Maybe you have an aspiring Einstein on your holiday gift list. Or perhaps you’re just looking to add a little something different to the collection of Star Wars toys, video games and assorted digital devices under the tree.
Either way, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientists have put together a gift list for the scientifically inclined child. “Kids are naturally curious,” said OMRF researcher Tim Griffin, Ph.D. “The best toys support creativity and thinking.”
- It’s electric!
Snap Circuits Electronic Discovery kits (Ages 8 and up; $34.99 and up)
OMRF’s Courtney Sansam, Ph.D., recommends these kits for engineers-in-training. Each set contains easy and fun electronic building blocks that allow children to channel their inner inventors. “Our son loved being able to connect pieces together to see what would happen,” said Sansam. “He made a doorbell and a light switch, and we’ve continued to add more kits to his collection.”
- A whole new (digital) world
Osmo Gaming System for iPad (Ages 5 to 13; $79.99)
For computer-savvy youngsters, Sansam’s husband, OMRF scientist Chris Sansam, Ph.D., suggests this educational game system for iPad. Using a mix of digital technology and real-life objects like puzzle pieces or your child’s favorite toys, Osmo allows kids to create virtual worlds and games that they can control. Time magazine chose this gaming system as one of its best inventions of 2014.
- You go, girl
GoldieBlox building kits (Ages 3 and up; assorted kits $10.99 and up)
Created with the mission of encouraging girls to develop an interest in engineering, these story-themed construction sets combine action figures with parts and instructions for building everything from a dunk tank to a rocket ride. Husband-and-wife scientists Tim Griffin, Ph.D., and Courtney Griffin, Ph.D. recommend GoldieBlox to enhance any girl’s interest in learning through experience. “Science is all about discovery and possessing the tools to learn something new,” said Tim Griffin.
- Cracking the genetic code
Thames & Kosmos Biology Genetics and DNA kit (Ages 10 and up; $36.95)
This gift provides kids with a do-it-themselves introduction to genetics. With it, they can isolate DNA from fruits and vegetables, learn how traits are passed from parents to children, and even discover how to analyze DNA to solve crimes. “Hands-on science activities foster excitement about experimentation and discovery of how the world works,” said OMRF researcher Susan Kovats, Ph.D.