ISB News

27 Gift Ideas for the Scientist in Your Life

geek giftsDo you have a science geek on your holiday shopping list? Whether your scientist is young or old, professional or amateur, or serious or silly, we’ve collected a couple dozen gift ideas that will help you spread some cheer.

Editor’s Note: Many of the gift ideas on this list are available on When making purchases with the online retailer, please use the AmazonSmile program and designate “Institute for Systems Biology” as your nonprofit charity, and Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of sales toward our research. Do you forget to use Amazon Smile? Use Smilematic to automatically use Smile every time you shop on Amazon!

Stocking Stuffers

2 Types of People MugFunny mug

If you have a teacher or scientist with a wry sense of humor who doesn’t mind showing it off while having their morning coffee, this mug is for you.

Blinded by Science Trivia

Billed as “a trivia game about science for actual fans of science,” this game offers a challenge along with having fun. Put on your thinking cap for this “science game for science geeks.”

Schrodinger’s Cat Plush Pillow

We’ll let’s description carry the water on this one: “Living in a state of perpetual uncertainty has never been this easy. Cuddle up with Schrodinger’s cat — dead on one side, alive on the other, and paradoxically adorable on both.”

Bird Feeder

This plastic adapter enables you to reuse 2-liter soda bottles, conduct a small DIY project, and feed the birds. That’s a win-win-win!

Science Temporary Tattoo

Do you like the idea of body art, but don’t like the permanence? Get inked with these temporary tattoos, and show off your passion for science. Temporary tats include DNA, radioactive symbols, serotonin, and more.

Women in ScienceBooks

‘Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World’

This New York Times best seller spotlights the contributions of 50 notable women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The pioneering women highlighted include well-known figures and lesser-known trailblazers alike. “Women in Science” is a great gift for the next generation of female engineers, scientists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, and more.

‘On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen’

First published in 1984, Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking” has been a must-have in kitchens for decades, and is described as “the bible to which food lovers and professional chefs worldwide turn for an understanding of where our foods come from, what they’re made of, and how cooking transforms them into something new and delicious.”

Goodnight Lab‘Goodnight Lab: A Scientific Parody’

Whether you read the iconic children’s book “Goodnight Moon” to your child, or if you remember it as a part of your nighttime routine as a young’n, “Goodnight Lab” is a parody that is sure to delight. “Goodnight laser. Goodnight notebook. Goodnight picture of Einstein with a stern look.”

‘What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions’

What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last? Randall Munroe takes the wit and creativity he showcases in his webcomic and puts it to use in this book of absurd questions.

‘The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists: The Coolest Experiments and Projects for Science Fairs and Family Fun’

We have Dad bods and Dad jokes. Now, we have a Dad book that provides the old man a great way to teach scientific concepts in an informative and entertaining way. We can’t promise Dad won’t use bad puns, but he will be equipped to save the day with awesome experiments.

For the Kitchen

Science Shaped Cookie Cutters

Forget stars, bells, and trees. These creative cookie cutters let bakers make cookies in the shape of beakers, DNA, lab coats, microscopes — even bacteria! Yum!

Chemist spice rackChemist’s Spice Rack

Cooking, baking and grilling is experimental. This spice rack provides the appropriate aesthetic. Whether you’re a real-life scientist or an at-home culinary chemist, this spice rack is a compound that will change the state of your kitchen.

Beaker Mug

This 600 ml (20 ounce) mug can handle hot and cold drinks is durable and looks just like the real thing. Lucky for you, this mug has straight sides, making it easier to drink from versus the fluted sides found in real laboratory beakers (which you shouldn’t be drinking from anyway!). The beaker mug is dishwasher and microwave safe, and a great gift for scientists in your life.

Home Decor

Galileo thermometerGalileo Thermometer

While this thermometer won’t predict thunderbolt and lightning (very, very frightening!), it will tell you the temperature while looking very, very cool. This model is unlike most Galileo thermometers available — it’s 24 inches tall and made of glass. It’s more expensive than the smaller, plastic versions, but it will look great in your home or office.

