Before I start, a disclaimer: I’m one of those ‘make and do’ people, the ones that hoard empty containers and bits of tat ‘just in case I can make something with it,’ and would probably rather be baking cakes than eating them. Which may go some way to explaining the items I’ve chosen to pack into the Chemistry World Christmas Stocking* today.
Having heard more than once that chemistry is little more than ‘advanced cooking’, I thought perhaps some of you out there might like the look of these:
These science cookie cutters were a labour of love for Sherry Marshall, who decided to make her own when she couldn’t find anything similar on the market. Eventually she found somewhere that would consider making the cutters for her – but the minimum order was 2000 sets. ‘I closed my eyes and just did it,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t be the only one who wanted to get her geek on in the kitchen…’
In the set you get cutters for a test tube, a beaker, a flask and an atom – Sherry studied physics before embarking on a Master’s in chemistry, and says she ‘totally embraces her inner chemist’ and took inspiration from her work when designing the cutters. You also get a ‘scientifically tested’ recipe – the result of a week of hard core cookie testing trying out over a dozen different recipes.
Sherry’s now sold almost 6000 sets of her science cookie cutters around the world: ‘The chemistry department at MIT has purchased a lot – I have threatened to go up there just to see exactly what they are doing with them. And the Germans love science cookie cutters too – they just have the lead over Australia for the most purchased outside of the US.’
Of course, you’d expect us to give the cutters a go, so here’s my effort:
The second stocking filler on my list continues the ‘make and do’ theme. This one comes from Spoonflower (H/T @gingerbreadlady), founded in 2008 by ‘two Internet geeks who had crafty wives but who knew nothing about textiles’. Basically the site lets you design and upload patterns which Spoonflower will then print onto fabric. All well and good if you happen to be one of those artistic types who can rattle off a still life in your lunch hour, but for those of us willing to leave the creativity to others there’s the well-stocked library of science themed fabrics.
Perhaps Paramecia float your boat? Or you fancy caffeine molecules adorning a cushion, lab glassware on your curtains, or perhaps given the festive season we should go with this one: wine and chocolate molecules. There are lots of patterns to choose from and if you want something that’s not already there, pick up a pen and design it yourself.
Of course, I understand not everyone has the time to sit down and get stuck in with these kinds of activities. Perhaps you’re more into those ‘executive toys’, spending hours hypnotised by metallic balls plink-plonking together? I’ve got the thing for you. Magnetic buckyballs. Oh yes. The ultimate in ‘scientific’ desktop time wastage.
Here’s the blurb: ‘Each set contains 216 powerful Rare Earth magnets that can be shaped, moulded, torn apart and snapped together in UNLIMITED WAYS. Make sculptures, puzzles, patterns, shapes, stick stuff to the fridge, invent a new game – trying to find something more useful is useless.’
There you have it. And not only that, but you get a ready-made like minded community of people willing to spend hours of their lives they’ll never get back fashioning these 5mm balls into all kinds of structures via the bafflingly active Facebook group.
So there are my contributions to the CW Christmas Stocking. There will be more suggestions and festive musings from the team in the next few weeks so keep an eye out in the run up to Christmas.
* Unfortunately not an actual Christmas stocking. A hypothetical one. To inspire you…