Last minute forensic Christmas gifts 2013

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Have you left it late to buy presents again?  Me too.  I’ve even left it late to write this post!

After the positive response to last years list and having been searching for gifts for myself recently I thought I would write a gift list for this year.  I have left it very late but most shops are still open for another week and you have the last few days of online shopping left – get cracking now!

For junior forensic investigators

Look at these little building blocks – a periodic table!  Junior CSI can get a head start on their chemistry before the rest of the alphabet. Does your child know the difference between a period and a group or their metals from non-metals? Get them the building blocks to everything!

[Found at Etsy – thanks to Dan B for the heads up on these little beauties.]

There are loads of other good items for junior this year. Fingerprinting art kits (such as that shown above) are one of my favorite items (make dinosaurs and animals from fingerprints!)  but the second I would recommend is a DNA investigators kit.  Cancer research UK have a ‘Genetic and DNA‘ kit available on their website – help with a worthy charity at the same time as educating your little one!


For him

If there is one thing I hate, it is novelty ties.  Here is a great example – DNA tie.

Home decor

If you are looking to decorate a room for a budding scientist this year you could do a lot worse than getting these wall stickers from ‘not on the high street‘. ‘This DNA sticker shows that tiny things can make a big impact! This accurate representation of the double helix DNA strand makes genetics come alive.’ 

Building your home lab

I thought this year I would try and build a basement lab – these next items would help!

Are you trying to break into the trace evidence market?  How about a USB microscope?

Turn your computer into an analysis tool by buying a USB miscroscope.

These have been available a few years but the newest ones give a very good picture and high zoom (Veho do a x200 and a x400 zoom).  For a cheaper option there are lenses available that clip on to smart phones and act as a magnifier lens (available at the big online store named after a river or eBay…).

You will need all the protective clothing (students seem to enjoy using this for parties as well as practicals) – available either from fancy dress shops or you can buy wholesale from CSI Equipment – who supply all of your crime scene investigation needs!

Box set DVD

After recommending Dexter as last years runaway DVD hit, this year has been all about ‘Breaking Bad’.  From chemistry teacher to mass drug manufacture may not seem a logical step, but it was for Walter White when a series of events led him to bump into ex student Jesse Pinkman.  Including some very interesting science around the manufacture of drugs, poisons (such as Ricin, as mentioned previously) and also explosives.  The upshot from the University side is a sudden interest in organic chemistry!

(Available on boxset or on netflix)


Christmas is a time of drink driving campaigns. Every year the Police spend extra time and effort in persuading people to catch buses and taxis or use a designated driver. For forensic scientists the alcohol technical defence is one of the ‘bread and butter’ items.  In 2013 Sheffield icons Artic Monkeys released a new album ‘AM’, on it they had the song ‘One For The Road’.  After watching the video I thought the song was about not using farm machinery after drinking, but the lyrics (as always with T’Monkeys) tell another tale…

Have a safe and happy Christmas 2013!!!


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About Dr Tom Bassindale

Dr Tom Bassindale is a forensic scientist, and the founder of We Are Forensic. He is currently the subject lead for chemistry and forensic science at Sheffield Hallam University. He's managed hundreds of forensic toxicology cases, and is an experienced court witness. He has specialist expertise in forensic toxicology and drug testing in sport. And yes... he watches CSI.