Saturday, December 8, 2012

Citizen Science Holiday Gift Guide

The holiday season is upon us.  The nights are longer (for better stargazing) and snow is coming (to all you home meteorologists).  But you also need to do some gift shopping for all the citizen scientists in your family.  Sure, anyone can give a telescope or new set of binoculars, but you want to give something more creative.  Well have no fear, the 2012 OpenScientist Wish List is here.

Urban Weather Station:  For anyone who's worried about the air they breathe.  This is the first personal weather station designed to work with an iPhone or iPad.  Measure indoor air quality, sound quality, and CO2 amounts, along with indoor and outdoor temperature, barometric pressure and humidity.  All with a sleek design and ever sleeker iPad interface.    Available for $179 from NetAtmo at Alternatively, check out this blog post on choosing a home weather station for even more options.

Strain: Who says bio-engineering and family game night can't co-exist?  Let everyone get in on the DYBiology fun with this board game.  Race to design the most successful organism by adding organelles and making ATP while evading toxins and marauding viruses. Recommended for 3-7 players ages ten and up.  Available for $19.99 from CoolStuff at

Makey Makey:   This handy kit was featured on KickStarter and quickly became popular.  It's easy to see why.  The kit let's you turn anything (a banana, buckets of water, pencil drawings) into a computer interface.  So create your own joystick, motion detector, or musical instrument for a tiny price.  For the tinkerer in every family.  Available for $49.99 from Thinkgeek at

Archaeology Kit: Ideal for beginner and weekend archaeologists.  Take this collection of brushes, trowels, levels, and rulers out to your local Native American Heritage Site or Civil War battlefield to dig up a piece of history.  Just make sure you join up with a existing group so everything stays legal and your finds can be scientifically validated.  I bought one for my father last year (he loves to join archeological digs on the weekends) and it has really come in handy.  Available for $100 (US) from Archeostore at

Wildlife Camera: Enjoying all the birdwatching and backyard animal projects but want to take your game up a notch?  Don't just record sightings while you're in the yard...set up a camera and watch all the time!  With both night and day capabilities, this camera will sense when wildlife are near and snap a picture.  Not only will it improve your animal counts, but you learn more about the critters prowling around just under your nose!  True, this particular camera is made for hunters, but that doesn't mean we can't use it to protect wildlife as well.  Available for $78 from Amazon here.

FitBit: Track your fitness, eating, and sleep with just a tiny monitor worn on your arm.  The tiny FitBit stays with you and records vital body data to keep you fit and healthy.  You can also track everything on your iPhone or iPad with a quick wireless connection. Available for $99 at

Hopefully this will help you fill your loved one's stocking with the gift of citizen science.  But let me know in the comments below if there are other fun gifts you're buying for your loved ones!  (Don't worry...your secret is safe with us).


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