Is it just me, or are the biggest geeks in your life the hardest to shop for? It can’t just be me (right?). With a family and a circle of friends interested in all things nerdy – but different kinds of nerdy – I found myself with a real challenge this holiday season.
That’s why I rounded up a list of the products that’d impress the real-life Sheldons, Mr. Spocks and Sherlock Holmes types, the scientific know-it-alls and the nerdiest of the nerds. You may not know what these products are, but your loved ones will.
I picked items to cover the different types of grownup science and math geeks out there and ended up with something for all of them and a runner-up (because there is way too much to choose from). I ended up with a list of nerdy, science-oriented, niche products that you really would never find on the shelves of Target or Walmart. You won’t find any children’s toys here, just advanced nerd
It was no easy task, so let’s get to the list:
This beautiful crystal captures the mathematical function of atomic orbitals and illustrates it in a way that’s perfect for display. It showcases different potential electron clouds surrounding their atomic nuclei. All of the planes, cones and spheres represent the locus of zero probability, where no electron would ever be. Ultimately, this laser-etched crystal holds quantum mechanics inside.
Now if you’re like me, this kind of makes sense, but if you have a mind for quantum mechanics, then this makes perfect sense. It’s the second group that would love this product. I highly recommend this for those who work in this realm, as it makes an excellent desktop display (it looks even better on an LED base like this one: Lighted Base for Artisan Glass #3151660).
For fans of string theory, you’ll probably recognize the etching within this crystal as a Calabi-Yau space attempting to illustrate all of the compacted dimensions. For those of us who don’t recognize Calabi-Yau space from string theory, this geometric manifold takes on the 10 dimensions thought to exist and shows how they’re likely compacted on themselves into 6 dimensions. This forms multiple dimensions, and a Calabi-Yau Manifold!
This crystal cube digs into string theory and theoretical physics, illustrating a difficult to draw concept essential to the theory. Whether you have a professor in your life or a family member who reads every Neil deGrasse Tyson book they can get their hands on, this Calabi-Yau Manifold Crystal will appeal to their theoretical physicist sensibilities. My favorite part, I don’t have to understand string theory to give it to my sister who definitely does understand.
It’s got Pi in the name, what’s not to love? Don’t worry, this medallion digs much more into Pi than that. This is the physical representation of Pi. From displaying the first 109 digits of Pi to having a thickness equal to the radius divided by PI, you can see how much care and attention to detail was put into the design. That isn’t all, though. If you spin this executive desk toy, it will roll along its edge, losing energy to friction, which will cause the spinning surface to decrease along with the spin frequency. The rolling will increase as the spinning decreases. This is a video you don’t want to miss.
Physics principles and design meet perfectly here to create this physical embodiment of Pi. A lot of thought clearly went into this high-quality design, which makes it hard not to appreciate even if math is your arch enemy. If you do geek out over math, then you probably love this. Perfect for your desk, it’s a great way to honor this important mathematical constant.
Don’t let the word toy fool you; that doesn’t begin to cover it. This tool may be fun to use, but it’s for serious math enthusiasts and is a great way to learn or practice a variety of mathematic concepts. Work with trigonometry, geometry and experimental design using the Aim, Measure, Discover formula. Even map the night sky or turn the Trigmate into a catapult.
Perfect for the classroom, lecture hall or office, this is a nerdy prize for any mathematician. This is the exact item a math professor would purchase for exciting, in-class demonstrations but would end up playing with in their office way more. Whether you’re helping your children learn or enjoying in nerdy delight, this is one you aren’t going to want to skip on.
The classic jumbling tower game has gotten a chemistry-themed upgrade. This high-quality game integrates 54 elements from the periodic table in 3 rule variations (more if you get creative). Whether you’re already a master of the periodic table or you’re helping young minds learn, this game brings the chemical elements to life.
This is a great game for chemistry geeks to use to get their families involved in the fun of the periodic table. It’s the only way I can get my family to do anything with the periodic table, but at least it gives me a way to show off my chemistry knowledge. It’s the most fun for geeks who can truly compete head-to-head with their knowledge, but it’s a blast in the classroom as a learning tool.
However, you look at it and however you play, it’s a win.
As you may have guessed, I really like the periodic table. The carefulness of the organization and the amount of information it contains in an easy to digest format, what’s not to love? This set of magnets has all the fun of the periodic table created in a way that’s easy to manipulate and work with. Turn the chemical abbreviations into words or transform recipes and shopping lists into their chemical formulas.
Whether manipulating the periodic elements is one of your simple pleasures in life or you’re looking for a way to get your young ones engaged in chemistry early, these magnets are a fun – and nerdy – way to communicate.
I have these on my refrigerator. My roommate and I work different shifts so we rarely see each other; this is how we communicate when we’re out of something. We have little number magnets to make the formulas accurate. If you were wondering, the formula for sparkling water is H2CO3.
This is no Newton’s Cradle; this is honestly cooler and nerdier. This executive desk toy simulates phases, beats and frequencies, showcasing wave pattern motion. It demonstrates how a mass accelerates and decelerates in response to gravitational forces. And with the included initiator stick, it’s easy to get the mesmerizing demonstration started.
