The Perfect Gift for Budding Scientists – Do It Yourself or All in One Science Kits

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

Do you have a pint-sized scientist in your life? Do they want to set up a mad scientist laboratory in your kitchen?

We meet so many parents, grandparents and other influential adults who know a child who is obsessed with science. These supportive adults are constantly looking for new ways to inspire their budding scientist, even if they themselves, are either scientists themselves or completely clueless in the world of science.

One question we are asked a lot is – what do I give the kid who loves science to keep that love alive?

Here are a few suggestions to think outside the box and away from plastic toys and video games.

We sell several different types of all-in-one science kits for kids of all ages, interests and price ranges. Here are the kits, as a mom, I recommend as the best science gifts.

1. Splash of Color Kit  $7.99

Perfect for ages 2 and up. No science experience needed! How fast can you mix 24 different colors using only red, yellow and blue water? Combine art and science as students experiment by adding droplets of primary colors to the 24 tiny mixing cups and create an amazing splash of rainbow colors! Discover how to mix a rainbow of colors, and learn how scientists keep track of portions when they experiment with different colors and materials. Once the mixing is done, don’t throw your masterpiece down the drain! Pull out a bag of Water Jelly Crystals and drop a pebble-size crystal into each of the compartments. In just a few minutes, you will end up with 24 jiggly, jelly-like crystals in all the colors you made! This kit will need adult supervision – it contains tiny pieces. Older kids will also have a ton of fun mixing colors and making jelly crystals.

2. Six Test Tubes in a Rack $19.99

Perfect for new or inexperienced scientists ages 4 to 12 (and beyond). Seasoned scientists will also enjoy the activities. Each unbreakable test tube in this kit holds materials for one experiment that can be done over and over.  Experiment with a growing alligator, ooey gooey jelly crystals, bubbling potions, magic sand that stays dry under water, color-changing beads, polymer plants, a test tube rainbow and erupting snow! Each test tube is a stand alone experiment with easy to understand instructions and simple science explanations. This kit does contain small pieces.

3. Big Bag of Science $39.99

Perfect for seasoned scientists ages 5 and up. Also good for scientists that like a lot of different activities. If you’ve ever wanted to make your own laboratory, look no further than this bag of science secrets.  This kit contains over 60 different experiments in a reusable bag.  Blast off with a soda explosion from a Geyser Tube‚ learn about the science of polymers including giant spheres, growing crystals, and Insta-Snow, learn about acids and bases, or even make your own slime… over 70 activities in all!  The Big Bag of Science uses materials covering multiple fields of science to help develop specific skills.  You’ll use physical science, chemistry, life science, and biology to learn about observation techniques, measurements, experimentation, and classifcation.

4. Chemistry Kit $62.99
Perfect for seasoned scientists ages 10 and up with adult supervision. (This kit contains chemicals.) The CHEM C1000 may just be the best way for young scientists to dive into the captivating world of science and chemistry. In this fascinating kit, Professor Probenius will guide you through 125 awe-inspiring experiments. Learn how to build a mini fire extinguisher, make water flow uphill, float a soap-powered boat and entertain your friends and family with amazing chemistry “magic” tricks. Discover how to identify the elements in different chemical substances with brilliant flame tests, and then use chemical reactions to make an American flag mysteriously appear.
5. Do It Yourself Kit  $Unlimited
The best part about this kit? You set the spend, you choose the science supplies and experiments and you tailor make it for the scientist in your life. Many items can be found in stores or online or at SteveSpanglerScience.com.
Here are some ideas to include in your science kit:
Check out all of the amazing science kits at Steve Spangler Science. You are sure to find the perfect gift for the mad scientist in your life. Don’t forget Test Tube stocking stuffers and for more ideas, visit our Top 12 Smart Toys gift list.

 

Send a Secret Santa Note or Write a Secret Message to Santa

Does your child write letters to Santa? Or are you a Secret Santa that wants to leave clues or confuse your gift recipient? Here are a few different ways to send a secret message to Santa, an elf or anyone. Just keep in mind you will probably need to help decode your message.

