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(Smithsonian Magazine)   How the obsolescence of the home chemistry set makes young scientists less safe, and why it should be brought back. Darwin looks on with growing interest   (smithsonianmag.com) divider line 132
    More: Obvious, National Museum of American History, Fields of science, buckyballs, Rachel Carson, Toxic Substances Control Act, chemical test, silent spring, polio vaccine  
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4124 clicks; posted to Geek » on 12 Oct 2012 at 3:14 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-10-12 12:50:13 PM  
How hard can it be? Just play "On the loose" ten times an hour.
 
2012-10-12 01:18:56 PM  
There are a couple things that I would love to teach my son but are no longer available. Of course the chemistry set but also Heath Kits that my dad used to buy for me when I was a kid. As a result of building Heath Kits I can fix just about anything electric in my house. An example would be the Samsung flatscreen I have. It had two blown capacitors causing it to not power on and I replaced them for $4 in parts. The TV shop wanted $150 to fix it.. Another would be the controller on my stove which had a blown cap and I replaced it with one from an old DVD player for free. The replacement part from Whirlpool was $185.

The only thing available that comes close is a really dumbed down snap-together electric set which teaches absolutely nothing about the parts or how to replace anything. The last chemistry set I got my son was a plastic pile of Chinese trash. It's really hard to find anything that will educate children on real-world stuff that requires hands-on work. None of the learning toys I played with as a child are available in any level of quality and not even Radio Shack has anything useful anymore. Plenty of iPhone 5s though...
 
2012-10-12 01:21:27 PM  
Posting in the correct thread - how hard can it be?
 
2012-10-12 01:22:16 PM  
Trying to popularize chemistry sets again can't hurt, but if you really want to make science cool again, step up and pay teachers what they are worth and stop letting gym teachers double as science teachers so they can "teach the controversy."
 
2012-10-12 01:23:33 PM  

xynix: Heath Kits


If you are as well off as you always say you are, I smell a business opportunity.
 
2012-10-12 01:35:54 PM  

FishyFred: xynix: Heath Kits

If you are as well off as you always say you are, I smell a business opportunity.


I wish.. that requires engaged parents. Parents that don't park their kid somewhere in order to get them out of their hair for awhile. I don't see enough of that going on now.. I see a lot of people parking their kinds in front of a computer.

Of course that's not universal .. but I don't see a huge market demand for learning toys that require parental involvement.
 
2012-10-12 01:43:00 PM  
You can find stuff in the kitchen.  Tonight I'm making a volcano with vinegar and baking soda.  Tomorrow daddy and I are inventing and cooking up a powerful hallucenigenic made out of mold, frito's corn chips, and Draino that we're going to market to my friends at school as "Pony Enhancer!"
 
2012-10-12 01:49:37 PM  
I used my chem set to declare war on the local ant populations.

It's amazing how many more ants you can kill with biological attacks when compared to conventional concentrated light-based weaponry.
 
2012-10-12 02:09:20 PM  
Sad to see these go. Just think how much further ahead we could be in Meth technology.
 
2012-10-12 02:16:57 PM  

Leeds: I used my chem set to declare war on the local ant populations.

It's amazing how many more ants you can kill with biological attacks when compared to conventional concentrated light-based weaponry.


Fuel and a match baby.. I took the nuclear option very early. Louisiana has some nasty ants.
 
2012-10-12 02:19:51 PM  
I was more in to lego, meccano, and making rockets.

Yes, I am an engineer now.
 
2012-10-12 02:33:53 PM  
CSB:

When I was 10, I got a chemistry set with some pretty powerful stuff in it (early 70s, you could sell shiat like that and not get sued into the Stone Age) and the first thing I did was mix two of the items it said to NEVER mix.

It puffed a huge cloud of smoke, and I freaked out and dropped the little beaker out of the set, spilling whatever it was that the reaction created into the styrofoam tray that all the vials, test tubes, etc were packed in, and completely reduced the entire "101 Experiment Master Chemistry Set" to a puddle of pink ooze, interspersed with what was left of my birthday present.

SCIENCE!!
 
2012-10-12 02:52:14 PM  
There are still places to get cool and real science stuff for your kids. Hell, I still order from this place, and Mom still peruses the catalog when Christmas shopping for me.

Scientifics
 
2012-10-12 02:55:19 PM  

Diogenes: There are still places to get cool and real science stuff for your kids. Hell, I still order from this place, and Mom still peruses the catalog when Christmas shopping for me.

Scientifics


Damn I love that place

/their catalog used to be our dream book
//my gang and I dedicated themselves to producing liquid rocket fuel
///amazing how many things in those old chem sets were highly flammable
 
2012-10-12 03:19:17 PM  
they could use this as their home chem lab

www.motornomadics.com
 
2012-10-12 03:20:17 PM  
farm4.static.flickr.com 

Still have somewhere...
 
2012-10-12 03:22:23 PM  

MilesTeg: [farm4.static.flickr.com image 500x375] 

Still have somewhere...


I LOVED mine. Dad was an electrical engineer and got me started with a solid foundation. Best thing Radio Shack ever made.
 
2012-10-12 03:23:00 PM  

Diogenes: MilesTeg: [farm4.static.flickr.com image 500x375] 

Still have somewhere...

I LOVED mine. Dad was an electrical engineer and got me started with a solid foundation. Best thing Radio Shack ever made.


OK, that and my Trash 80.
 
2012-10-12 03:25:07 PM  

Tr0mBoNe: I was more in to lego, meccano, and making rockets.

Yes, I am an engineer now.


I could tell by the end of your first sentence. I played with lego and took apart all my toys and built new things out of them.

/engineer too
 
2012-10-12 03:27:37 PM  

MilesTeg: [farm4.static.flickr.com image 500x375] 

Still have somewhere...


I have the 75 in One (looks like that one) and the 300 in One (looks way different, had an actual breadboard) 

Found a pic: cdn2.sulitstatic.com
 
2012-10-12 03:28:16 PM  
Just got my daughter a snap circuit set for her fifth birthday. It is a little advanced for her, but she can already recognize the difference between series and parallel circuits. I definitely recommend it.

snapcircuits.net/

We have also done a volcano and other small experiments at home. We are planning on getting some litmus paper so she can test things around the house.

