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Top 5 Gifts for Math Geeks | Number Lovers & Teachers Rejoice

Updated on September 12, 2013
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Finding an Amazing Present for a Math Nerd

Math. Our world runs on it, and we use it every day (whether we'll admit to it or not). It may be a painful subject to some, but there are people who absolutely adore mathematics. Seeing how much those people have done for us over the millennia, shouldn't we reward them from time to time? Finding a good gift for a math geek can be tricky, especially if you're not in that world.

For anyone who loves arithmetics, life can be a bit isolating. A lot of people downright hate crunching numbers. Many other simply don't care, and mathematics is a passion that aficionados can have trouble articulating to friends and relatives. Giving a geek a math related gift is a great way to validate your formula loving friends.

This article will go over a handful of fantastic gift ideas for math teachers, geeks, champions of calculus, adherents of algebra, and proponents of Pythagoras. We'll look at five gifts that most math lovers will love and explain what the appeal is for each one. I'll also touch on some present ideas that you should avoid at all costs. Let's get started!

A captivating book makes a great present for math geeks:

I often recommend that people start here if they're looking for an appropriate gift for a math lover. They are an ideal gift for a few reasons: they are enriching and engrossing, and if chosen well they'll provide many hours of entertainment to the reader. They indicate that you respect and want to interact with their interests (enough, at least, to hunt for a good read that they'd like).

They're also affordable and they aren't too over the top, yet they'll still be quite meaningful to the recipient. I'm personally a slow reader, but I always like receiving a good piece of literature in my area of interest.

If you're not in the math world yourself, however, it can be really intimidating finding something worthwhile. A few worthwhile titles to get you started are as follows:

The Music of the Primes looks into the mystery of prime numbers, and explores the life and work of Bernard Riemann and his hunt for the proof to his hypothesis.

Gamma: Exploring Euler’s Constant (listed to the side) explores the less well-known mathematical constant g, or gamma. It not only explains the constant in full, but describes the history and mathematicians involved.

Inside Your Calculator: From Simple Programs to Significant Insights is a book written to explain the inner workings of one of the most common (and least understood) devices in our daily lives: the calculator. All about how it works and more.

Funny math t-shirts: a great gift for geeks and teachers alike

Most mathematicians and aficionados have many constants in their lives: gamma, π and e. However, another fairly reliable constant is a geeky sense of humor. You can easily cater to a math geek's funny bone by picking out one of the many, many hilarious math related t-shirts, sweatshirts and items of swag.

Of course, picking out the right shirt might be tricky: not all of them are easily understood, and you may be required to do a bit of research before you buy. Above all, check the accuracy of the maths in the joke you're presenting, or you'll be mercilessly mocked!

The t-shirt that I've added to the side is a good example. It warps the popular anti-drunk driving slogan by replacing the word 'drive' with 'derive' (referring to differentiation in calculus speak). Note the particularly squiggly line.

If this doesn't tickle you, I'd recommend doing a brief search. There are hundreds of hilarious options out there.

Prime Numbers watch: A great geeky math gift

When you have something as beautiful and pure as a prime number, why would you give attention to anything else? Each prime number is unique, and as of yet there is no reliable formula to differentiate a prime number from the more common composite numbers.

This watch is a great gift for a math lover or teacher. It features prime numbers on its face, or a prime factored representation of the composite numbers.

Other than the unique face, it essentially functions and operates just like a regular watch (albeit a nice looking one) with quartz movement and a synthetic wrist band. It's a useful gift that's sure to give anyone who recognizes prime numbers a chuckle.

Square Root wooden puzzle game

Care for a puzzle? While this game is only directly related to mathematics through the name, it's a fascinating puzzle that anyone with an analytical mind is sure to enjoy. The idea is simple: the hardwood board features a number of small, geometric pieces. One piece is a little bit shallower than the others, allowing it to slip through a slit in the game board. The object is to arrange the pieces and then try to slide them around the board (without removing them) and free the smaller piece.

The great thing about this game is there are many different configurations you can try, from very easy to quite difficult. It's a fun thing to have lying around the living room, and it's also fun to watch your friends and relatives try for a high score.

Put their mind to work with this intriguing wooden puzzle. It's well made and will last a lifetime. A perfect present for math geeks and teachers.

Texas Instruments Nspire: an essential gift for any math students and teachers

If you're looking for a proper present to give a math geek who's going off to study, or for anyone struggling with an older calculator, this is a great idea. This is one of the newest graphing calculators from Texas Instruments.

With the Nspire, you can say goodbye to the old, pixelated days of the past. The display is slick, full color and high resolution, and it features an impressive graphical capability. It features modern bonuses such as a long-lasting rechargeable battery and connectivity with your PC or laptop. It's also thin and light, about twice the size of a modern cell phone.

You have access to the full range of functions you'd expect, along with great extras. Everything is color-codable, and you can graph in three dimensions. The calculator is a lot more responsive than previous models, and you won't have to wait forever for complex tasks to execute.

It also has a library preloaded with useful stuff, such as integral templates at the touch of a button.

Overall this is a slick, professional and powerful calculator that makes one of the best presents for a math nerd. Useful and fun.

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Gifts to NOT give to a math nerd:

There are definitely some things that a math geek will love to receive as a gift... and then there are items that will make them roll their eyes. Avoid making a bad impression on your mentor or loved one by heeding this advice.

  • Clever is good, but cheesy is bad. They've all heard the jokes about pie, it's yesterday's news. If you're going to give them something kitschy, be sure it's something that only someone with a moderate understanding of mathematics would chuckle at.
  • Don't give gifts that mock or foster any of the negative math geek stereotypes. Suspenders and pocket protectors aren't funny to anyone. Besides, didn't you hear? Geeky is back in style these days.
  • Make sure it's something practical (like, that they'll use) or hilarious. Sure those π cufflinks look like a good gift for your math teacher, but can you actually picture him wearing them?

Did I miss any great ones? Post your ideas here.

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    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Awesome ideas. My cousin is a math teacher and she always has geeky shirts and gadgets.