Invisible Ink Message
Materials:

  • Invisible pen (One you can see, but it has invisible ink)
  • Black light
  • White paper

Write a note on a white piece of paper. Just keep track of where you are writing. It may be best to turn off the lights, turn on the black light and write out your message. The secret lies in the fluorescent material in the ink. This material is invisible under normal light conditions but lights up under ultraviolet light. Don’t stop at secret messages, draw pictures, make signs or create posters – anything you draw will show up under the black light.  Invisible marker ink can be removed with soap and water.

Teflon Tape Secret Message

We love polymers at Steve Spangler Science, but we aren’t the only ones. Did you know that plumbers use special polymers almost every day? It’s true! A key polymer that plumbers practically can’t live without is commonly known as Teflon. It may sound familiar, but when Teflon is used as tape, it has some pretty incredible properties that may surprise you. This includes making some pretty awesome secret messages.

Materials:

  • Sharpie Pens
  • Teflon Tape
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Adult Supervision
1. Cut a piece of Teflon tape.
2. Put tape on a piece of paper so the marker won’t bleed through.
3. Write your message on the tape.
4. Remove the tape from the paper and pull on it in different directions to distort the tape.
5. Pull the tape from opposite ends to reveal the message.

FriXion Pens
Materials:

  •  Friction pen (found where office supplies are sold)
  • Paper
  • Candle or heat source
  • Freezer
Friction pens write like regular pens, until you want to erase them. The thermo-sensitive ink magically disappears from friction heat caused from the eraser. You can also put the paper by a heat source like a candle or light bulb. Just don’t set the paper on fire. Adult supervision is suggested if you use the heat source direction. The ink disappears, but is the message really gone? Place the paper in the freezer. The message reappears!

Lemon Juice Ink
Materials:
  • Lemon juice
  • White paper
  • Paint brush or Q-Tip
Pour non-diluted lemon juice into a cup or bowl. Dip paint brush into the juice and paint message on your paper. Wait for the paper to dry. The message doesn’t need to be soaked to show up. To reveal your secret message – place the paper near a heat source, like a candle or light bulb. You can also place the paper in-between a few sheets of newspaper and have an adult iron the paper. The heat source will heat the lemon juice on the paper. The sugar in the juice will start to burn the paper just a little and turn into a brown carbon substance. Try some other juices and liquids to see what else will work.

Reappearing White Crayon
Materials:
  • White crayon or white candle
  • Paint
  • Paint brush or Q-Tip
  • Water
  • White paper
Write your secret message with the white crayon or candle on the paper. To reveal, mix a little water with poster paint. Paint over the paper and the message appears!

Biocarb Secret Message
Materials:
  • 2 Tbsp of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 2 Tbsp of water
  • Undiluted grape juice concentrate
  • Paint brush or Q-Tip
  • White paper
Mix the water and baking soda to make the ink. Dip the paint brush into the ink and paint your message. Wait for the paper to dry. To reveal the message, paint over the paper with the grape juice.

 


Make a Snowman Snow Globe

By Rebecca English from Here Come the Girls

This is a fun activity for older children to make to give as a gift or for decoration in their own homes. Although it looks expensive and time consuming, it’s actually really simple, quick and fairly cheap. The best part is you can decorate your snow globe to match your home and taste.

You Need:

  • Strong waterproof glue – a glue gun works best
  • Mason jar
  • Christmas decoration
  • Drop of glycerin
  • Glitter

What To Do:

First, choose your ornament. Animals look good, as do Christmas trees or Santa. We chose a snowman as they look so lovely in the snow.

Then stick your decoration onto the lid of your mason jar with glue. If you are doing this with younger children then you can use a plastic jar, which works just as well, although they sometimes need sealing with glue. Leave to dry overnight or follow the instructions on the glue.

Fill the jar halfway with water and add the glitter. You don’t need to use very much for it to look effective. Add a couple of drops of glycerin help the snow to swirl around realistically. Don’t use too much as it will make the glitter clump together. Fill to the top with water.

Carefully screw on the lid. Then give it a really good shake to make sure the glitter spreads.

