A scientist costume can easily be customized for children, teens or adults. All it takes is a lab coat -- made from a T-shirt or purchased -- markers and a few accessories to complete the costume. After the party, use the scientist clothing and props as part of a child's dress-up wardrobe.
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The accessories, hair and lab coat decorations vary with the type of scientist. Purchase white lab coat from an online shop or thrift store, or make one from a T-shirt. A traditional lab coat reaches to the knees to protect the scientist's clothing from chemicals. But scientists also wear thigh-length coats too, so keep this in mind when selecting a T-shirt for the DIY lab coat. If you've purchased a lab coat, skip to "Customizing Your Coat."
Morphing a T-Shirt Into a Lab Coat
Things You'll Need
- T-shirt, oversized with long sleeves. White is the standard color for lab coats, but Bill Nye often wore light blue on "The Science Guy" TV program
- White paper CD envelopes, two or more, depending on number of pockets desired (optional)
- White scraps of T-shirt material (optional)
- Hot glue gun or needle and thread
- Yardstick or ruler
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 a 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.
Customizing Your Lab Coat
Decorating the coat shouldn't replace other costume elements, but it makes it more fun for you and 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 physicists' famous equation, E=mc2; one of his phrases, such as "It's all relative"; and add a couple of your favorite Einstein quotes.
- Bill Nye: In place of your name over a top pocket, write "The Science Guy." Write catch phrases from the Disney/PBS 1990's children's show hosted by the scientist/comedian. For example, "Science Rules!"
Completing the Costume
Accessorize your costume with defining elements of your scientist's appearance:
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, all the better. If it also hangs just below the ears, then simply brush it back and muss it up some. Or, purchase a silver-gray costume wig fashioned after Einstein's medium length, sometimes-brushed-back, and, at other times, standing-on-end, mussed-up hair.
Under your lab coat, wear either a pullover sweater, a shirt with a sweater vest or cardigan, a jacket and 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 an over-the top flamboyant bow tie is a must. If your hair is short, brown and wavy -- perfect, or, 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. Or, draw a dinosaur on the coat, and wear a field hat.
If you're dressing as a scientist who works in a lab, wear safety goggles or a reasonable facsimile, such as the kind of goggles used during woodworking or weed-wacking and 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-age-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 ages 5 and under while playing with items with small parts, especially those who put items in their mouths.