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Geek Gifts

Gift Guides

13 Stellar Finds for Space Lovers

April 20, 2018

Carl Sagan once said, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” We know that he was talking about the mind-blowing, cosmic kind of “something,” but we figure that same statement can apply to incredibly cool stuff here on Earth too. In the spirit of discovery–even if it’s simply the discovery of your favorite new space-themed goodies–we rounded up a selection of products that celebrate the moon, stars, planets, and beyond.

1. A necklace depicting our solar system. (Oh, hey Pluto!)

Solar System Bubble Bib Necklace | UncommonGoods

Most true space geeks are OK with the whole Pluto getting downgraded thing. After all, it’s science! Still, our solar system isn’t complete without everyone’s favorite dwarf planet, so this lovely bib necklace features the sun, the eight big ones, and lil’ Pluto.

Solar System Bubble Bib Necklace – $55 Buy Now »

 

2. Planetary bottle stoppers that glow in the dark.

Solar System Glow-in-the-Dark Bottle Stoppers | UncommonGoods

These handcrafted glass planets (and the sun!) stop your open wine bottle with celestial flair, even in the dark.

Solar System Glow-in-the-Dark Bottle Stoppers – $24-26 Buy Now »

 

3. A clock that lets you tell time using Saturn’s rings.

Spinning Saturn Clock | UncommonGoods

Days on Saturn are less than 11 hours long, but this clock has Earth time covered. The rotating rings tell the hour, the orbiting moon serves as the minute hand, and the stationary moon spins with the seconds.

Spinning Saturn Clock – $100 Buy Now »

 

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Gift Guides

Solve for X-mas: Gifts for the Math Geek

November 30, 2017

Listen: Number crunching isn’t for everyone, but those who take to it tend to have a palpable passion, much like the author of this gift guide has for, you know, crunchy treats. If you’ve got a loud-and-proud math geek on your holiday shopping list, though, chances are you’d like to leverage that love and find them a mind-blowing, formula-friendly gift. Thankfully, here at UncommonGoods, we’ve got plenty of playful stuff for the calculator crowd, from neckties to specially decorated drinking glasses, and we’ve collected ten of our favorite specimens here for your reference. Read on for figs. 1-10.

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Gift Guides

Far-Out Finds: Gifts for Your Favorite Space Geek

November 22, 2017

For space geeks, it’s an awesome time to be alive. From the Great American eclipse to Cassini’s swan song, 2017 was a big year for space stuff. And with new, weird exoplanets popping up all the time and propulsion innovations bringing us closer to Mars, the future’s looking equally far out. So for all the stargazers on your list, we’ve assembled a constellation of space-inspired gifts to make the holidays merry and bright as Alpha Canis Majoris.

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Gift Guides

Geeky Gifts for Proud Nerds

November 30, 2016

holiday2016-giftguide-title-nerds

The labels “geek” and “nerd” are insults no more. In fact, they’re badges of honor. These days, “You are such a nerd,” is a compliment to math lovers who spend hours on calculations and science fans who’d rather spend a night stargazing than doing almost anything else. As proud nerds ourselves, we are extra excited to present this round-up of great gift ideas for folks who aren’t afraid to let their geek flags fly.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Ctrl+Alt+Del (iciousness) with the Keyboard Waffle Iron

October 8, 2015

main-giftlabwaffle3

Product: Keyboard Waffle Iron

Research:

I used to love waffles, but forced myself into pancakes. I didn’t want to be bothered with finding a place to store a waffle maker once I purchased it or the hassle of having a bunch of cords in the kitchen. The Keyboard Waffle Iron, without explanation, is pretty cool, but the fact that I could (possibly) make a good looking waffle and be able to store it is what especially caught my interest.

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Gift Guides

Hooray for Math! Planning the Perfect Pi Day Party

February 26, 2015

Whether you flew through calculus or crawled your way through freshman year algebra, a party with pie is something everyone can get behind. Enter Pi Day, a nerdtastic celebration of all things pi and pie.

For those of you who erased most of high school math from your memory (this writer who had to look it up on Wikipedia included), pi is the symbol used by mathematicians to represent the ratio of a circle’s circumference. Sure!

Since pi is an irrational number, it has an infinite number of digits in its decimal representation. However, the first few digits (3.141592…) are the digits used to designate the “Pi” holiday, celebrated on 3/14. This year is a special year, as 3/14/15 represents even more digits of pi! What a time to be a math lover!

