11 Science Gifts for Your Favorite Kid or Kid-at-Heart

11 Science Gifts for Your Favorite Kid or Kid-at-Heart

Fans of physics, chemistry, math, and astronomy will love these educational toys and kits.

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A Gskyer telescope, with associated accoutrements.
A Gskyer telescope, with associated accoutrements.
Photo: Amazon

Looking for a wholesome gift for a science-loving kid (or nerdy adult) in your life? We’ve got you covered with educational kits, desktop toys, books, and fun projects. Prices here range from $10 to $227, so there are options for every budget. Enjoy!

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National Geographic Amazing Chemistry Set

National Geographic Amazing Chemistry Set

The chemistry set and some of its contents.
The chemistry set.
Screenshot: Amazon

The gift: National Geographic Amazing Chemistry Set

Why it’s great: This chemistry set includes 45 experiments, offering tons of different ways to play with and learn about our chemical world. Ages 8 and up.

Price: $40

Where to buy:

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Randall Munroe’s ‘What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions’

Randall Munroe’s ‘What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions’

The cover of what if? 2, showing a T. rex attacking a plane in flight.
The cover of Randall Munroe’s sequel, What if? 2.
Image: Penguin Random House

The gift: What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Why it’s great: This book provides a deep analysis of impossible and ridiculous science scenarios (what if you made a lava lamp out of real lava?), complete with Munroe’s iconic illustrations. It’s fun, taken seriously.

Price: $19

Where to buy:

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Snap Circuits SC-300

Snap Circuits SC-300

The Snap Circuits box.
The Snap Circuits box.
Screenshot: Amazon

The gift: SNAP CIRCUITS SC-300

Why it’s great: It’s a not-too-complex introduction to circuitry for kids. If you’re looking for something less involved than an Arduino, this is the gift for you. Ages 8 and up.

Price: $70

Where to buy:

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Crookes Radiometer

Crookes Radiometer

A Crookes radiometer, a glass orb with four paddles inside.
A Crookes radiometer.
Screenshot: Amazon

The gift: Crookes Radiometer

Why it’s great: This is made of glass, so more appropriate for older kids. Radiometers measure flux in electromagnetic radiation; the vanes within the radiometer rotate when exposed to light. The more intense the light is, the faster the vanes rotate. Great for a student who’s starting to get a little more homework and wants something more interesting than a paperweight on their desk. Seriously, I got one of these in 8th grade and still love to watch it while I work.

Price: $27

Where to buy:


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Build-Your-Own Pinhole Camera

Build-Your-Own Pinhole Camera

A paper pinhole camera.
A paper pinhole camera.
Screenshot: Exploratorium

The gift: Paper Pinhole Camera

Why it’s great: If you think your child would like photography, or if you’ve never delved into the fundamentals of the art form, a pinhole camera is a great introduction to how photography works.

Price: $10

Where to buy: Exploratorium Store

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Gskyer Telescope

Gskyer Telescope

A Gskyer telescope, with associated accoutrements.
A Gskyer telescope, with associated accoutrements.
Screenshot: Amazon

The gift: Gskyer Telescope

Why it’s great: Telescopes are always a difficult purchase. Generally, you get what you pay for—which can mean a steep price for quality. But if you want to balance an “entry level” telescope with one that does the job, this could be the telescope for you. It can make out much more than just the Moon—provided, of course, that you have a clear and dark sky available.

Price: $227.99

Where to buy:

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LEGO LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox Robot-Making Kit

LEGO LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox Robot-Making Kit

The LEGO Boost toolbox.
The LEGO Boost toolbox.
Screenshot: Amazon

The gift: LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox (Robot-Making Kit)

Why it’s great: It’s a great starter set for getting your kid into robotics. You do need a tablet to use the associated app for the robot, so the gift could be cost-prohibitive. But if you or your child is already familiar with LEGO products, this goes a step further: Once you build the toy, you can animate it.

Price: $185

Where to buy:

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DIY Music Box

DIY Music Box

The DIY music box set.
The DIY music box set.
Screenshot: Exploratorium

The gift: Make Your Own Music Box

Why it’s great: If you have a basic understanding of sheet music (or if you want to learn!), this kit is for you. Punch holes in strips of sheet music and crank them through the music box to hear your favorite tunes in an old-timey fashion.

Price: $22

Where to buy: Uncommon Goods

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A Tesla Coil Arc Speaker

A Tesla Coil Arc Speaker

The Tesla coil speaker.
The Tesla coil speaker.
Screenshot: Amazon

The gift: Tesla Coil Arc Plasma Loudspeaker

Why it’s great: This device allows you to connect to a Tesla coil via bluetooth and watch it arc with the music. The Tesla coil will interfere with electronics when in operation, so keep your phone clear while it’s going.

Price: $96

Where to buy:

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Newton’s Cradle

Newton’s Cradle

A Newton's cradle.
A Newton’s cradle.
Screenshot: Amazon

The gift: Newton’s Cradle

Why it’s great: It’s a classic science gift, and for good reason. This to-the-point doodad shows off a physics fundamental: the conservation of momentum and energy.

Price: $14

Where to buy:

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National Geographic Science Kit: DIY Siege Weaponry

National Geographic Science Kit: DIY Siege Weaponry

The toy set and its contents—a wooden trebuchet and ballista included.
The set and its contents.
Screenshot: Amazon

The gift: National Geographic Model Battalion: Ballista, Bombard, Catapult

Why it’s great: Let’s put it this way. If someone told you you could have three medieval siege weapons for the price of a new shirt, wouldn’t you skip the shirt? This kit will walk your child through building a ballista (a large, wheeled crossbow), a bombard (an early cannon), and a catapult. Don’t worry—they’re made of wood and rubber bands—but their projectiles can launch up to 15 feet, and there will be some trajectories to work out…

Price: $29.99

Where to buy:

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