There are lots of things you can do and we are always looking for new ideas.

/Not science related, but we also picked up a world map puzzle for her just yesterday.
 
2012-10-12 03:36:42 PM  
with a world map you can show people where the middle east was in a little while
 
2012-10-12 03:39:01 PM  

the_sidewinder: Found a pic:


I had that exact kit as a child. Loved it.
 
2012-10-12 03:39:03 PM  
I have a question for any librarians

fta:

One of the museum's librarians donated the kit; he and his brother had played with it as children. "They weren't very good with chemistry," Seeger says, which may explain the donor's career choice.

it's not clear from the article whether the emphasized portion above came from the librarian or the writer. However, I remember back in the day that I had thought about going into archival studies to work in libraries with old texts (I attended a university with one of the greatest library collections on earth). it would have required some degree of chemistry knowledge. ignorant of chemistry, I abandoned the pursuit.

so, this librarian works with artifacts... wouldn't some chemistry knowledge be helpful, if not necessary? or am I just being stupid, and nothing in this library is old enough to need proper preservation or care?
 
2012-10-12 03:46:30 PM  

Absurdity: We are planning on getting some litmus paper so she can test things around the house.


You can make your own version using some paper towel and juice from certain fruits or vegetables (blueberries, red cabbage, etc).

I had a chemistry set back in the days when kids could buy potassium nitrate off the shelf in pharmacies. Good times...

And +1 to the Radio Shack electronics kits. I had the 200-in-one:
i.ebayimg.com
 
2012-10-12 03:47:51 PM  
The problem with modern chemistry sets is that, through the years of idiotic media scares, they're down to about 5 or 6 ridiculously boring experiments.
 
2012-10-12 03:52:27 PM  
www.otrcat.com


Let's bring this one back
 
2012-10-12 03:52:35 PM  

Somaticasual: The problem with modern chemistry sets is that, through the years of idiotic media scares, they're down to about 5 or 6 ridiculously boring experiments.


THIS.

Last Christmas I bought my nephews some "chemistry sets" which turned out to contain vinegar, salt, sugar, and some food coloring. I told them they could make cucumber salad dressing if they really felt ambitious..
 
2012-10-12 04:03:07 PM  

markie_farkie: Last Christmas I bought my nephews some "chemistry sets" which turned out to contain vinegar, salt, sugar, and some food coloring. I told them they could make cucumber salad dressing if they really felt ambitious..


Eih, give him some lye, rendered fat and pH test strips, teach him how to make soap

/Or is lye too dangerous these days
 
2012-10-12 04:09:38 PM  

Tr0mBoNe: I was more in to lego, meccano, and making rockets.

Yes, I am an engineer now.


Lego, and the build an electric thing that was all hex plastic bubbles and drive trains and wheels.

I'm...not an engineer now. Damnit. There goes that self confidence and self image again. JERK?
 
2012-10-12 04:13:47 PM  

Diogenes: Diogenes: MilesTeg: [farm4.static.flickr.com image 500x375] 

Still have somewhere...

I LOVED mine. Dad was an electrical engineer and got me started with a solid foundation. Best thing Radio Shack ever made.

OK, that and my Trash 80.


Yes to both.. Dad was a EE and got me one of those as well as a bunch of Heath Kits. My first alarm clock was a Heath Kit that I made myself. We also had a trash 80 with the 10 inch disk drive! My first game was a "star trek" simulator I wrote in Basic at the age of 9.

He also had to do a lot of board repair and he would bring me to work to help him unsolder integrated circuits and solder on new ones. By the age of 12 I could solder like a boss.

I just wish we had stuff like that for our kids today. Snapcircuits are just not the same - not even close.
 
2012-10-12 04:14:03 PM  
When I was a kid in the early 60's, my folks gave me Chemcraft chemistry set. I think the box promised 50 experiments, but I only remember one and I'm sure the smell from that one still lingers in the basement of that old house. Next they gave me a lead soldier kit which allowed me to turn molten lead into World War 2 soldiers in three different poses. After that they gave me a Heath Kit that allowed me to build a tube type stereo amplifier. It wasn't until they gave me a black power pistol that I began to become suspicious that they were really trying to kill me and make it look like an accident.
 
2012-10-12 04:15:28 PM  

FishyFred: step up and pay teachers what they are worth


For some teachers, this would mean much more money.
For most teachers, this would mean much less money.
 
2012-10-12 04:20:26 PM  

pottie: After that they gave me a Heath Kit that allowed me to build a tube type stereo amplifier.


Ahh the joys of burning yourself with a Weller Soldering gun plugging in a homemade appliance hoping you shielded all the wires correctly and chassis of the project was not live when you flipped the metal switch.
 
2012-10-12 04:25:21 PM  
My mother worked for a chemical company that sold natron (basically soda ash and some other stuff) and brought home about 30 lbs one year. I spent a couple of months practicing Egyptian mummification on fruits and vegetable and eventually some mice from the traps in the basement. Now I'm a historian.

All we're doing is teaching kids to never try anything that might possibly injure them and when they grow up they don't have any interests outside of tv and video games or know how to do anything practical.

/Mummification is totally a practical skill
 
2012-10-12 04:30:13 PM  
Baking soda and vinegar only go so far.

I've got an old "Boy's Guide to Science" from the 60's that has some interesting chemistry experiments for kids, but I don't know where to get some of the things to do them.
 
2012-10-12 04:34:01 PM  

Mr. Coffee Nerves: Posting in the correct thread - how hard can it be?


Maybe if you had a chemistry kit as a kid...
 
2012-10-12 04:34:27 PM  
Just bought my son a 'Getting started with Arduino' kit at the Maker Faire a few weeks ago.
Since then we visited the Hoboken hackerspace, learned how to solder, and are going to make a arduino project that makes a programmable video game that attaches to a TV.

That is the new heathkit.
 