Celebrate Pi Day | UncommonGoods

UncommonGoods loves math, to say the least, so we had our pick of great pi paraphernalia. Using math plates, bottle openers, and pizza stones, we were able to create a well-calculated (get it???) table spread that was just as delicious as it was educational.

Pi Plates | UncommonGoods

Pi(Z*Z)A Stone/I Eight Sum Pi Dish/ I Eight Sum Pi Plates
They look like regular plates when full, but each slice of lemon meringue or apple crumble reveals a nerdy lesson in pie consumption. The Pi Plates and matching serving dish spell out a mathematical equation that reads “I eight sum pie”, which is exactly what you should be doing at a Pi Party. The pizza stone’s equation for volume spells out pi(z*z)a, just in case you weren’t sure how much cheesy perfection you should be dominating.

Pi Bottle Opener | UncommonGoods

Pi Bottle Opener
Nothing says party time like a signature drink. We printed out these simple labels to jazz up our favorite soda, but you could also make your favorite cocktails using 3.14 ounces as standard measurements. You can also find your favorite key lime pie martini recipe, if you’re feeling really fancy and literal.

Pi Wax Seal | UncommonGoods

Pi Wax Seal, Pi Bottle Opener
Sure, a Facebook invite would do the trick, but who doesn’t love getting snail mail that isn’t a utility bill or questionable credit card offers? Our Pi Wax Seal makes a mathematical mark on all your correspondence.

However you decide to celebrate Pi Day this year, make it a celebration of math, geekery, and pastry. It’s the only day of the year when everyone can be a numbers nerd—even if you only ever used your calculator to spell funny words upside down.

Happy Pi Day! May your crusts be buttery and your fillings be plentiful.

Maker Stories

Building Knowledge: Tiffany Ard’s ‘Super Nerdy’ New Design

February 17, 2015

Tiffany Ard has been a long time favorite artist of UncommonGoods. We’ve featured a multitude of her fantastically scientific and geeky products. However, she had some ideas that she couldn’t execute herself, so she asked UncommonGoods to develop products with her. We knew this would be a huge opportunity for us and couldn’t wait to get on board.

Tiffany Ard | UncommonGoods

While she may be known as the Nerdy Baby Lady, she is a creative force to be reckoned with. From the very beginning of development, her enthusiasm was exciting. I couldn’t believe the depth of her knowledge for these higher level STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math, as she taught me) concepts. Every time she would forward a new set of art for our review, I would learn something new while fact checking. Who knows what a P-Orbital is? I do now.

This was our first product with the manufacturer, so Tiffany and I would go back and forth, refining her artwork until we got it right for production. After a grueling development cycle, we finally blew a sigh of relief when we got the final sets in hand. We collectively agreed that the aptly named Super Nerdy ABC Blocks would be a big hit in our collection. It is still one of my favorite projects during my time here at UncommonGoods. I can’t wait to get working on our next project with Tiffany, but before diving into our next brainstorming session, Tiffany agreed to take a pop quiz about her art, the blocks, and growing up geeky.

Super Nerdy ABC Blocks by Tiffany Ard | UncommonGoods

What was your favorite science project as a kid?
Oh, gosh just one? I loved science and read almost everything in the school library’s nonfiction section. I liked inventing stuff. When I was about nine I wanted to make a doorbell that our dog could ring by scratching on the door. The guy at Radio Shack showed me how to make a circuit with a switch. I set it up with a horrible sounding buzzer, and when it was done, my dad helped me attach this clunky, awful-looking contraption to the front door. Which thinking back is weird because we were renting and our landlord was sort of a grump! I hope they got their deposit back.

But the other constant was art. My earliest memories are of mixing paints. What an awesome experiment that can be for a kid, you know? Nothing blows up, nothing expensive to ruin, just seeing what happens when you mix this shade with that until you have a big gray sludgy mess—and then you rinse your brushes and start again.

Tiffany Painting

Watercolor Illustrations

When did you first come to the conclusion that you were a nerd?
Well, you know junior high is an age where kids are looking around to see where they fit in. I was too afraid of being hit by a ball to do sports, too shy to be a theater kid, too unpopular to be one of the popular kids. The kids I spent time with liked Douglas Adams and Carl Sagan. We liked writing stories and inventing languages and pretending to be time travelers. Hmm. Maybe “dorks” is a better word than “nerds!”

