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‘Tis the season: The 2015 cool science gifts edition

‘Tis the season: The 2015 cool science gifts edition

A pencil drawing is hooked up to the MaKey MaKey (outside of the photo). The graphite on the page is slightly conductive. The drawing is used to play Pacman on a laptop.Hoping this reaches you in good time for some seasonal gifting (or hinting), here’s the Talk Science to Me 2015 list of suggestions for the scientist (or science lover) in your life.

(How can we not start with) Star Wars

With the new film coming out for Christmas (oh my!), how could we not start with some official Star Wars merchandise? For starters on Christmas morning, unwrap a Death Star waffle maker for a celestial eggs Benedict, then roll with the Chewbacca can cooler for mid-morning beers, and finish off with an Artoo Tea-Too teapot to accompany the cake.

May the Force be with you.

Invent your world with Makey Makey

Okay, this one was around last year, and my son bugged me to pieces about it. This year it is most definitely a contender for the stocking. Makey Makey is ingenious: just right for curious and inventive adults and kids alike. Described on the company’s website as “an invention kit for the 21st century,” Makey Makey turns everyday objects into a connection for your computer.

Want to play the piano using bananas? You can do it with Makey Makey. Draw the controller for Pac-Man on a piece of paper using pencils? Go for it!

With the Makey Makey circuit board, some alligator clips and a USB cable, the connected world is your oyster. This year the basic kit is on sale in addition to the Makey Makey GO kit, which is on pre-order for delivery in December.

Lighten up

How about a small dinosaur full of dinoflagellates lighting up your world?

Well, okay…it’s not a real dinosaur, but the tiny creatures inside its plastic body are alive. They survive by photosynthesis during the day, needing only water in the tank and indirect sunlight in a well-lit room. At night they bioluminesce when shaken gently, emitting a magical blue glow. Dino Pet is available for shipping to a number of countries.

Dino Pet by BioPop from BioPop on Vimeo.

Read all about it!

How about subscribing to a science magazine? Scientific American has gift subscriptions that include a 2016 Hubble Space calendar—so you can save the date over your Death Star waffle.

Adornment’s hard to find unique, good-quality science accessories, but the Vexed Muddler’s shop on Etsy has a beautiful range of ceramic pieces that answer the call. Run by a geeky biologist, the shop is filled with ceramic earrings, pendants and magnets, each showing a slice of science. Here you can buy a pink paramecium or eukaryotic cell pendant, a mass spectrometry ion trap bracelet, some tasteful Trichuris whipworm earrings or a petri dish magnet with bacterial culture. There’s even a F*ck PCR magnet for if science just isn’t going your way!

Old favourites

Christmas would not be Christmas without revisiting old favourites.

Phylo: The trading card game, based around biodiversity, has both new decks and an online shop now. You can still download and print your own decks at home, but keen players can also order online. New decks include:

Caffeine molecule in cross stitch from Craft Geeks Etsy shopCrafty Geeks have a range of awesome stocking stuffers in the Etsy shop this year, bringing back the amazing microbe tree ornaments that put viral back in Christmas, in addition to a hydrophobic barrier lip balm. Or how about acknowledging the importance of a daily cuppa with cool caffeinated cross stitch? Educational as well as useful.


Finally, our favourite ratty charity: the Apopo rats.

Adopting one of these African giant pouched rats helps make parts of the world human-friendly once more. The rats are intelligent, inquisitive and, with their amazing sense of smell, can be trained to hunt out unexploded landmines much faster than a human with a metal detector. Since they are so small, the work is also safer, since they do not detonate the mines they find.

Since we last wrote about the work they do, Apopo has moved into Cambodia to begin mine-clearing with the furry technicians. In the last year, Mozambique, another area where the rats have worked their magic, has been declared mine-free. HeroRats continue demining activities in Angola and Tanzania, in addition to their vital work on TB diagnosis in other areas.

Adopting a rat is simple and straightforward. They make a great gift, and there’s no wrapping or postage required.

Or sponsor a deminer with a one-off gift donation if you don’t want to make that monthly commitment.

Merry Christmas, HeroRats!

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