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25 (Actually Cool) STEM Gifts for Kids and Teens

Yep, it’s that time of the year – holiday season! But when it’s time for gift giving, it can be hard to know what gifts will be the ones that people love. Don’t worry, I got you. As a slightly-nerdy, science-loving teenage girl, I’ve created a Christmas wish list of presents for educational Christmas gifts that kids and teenagers will love, and parents will also be glad for gifts that are helping their kids learn!

Note: I am not affiliated or sponsored by any of the products mentioned! This list was curated based on gifts that I would enjoy as a science student.

1. Magazine Subscriptions (National Geographic, Scientific American, Popular Science, Muse) – $39.00

Alright, this was personally what I asked for in my Christmas wishlist last year! Scientific magazines are a great way to learn about science news while brushing up on those reading skills, so I think that this would be an awesome gift that students who enjoy learning would love. Magazines like National Geographic, Scientific American, and Popular Science are perfect for older students, while for younger, elementary-aged students, National Geographic Kids, Muse, Ranger Rick, and The Week Junior Science + Nature are great options.

2. KiwiCo Monthly Science & STEM Subscription Boxes – $17.50

This was one of my favorite finds in this Christmas wishlist compilation – KiwiCo sends out a subscription box for kids aged 9-14 called the Tinker Box with monthly science and engineering experiments! How cool is that? Some of the experiments that have been included in previous boxes include a hydraulic claw, a walking robot, and a ping-pong ball launcher. This subscription box is a great way for kids to explore chemistry, biophysics, astrophysics, mechanical engineering, and more!

3. Back to the Roots Organic Lavender Windowsill Planter – $29.99

When I was 11, I used to plant snow peas on my windowsill. While I only got six edible peas from the plant, it was a magical experience for me to see a plant grow so quickly and see the fruit of my labor as six beautiful peas. Luckily, Back to the Roots has plenty of kits for growing plants that kids and teenagers would love, including both a Kids Grow Kit Terrarium option as well as many other plants. Of course, my favorite is the Lavender Windowsill Planter, because, hey, this is Lavender + Lab Coats!

4. Protozoa Culture Hatchery Kit – $7.30

Yup, you can study tiny microorganisms from your home! If you don’t know what protozoa are, they’re a special type of organism that are single-celled and eukaryotic, which means that they have membrane-bound organelles like human cells do. These organisms include amoeba, algae, paramecium, and euglena, so this kit allows you to easily study those organisms by adding water to the culture!

5. DoughLab Magic Microbes Bake & Learn Bread-Making Kit – $41.31

We don’t often think about it, but baking bread really is a science. The perfect combination of yeast, flour, water, and salt is all that’s needed to make delicious bread, and even more spectacularly, the fluffiness of bread comes from the carbon dioxide production of a living organism! This bread-making kit gives kids the opportunity to learn about the science of bread by providing five science experiments about yeast and gluten, and culminates in a delicious loaf of bread.

6. Science Academy Soap Lab – $25.95

One of my hobbies is soap collecting, and in fact, my bathroom drawer is filled with soap I’ve collected from shops and hotels. However, I’ve always really wanted to make soap. This soap-making kit by Science Academy allows you to do just that, since it provides supplies and instructions for blending pigments and scents to create a unique bar of soap. It’s also a great way to learn about the science of soap, such as about the difference between hydrophobic and hydrophilic molecules, as well as the law of volume.

7. Thames & Kosmos Genetics & DNA Experiment Kit – $51.75

Genetics and DNA is such a fascinating topic, and this kit is the perfect way to explore how genetic inheritance works through a set of six experiments. The activities include isolating DNA from tomatoes, building a model of DNA, using DNA evidence to solve crime, genetically engineering bacteria, and more!

8. Bioluminescent Bacterium Kit – $28.70 

Imagine if you could glow in the dark. That’d be so cool, right? While you probably have too many cells to actually genetically engineer yourself to glow in the dark (unless you’re a single-celled organism reading this, then in that case, hello!), some bacteria naturally grow in the dark! In this kit, you’ll be able to grow a type of marine bacteria that can bioluminesce called Vibrio fischeri on an agar plate to see them grow in the dark. Here’s a fun tip – you can draw a design when inoculating the agar plate, which can result in Petri dish art when your bacteria grows!

9. Seattle Seed Co. DIY Terrarium Grow Kit – $35.00

In fourth grade, my class made living terrariums out of a 2 liter soda bottle, and it was so cool to see the plants and insects interact within the terrarium. Well, with this DIY terrarium kit, you can make your own gorgeous terrarium to decorate your house and grow a plant! The kit contains reindeer moss, rocks, wondersoil wafer, orchid bark, and a glass jar for you to create your own peaceful ecosystem that can support an air or tropical plant.

10. Green Science Potato Clock – $14.99

You might have seen science fair projects about how potatoes are able to conduct electricity, and it’s true – it can even power an alarm clock! With this potato clock kit, it has a digital clock that needs to be attached to a potato for electricity. The way this works is that potatoes help electrons move between metals by creating a salt-bridge, and many other fruits and vegetables have this power as well. You can try it using this kit!

11. Crime Scene Science Kit – $71.95

We all love true crime shows, but you can be your own amateur forensic scientist with this crime scene kit! In this kit, you’ll be able to answer the question of who stole the diamonds by using actual techniques by forensic scientists, such as fingerprint fuming, chromatography ink tests, fiber analysis, blood tests, and more! I studied forensic science for my competitive event in ninth grade, and it would’ve been so cool to have a kit like this to practice my skills.