Everyone’s seen a Newton’s Cradle but not everyone’s seen a Pendulum Wave. This really is for the physics enthusiasts as this looks at the principles central to the science. It can make a great tool for learning, or it’s an excellent desktop model to keep your love of physics within an arm’s reach that’s more unique to come by than Newton’s Cradle.
This may be the best use of a Mobius loop that I’ve ever seen. While it may seem simple – just a base connecting to a Mobius loop handle – it’s incredibly effective at what it does. Place a filled cup on the base and swing the device around: the liquid will not spill. Spin it around however you dare, and it still won’t spill, fall or slosh. It’s a fun way to play with physics, as you get a hands-on look at fundamental physics concepts.
Imagine this as an in-class demonstration of centrifugal force? Coolest teacher instantly. Seeing the Spill Not in action is like witnessing a magic trick, but it’s something else when you perfectly understand the principles that make it work. Whether you’re explaining concepts to a friend or experimenting with the science on your own, this is one fun physics demonstration.
While other microscopes work with your phone, this is a totally different approach. Not only does it turn your smartphone into a slide-viewing microscope, but it always you to project slides onto any wall. Even snap full-color images of the magnified slides to share with friends or students. It’s never been so easy to see the cellular world – magnified up to 300x – anywhere! Study the microscopic world anywhere, from the classroom or your living room.
I could see this in lecture halls or projected in my living room – that’s what happens when you live with a part-time bio student. My roommate would love this, and I could see her projecting slides to my nieces and nephews when I’m babysitting. They might enjoy it, but she definitely will. Any excuse to look at cells for her is a win.
Just remember to pick up some slides, since none are included.
These glasses take loupes and make them hands free! These are a must for any jeweler but are great for anyone working with very small objects at a close range. Use these eyeglasses one at a time and choose between 4 sets of interchangeable lenses, going up to a 25x magnification. There’s even an LED light so you direct the light exactly to the object you’re examining.
While gemstones and geology are the natural go-to with these, these nerdy glasses are perfect for anyone who wants to examine the world at a close-up angle. It’s a perfect addition to most hobbies with small pieces and delicate details.
This kit will quickly go over the average person’s head, making it perfect for the tech geeks out there! Give your loved one the chance to build their own fully-functional, open source phone. It puts tech geeks deep into the inner mechanics of basic mobile phones, giving them a lesson on the basics of how phones work, digital electronics and programming a microcontroller. Heady stuff, but it’s a perfect activity for those who live in that world.
My programmer sister would have so much fun with this, and I could see her getting her oldest kid involved, helping decide what apps they should create. It’d be a cool first phone for an 11-year-old; something they built themself or with the family, and has games but doesn’t link to the internet so it maintains some parental control. It’s also a really cool product for the techy adults to add to their collection – and their knowledge.
Now this is even more high tech than the DIY Phone Kit. It’s perfect for those tech geeks you know who are fascinated by voice-controlled assistants, whether they already know how they work or are eager to learn. This kit gives you the ability to build and program your own voice-controlled assistant (that really works).
It’s a perfect chance to brush up on your coding skills, since Spencer can do almost anything with the writing programming. Have it read the weather, answer questions, get news or countless other things with a simple voice command.
These AI assistants are one of the biggest innovations of this generation, and Spencer is a must-have for all the nerds rushing to keep up with each innovation as it happens. There’s nothing else quite like Spencer out there; tech nerds everywhere are drooling.
This gorgeous recreation of 5,068 stars outlining 88 defined constellations is one of the nerdiest things we’ve carried (and one of my personal favorites). This glass sphere was designed with the help of astronomer Dr. Susanne Hoffmann so that it accurately scales how far the stars are from the Earth. Plus, the color-changing, LED base enhances the beauty as it shifts through a rainbow of colors.
You can literally hold the night sky in the palm of your hand and view any constellation regardless of the weather or time of year. No telescope required. It’s a must-have display piece for any star-lover and astronomer. This will no doubt put the awe in their eyes as they behold it.
It’s no understatement that the Apollo 11 moon landing was one of the most crucial parts of recent history and the most significant scientific achievement in human spacecraft history, and this print allows you to commemorate that moment. This museum-quality piece is meant to be treasured for generations, and how could it not be? For space enthusiasts and history buffs, this print is incredible.
And I haven’t even mentioned the space-flown fragment of Kapton thermal insulation from the actual Apollo 11 (easily the coolest part). This unique collectible is something all astronomy nerds would want to get their hands on once they find out about it.
Whatever appeals to you or your loved ones’ nerdier sensibilities, we have it covered. Nothing’s quite as meaningful as finding the perfect gift that can’t be found just anywhere, and that’s the best part of this list. You’ll be able to nail all of the geeks in your life’s passions and find the perfect gift for the holiday season.
And don’t worry, you don’t need to understand the science behind the perfect gift; the one you get it for will. (I still don’t understand quantum mechanics, but my sister loves the nerdy things I get her that revolve around the subject).
But if we missed the geeky science favorite of your loved ones, there’s hundreds of products to choose from on our site.