Finding a gift that will surprise and delight a physics teacher is easier than you might think. Physicists enjoy solving problems or puzzles and figuring out how things work. Gifts particularly suited to physics teachers are ones which trigger their curiosity, expand their understanding of how things work or simply remind them of the awesome nature of the universe in which we live.
Find unique toys that are intriguing and behave in unexpected ways. Enclose a card with the gift indicating the teacher might enjoy trying to figure out how the toy works. Check out these toys online at Arbor Scientific (http://www.arborsci.com): Energy Ball (item P6-2300), Astro Blaster (item P1-5000), Mysterious Gyroscopic Top (item P3-3504), Strobe Revolution (item P3-6000) and Perpetual Top (item P3-3503). Gift stores at science museums or planetariums are also good places to find interesting and unique toys.
Pictures that show interesting physics phenomena or optical illusions make great additions to a physics teacher's classroom or office. The Hubble Space Telescope site (http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html) provide spectacular, high-resolution photographs of our universe free to the general public. Download your choice, and for the price of printing and a frame you have a unique gift for your teacher. Another choice is to frame a M.C. Escher poster purchased at online sites such as World of Escher (http://www.worldofescher.com/store/posters.html). Escher is famous for using perspective techniques to draw intriguing objects that are impossible to actually build.
Math and Logic Puzzles
Physicists love the challenge of solving logic puzzles or playing strategy games. Online sites such as Brilliant Puzzles (http://stores.brilliantpuzzles.com) have a wide selection of logic puzzles, brain teasers and strategy games that will intrigue and amuse your teacher. Another option is to buy a puzzle book such as "Brain Busters! Mind-Stretching Puzzles in Math and Logic" by Barry R. Clarke, "Challenge Your Brain Math & Logic Puzzles (Mensa)" by Dave Tuller and Michael Rios, or one of the many books by Martin Gardener like "Mathematics, Magic and Mystery (Cards, Coins, and Other Magic)."
Books describing the physics of everyday activities like sports and music, or more esoteric subjects such as wormholes and hyperspace, make great gifts. Your teacher will enjoy reading them and they are a great resource for anecdotes and examples that can enliven classroom teaching. Some suggestions are "The Physics of Football: Discover the Science of Bone-Crunching Hits, Soaring Field Goals, and Awe-Inspiring Passes" by Timothy Gay, "Good Vibrations: The Physics of Music" by Barry Parker, "Don't Try This At Home!: The Physics of Hollywood Movies" by Adam Weiner, "The Physics of Star Trek" by Lawrence M. Krauss, or books by Michio Kaku such as "Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel" or "Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension."
There are other online sites that you might want to check out. A wide selection of science gifts is available at http://www.sciencemall-usa.com. More standard items such as T-shirts, mugs and clocks printed with slogans designed to appeal to physics teachers are available on sites such as http://www.zazzle.ca/physics_teacher and http://shop.cafepress.com/physics.>
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