Thursday, November 29, 2007

Warping young minds with geologic holiday gifts

Over at Apparent Dip, Thermochronic, Brian, and Chris Rowan have been suggesting some ideas for gifts to entice your favorite young person into geology.

I'll bet everyone can figure out who is responsible for each of these suggestions:

- I predict that a full Bouma sequence would be a big seller, but I can also envision a cute 'bottom-absent' turbidite, and a tough-looking, but lovable, mass transport complex.

- It's the cuddly magnets the kids go for.

- I've been working on a children's book in my head about the "Brave little biotite."

So now I need to wear two hats at once, and play "that weird mom whose kid talks about volcanoes on Mars."

My son is the proud owner of a stuffed T. Rex and a velociraptor puppet. (The velociraptor is kind of scary, and has been banned from the bed. T. Rex, however, does a lot of cuddling when he isn't RARRRRRing.)

I bought this book, Geology Rocks! 50 Hands-on Activities to Explore the Earth for one of my nephews. Activities include "A Quake-Proof Contest!", which involves building blocks and a washing machine, and playing plate tectonics with graham crackers.

His older brother got this for his birthday: Magic Tree House: Tsunamis and Other Disasters. (My sister actually suggested the series, and when we saw the tsunami book, well...)

And I swear I saw a plush trilobite for sale at GSA a couple years ago. I couldn't find it this year, though. The closest thing I've seen on the web is plush Martian life (complete with scientific disagreements about its meaning!), and a few non-extinct invertebrates. At GSA, I was left bringing home things like the official IRIS slinky, a dinosaur-in-an-egg from (I think) Mississippi State, and a spinning light thingy from the Planetary Geology division.

I think the best geologic gift for a little kid, though, would be a great big magnifying glass and a box full of interesting things to look at. (A piece of pumice, maybe, or polished piece of granite, or some sand.) And if you're around the kid, take him or her outside and go exploring. (Have you ever followed critter tracks in the snow, to try to figure out how many legs an animal had, or what it ate? Snow is good for talking about relative ages, too. And, yes, I do ask my four-year-old whether he thinks the rabbit hopped by before or after it stopped snowing. And layers of snow make very nice folds as they start to slide down the car's windshield, so there's even the potential to get into structural geology!)

But I'm open to other suggestions (or for clever ideas that just need the right marketing person).

(If you're shopping for adults, Andrew Alden at has put together a list of geologic gift ideas. Some of them sound pretty good for older kids, too... I like the idea of a plate tectonic globe, or some geologic puzzles.)


Anonymous said...

The Paleontological Research Institution sold the cuddly trilobites but unfortunately the vendor went out of business so they haven't had them for a couple of years. They haven't been able to find an alternative supplier yet but I think they're looking.

Steven said...

I'm ecstatic to find a good Geology blog. I thought I was the only one who wrote about rocks. I'm studying at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg -in the snake river plain, in caldera country, a great meandering river right outside the door, ...a great place to study geology. I grew up in Northern Arizona. No place is boring to a geologist. Link to my blog, and thanks for blogging.