2012-10-12 04:37:06 PM  

xynix: FishyFred: xynix: Heath Kits

If you are as well off as you always say you are, I smell a business opportunity.

I wish.. that requires engaged parents. Parents that don't park their kid somewhere in order to get them out of their hair for awhile. I don't see enough of that going on now.. I see a lot of people parking their kinds in front of a computer.

Of course that's not universal .. but I don't see a huge market demand for learning toys that require parental involvement.


Are you familiar with the maker movement? If you could manufacture the kits at a reasonable price and advertise them in the right places (e.g. Make Magazine), you might be able to establish a loyal customer base and make a decent profit on them.
 
2012-10-12 04:49:00 PM  

ltdanman44: [www.otrcat.com image 550x547]


Let's bring this one back


Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab

The set came with four types of uranium ore, a beta-alpha source (Pb-210), a pure beta source (Ru-106), a gamma source (Zn-65?), a spinthariscope, a cloud chamber with its own short-lived alpha source (Po-210), an electroscope, a geiger counter, a manual, a comic book (Dagwood Splits the Atom) and a government manual "Prospecting for Uranium."

Sure, they're not sold anymore...but you can make your own.
 
2012-10-12 04:49:07 PM  
Pick up Theo Gray's Mad Science: Experiments You Can do At Home - But Probably Shouldn't if you don't want to bother with neutered home chemistry sets.
 
2012-10-12 04:49:41 PM  
I still have mine from the 80's. I was going to give it to my son when he is old enough, but the chemicals will be 40 years old by then and I'm not sure if any of it is worth keeping.
 
2012-10-12 04:52:59 PM  

Beta Tested: Pick up Theo Gray's Mad Science: Experiments You Can do At Home - But Probably Shouldn't if you don't want to bother with neutered home chemistry sets.


I bought that a few years ago, in anticipation of my son's future science fair projects.

/MUAHAHAHAHA
 
2012-10-12 04:54:51 PM  
I want one for my kid so he can create the Philosopher's Stone, or the Immortality Potion.

Which ever comes first.
 
2012-10-12 05:01:39 PM  
Those old sets had a "formula" for something they called kitty gas. I got a friend to make up a double batch in his basement "lab". His parents were having a big party upstairs at the time. The party ended early. The poor kid did not equate kitty to skunk.
 
2012-10-12 05:03:31 PM  

kroonermanblack: Tr0mBoNe: I was more in to lego, meccano, and making rockets.

Yes, I am an engineer now.

Lego, and the build an electric thing that was all hex plastic bubbles and drive trains and wheels.

I'm...not an engineer now. Damnit. There goes that self confidence and self image again. JERK?


The toy was called Capsella. It was one of my favorites. I want to get a set for the oldest nephew but they are pricey now.

Last year my sister got him a 'chemistry' set disguised as a wizard's spell kit. It had citric acid, food coloring, baking soda, beet powder, a few plastic test tubes, a glitter filled wand and a few other items. It did very little to explain the science but gave it all a sheen of magic. After my blood pressure went back down and I stopped muttering about luddites we went outside and did the experiments while I explained what was actually happening. We had fun. Afterwards I turned it into an economics lesson by showing him that the kit came with tiny ammounts of the chemicals for a lot of money but most of them were already in the kitchen.
Legos are great but with all the specialty pieces and themed sets they seem more like model kits these days. This year he's getting a motorized erector set and the Mad Scientists Club books. It's up to me to prevent this kid from losing his imagination. Me and the old lady are not breeders so the nephews are the closest I have to a legacy. Being the cool uncle is way more fun than being the dad anyway.
 
2012-10-12 05:16:05 PM  

exparrot: Just bought my son a 'Getting started with Arduino' kit at the Maker Faire a few weeks ago.
Since then we visited the Hoboken hackerspace, learned how to solder, and are going to make a arduino project that makes a programmable video game that attaches to a TV.

That is the new heathkit.


You sound like a cool parent. I wish they had Maker Faires when I was a kid. Of course I did have classic Radio Shack, which the youngsters today don't. Arduino is an awesome way to get them hooked quickly. With the short attention spans of kids today it's nice to have quick results without too much of a learning curve. It's a great time to be a geek!
 
2012-10-12 05:19:31 PM  

xynix: There are a couple things that I would love to teach my son but are no longer available. Of course the chemistry set but also Heath Kits that my dad used to buy for me when I was a kid. As a result of building Heath Kits I can fix just about anything electric in my house. An example would be the Samsung flatscreen I have. It had two blown capacitors causing it to not power on and I replaced them for $4 in parts. The TV shop wanted $150 to fix it.. Another would be the controller on my stove which had a blown cap and I replaced it with one from an old DVD player for free. The replacement part from Whirlpool was $185.


My grandpa loved Heath Kits. His stereo was HK. His oscilloscope was HK. His DC to AC inverter was HK. The livingroom TV was HK. Probably half a dozen other things I don't remember.
 
2012-10-12 05:20:26 PM  

redsquid: Arduino is an awesome way to get them hooked quickly. With the short attention spans of kids today it's nice to have quick results without too much of a learning curve. It's a great time to be a geek!


Kits! So many *duino kits out there

content.solarbotics.com
content.solarbotics.com 

Even Arduino compatible Stamp style controllers!
content.solarbotics.com

/I have a netduino I'm using to make a little something, eventually
 
2012-10-12 05:22:46 PM  
I loved my home chemistry set. I once tried to make glow worms using my mom's good silverware. Not only did I learn about redox reactions, my mom taught me something about conservation of momentum when the ruined spoon hit my ass.

I used it for a 6th grade science fair once testing the ability of different salts to melt ice. My science teacher liked it but pointed out that most of the salts were poisonous. Apparently, the city frowns on using cyanide salts on icy streets. Wimps.
 
2012-10-12 05:24:23 PM  
Yet further proof nanny state liberals hate science.
 
2012-10-12 05:26:31 PM  
and yet there are still tonnes of these...
crimecollar.com

God bless America.
 
2012-10-12 05:28:43 PM  
Want kids to play with chemistry sets? Then forbid them to play with chemistry sets as too dangerous.
 
