9 Unique Holiday Gift Ideas for Scientists (in 2021)

7 min read

Scientists are tough to find gifts for. So we polled our group of scientists in several fields and stages of their careers to come up with the most practical and unique graduation gifts for scientists. This collection will show them that you understand their love of science and support them in their research and their passions.

This list ties together our favorite gifts for scientists from around the internet. Some are our own Genius Lab Gear inventions and some we’re just jealous we didn’t think of first! Some links in this page contain affiliate links, which means that any purchase of the items after clicking the link will result in a small monetary referral fee paid back to Genius Lab Gear at no cost to you. We appreciate your support which allows us to continue inventing and testing the best tools for scientists on the planet!

1.    The Pocket Scientist pocket ruler and equation reference

Your favorite scientist will never forget this unique gift! They will carry this credit card-sized science and engineering ruler with them every day for a lifetime. We even laser-engraved the backside full of basic science equations and physical constants. See the product page for a full list of features we've packed in!

Available with free shipping from our website or from Amazon.

pocket scientist engineering wallet ruler

The Pocket Scientist at Genius Lab Gear

The Pocket Scientist from Amazon

How to use The Pocket Scientist – Full Feature Guide

P.S. We also have versions specifically for Chemists and Engineers if those are a better fit for the person you have in mind! 

2.    The best laser pointer and PowerPoint presenter on the planet

I’ve gone through a lot of shoddy laser pointers and slide advancers in my life. They are either glitchy, not user-friendly or just not powerful enough to see well in a large presentation room. Eventually I got fed up and spent several hours reading reviews and parsing through specs of every laser pointer on Amazon. I landed on this Dynofire green laser pointer with USB connectivity, plus volume controls and slide controls. It’s the highest-end version from Dynofire and it’s worth every penny, yet still much cheaper than some other options like Logitech (and more highly rated). I’ve used it for over a year now and am extremely happy with it. Here are the perks:

  • The green laser is the most powerful that can be legally sold in the USA (6-10x more powerful than the red version).
  • The USB connectivity works with many different computers and software
  • The volume controls help prevent embarrassing seconds of blasting video sound or scrambling to the PC to get the volume just right in those tricky embedded videos. It also has a play button for built-in videos.
  • The slide controls go forward and back plus include a button to blank the screen like a TED talk professional to bring the focus back to the speaker.
  • The USB rechargeable battery ensures you’ll never get caught out of juice.
  • The little notebook clip is a nice touch for securing it on your portfolio or your pocket.

The lucky wielder of such a tool can be sure command the presentation room and reduces the risk of awkward technical difficulties. Get the best one and it will last you for many years.

dynofire green laser pointer

3.    Science-themed stickers for laptops, thermoses or notebooks

Stickers help people silently express themselves wherever they go. They’ve become so popular with the younger generations because each one represents a little piece of who that person is or wants to be and can be communicated instantly even for the most introverted scientist. We have a growing collection of science-themed stickers that would be much-appreciated by any passionate scientist. Some of the stickers also include a small donation to a volunteer or non-profit group that is doing valuable progressive work in the science community. These stickers are waterproof vinyl, can be removed without leaving residue and are perfect for a laptop, a thermos, a notebook, car bumper or any other solid surface you could imagine.

science stickers for laptops or notebooks

5.    Fun science-themed word magnets

Science-themed gifts are rarely as entertaining and enduring as our science-themed word magnet sets! We recently launched these to encourage creativity and self-expression in labs, classrooms and offices. Each specialty pack comes with 144 tiles carefully designed by a PhD in that field for technical accuracy and tacit absurdity.

So far, we have sets for Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Academia, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Ecology, PhD Balance (mental health in grad school) and Basic Science. Most people grab a 2, 3, or 4-pack that represents their unique experience in STEM. 

science word magnet sets

5.    Science-themed wall art canvases

Do you know a scientist that could use a little more decoration in their home or work space? Scientists are often resistant to choosing artwork that is abstract or otherwise meaningless to them just to fill a space. That’s why we’ve enlisted several science artists to create beautiful artwork, both real and digital, that a scientist will appreciate both technically and aesthetically.

Our Science Art Collection includes work from several independent artists and your purchase will help support their budding careers. From stunning colorful microscope images of crystals to simple motivational quotes to gorgeous biological digital illustrations, you will find something to add some color and science to their life.

Science themed wall artwork


6.    Chemical-resistant and solvent-proof pens for lab notebooks

Lab notebooks sitting near solvents and other chemicals are a recipe for disaster. A years’ worth of notes can easily be washed away by a clumsy researcher. The best way to protect a lab notebook from this kind of accident is to use chemically stable, waterproof and fade-resistant pens to record your observations.

