Make us your home page

10 awesome geek gifts for girls

Here are some fun building, engineering and robotics gifts for girls (and boys) who want a present that they can do something with — especially if they're a little past the GoldieBlox stage.

Roominate Dollhouse Kit: Yes, you can build a little two-story dollhouse for the small plastic creatures of your choice. But how will they get up to the second floor? With your motorized pulley-operated elevator. Then they can wait while you design them a slide to get down.

r r r

LittleBits: Tiny circuit boards that snap together with magnets: make an alarm clock, a hopping bunny or a light-up whale-shaped tissue box that wags its tail. Or anything you can think of.

r r r

SnapCircuits: We've had a variety of these kits, from the basics to the remote control rover (not available on their website but easy to find). They're not toys that see constant use, but they come out again and again, and my children have consistently been able to get their circuits working, much to their delight.

r r r

Lego Mindstorms: Mindstorms takes Lego to a different level. Kids get a programmable heart and robot instructions, and — with enough time, determination and (fun) effort — the ability to create something that does everything from shooting Lego missiles to spying on your brother.

r r r

Soldering kit: You can buy these just about anywhere. I picked up three last year and my father taught my oldest son and daughter (and me) to solder. My daughter (then 8) outshone us all.

r r r

Make: Electronics kit: Go beyond soldering and into serious electronics with Charles Platt's Make: Electronics book, which adult geeks everywhere have told me is the gold standard for electronics explanations and projects. But the problem with a book of projects is always that you don't have the stuff on hand, and by the time you've mustered up a trip to Radio Shack, you've lost steam. Go all out for the kit, and you'll have everything you need (although the trip to Radio Shack would be cheaper).

r r r

Kodu: Got an Xbox or is one in your holiday giving plans? We don't, but I've heard (and read) great things about Kodu, a visual programming language that allows kids to create their own video games on the Xbox or a PC.

r r r

Bigshot Camera Kit: No doubt your daughter knows how to use a digital camera. But does she know how it works? Could she MacGyver one up with nothing but some sand and some software? Probably not, but she could build one with the Bigshot kit, and learn how the image sensor measures the light to convert it to a digital image.

r r r

Arduino Robot: Arduino is an open-source physical computing platform that allows users to write software that controls a physical board. The Arduino robot has two fully programmable Arduino boards — one for its motors, one for sensors and operations — that can communicate via USB with a computer. The tech-inclined family could blow a holiday budget (and the holiday vacation) on getting started with Arduino, then move up to the robot; kids who are already familiar with Arduino would be thrilled with this new way to use it.

r r r

MaKey MaKey: Ready for something a little more complicated than SnapCircuits, but not quite Arduino robot material? The MaKey MaKey kit uses alligator clips to make anything into a computer key. Why would you want to re-create a keyboard out of alphabet soup letters, or make a banana piano? Because you can — exactly the message we want our daughters and our sons to hear.

10 awesome geek gifts for girls 12/06/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 6, 2013 7:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks


    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday


    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at the DOT’s Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue.