Science Toys That We're Telling Ourselves Are "Decor"

These are the toys you want to hang on the wall, keep on a shelf, and maybe put in a curio cabinet

Unsplash / Hans Reniers

Tesla coils, beakers, flasks, and all the accouterments of science have a look we love to display in our living space. It’s beautiful but also functional. Science toys, too, are both and fun and beautiful.

The best part of decorating with toys and useful science items is that we never have to put our toys away. Just pick them up, play with them, and set them back on the shelf or coffee table so they can go back to being decorations.

Here are some of our favorites.

3 Inch Magical Plasma Ball Light Electric Globe Finger Touch Glow

3 Inch Magical Plasma Ball Light Electric Globe Finger Touch GlowAmazon

It’s small enough to sit on your desk, quietly looking like a globe light. But turn it on and it evokes lazer beams and Tesla coils. Touch it and it tingles as blue flashes of lightening find your fingers.

Salt Water Powered Spider DIY 3D Puzzle Toy Science Educational Kit for Kids

Salt Water Powered Spider DIY 3D Puzzle Zapals

When it isn’t demonstrating how to convert sea water to electricity for the science experiment it was built for, this looks amazingly terrifying. You’ll have to find someone childish enough to geek out on assembling this from tiny plastic pieces. But once you have accomplished that, you will have one amazing display spider on hand.


ARCHON V2.1 LIGHTSABER Touch of Modern

If you take your lightsabers seriously, you will want one of these sitting on a shelf, ready to help you settle disputes. Or, preferably, one on several shelves each so that when you pick one up, your opponent can pick up another. Let the battle begin! This baby may be a toy but that’s only because it’s living outside of the worldview that created it. It’s fashioned from T6 Aircraft Aluminum. Turn it off when the play is over and — obviously — display it with pride.

Low Temperature Difference Stirling Engine Motor Model

Low Temperature Difference Stirling Engine Motor ModelFastTech

This Stirling engine demonstrates the power of temperature differentials. Set it on a cup of hot coffee to get the flywheel spinning. When it’s not illustrating this bit scientific of interest, it looks awesome doing nothing.

ScienceGeek Kinetic Art Asteroid

ScienceGeek Kinetic Art AsteroidAmazon

Looks gorgeous when sitting still on a desk or side table. But, with batteries in it, and after you give it a push, it will demonstrate the movement of asteroids. Beautiful, kinetic, and an interesting display of physics. This is the sort of multitasking we like in our toys…er decorations.

Educational Insights Sprout & Grow Window

Educational Insights Sprout & Grow WindowAmazon

Sure you can grow seeds in a pot. But this shows you what’s happening below the soil, which any botanist will tell you is the more interesting portion of a plant’s life. Set this in a windowsill and let the life cycle of a plant amuse you as it goes from seed (included) to complete root system and plants. Just add sun and water.

Glass Erlenmeyer Flask Set

Glass Erlenmeyer Flask SetAmazon

Beaker sets are super useful. Put flowers in them. Do science experiments. Water the plants. Grow cuttings. And when they aren’t being useful they look awesome sitting on a shelf. So throw away the empty wine bottles that make your place look like a recycling bin and upgrade to these. When the urge to do science strikes, you will be ready.

Gyroscope, Yellow Aluminum Alloy Wheel Gyro with Tripod Decompression Toy

Gyroscope, Yellow Aluminum Alloy Wheel Gyro with Tripod Decompression Toy Desktop DisplayAmazon

This awesome gyroscope (with display stand) will call to you to play with it from whatever spot on your desk or shelf you give it. Spin it, play with it, look at it. It’s beautiful, kinetic and fun.

Leonardo da Vinci Catapult Kit

Leonardo da Vinci Catapult Kit Amazon

The catapult is an ancient war machine. But Leonardo da Vinci reimagined it like this one. It uses the bent wood to store energy. You have to assemble this. But once you do, it will throw things. This would be quite fun as a way to amuse yourself and the cat — or the kids. And when not hurtling cat treats or candy, it looks great sitting on a shelf demonstrating a bit of science and your building skills.

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