What are your favorite science facts that everyone should know?
I tell my kids that there are no scientific FACTS. Just answers that explain what we see happening around us, and new information can always change our understanding. But I’m being annoying, homeschooley, science mom.
My current favorite facts:
1. Evolution is real, y’all. It’s worth the effort to understand, because it is amazing.
2. That said, dinosaurs and humans DID co-exist. In fact we still do! My son has two of them as pets and they’re just as loud and messy and demanding as you would expect little, feathered dinosaurs to be.
3. Your body has more bacteria cells than human cells.

Why is it important to give kids gifts that are both fun and educational?
It isn’t! I mean, let’s be honest—you really do not need to cram kids’ brains with scientific terminology. The best gifts invite open ended play and make kids feel empowered to experiment fearlessly. If they happen to learn some fun science facts, all the better.

Turbellaria

Which illustration on the Super Nerdy ABC Blocks is your favorite and why?
Oh gosh. I love Io with its cute little active volcano. But my favorite might be the derpy-eyed flatworm. Those worms really look like that!

From Absolute Zero to Zoological Oddity, your ABCs cover some pretty interesting material. How did you decide what to put on the blocks?
This was a fun exercise in problem solving. There are 26 letter blocks, each block has six sides. My kids helped me brainstorm ideas. For some letters, there were too many options to choose from! Feynman, Friction, Fahrenheit, Force, Freefall, Fibonacci… For those it came down to deciding which would translate best into small, one-color illustrations.

Shelves in Tiffany's Studio

What are some fun ways to use Super Nerdy Blocks, aside from just stacking them up and knocking them over?
Spell your name. Look for patterns. Sort by type of interest—biology, chemistry, math. Make paths. Hide them all over the house and look for A-Z. Close your eyes and pick one block, and then challenge a friend to define the term.

Besides giving kids super-fun math and science toys, what else can grownups do to help encourage kids to embrace their nerdiness?
Model CURIOUSITY. Act excited when you don’t know something. Let kids see you trying and failing and trying again as you tackle learning something that’s hard for you. Let them experiment, let them play, and create a space where it’s always okay to make wrong guesses.

 

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Decoding the Perfect Pour

August 26, 2014

Kris, Danny, & HTML Glasses

Product: HTML Beer Glasses

Research:
I first saw UG’s HTML Beer Glasses in our warehouse – a shipment had just arrived and a few units were pulled out for our Receiving team to quality check. I had no idea what they were for. Honestly, my first thought was, “Why would anyone want a beer glass with weird printing on it?” Then one of the guys explained to me that the idea behind the printing is to help create the perfect pour – ah-hah! That made a lot more sense. So, feeling a bit like an idiot, I researched the seemingly-simply-but-actually-intricate-act of…pouring a beer.

HTML Glasses on Instagram | UncommonGoods

Hypothesis:
My initial thoughts: I will likely learn way more about foam than I ever imagined. I will be able to pour a prettier beer, but with little effect on actual taste. I will take regrettable pictures of myself and co-workers “testing” various possible scenarios.

Experiment:
First step – Grab up various coworkers and head to our friendly neighborhood watering hole.
Second step – Make contact with helpful bartender, Mike. Tell him of our educational needs.
Final step – Drink and make merry!

We headed to the Irish Haven in Sunset Park, Brooklyn for their weekly “Taco Tuesday” night. Despite the busyness, Mike was quite cheerful about both discussing our cool glasses and letting us know how they worked. He poured an IPA into one of our HTML Glasses and a Belgian Wheat beer in the other. Both poured perfectly in line with the glass’s indicators, though we were quick to note a difference after the pour.

HTML Glasses Full | UncommonGoods

Taking a tall drink by bar light is great; taking photos by bar light, not so much.

Turns out, given the height and shape of these glasses, they should be used for ales or lagers. The tall, thin style will keep them colder longer, and the relatively light head those beers come with will be well-showcased by the lean shape. Lighter beers will evaporate more quickly. Something like a good quality ale will work fine in this glass, but when you go lighter, like the Belgian we tried, it will evaporate too quickly and the head will be lost. If pouring a “sturdier,” heavier beer, it would make sense to have a wider glass, as this will allow the beer to breathe more. Those beers tend to have heavier foaming characteristics anyway, so one has to worry less about the head evaporating.

HTML Glasses | UncommonGoods

Mike explained that the quality of the beer also matters. The better the beer, the better the pour, the better the taste. If we poured a typical American ale into one of these glasses, it would likely not retain a good amount of foam on top, regardless of the quality of the pour or the quality of the glasses.

Conclusion:
Beer, in all its forms, is wonderful. But if you want to get the perfect pour of high quality lager or ale, these glasses will show you the way with style.

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