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At twelve, kids are beginning to dive into learning about the scientific method in school. They’ve likely started learning about life science, earth science, chemistry, and physics. But at this age, they are also still really into exploring and investigating their world on their own. It’s a ripe time for learning through play and understanding science in our everyday world.
Our top pick for the best overall science gift for 12-year-olds is the MEL Science Chemistry set: it’s a great value as a stand-alone activity box and has lasting fun and learning as a subscription set. For children who love nature and stargazing, you could never go wrong with the Orion GoScope III – it’s an excellent and high-quality gift that is sure to engage teens now and for many years to come. And if you’re on a budget, you could go with the Carson Microbrite Pocket Microscope. It’s an excellent tool that will encourage your child to investigate their questions while playing outside or in.
- Best Science Gifts for 12 Year olds
- Best Overall – MEL Science Chemistry Sets
- Best for Nature and Stargazing – Orion GoScope III
- Best Budget Option – Carson Microbrite Pocket Microscope
- Best Earth Science Gift – National Geographic Geode Discovery
- Best for General Science Subscription Box – KiwiCo Tinker Crate
- Best Environmentalist Gift – 4M Clean Water Science
- Best for Experimenting with Crystals – 4M Crystal Growing Kit
- What to Consider When Buying a Science Gift for a 12-Year-Old
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Science Gifts for 12 Year olds
Best Overall – MEL Science Chemistry Sets
MEL Science has created a high-quality chemistry subscription set that offers different science experiments for kids and teens. The introductory box alone includes a set of high-quality chemistry equipment and a universal VR headset. The included experiments are fun and illustrative, and the box includes enough materials to complete the experiments more than once.
A big part of what can make science fun and exciting is getting to play with real equipment to create cool and satisfying results in a short timeframe. The MEL Science Chemistry set offers a great combination of quality scientific equipment, good visual experiments, enough materials to complete each activity multiple times, and a good value. The introductory box is a great stand-alone gift, and an ongoing subscription will offer continuous access to fun and instructive experiments to keep their curiosity engaged.
We recently completed an in-depth product review for this gift and found it has a great value. Most 12-year-olds are starting to learn about the scientific method and still have that innate curiosity about the world. MEL Chemistry has done an excellent job balancing the cool and fun parts of experimental chemistry with educational objectives. There’s a good chance that your child will have so much fun completing the experiments and using the equipment, that they’ll learn and explore their ideas with pleasure. We think this is an excellent science gift for your older child, even if they aren’t specifically interested in chemistry.
Best for Nature and Stargazing – Orion GoScope III
Telescopes are a versatile and interesting tool for people of all ages. They allow us to get an up-close look at the world around us, whether that is wildlife at the park or the night sky. This classic refracting telescope is great for beginners.
The Orion GoScope III is a fantastic science kit where kids learn to identify craters, lunar features, and everything else that involves the stars and space. This simple but powerful telescope is easy to set up and use, making it perfect for kids and beginners. It comes with a traveling bag, two lenses, and a tripod. It’s an excellent tool for observing wildlife or the night sky, allowing your child to explore their questions about the natural world using a classic scientific tool. If you’re looking for something more substantial, check out our posts on the best telescopes for beginners or best telescopes for land viewing to get some in-depth information about other great telescope options.
The invention of the telescope had a profound and revolutionary impact on our understanding of the world and the cosmos. This is the kind of gift that can open up the wide world for a child; there is so much to learn! On top of the actual things they see through the telescope, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn about how a telescope works, what lenses do, and the science of light and refraction. This is an excellent gift that will encourage the whole family to learn and explore together.
Best Budget Option – Carson Microbrite Pocket Microscope
This budget-friendly microscope is a great scientific tool for your 12-year-old on the go. Like telescopes, microscopes are an excellent tool to help your child unlock the wonders of the world. By getting up-close, they can begin to understand more about the world and satisfy their curiosity about the things around them. The Carson Microbrite Pocket Microscope is an excellent budget-friendly option. And being portable, it’s a great way to encourage your 12-year-old to get outside and explore. With the pocket microscope in hand, they can use their microscope on the go.
If you’re looking for a more advanced microscope, there are a lot of excellent options out there. You can find everything from advanced optics to high-quality digital video and picture outputs. If you start with the pocket microscope and find that your child wants something more advanced or tech-enabled, check out our recent post where we listed the best microscopes for kids.
Best Earth Science Gift – National Geographic Geode Discovery
Kids love rocks. Who didn’t collect rocks, crystals, or shells as a kid? The National Geographic Geode Discovery kit is a cool and fun modern take on the classic. The kit comes with ten good-sized rocks and the equipment your child will need to break them open and find the geodes inside. It also includes materials that teach you and your child about how geodes are formed naturally. It’s pretty amazing to see what can be hiding inside a little rock!
