A scientist costume can be easily customized for children, high school teens or adults. All it takes is a lab coat made from a T-shirt or purchased as well as markers and a few accessories to complete the costume. Scientists wear lab coats as part of their personal protective equipment to prevent chemicals, such as liquid nitrogen or acids, from splashing on their clothes while they work in the lab. After the party, use the scientist clothing and props as part of a child's dress-up wardrobe.
Purchase a White Laboratory Coat
The accessories, hair and lab coat decorations vary with the type of scientist. Purchase a white lab coat from an online shop or thrift store or make one from a T-shirt. A traditional lab coat reaches the knees to protect the scientist's clothing from chemicals. Scientists also wear thigh-length coats too, so keep this in mind when selecting a T-shirt for a DIY lab coat.
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Turn a t-shirt Into a Lab Coat
White is the standard color for lab coats, but Bill Nye often wore light blue on The Science Guy TV program. You can use a T-shirt of either color for your DIY lab coat.
Using a yardstick or ruler, draw a straight line down the center of the T-shirt from the top of the collar or the bottom of the V-neck to the hemline. Cut along the line from top to bottom. Check to see if the bottom of the shirt hangs about thigh-length. If it is too long, as it may be on a child, measure and cut the length to fit.
Using a hot glue gun, adhere the CD envelopes to both sides of the lap coat's front to make pockets. Alternatively, cut square shapes from another old T-shirt. Hot glue or hand-sew the patch pockets to the front of the lab coat—one near the top and one on each side below the waist.
Customize Your Lab Coat
Decorating the coat shouldn't replace other costume elements, but it makes it more fun for you and other observers. You'll need fine- or broad-tip permanent markers, so if the coat gets wet, they won't run, and you can wash and use it again. Depending on the type of scientist, you can decorate your coat in all sorts of ways:
Albert Einstein: Scribble the Nobel-prize-winning theoretical physicist's famous equation, E=mc2, or one of his famous phrases, such as "it's all relative." Add a couple of your favorite Einstein quotes.
Bill Nye: In place of your name over a top pocket, write "The Science Guy" (or Gal). Write catchphrases from the Disney/PBS 1990s children's show hosted by the scientist/comedian, such as "science rules!"
Accessorize the Costume
Accessorize your costume with defining elements of your scientist's appearance. You can wear street clothes or scrubs under the lab coat or take inspiration from famous scientists.
Albert Einstein: Since most pictures depict Einstein after his hair turned silver-gray, color your hair with powder or temporary hair dye. If your hair is already gray, that's all the better. If it also hangs just below the ears, then simply brush it back and muss it up. You can also purchase a silver-gray costume wig fashioned after Einstein's medium-length hair, which is sometimes brushed back and sometimes standing on end and mussed up.
Under your lab coat, wear either a pullover sweater, a shirt with a sweater vest or cardigan, a jacket and a tie. The eccentric, lovable genius also wore polo shirts, sandals with socks and fuzzy slippers.
Bill Nye: Wear a white shirt under your blue lab coat; a polka-dot or over-the-top, flamboyant bow tie is a must. If your hair is short, brown and wavy, that's perfect, or you can simply wear a wig or hat. Nye often wore hats in outdoor scenes that fit the science lesson.
Tuck your hair under a rain hat, which is appropriate with a phrase from one of his weather lessons written on the lab coat. You can also draw a dinosaur on the coat and wear a field hat.
Add a Scientific Touch
If you're dressing as a scientist who works in a science lab, wear safety glasses or a reasonable facsimile, such as the kind of goggles used during woodworking or weed whacking. You can also wear disposable latex gloves. Depending on the type of scientist, other props may include small, plastic toys peeking from your pockets, such as a microscope, telescope or a beaker and pipette.
For dress-up play, which is an especially fulfilling and skill-building experience for preschool kids, put together a bag of child-safe scientist clothes and props. Choose young-child-friendly items from these costumes and accessories to add to the make-believe play wardrobe.
Also add accessories young children can use, such as child-safe magnifying glasses, microscopes, plastic beakers with nontoxic bubbles, child-size safety goggles and other preschool-friendly paraphernalia.
Encourage kids to use household items, such as a plastic container and juice and water for lab equipment. As Einstein said, "Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere."
Ensure all small parts on costumes, such as buttons, are secure and won't come off in the mouth of a young child. Carefully supervise children age 5 and under while playing with items with small parts, especially those children who put items in their mouth.