Giving Science for the Holidays: Gift Ideas!

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | December 13, 2010 1:27 pm

This marks the first year that several readers have emailed me inquiring about gift suggestions. Not just one or two of you either… I’ve received a flurry of questions about book recommendations, toys, and gadgets. So after listing a few great things I’ve purchased or received, readers are invited to share their suggestions for fun and/or educational science gifts for the holidays…

Picture 7My niece pretty much always gets marine-themed gifts. Before she was born, I bought her You Can Be A Woman Marine Biologist. It’s not that I’m forcing her into marine science, but more that there is no cooler field on the planet. (Off the planet is another matter). More recently, she got Discovery Toys Kids Animated Marine Lamp.

For older science fans, I often give books. (And no, not my books–that would be weird). My dad recently received Paul Parsons’ The Science of Doctor Who. Books like this are always fun. Jennifer Ouellette’s The Physics of the Buffyverse or Lawrence Krauss’ The Physics of Star Trek are two terrific similar examples.

There are several wonderful new titles from 2010. Vanessa Woods’ Bonobo Handshake, Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Brian Switek’s Written in Stone are three I like very much. My favorite childrens’ books this year were the ZooBorns pair by Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland. Other cool reading ideas include subscriptions to awesome magazines like Discover, National Geographic, and many more.

You also can’t go wrong with fun equipment to use outside. One of my favorite gifts ever was a Meade telescope for my 21st birthday. Similarly gear from REI or Sierra Trading Post will encourage the nature lover in your life to explore the world. And of course, don’t forget donations! Two of my favorites charities are and Lola Ya Bonobo sanctuary.

That’s a start for a holiday science-giving guide… Add your suggestions in comments!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Education

Comments (9)

  1. Bought my mom Ms. Skloot’s book!

  2. Thanks for the shout-out, Sheril. I am glad that you enjoyed Written in Stone, and congratulations on all the great reviews The Science of Kissing has been getting! I can’t wait to read it.

  3. I’m an inorganic chemist. My 3-yo daughter is getting these little beauties for Christmas.

  4. @4 Matt,
    Those are super cute! I might just order them for the little aforementioned marine biologist.

  5. Jackie

    Check out the How to Be a Scientist wall calendar.

  6. Deep Thought

    Everyone knows about the wonderful world of the plushie GIANTmicrobes:

    But for those physical science buffs there’s the Particle Zoo!

  7. @2 Brian Switek,
    I loved Written in Stone and recommend it for anyone fascinated by evolution, science, or simply a great mystery!

  8. TB

    Any suggestions for young high school girls who might be interested in marine biology? Maybe even with a fresh-water focus?


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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