We also love that this activity combines some physical exertion (breaking those rocks takes a bit of effort!) with learning and a fun keepsake at the end. This affordable kit has great value and will help your child learn about geology and crystal formation. Wouldn’t it be more fun if they know what they’re looking at the next time they see a geode out in the world?!
Best for General Science Subscription Box – KiwiCo Tinker Crate
Aimed at kids 9-16+ years old, the KiwiCo Tinker Crates are a great science gift option for your 12-year-old.
KiwiCo is one of the top science subscription box options out there. They have experiments and activities aimed at a wide range of ages and interests, making them versatile. Their Tinker Crate is aimed at older children and teenagers and is a great fit for the 12 year old in your life. One great feature of KiwiCo is that you can order a single box (I like the planetarium for a 12-year-old), a multi-pack (3-, 4-, and 8-packs are available), or a monthly subscription for a box each month delivered to your door.
KiwiCo does a nice job including all of the materials you’ll need to complete each experiment or activity, along with supplementary educational material and ideas for more activities. A lot of the kits involve building or creating something long-lasting, like a speaker, a working robot, or the planetarium I mentioned above, so your child gets to create something, learn what it’s all about, and then use it regularly. We love that there are so many options for scientific experimentation and activities, you’re sure to find a science gift that your 12-year-old will love.
Best Environmentalist Gift – 4M Clean Water Science
The science behind water purification (both at the plant and in nature) is surprisingly cool and involves a broad range of scientific topics appropriate for teens.
The Clean Water Science water purification kit is a high-quality science experiment kit with several types of water purification experiments. This kit includes all the materials you’ll need to perform three different experiments: solar water purification, water desalinization, and a carbon filtration system, along with detailed instructions to complete each of the experiments. Another cool aspect of this experiment is that you can see the process and watch the water purification process in-action!
This is a great science gift that was selected by the University of Cambridge in the UK for their science festival. Water purification involves chemistry, earth science, and is an important part of our environmental policies. Since teenage students often learn more about biology and earth science in school, this kit is a great companion for at-home fun and learning that will tie in with school subjects as well as world events.
Best for Experimenting with Crystals – 4M Crystal Growing Kit
Observing crystals is a fun and accessible science activity, but growing your own crystals takes it to another whole level. The 4M Crystal Growing Kit includes materials for seven crystal growing experiments, plus instructions and display materials. Combining chemistry with geology and earth science, this is a fun activity that will get your child learning more.
We love that this kit has so many starting materials. Teens can truly experiment and learn about the different types of crystals and how they grow. They also have the opportunity to create several different colors, making a customized crystal that they will be proud to share.
What to Consider When Buying a Science Gift for a 12-Year-Old
What do they like to do?
By 12, most kids have pretty formal science classes in school and are likely learning about life science, earth science, chemistry, and physics. If your child is really into science and wants to do more of the same at home, consider an activity box or kit that lets them dive into a specific topic. If your child’s interests are more diverse or they feel intimidated by science class, this is a great opportunity to give a science-themed gift that feels more fun and playful. We think the KiwiCo kits have great variety, and you’re likely to find an activity that will be fun and exciting for your child without them feeling like they are in science class at home.
Making it Fun
Around the time kids turn 12, science class can become a bit more academic. Some kids may feel turned-off by that and start thinking that “science isn’t for them.” But science is all around us and part of our everyday lives. We encourage you to find a gift that will feel like fun for your 12-year-old. This will help them stay engaged in their world and they may not even realize that they’re doing science! It all depends on their likes, but something like the pocket microscope or geode kit might be a great fit for a kid who is looking for more fun. The pocket microscope lets them zoom in on things they see when doing other things (like biking outside or cooking in the kitchen), and the goede kit involves smashing rocks, who wouldn’t love that!
Frequently Asked Questions
How much should I spend?
A lot of science kits are quite reasonably priced. The actual cost may vary, but you can expect to find a wide range of excellent kits in the $25-$35 range. Subscription box services can mean a discount for bulk purchasing. Some of the fancier science tools like high-quality telescopes and microscopes can run up into multiple hundreds of dollars but will last a lifetime if they are well-cared for.
Are there different gift recommendations for girls and boys?
Honestly, no! Science is relevant to all of us. But while doing some research for this post, I noticed that many science gifts for 12-year-old kids are aimed toward boys. As a woman, mother, and scientist, I think it’s important that girls have the same access and opportunities, especially at such a formative age. If you have a girl who is feeling left out of science, there are some kits aimed specifically at girls (check out Yellow Scope) and books that specifically highlight girls and women, which could be a great fit for the budding scientist in your life.
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Last update on 2020-08-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API