These look brilliant when you have a few jars of different sizes arranged on your mantlepiece. Just remember to keep them out of the way of younger children because of the glass. (They even look great with a little Insta-Snow sprinkled around the base.)

Rebecca is a teacher turned stay-at-home Mom to three girls (a five year old and two year old twins). She lives in England and blogs at Here Come the Girls which is full of crafts, cooking and fun family activities.

Follow her adventures with her girls on Twitter or Facebook.

Christmas Tree Safety

There’s nothing that says “Christmas” more than a live Christmas tree with all the tinsel and trimmings in your living room. There’s also nothing that says “fire danger” more than a dried out tree that can easily catch a spark from a nearby candle.

The needles and branches on a Christmas tree give the tree a lot of surface area. Try to catch a 2×4 on fire and it’s not as easy as it sounds. Try to catch a pine needle or several pine needles on fire and they immediately ignite. Each needle has a lot of surface area to catch fire and burn. Each needle also allows for a lot of oxygen in nooks and crannies to help ignite and feed a fire.

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When Actor Rainn Wilson Asked Steve Spangler About the Science of Love, Things Got a Little Awkward

Actor Rainn Wilson of SoulPancake – a website where life’s big questions are debated, mixed and turned to batter – recently made a visit to the Spangler Labs. He sat down with Steve Spangler and asked about the science of love.

When Steve didn’t quite have the answer, he vamped a little and tried to answer the question the best he could…

Did you wonder why Steve and Rainn never appear together in the same shot? They each shot their part in different studios – Steve in Englewood, Colorado and Rainn in Los Angeles. Our two teams met last February at a YouTube workshop. Both The Spangler Effect and SoulPancake are part of YouTube EDU and one of the 100 original channels on YouTube.

YouTube encouraged channels to collaborate, so the masterminds behind SoulPancake and The Spangler Effect put their heads together and came up with a two-sided video that showed off each channels’ personality and style. The result was a fun interview-style parody that asked the question, “What’s the science of love?” The video is beautifully edited by our own Executive Video Producer, Bradley Mayhew.

If you enjoyed our little collaboration, please subscribe to both The Spangler Effect and SoulPancake on YouTube.

Here are a few behind the scenes photos from the shoot on our end…

 

For more information on the experiments Steve used or to purchase the kits, please visit the pages below.

Bouncing Bubbles
Are you a true bubble-ologist? Have you ever bounced a bubble? Can you squeeze a bubble? Are you a true bubble trickster? With this kit you will be able to do all of this and more! The amazing bubble concentrate makes 4 Liters (1 gallon) worth of incredible bubble solution. You will also receive some of the best bubble blowers on the market and gloves so you can actually touch and play with a bubble – AMAZING! So go ahead, mix up a batch and discover the true beauty of a bubble! Recommended for children ages 8 and up.

 

Energy Stick
The Energy Stick is the newest tool in experimenting with open and closed circuits. Completely safe to touch and handle, the Energy Stick features electrodes on each end of its 7.5″ long tube. When these electrodes are touched simultaneously, long-lasting LED lights inside the tube flash and the tube makes a noise. Release one or both of the electrodes and the flashing lights and noise stop. Do it over and over again… it works every time!

 

 

Geyser Tube
The Geyser Tube™ is a loading tube for the now famous Diet Coke geyser powered by MENTOS®. If you’ve ever tried doing the experiment, you know how difficult it can be to drop the MENTOS® into the bottle before the reaction takes off… and you’re soaking wet. The Geyser Tube will give you a perfect launch every time with time to stand back.

Attach the Geyser Tube to any bottle of soda (but diet soda works best because it’s not sticky – no sugar!)

Secure the trigger pin in place. Load the MENTOS® into the tube, lock the special pressurizing nozzle in place and pull the pin.

 

 

 

Space Phone
If you thought a string connecting two soup cans was a major form of telecommunication (or at least better than Cingular), Space Phones are guaranteed to knock your socks off. The two cones amplify sounds and vibrations when the spring is stretched, making wild and wacky sounds. Includes instructions and a study guide on the principles of sound. Recommended for children ages 8 and up.