2012-10-12 05:29:35 PM  
I remember my brothers and I got a home chemistry set around 1975. We had fun with it.

One day (or was it two hours after opening the box?), we decided to put a bunch of chemicals in a test tube and heat it. Eventually, a beautiful flame shot out. The test tube was blackened nicely and couldn't be cleaned, no matter how hard we tried.

I still remember the look on my brother's face; first the shock, then the smile and laughter when he realized the house wasn't going to burn down after all. Good times.
 
2012-10-12 05:30:30 PM  

kroonermanblack: Lego, and the build an electric thing that was all hex plastic bubbles and drive trains and wheels.


Capsela? (summon the all powerful wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsela)

Stupid spoiled classmate had that, plus his parents kept him stocked in AA batteries so it would actually run. I was most jealous.

I Had:

- Erector set (small one, no motor)
- a ridiculous amount of Legos, including a couple cool "Expert Builder" sets (and one motor, but never had batteries)
- chemistry set (Chemcraft, had some decent nasty stuff in it, including alcohl lamp)
- Radio Shack 150 in 1 (Dad got for $5 because it didn't work, took it home and successfully built the circuit the salesperson couldn't build, heh heh)
- lots or rockets/rocket engines
- lots of electronic bits and parts (including etching to make my own PC boards).

So naturally I ended up a CPA/lawyer. Wait, what?

/I miss science
 
2012-10-12 05:32:01 PM  
Cue Dr Magnus Pyke:

"Science!!!"
 
2012-10-12 05:42:38 PM  

rufus-t-firefly: ltdanman44: [www.otrcat.com image 550x547]


Let's bring this one back

Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab

The set came with four types of uranium ore, a beta-alpha source (Pb-210), a pure beta source (Ru-106), a gamma source (Zn-65?), a spinthariscope, a cloud chamber with its own short-lived alpha source (Po-210), an electroscope, a geiger counter, a manual, a comic book (Dagwood Splits the Atom) and a government manual "Prospecting for Uranium."

Sure, they're not sold anymore...but you can make your own.


I have a Gilbert #12026 Chemistry Experiment Lab in front of me right now; it's never been used. Picked it up from some guy whose garage I was helping clean out. I thought a friend of mine would like the case, so when he offered it to me, I said, "Sure." I couldn't believe it when I got it home and opened it up to find everything sitting there like the day it was bought.
 
2012-10-12 05:43:23 PM  
The only thing that my parents ever said that actually pissed me off, was when I asked for a workshop space somewhere in the house, they said no. they were afraid I'd wreck what they had worked so hard to make. Naturally, I made portable onces so I could deploy anywhere. Then I discovered why they made their decision: my portable workshops gave me essential functionality on any project I was working on, and now, I can build, maintenize and repair almost anything with little more than my toolbag for larger projects and the stuff in my pockets for everything else. I was always finding ways to make things work, as I was raised to always, because I had to work to buy all of my own "toys". Because of this, I gained skills and knowledge in computing, networking, automotive, HVAC, controls, and even a little chemistry. I also played the hell out of some videogames, but they could never capture my time like programming or circuit building or car repair or anything else

That said, I know many of my friends, even today, who found that they could just videogame all day and not get yelled at, even though they are my academic superiors, always turn to me when they need something fixed or explained or built. Parents: don't leave your children helpless. For everything your kid breaks in the process they learn how to fix!
 
2012-10-12 05:48:30 PM  
FTA - emphasis on safety may actually be making young scientists less safe. "I get students who I can't get to wear eye protection in the lab or closed-toe shoes,"

THIS. I was in a chemistry program not long ago (quit because I found out I don't want to do laboratory work for the rest of my life), but most of the other students were complete idiots. One guy lifted up the hood shield while my flask was spewing SO3 gas. (hint - add H2O and that's H2SO4). I set the flask down, covered my mouth and backed away quickly. He coughed up blood.

/if he had read what was going to happen in the experiment, he would have seen the warning about the gas and not to breathe it
//I would have shut the hood back down, but it would have most likely caused his flask and all the chemicals to spill
 
2012-10-12 06:01:00 PM  

anfrind: xynix: FishyFred: xynix: Heath Kits

If you are as well off as you always say you are, I smell a business opportunity.

I wish.. that requires engaged parents. Parents that don't park their kid somewhere in order to get them out of their hair for awhile. I don't see enough of that going on now.. I see a lot of people parking their kinds in front of a computer.

Of course that's not universal .. but I don't see a huge market demand for learning toys that require parental involvement.

Are you familiar with the maker movement? If you could manufacture the kits at a reasonable price and advertise them in the right places (e.g. Make Magazine), you might be able to establish a loyal customer base and make a decent profit on them.


I'm a biz dev and sales guy with an engineering background. The keyword there is background and I've left the engineering side and have no desire to go back. With that said I would be more than willing to get involved in something like that but it would require a trusted partner that understands and appreciates the techie approach of creation. Maybe it's something to consider and my son could be involved in such a thing. I wouldn't need to make a huge profit just cover costs and provide a good USA built product to other engineering minded fathers.

Certainly something to think about.
 
2012-10-12 06:01:09 PM  
I keep asking the wife to get the boy more Engino kits, cough cough ya all for the boy. Lego meet physics. But for the life of me I have a hard time comunicatng some of the ideas to a 4 year old.

There are some nice ideas though in this thread. Might be a fun xmas for me him
 
2012-10-12 06:22:11 PM  
Silly Subby,

I very much doubt Darwin is looking on, as he is quite dead.

/ Got my daughter a crystal-growing kit last year. Turned out to be quite messy, and the instructions were written in Engrish
 
2012-10-12 06:22:37 PM  

xynix: I'm a biz dev and sales guy with an engineering background. The keyword there is background and I've left the engineering side and have no desire to go back. With that said I would be more than willing to get involved in something like that but it would require a trusted partner that understands and appreciates the techie approach of creation. Maybe it's something to consider and my son could be involved in such a thing. I wouldn't need to make a huge profit just cover costs and provide a good USA built product to other engineering minded fathers.

Certainly something to think about.


Perhaps as advertising / getting started tool, one could program a little electronics simulator that would "create" these objects and show how to do projects, so the kids could get started without close supervision, then when they had an inkling what they were doing, they could order the kits and build the items for real...

Well, I would be more likely to buy something like that for my 12 yr old if he brought me the diagrams and stuff and said, please can you buy this stuff for me, I want to make this!! And considering his addiction to minecraft, I think it might even happen. He's definitely learning a bit about circuits in that game.
 
2012-10-12 06:25:58 PM  

markie_farkie: CSB:

When I was 10, I got a chemistry set with some pretty powerful stuff in it (early 70s, you could sell shiat like that and not get sued into the Stone Age) and the first thing I did was mix two of the items it said to NEVER mix.

It puffed a huge cloud of smoke, and I freaked out and dropped the little beaker out of the set, spilling whatever it was that the reaction created into the styrofoam tray that all the vials, test tubes, etc were packed in, and completely reduced the entire "101 Experiment Master Chemistry Set" to a puddle of pink ooze, interspersed with what was left of my birthday present.

SCIENCE!!


If it burned off the "10" it would become the 1 Experiment Master Chemistry Set.
 
2012-10-12 06:37:51 PM  
When I was a kid (late 80s early 90s) I had a decent chemistry set, irc. It had all these little vials of different basic chemicals and elements (a few acids and bases and some straight up powdered metals like sodium). It also had a cool molecule modeling kit with the little balls and springs for bonds and a manual explaining it all. I killed many ants with chemical warfare the year I got it.

I also remember having a bunch of legos.

I tried to get my parents to let me build a particle accelerator in the basement (a simple one) but they didn't go for it, something about not wanting me to tap into the fuse box. Whatever...I'm a nuke engineer now so I use and build the "no shiat" versions of acclerators and other radiation equipment anyways.

/csb
 
2012-10-12 06:48:45 PM  
My local school system had a farking seed irradiator. Can't remember if it was Cs137 or Co60, probably the former. Never got to use it, though, by the 1970's they hid it from the kids.

One guy in our neighborhood has one of the old electrostatic/ultraviolet patent-medicine "treatment" kits.

This thread gives me lots of ideas to share and build on with little Un. Got to be careful these days, stuff I did growing up would probably be "OMG - terrorism!" today.

/NaClO3 + C12H22O11 + a little heat = a lot of heat + smoke + some other stuff and a "WHY is the attic fan on in the middle of JANUARY ? ! !"
 
2012-10-12 06:50:20 PM  

Unobtanium: My local school system had a farking seed irradiator. Can't remember if it was Cs137 or Co60, probably the former. Never got to use it, though, by the 1970's they hid it from the kids.

One guy in our neighborhood has one of the old electrostatic/ultraviolet patent-medicine "treatment" kits.

This thread gives me lots of ideas to share and build on with little Un. Got to be careful these days, stuff I did growing up would probably be "OMG - terrorism!" today.

/NaClO3 + C12H22O11 + a little heat = a lot of heat + smoke + some other stuff and a "WHY is the attic fan on in the middle of JANUARY ? ! !"


I looked at the homemade particle accelerator and went "Neat, but too no-fly-listy"
 
2012-10-12 06:59:27 PM  
Lots of ideas for Christmas for my cousins (1st grade through middle school). I got all of them something they could learn from for Christmas last year (chess set, science kits, a snap circuit kit, books), and if I have some money, I'll do the same this year. The younger ones are definitely into science (and causing chaos... duh). The youngest was thrilled with his microscope last year. My mom and I picked out matching volcano sets for the two youngest (they're a year apart) after I tried to show them baking soda and vinegar when I babysat them a few weeks earlier (even better when my uncle spotted his nephew opening one and said he was happy it wasn't going home with him, as his son started opening his). The seven year old is at that point where he'll argue things with me, too. Like he swore that it was salt and vinegar that reacted. And a couple months ago he amusingly argued with me about the weather and what thunder is (I'm a grad student in atmospheric sciences, something which does not impress him in the least, nor hold up as proof that I might know better).

The arduino kits sound like an interesting idea for my brother, who has a bit of programming experience and who likes to tinker (he's 16), though I don't want to get him something where he finds that he needs more stuff for what he *really* wants to do (and technically I already got him a Christmas and birthday present, since I bought his class ring). He's the only one in the family who tries to out-nerd me :D
 
2012-10-12 07:00:04 PM  

Unobtanium: My local school system had a farking seed irradiator. Can't remember if it was Cs137 or Co60, probably the former. Never got to use it, though, by the 1970's they hid it from the kids.

One guy in our neighborhood has one of the old electrostatic/ultraviolet patent-medicine "treatment" kits.

This thread gives me lots of ideas to share and build on with little Un. Got to be careful these days, stuff I did growing up would probably be "OMG - terrorism!" today.

/NaClO3 + C12H22O11 + a little heat = a lot of heat + smoke + some other stuff and a "WHY is the attic fan on in the middle of JANUARY ? ! !"


KClO3 myself. Lots more reactive. And S and C instead of the sucrose. Really phenomenal amount of smoke for such a small container.
 
2012-10-12 07:09:08 PM  
Oh, and I don't remember having a lot of cool science kits growing up in the 90s, though I did have a microscope at one point, but had no idea what the hell to do with it. Also, I decided I wanted to be a meteorologist at age 7, so I got a lot of weather books (and the occasional other science-ey book). And, the fallback gift for everyone has almost always been a thermometer; I probably received somewhere between 10-15 of those over the last 16 years. I think I still have 6 of them...

/Probably had something to do with the fact that I rarely wore the clothes my relatives picked out
//And most of the makeup went unused, too, except maybe if I handed it off to my sister
 
2012-10-12 07:10:09 PM  

Quantum Apostrophe: KClO3 myself. Lots more reactive. And S and C instead of the sucrose. Really phenomenal amount of smoke for such a small container.


Yes, and the stuff i was using was awfully hygroscopic. But easier to get, as the oxidizer for a torch sold by a certain national retail chain now very badly in decline. And the sugar was in the kitchen. Along with the mortar and pestle. Place I worked in high school had a small amount of chemistry lab stuff laying around for sale. "Hey, boss, how much for this dusty box of junk?" "5 bucks should do it."
 
2012-10-12 07:14:18 PM  
how can we do that? it's nearly criminal to own glassware or a balance. legalize meth already. solve obesity, the economy, depressed housewives...
 
2012-10-12 07:17:20 PM  
xynix
The only thing available that comes close is a really dumbed down snap-together electric set which teaches absolutely nothing about the parts or how to replace anything. The last chemistry set I got my son was a plastic pile of Chinese trash. It's really hard to find anything that will educate children on real-world stuff that requires hands-on work.

I bought a Arduino for my son Saturday and subscribed to two robotics magazines aimed at experimenters. Micro Center had a whole aisle of builder parts next to the video games. Then, of course, there's Make magazine.
 
2012-10-12 07:34:16 PM  

Priapetic: Capsela?


Capsela was fun during bath time. You had the floaty legs and propellers to make floating armadas with. The set my folks got me for Christmas was just shy of $100, a fairly large sum for toys in the early '80s.

Looking back, I think they were a heck of a lot more interactive than the larger block Lego sets at the time.
 
2012-10-12 07:40:17 PM  

ltdanman44: [www.otrcat.com image 550x547]


Let's bring this one back


Yeah! I'd like to point out that there used to be a dye pigment called "Uranium Yellow." Apparently the color positively glowed.
 
2012-10-12 07:42:35 PM  

Diogenes: There are still places to get cool and real science stuff for your kids. Hell, I still order from this place, and Mom still peruses the catalog when Christmas shopping for me.

Scientifics


I love that site. Have for quite a while now. :)
 
2012-10-12 07:49:01 PM  

xynix: It's really hard to find anything that will educate children on real-world stuff that requires hands-on work.


FALSE.

It's hard to find any such commercial product. You as a father can easily drive him to radio shack or the hardware store, give him the run down on the pieces parts, and teach him how to build something cool like a potato gun or a laser tag set.
 
2012-10-12 07:50:40 PM  

meat0918: Baking soda and vinegar only go so far.

I've got an old "Boy's Guide to Science" from the 60's that has some interesting chemistry experiments for kids, but I don't know where to get some of the things to do them.


Libyans.

www.dailyautocrat.com

Be sure to have a good escape plan.
 
2012-10-12 07:53:48 PM  
I say bring back real chemistry sets. What's the worst that could happen?

cdn.videogum.com
 
2012-10-12 07:58:03 PM  
Pfft. You just have to know where to shop.

Coolest toy store in Seattle.
 
2012-10-12 08:03:02 PM  
fc01.deviantart.net
 
2012-10-12 08:15:39 PM  

Unobtanium: Quantum Apostrophe: KClO3 myself. Lots more reactive. And S and C instead of the sucrose. Really phenomenal amount of smoke for such a small container.

Yes, and the stuff i was using was awfully hygroscopic. But easier to get, as the oxidizer for a torch sold by a certain national retail chain now very badly in decline. And the sugar was in the kitchen. Along with the mortar and pestle. Place I worked in high school had a small amount of chemistry lab stuff laying around for sale. "Hey, boss, how much for this dusty box of junk?" "5 bucks should do it."


Oh yes, I remember quite clearly the crackling sound of the powder reacting with moisture on my skin. Oh and Micronox?
 
2012-10-12 08:29:48 PM  
I realize I am very late to the thread, but for those fondly remembering Heathkit kits, Ramsey Electronics has stuff you can solder together, some silly LED blinking toys, all the way up to FM transmitters and stuff. If nothing else, it can get you some quality time with your kid, maybe even help them to choose to be a better student and get a decent career. Unlike myself.

Disclaimer: I do not work said company, though I have purchased a few of their products and enjoyed them.

http://www.ramseyelectronics.com/
 
2012-10-12 08:37:14 PM  
I'll never forget the first science kit my dad got for me when I was but a young lad.
A cylindrical container, into which a magical oil made from vegetables was poured.
The kit contained a sharp instrument, knife-like in appearance, and a chemical labeled "sodium chloride".
Under supervision I would take a common potato, slice it thinly, and place it into the container.
My dad would then turn the science dial to maximum, and the oil would heat up to a dangerous, roiling boil, transforming the tubers into a delicious concoction, made even tastier with the addition of the aforementioned chemical.
I couldn't have gotten where I am today without that early childhood experience.
 
2012-10-12 08:48:07 PM  
Being a kid in the Fifties and early Sixties was f**king awesome.
I had boomerangs, throwing knives, BB guns, and pocket knives - and I lived in the city.
I had REAL chemistry sets.
I had a REAL microscope and germ culture set.
I did not have one of those cool atomic experiment sets.
But at the age of ten, I owned thirteen Playboy magazines.
I was an honored man. In 1960, that made you the shiat, amongst other 10 year olds.
 
2012-10-12 08:50:24 PM  

Dear Jerk: xynix
The only thing available that comes close is a really dumbed down snap-together electric set which teaches absolutely nothing about the parts or how to replace anything. The last chemistry set I got my son was a plastic pile of Chinese trash. It's really hard to find anything that will educate children on real-world stuff that requires hands-on work.

I bought a Arduino for my son Saturday and subscribed to two robotics magazines aimed at experimenters. Micro Center had a whole aisle of builder parts next to the video games. Then, of course, there's Make magazine.


Make has a cool website where you can order all kinds of kits. I'm actually getting into it now as an adult so I can teach my kid when she's older.

I always wanted to do these things but had one of the first over protective parents. I guess it's rather tame as far as midlife crisis go.
 
2012-10-12 08:57:35 PM  

Quantum Apostrophe:

Oh yes, I remember quite clearly the crackling sound of the powder reacting with moisture on my skin. Oh and Micronox?