Fortunately, these Japanese-crafted Pigma Micron pens by Sakura contain the best ink on the market with an assortment of line sizes and colors to allow for flexibility and creativity in keeping up your laboratory notebook. The pens are touted by professionals around the world for their “archival” ink that is trusted by museum curators, artists, accountants and planner hobbyists. It dries quickly and won’t bleed through thin paper.

Any scientist who regularly takes notes or keeps a laboratory notebook would love to have this toolset to take their record-keeping to a professional level. You can find a 12-pack of assorted colors on Amazon for around $23.

 Pigma Micron solvent proof pens for laboratory notebooks

7.    Rocketbook cloud-connected reusable paper notebook

This is my favorite clever invention. It was inevitable. Rocketbook finally solved the problem of merging your hand-written notes into your favorite digital services. You simply use their app to take a photo of your pages of notes and the QR code and marked symbols on each page trigger the app to send the digitized page to any of the 9 pre-set digital destinations you choose. This includes OneNote, Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox and even specific emails. Want a shortcut to send notes via email straight to your colleague or boss? This is what you’re looking for.

The Rocketbook Matrix is my personal favorite because it's designed for more technical work. It's got 30 pages of graphing paper and one regular lined page for taking notes, plus a built-in ruler on the inside cover. Did I mention they are resuable? Use their "Pilot Frixion" pens and then wipe the page with a damp cloth after uploading your notes to use it all over again (and win one for the environment!). 

If it's sold out on their website (it's very popular) - you can also get it on Amazon.

rocketbook matrix reusable scientist lab notebookRocketbook matrix reusable scientist and engineering notebook

8.    Books to read for pleasure (not textbooks!)

Scientists often get stuck in a loop of always reading technical documents, textbooks and journal articles. It’s important to occasionally break that cycle and dive into a book for pleasure. Below are a few of our favorite science-related books that will be an enjoyable read for any scientist or engineer.

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weird             

This is our all-time favorite book that any scientist or engineer will enjoy reading. For such a technical book, it’s got an incredible plot yet isn’t overly dramatized (except a little at the end). No other fiction book has captured this much popularity while running through exact calculations, estimations and scientific principles just to keep someone alive. You’ll be rooting for Mark Watney and inspired by the idea that your technical knowledge could one day save your life.

Check the price on Amazon


Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking Book

The last book Stephen Hawking will ever write. Published six months after his death in 2018, this short masterpiece is a hopeful, practical look at the future of our civilization based on what physics and astronomy have taught us to-date. We particularly enjoyed how well he brought complex physics problems down to earth and clearly conveyed the challenges ahead. Subjects he tackles include artificial intelligence, climate change, colonizing space and our own self-destruction. He does an exceptional job of separating his own opinions from scientific facts. It’s a fun read that will leave you thinking about these big-picture ideas for many weeks after.

Check the price on Amazon


Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss

Radioactive Marie Curie book

Think of this as a detailed picture book for adults or late teenagers. It’s a beautiful yet heartbreaking work of art telling the story of both Marie and Pierre Curie, from their research to their romance and ultimately their deaths. It’s relevant, entertaining and inspiring in an entirely unconventional way. A great read for a professional or a budding young scientist, especially one who will be inspired by the gender-based challenges that Marie Curie overcame to become one of the greatest scientists of all time.

Check the price on Amazon


More books for Graduate Students:

If the person you have in mind is also a graduate student, take a look at our new list of The Best Books to Make You a Better Grad Student in 2021.


9.    A thoughtful STEM gift box for scientists and engineers

Since we love the items in this list so much, we’ve created a few gift boxes with most of these items all in one. The best part is that each gift box actually costs less than one would pay to order each item individually (including non-Genius Lab Gear products)! We’ve taken advantage of bulk order discounts and free shipping thresholds to offer these invaluable tools to you at a lower price in one curated package. All gift boxes have free shipping in the USA!

The Delighted Genius Gift Box is our entry-level gift box that aims to put a smile on the face of the recipient by packaging our best-selling items with a pair of chemical and solvent-proof Muji pens and an enamel pin of your choice from Science on a Postcard. These are the items everyone posts on their social media about because they are so excited to receive them! It’s a fun gift set at an affordable price.


More gift collections for specific types of scientists:

We've further curated several collections of our own inventions depending on the type of scientist you're looking for. See these more niche collections below for more ideas!

Gifts for Professors and Grad School PIs

Gifts for Graduate and PhD Students

Gifts for Scientists and Engineers

Gifts for Chemists and Chemistry Students

Gifts for Microbiologists

Gifts for Neuroscientists

Gifts for Biochemists

Gifts for Ecologists


Also in The Digital Lab Notebook - Blog for Scientists and Science Lovers

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