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I want my girls to embrace math and science, instead of "dropping out" of these subjects – which are still, arguably, perceived as more for boys – when they get to junior high or high school. But for them and all science-shy (or of course science-psyched) girls and boys, I'm hoping these five nature-oriented gifts will make scientific discoveries fun, practical, and something they understand is part of their daily lives.
Butterfly grow kit
One of the first experiments we tried at home was a butterfly grow kit. The Nature Gift Store Live Butterfly Kit came with a mesh bag, a container filled with caterpillar food, and five very hungry caterpillars. We watched them every day as they grew bigger, eventually made cocoons, and reemerged as butterflies. It was so fun, and we were so excited on release day.
Owl pellet dissection
I remember having to dissect a calf's eye in sixth grade while the class next door dissected owl pellets (a compact regurgitation of the undigestible parts of the owl's latest meal). I'd never heard of owl pellets before that, but they're a fascinating and humane way to teach dissection. You might find hair, bones, teeth, fur, and more. Owl pellets could be lying around in your own backyard, but if not, this Owl Pellet Dissection Kit from Evviva Sciences is a great substitute.
Microscope slide kit
I inherited my older brother's chemistry set, which included a microscope. I spent hours making my own slides and examining magnified household items. Being able to see how things work on the inside is an important part of learning. The AmScope Kids Beginner Microscope STEM kit comes with brine shrimp (a.k.a. sea monkeys) and an easy carrying case for travel and storage.
Last summer, my family learned about fizzy rockets at an event put on by our local library. These rockets can be as DIY simple as an Alka-Seltzer tablet and a film cartridge – add water, tamp the lid down lightly, and prepare for liftoff. Or try the Liquifly Fizz Rocket for powerful flights of up to 15 feet.
Baking soda volcano
You probably have most of the ingredients in this Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Experiment kit at home and/or can make them, but having them packed and ready makes you more likely to just do it. There are 11 experiments in this kit and all the equipment needed is included. You do have to build your own volcano, though.