SolidOx (Happy that Google settled one of the Books lawsuits)

Micronox was Nitrous Oxide + Butane
 
2012-10-12 09:14:12 PM  

jso2897: I had boomerangs, throwing knives, BB guns, and pocket knives - and I lived in the city.


Yeah, but you have to admit, the city streets were a lot more dangerous when every kid had a boomerang.
 
2012-10-12 09:17:24 PM  
FTA: " The pair had scrounged the equipment to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water."

My 8th grade science teacher was a retired MIT Prof.
I still remember this one, easy as water, 2 test tubes and some DC voltage (train transformer).

Potassium Permanganate + glycerine is fun too

/had the big Radio Shack set
// paper route $ went to RS too
 
2012-10-12 09:26:20 PM  

big pig peaches: Dear Jerk: xynix
The only thing available that comes close is a really dumbed down snap-together electric set which teaches absolutely nothing about the parts or how to replace anything. The last chemistry set I got my son was a plastic pile of Chinese trash. It's really hard to find anything that will educate children on real-world stuff that requires hands-on work.

I bought a Arduino for my son Saturday and subscribed to two robotics magazines aimed at experimenters. Micro Center had a whole aisle of builder parts next to the video games. Then, of course, there's Make magazine.

Make has a cool website where you can order all kinds of kits. I'm actually getting into it now as an adult so I can teach my kid when she's older.

I always wanted to do these things but had one of the first over protective parents. I guess it's rather tame as far as midlife crisis go.


MAKE is why I recently got hooked on electronics again at the ripe old age of 40. I kept seeing really cool projects and I just decided to do it. Now I'm building analog synthesizer circuits and sequencers and stuff. When my wife complains about the noise I just tell her to be happy it wasn't a motorcycle or a 'secretary' or whatever. I like my tame midlife crisis.
 
2012-10-12 09:28:40 PM  

Unobtanium: Quantum Apostrophe:

Oh yes, I remember quite clearly the crackling sound of the powder reacting with moisture on my skin. Oh and Micronox?

SolidOx (Happy that Google settled one of the Books lawsuits)

Micronox was Nitrous Oxide + Butane


Oh wow, I remember that floating head guy...
 
2012-10-12 09:31:15 PM  
When I was 8, back in 1969, my mother left a $20 bill on the counter. I grabbed it never even thinking I was stealing. It just never registered that my mom could leave out that much money. To me it was just like finding it on the street.
I got my friend, hopped on our bikes, and made a beeline for the toy store. I got my friend a squirt gun, and got myself a geology science kit.
It had an alcohol burner for wire loop flame tests, scales for measuring specific gravity, lots of different ores including galena, fools gold, and uranium ore that would set off a geiger counter. a few different minerals of various Mohs scale hardness, and a hunk of asbestos.
I was a little disappointed that thin strands would melt and burn. I wanted it to be some magical impervious to fire stuff.
Of course, my mom was pissed, because $20 was a significant amount of cash at the time. My dad was in 'Nam at the time, and she made me explain what I did during his monthly call. I just went on about how cool the set was, and he thought it was hilarious.
 
2012-10-12 10:03:02 PM  

Diogenes: There are still places to get cool and real science stuff for your kids. Hell, I still order from this place, and Mom still peruses the catalog when Christmas shopping for me.

Scientifics



Thanks for the link...now I know what my 10 year old is getting for Christmas, and his next birthday too!
 
2012-10-12 10:22:17 PM  
Step 1: Put some of everything in test tube.
Step 2: Throw away test tube full of black goo.
 
2012-10-12 10:28:10 PM  

xynix: There are a couple things that I would love to teach my son but are no longer available. Of course the chemistry set but also Heath Kits that my dad used to buy for me when I was a kid. As a result of building Heath Kits I can fix just about anything electric in my house. An example would be the Samsung flatscreen I have. It had two blown capacitors causing it to not power on and I replaced them for $4 in parts. The TV shop wanted $150 to fix it.. Another would be the controller on my stove which had a blown cap and I replaced it with one from an old DVD player for free. The replacement part from Whirlpool was $185.

The only thing available that comes close is a really dumbed down snap-together electric set which teaches absolutely nothing about the parts or how to replace anything. The last chemistry set I got my son was a plastic pile of Chinese trash. It's really hard to find anything that will educate children on real-world stuff that requires hands-on work. None of the learning toys I played with as a child are available in any level of quality and not even Radio Shack has anything useful anymore. Plenty of iPhone 5s though...


You had to replace the 1000uf and 2500uf big electrolytics on the power supply board? They were all bloated out because they were sized undervoltage?

Buy the TV at Walmart or Brandsmart USA?
 
2012-10-12 10:41:48 PM  
Their instructions recommended testing for the presence of hydrogen with a glowing ember-luckily, they were working in a makeshift basement lab where there was nothing flammable.

You're right, it's just over-reaction by helicopter parents...

Seriously, THIS is the anecdote you choose to show how safe chemistry sets can be? Who's the retard who wrote this stupid article? I expected better from The Smithsonian.
 
2012-10-12 10:46:11 PM  
Related? You can order owl pellets and take them apart to see what the owls ate. Pretty freaking cool. No, not chemistry, but certainly something to encourage scientific curiosity. We ordered some over the summer. Kids loved them.
 
2012-10-12 11:14:59 PM  
The only experiment I remember was "mix everything together then heat it to a boil". If I remember correctly the liquid caught on fire and stank so I deemed it a total success.
 
2012-10-12 11:20:49 PM  
Hey, does anybody know what this LOGWOOD is for??

Dad brought a Chemcraft set home one time that someone had given him and all the neat ingredients were empty, there was just dumb stuff left. Also the manual was missing so I made a variety of stink bombs from what was left but never used "logwood". Also, the alcohol burner didn't burn right with isopropyl alcohol and we never had any of the right kind. I got a little caught up later we had a store in San Jose called the Science Shop where I was able to get Iodine crystals and I mixed them (carefully!) up in ammonia - best purple cloud explosive ever!
 
