#ShopAmerica: The American-made gift you make yourself … sort of

By Lauren Donia

As part of the Alliance for American Manufacturing's (AAM) ongoing effort to demystify shopping for American-made holiday gifts, we've asked our staff to submit their favorite American-made gifts. This post is part a series of "Staff Selections" we'll feature on ManufactureThis in coming days. Today's post is written by AAM President, Scott Paul. Check out all of AAM's holiday coverage, including more staff gift selections.

Kids love to tinker, build, and explore. It's innate. So when my boys and I stumbled upon an exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago where you could see your own toy being made, it was almost too good to be true.

For a very low cost, your child can help design their own custom-made spinning top (called a Gravitron) and then see it being manufactured by twelve machines, from start to finish, including a package.

Now we spin the toys often, talking science, how long they will stay up, and reliving the experience (complete with child-made sound effects) of their origination. What a great gift to combine hands-on learning, making, fun, and science. They get two thumbs up from my five-year-olds.

There are many "fab labs" at discovery and science centers around the nation that offer similar opportunities — seek one out for a memorable experience of your own.

Need more convincing? Scott Paul offers some tips for keeping your holiday Made in America. Bonus: footage of the aforementioned Gravitrons.