Science-based birthday gifts for kids

  • #1
StatGuy2000
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Hi everyone. I have two young nephews (one turning 6 in September, and another turning 4 in August), and I've been thinking of what gifts to get for them for their birthdays -- especially something that could perhaps spark in them an interest in science or at least get them to be curious about science or nature, that would be age-appropriate.

I appreciate any suggestions that any of you can provide.
 
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  • #3
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Hi everyone. I have two young nephews (one turning 6 in September, and another turning 4 in August), and I've been thinking of what gifts to get for them for their birthdays -- especially something that could perhaps spark in them an interest in science or at least get them to be curious about science or nature, that would be age-appropriate.

I appreciate any suggestions that any of you can provide.
A small chemistry set where they can mix acids and bases and see the spectacular reaction. That always does the trick.
 
  • #4
ZapperZ
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If you do a search on "science kits" on Amazon, you'll find a bunch of stuff, and related stuff.

Zz.
 
  • #5
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Yes, science kits are sold a lot out there on Amazon, ebay, Alibaba etc. I think your nephews are still too young to play with big toys that may hurt them or with small ones that they may swallow without their parents'notice.
 
  • #6
ProfuselyQuarky
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A science kit would do the trick. In my opinion, though, there's nothing like odd dice or shapes with interesting properties. My neighbor got so thrilled with these "solids of constant width". They look like rounded pyramids, but they roll and behave like a sphere. Of course, my neighbor is also in his forties, so you nephews might not appreciate them as he did :redface:.

Does it have to be a "thing"? Couldn't you take them to the zoo or aquarium? Kayaking out in relatively shallow water is great fun especially if you've got a pair of binoculars and a book to help you identify and inform you about everything that you find. That way, you get to put your hands out in the water and reach for rocks and shells, touch plants, etc. Then, stop at the edge of the water and let them explore with you telling about different things they see. And bring a picnic, of course! If you plan the day right, even a four-year-old would have a great time and learn a lot :smile:.
 
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  • #7
johnnyrev
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I first got interested in electronics with a little kit that let me build a radio with springs that clipped wires together. They may have been Fahnestock clips. You can get simple ones that make little lamps, run motors and fans, etc, maybe even solar stuff today.
 
  • #8
StatGuy2000
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Does it have to be a "thing"? Couldn't you take them to the zoo or aquarium? Kayaking out in relatively shallow water is great fun especially if you've got a pair of binoculars and a book to help you identify and inform you about everything that you find. That way, you get to put your hands out in the water and reach for rocks and shells, touch plants, etc. Then, stop at the edge of the water and let them explore with you telling about different things they see. And bring a picnic, of course! If you plan the day right, even a four-year-old would have a great time and learn a lot :smile:.
Unfortunately, my sister and her family live very far from me, in another province in Canada, so it's not often that I'm able to visit them, so taking them to the zoo or aquarium isn't really feasible (when they come and visit me sometime next year, I do plan on taking my nephews to the zoo in my city -- there is no zoo nearby where they live).
 
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How about a boxed set of Mythbusters shows?
 
  • #11
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For a tot and six year old?
They're the same mental age as the hosts of mythbusters.
 
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  • #12
StatGuy2000
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Thank you all for the various suggestions!
 
  • #13
dlgoff
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A small chemistry set where they can mix acids and bases and see the spectacular reaction. That always does the trick.
I bought one of my oldest daughter, now in her 30s, when she was a kid. Compared to what I had, now in my 60s, they sure don't make um like they use to. You'd be lucky to get anything to fizz now days. Just sayin'.
 
  • #14
jim hardy
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especially something that could perhaps spark in them an interest in science or at least get them to be curious about science or nature, that would be age-appropriate.
Six ? Four ?
They haven't a lot of dexterity yet

i remember at that age the fascination of a gyroscope
and a kaleidoscope

and a WW2 tank periscope Uncle Bud brought home from the army, i spent hours walking around looking at the ceiling through it
we put the prism from another one in the morning sun and made rainbows, i still recall marveling at those intense colors 60+ years ago
I played with a Crooke's Radiometer for hours, put mirrors behind it to direct more sun and see how fast it would go...

I gave my own kids small hand tools and things to take apart . They'll remove every screw from an old VCR. It helps them develop that manual dexterity and playing with the gears is good for their little developing brains.
If you put the fasteners in a medicine bottle you'll have a supply of replacements for their regular toys ....
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-Precision-Screwdriver-Set-7-Piece-67123H/204314904
http://www.homedepot.com/p/TEKTON-3...er-Nut-Driver-Bit-Set-14-Piece-2938/205848067
and you'll want one of these for your own toolbox, too
http://www.homedepot.com/p/DEWALT-1-in-Torx-Security-Drill-Bit-Tip-Set-7-Piece-DWA1TS-7/204785786 (a must-have these days)
some pliers and a teeny Crescent wrench and they're all set.

Gave 8 yr old grand-daughter all the above tools in a small pink box last Christmas. She asks to "apart it take" things. Just loves the bells from an old dial telephone...


Try to remember yourself at that age. You'll think of something.
Get yourself a bicycle tube patch kit for when you visit... they love fixing things with an adult.


old jim
 
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  • #15
johnnyrev
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Six ? Four ?
They haven't a lot of dexterity yet

i remember at that age the fascination of a gyroscope
and a kaleidoscope

and a WW2 tank periscope Uncle Bud brought home from the army, i spent hours walking around looking at the ceiling through it
we put the prism from another one in the morning sun and made rainbows, i still recall marveling at those intense colors 60+ years ago
I played with a Crooke's Radiometer for hours, put mirrors behind it to direct more sun and see how fast it would go...

I gave my own kids small hand tools and things to take apart . They'll remove every screw from an old VCR. It helps them develop that manual dexterity and playing with the gears is good for their little developing brains.
If you put the fasteners in a medicine bottle you'll have a supply of replacements for their regular toys ....
and you'll want one of these for your own toolbox, too
some pliers and a teeny Crescent wrench and they're all set.

Gave 8 yr old grand-daughter all the above tools in a small pink box last Christmas. She asks to "apart it take" things. Just loves the bells from an old dial telephone...


Try to remember yourself at that age. You'll think of something.
Get yourself a bicycle tube patch kit for when you visit... they love fixing things with an adult.


old jim
Haha, yeah, I should have thought of my own kids. I made a camera obscura once with foil over one of their bedroom windows, and had them run around outside in turns while they watched the upside down images on the opposite wall. They laughed and laughed, and learned a lot about optics.

It's too bad you can't be there.

EDIT: I also made them periscopes with vanity mirrors. Maybe work up a cardboard cutout with a couple of unbreakable mirrors to easily slide in? Anything maker to show them how closely real life is to science. Also those heat engine drinking birds were fascinating, but must be kept out of reach unfortunately.
 
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