kit is a little out of date, in that it includes Pluto as one of the planets (It's actually a dwarf planet), but we know there are Pluto partisans out there who might want to hang on to the contentious little guy. To complete the space effect, this kit comes with 2-D stick-on glow-in-the-dark stars. BUY >>>
Explore the Sea
It’s never too early to instill a love of nature … and proceeds from the purchase of these cute board books go to the Marine Mammal Center, which rescues sick and injured seals, sea lions and other troubled sea creatures. Babies and toddlers will love the finger puppet the helps introduce them to the amazing animals that frolic in the sea.
The Marine Mammal Center also has adopt-a-seal packages that come with plush toys and storybooks likely to delight older kids. BUY >>>
The Ultimate Wall Coaster
Your kid won't even realize they're learning physics as they build roller coasters for marbles on the walls. The Ultimate Wall Coaster kit contains coaster track, marbles and special add-ons for stairs and upside-down loops. Friction, acceleration and centrifugal force -- it’s all a part of making the marbles fly. They system uses reusable poster putty to stick the marble tracks to walls, allowing kids to build and rebuild again and again. BUY >>>
Edible Chemistry Set
Combine science and food with this chemistry set. Yep, every experiment is edible, from fizzy drinks to foaming jelly.
Kids use non-toxic ingredients to learn about polymers, acids and bases and chemical reactions, making this kit fun while giving mom and dad the peace that comes with knowing that no one is going to have to go to the doctor with a case of Chemistry Set Stomach. BUY >>>