12. Symbolically Adopt An Animal From World Wildlife Fund – $60.00

I also have this on my wishlist! As you know, I love animals, and wildlife conservation is incredibly important to me, so I wanted to help support the World Wildlife Fund by symbolically adopting an arctic fox to help support their conservation. This symbolic adoption includes an animal plush, an adoption certificate, a photo, a species card, and a gift card. Also, I’m helping raise money for the World Wildlife Fund by selling hand-sewn koala magnets, so if you would like to support animal conservation, you can buy this gift or visit my shop here!

13. National Geographic Solar Powered Moon Buggy – $29.99

Got outer space aspirations? You can build your own solar-powered moon buggy from laser-cut wood pieces and solar panels to see how the solar energy gets converted to move the buggy! This is such a cool gift, particularly for those who are interested in engineering and like building things. The fact that it’s solar-powered makes it even more interesting!

14. AmScope LED Monocular Student Microscope – $109.99

A microscope is a must-have for all microbiologists, and why not gift one for a biology lover with this student microscope? There are so many things that can be observed under a microscope, including insects, microorganisms, algae, fungi, and anything else you can imagine. Trust me, seeing an ant under the microscope is a very different experience than with the naked eye. This microscope can magnify the image to 40 to 1,000 times the original size, so you’ll be able to view eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells as well as small insects under the microscope.

15. Introductory Dissection Kit – $23.95

All right, this one’s admittedly a strange one, but I seriously thought that this was so cool that I had to include it on the list! I personally love when we get to do dissections in class, since it’s so cool to actually be able to see the organs and parts of an animal in real life. This kit allows you to dissect a frog, an earthworm, and a grasshopper using their dissecting tools, and it also includes a photographic guide to help you with the dissection.

16. National Geographic Break Open Geodes Science Kit – $9.99

I think the best part of a present is the surprise, and with this present, you get two surprises! In this kit, you’ll get two geodes that you can smash open to observe the crystals inside. Geodes are gorgeous, so this would also make a perfect decoration for the home.

17. Bee-Bot Programmable Robot – $89.99

I first came across the Bee-Bot robot for a coding event at school, and I thought it was so much fun, so I decided I had to include it on this list! It’s the perfect introductory robot for kids who are just getting into coding, since you’ll be able to code the Bee-Bot to navigate a maze using the directional commands with up to 200 commands. For more advanced coding students, there are plenty of programmable robots that can do even more advanced tasks, so programmable robots are a great gift for coding students of any skill level!

18. Science Museum Membership (American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Museum of Science) – Varies

When I was little, my parents really valued museums, so they often took me to museums. And that was so awesome of them, because I LOVE museums. I can spend hours just wandering around browsing all of the exhibits. This is why I think one of the best presents are museum memberships. Not only will you be able to explore the museum, you’ll also be supporting the museums, many of which participate in outreach or research! There are also museum package options, such as some that allow you to visit any museum within a 50 mile radius.

19. Kids Nature Backpack Kit – $136.95

Lots of parents nowadays complain that kids don’t spend enough time outdoors, but this nature kit can help kids explore the great outdoors with tools to observe birds, plants, and insects! The kit includes a nature journal, magnifying glass, a field guide, binoculars, all in a backpack to bring while hiking. With this kit, kids you might just like exploring the outdoors again!

20. Zoo Membership (San Diego Zoo, Bronx Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden) – Varies

Yep, my parents also took me to zoos. And I loved it – I think we went every week when I was little! This year, for my birthday, I asked for a membership to our local zoo, and it’s so much fun to visit. Zoos can be a great experience, although it’s important to make sure to support zoos that have good animal welfare and conservation rather than zoos that just want to keep animals in cages.

21. Mini Pond Ecosystems Kit – $64.65

If you live in the city, ponds or ecosystems may not be something that’s just in your backyard. Luckily, this kit allows you to build your own pond ecosystem right at home! Even better is that you’ll be able to study the pond traffic and the feeding patterns of the organisms, which include protists and algae included in the kit. However, since it includes microorganisms, having a microscope will be important to observing the organisms.

22. Bird Feeder with Camera – $239.94

Over quarantine, I discovered an incredibly fun hobby – bird watching! Even if you think you see birds all day, watching birds eating at a bird feeder is just adorable and fascinating. This bird feeder features a camera, so you’ll be able to watch the birds up close, instead of arguing over the binoculars like I did with my family!

23. 3Doodler Create+ 3D Printing Pen – $79.99

This is a fun innovation in 3D printing – instead of having an entire machine, you can draw your own unique designs with this 3D printing pen! I first tried out this pen when there was a technology demonstration at my local library, and I thought it was amazing how I was able to have something I drew turn into an actual 3D structure!

24. ToyBox Instant 3D Printer – $329.00

If you think 3D printers are large and complicated, this 3D printer by ToyBox is super easy to use and can turn a toy design into reality! With this machine, you’ll just need to upload the toy design onto the app to get it printed with one click. This printer also includes a roll of coconut “printer food,” so you can start printing right away with this gift!

25. 23andMe Ancestry + Traits DNA Kit – $99.00

With the rise in DNA technology, you can learn about your heritage with the 23andMe Ancestry + Traits kit! The DNA test gives detailed information about ancestry percentages, unique traits you might have, and people who you may be related to. It’s definitely interesting to learn all this information, and this is all thanks to the advent in DNA technology!

Finally, a note on pets. While it may seem like gifting a fish or a hamster would be a great way to teach kids responsibility or learn about biology, it’s not fair to the pet when the kid loses interest and the pet becomes neglected. Thousands of pets end up uncared for or put up for adoption after kids receive them as a Christmas present, so make sure that the decision to get a pet is well thought out and isn’t a surprise!

Posted in Lifestyle

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