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Brainy Gift Ideas

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As long as you are giving someone a gift why not give them something that will be as good for their brain as for the enjoyment of receiving a gift?  A great deal of research supports the notion that our brain is a use it or lose itproposition (Google the Nun Study for a great example).  With that in mind, here are some gifts that are fun to receive and will give the gray matter a bit of a workout as a bonus.

From we have a little kit that converts a paper airplane into a powered airplane.
PowerUp Electric Paper Airplane Conversion Kit ($20)

Radioshack offers a lot of kits but this one allows for the building of a great many projects while teaching electronics concepts along the way.  Cat # 20-036.
Elenco EP-130 Electronic Playground 130

A telescope is a great gift as long as it's not overwhelmingly large or too complicated. This model from Celestron is a great starter scope.  It is very light & portable.  I have this one and I use it mostly for looking at the moon and planet that are occasionally visible to the naked eye.
Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope
($36 at Amazon)

If your gift recipient would rather stay indoors than perhaps an electronic microscope that connects to a computer might be a better choice.
($45 from Amazon)

Almost everyone I know loves the weather and loves to talk about the weather. A home weather station is an easy thing to set up these days because they are wireless.  A great way to learn a bit more about the weather and a great gift as well.
Ambient Weather WS-5300 Wireless Home Weather Station
($70 from Amazon)

Robot kits are great fun and a great way to learn a bit about robotics.  Again, the idea is make it a little challenging but not so much so that an engineering degree is required.
Elenco Escape Robot Kit  ($24 from Amazon).

A metal detector can be a fantastic hobby and you might even make a few bucks.  You should probably spend as close to $100 as you can because cheap metal detectors are just awful.  Stick with brands such as Bounty Hunter or Garrett.  This model is pretty good but shop around a bit.
Bounty Hunter Fast Tracker Metal Detector 
($84 from Amazon).

I remember building a working model of a car engine back in the 70s and it was one of the most fun kit experiences I've had.  The kits are better these days and pretty easy to assemble.
Gas Engine Model Kit.
($40 from

I love this game and there are other versions out on the market.  Here is the blurb for this one: Einstein's Brain Wave is a fun take on the game of 20 Questions. Players think of any item or object and through a series of yes-or-no-questions, the artificial intelligence guesses what they are thinking. Einstein's Brain Wave answers in Einstein's voice, adding color and character to the competition.
Brain Wave Game
($20 from

All of these gift ideas are fun, entertaining, and provide good exercise for the brain. Please leave your own ideas for brainy gifts in the comments section.

erick99 posted Oct 15, 2012

I had a GM 350 V8 model like the one you speak of. I bought my son one of the newer versions. Its so dumbed down now compared to the ones back in the day where you have to basically build the entire model like a real engine.

Acidbaby (rep: 7k) posted Oct 15, 2012


These are great ideas. It is so much better to give educational toys to help teach problem solving skills and ingenuity.

nicole12011 (rep: 6) posted Nov 09, 2012