Science Lab Chemistry Patent Art Poster Prints

Bedrooms. Dens. Offices. These unique posters will class up any space at a modest price. describes them as follows: “Original set of iconic science equipment patents artwork reinterpreted to capture the spirit of innovation and technology, and hand crafted to infuse the classic, vintage feel and personal touch of our award winning artist.” Frames are not included.

Galileo thermometer

Periodic Table of the Elements

Does the periodic table bring back dreadful memories of rote learning? Popchart to the rescue! The company has made a beautiful poster that would look elegant on any wall. Frame this 24-inch by 18-inch print, and you’ll forget all about cramming for your high school chemistry class.


Microscope EarringsMicroscope earrings

These detailed microscope charms are silver plated, and are perfect for biology teachers, researchers, or anyone enthusiastic about science.

Microbe-Themed Necklaces

If you’re shopping for someone who is into science and microbiology, consider a gift they can wear around their neck. This necklace features a photo of agar plate set in the pendant of the necklace, and shows colonies of bacteria. Why just live your passion when you can wear it?Solar Orbit Necklace

Solar Orbit Necklace

Space: The final frontier. If you’re out of this world for our solar system, you’ll love this 21-inch solar orbit necklace that features the planets (including Pluto!), the sun, the moon, an asteroid belt, and a comet. And before you complain about the beads being to scale, the manufacturer already thought of that: “We wanted you to be able to lift your head despite the asteroids in the belt being visible. We think that’s a fair tradeoff.”

For the Kiddos

Little Bits

“Tomorrow’s leaders are today’s kids,” Little Bits says on its website. We couldn’t agree more. Little Bits offers specifically tailored kits for the young scientist in your life (space buffs, budding coders, etc.) Components are magnetic, modular and color-coded to “snap together to turn ideas into inventions.”

Estes Rocket KitsRocket

Houston, no problems here! Model rockets have been around for a few decades, but they never go out of style. Estes Rockets have rockets for all kinds of modelers — beginner to experienced. (“Skill Level 1” rockets require beginner builder skills, “Skill Level 5” rockets are for master builders.) These make great gifts for young DIYers, or to assemble as a joint project. Liftoff!

Spaceflight Simulator

If virtually building rockets is more your style, consider the Spaceflight Simulator app. More than 1 million people have downloaded this game app, which is “about building your own rocket from parts and launching it to explore space!” Screen time needn’t be a concern for this instructional experience! Safe travels!

MEMEL ChemistryL Chemistry Sets

You don’t need a lab to explore the marvels of chemistry. You need MEL Science’s chemistry sets. There are three dozen topics — from alchemy to zinc-carbon battery. Each month, two chemistry sets are delivered to your door. This is a great gift idea that The Royal Society of Chemistry calls “one of the most exciting and ambitious home-chemistry educational projects.”

DIY Maker Kit

You don’t necessarily need to shop for a great gift idea for kids. Grab an empty cardboard box, and look around the house for arts and crafts supplies, such as:

  • various types of tape
  • scissors
  • pipe-cleaners
  • paper towel and toilet paper tubes
  • stickers
  • markers
  • ribbon
  • smaller boxes
  • fun paper

These DIY kits provide countless options and an opportunity for young minds to explore creative ideas.

21 and Over

Periodic Tableware Laboratory Shot Glasses

This set of science-themed shot glasses are “made for serving your ethyl alcohol concoctions with flair and precision.” This glassware is thick (as opposed to a lot of the novelty products on the market), contains two flasks and two beakers, and is safe in the dishwasher. Salut!

Personalized Test Tube Wine Flighttest tube wine flight

If the science lover is more into wine than spirits, consider this custom wine tasting flight. The flight can be personalized on the ends with laser-engraved wine logos of your choice, and include four 2-ounce test tubes.

Gin Making Kit

What makes a memorable martini? Shaking it? Stirring it? No — making your own gin! This kit is described as “more like a mad scientist project in a box than just an ordinary gin kit.” It comes with herbs, flasks, and bottles, and offers numerous combinations of ingredients.

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