2012-10-12 11:30:19 PM  
I should mention - Lindsey Technical Books has put out his last catalog and it's only good until February. He reprints books on classic mechanics - steam power, lathes, trains, casting. If you've been meaning to get the Gingery books on building a machine shop from scrap, this might be your last chance. The catalog itself is fun to read.
 
2012-10-12 11:44:33 PM  

Absurdity: We have also done a volcano and other small experiments at home. We are planning on getting some litmus paper so she can test things around the house.


Good stuff. Why not go the extra mile and make your own out of beets?
 
2012-10-13 12:24:13 AM  

FishyFred: Trying to popularize chemistry sets again can't hurt, but if you really want to make science cool again, step up and pay teachers what they are worth and stop letting gym teachers double as science teachers so they can "teach the controversy."


1/10
 
2012-10-13 12:47:08 AM  
Elitist coastal libtards know nothing of chemistry compared to REAL AMERICANS found in the meth-infested HEARTLAND!!
 
2012-10-13 12:51:27 AM  
mlkshk.com

While we're at it, bring these back. Let kids learn about ballistic trajectories (and dodging) the way I did.
 
2012-10-13 12:56:40 AM  
My brother had a chemistry set. I thought the centrifuge was the coolest part.

Of course the instructions say...don't mix #23 with number #49. So you know which experiment came first.

Of course, no eye protection.
 
2012-10-13 01:20:46 AM  

Dudley_Nightsoil: I got a little caught up later we had a store in San Jose called the Science Shop where I was able to get Iodine crystals and I mixed them (carefully!) up in ammonia - best purple cloud explosive ever!


Is this the store you're talking about, by any chance?

/alas, closed on weekends
 
2012-10-13 01:58:15 AM  

ltdanman44: [www.otrcat.com image 550x547]

Let's bring this one back


2.bp.blogspot.com

I see what you did there.
 
2012-10-13 02:07:02 AM  

Dear Jerk: I should mention - Lindsey Technical Books has put out his last catalog and it's only good until February. He reprints books on classic mechanics - steam power, lathes, trains, casting. If you've been meaning to get the Gingery books on building a machine shop from scrap, this might be your last chance. The catalog itself is fun to read.


Thanks! I think I just spent my christmas money.
 
2012-10-13 02:27:52 AM  
Bookmark!

Way too many links to check out tonight.
 
2012-10-13 02:30:44 AM  

ltdanman44: [www.otrcat.com image 550x547]


Let's bring this one back


How appropriate that the kid on the box is glowing.
 
2012-10-13 07:32:38 AM  

Mikey1969: Their instructions recommended testing for the presence of hydrogen with a glowing ember-luckily, they were working in a makeshift basement lab where there was nothing flammable.

You're right, it's just over-reaction by helicopter parents...

Seriously, THIS is the anecdote you choose to show how safe chemistry sets can be? Who's the retard who wrote this stupid article? I expected better from The Smithsonian.


I think that's how you test for oxygen not hydrogen.
 
2012-10-13 09:06:33 AM  

MilesTeg: [farm4.static.flickr.com image 500x375] 

Still have somewhere...


I had the 150 version of that!
 
2012-10-13 09:14:57 AM  

FishyFred: Trying to popularize chemistry sets again can't hurt, but if you really want to make science cool again, step up and pay teachers what they are worth and stop letting gym teachers double as science teachers so they can "teach the controversy."


^THIS My teenage daughter understands this. She was outraged when she found out that her favorite language arts teacher only made $70K while the gym teacher made $100K+ America is f'd up with all of this sports worship.

FYI Can barely live on $70K in Chicago burbs
 
2012-10-13 09:18:50 AM  

Absurdity: Just got my daughter a snap circuit set for her fifth birthday. It is a little advanced for her, but she can already recognize the difference between series and parallel circuits. I definitely recommend it.

snapcircuits.net/

We have also done a volcano and other small experiments at home. We are planning on getting some litmus paper so she can test things around the house.

There are lots of things you can do and we are always looking for new ideas.

/Not science related, but we also picked up a world map puzzle for her just yesterday.


If you know anyone who teaches at a large school, that's a great opportunity. When college profs learn that one of their colleagues knows a kid who wants to learn, they're all over that. That's how I got my litmus paper when I was a kid.

As for maps, I have two recommendations:
1) An actual globe (inexpensive inflatable is fine), with NO markings on it. I think it's a critical error of early education to not SHOW kids what our world looks like as a *planet*.
2) Historial atlas. Geograhipic and historical education is often narrowly focused, in time and space. A historical atlas shows much more clearly how the human world has changed over the last several thousand years. I think it's a very valuable thing to grasp, that nations and borders are not set in stone.
 
2012-10-13 09:21:05 AM  

the_sidewinder: markie_farkie: Last Christmas I bought my nephews some "chemistry sets" which turned out to contain vinegar, salt, sugar, and some food coloring. I told them they could make cucumber salad dressing if they really felt ambitious..

Eih, give him some lye, rendered fat and pH test strips, teach him how to make soap

/Or is lye too dangerous these days


You can still buy lye. You can even buy food-grade lye.
 
2012-10-13 09:24:55 AM  

xynix: Diogenes: Diogenes: MilesTeg: [farm4.static.flickr.com image 500x375] 

Still have somewhere...

I LOVED mine. Dad was an electrical engineer and got me started with a solid foundation. Best thing Radio Shack ever made.

OK, that and my Trash 80.

Yes to both.. Dad was a EE and got me one of those as well as a bunch of Heath Kits. My first alarm clock was a Heath Kit that I made myself. We also had a trash 80 with the 10 inch disk drive! My first game was a "star trek" simulator I wrote in Basic at the age of 9.

He also had to do a lot of board repair and he would bring me to work to help him unsolder integrated circuits and solder on new ones. By the age of 12 I could solder like a boss.

I just wish we had stuff like that for our kids today. Snapcircuits are just not the same - not even close.


I believe that was an 8" floppy, not 10. Would have been the Model II.

Kits may no longer include soldering and breadboards, but those are readily available, even from RatShak. I'm not sure where to get board components off the shelf anymore, though. RS told me they no longer sell them, and there are precious few TV and radio stores around anymore.
 
2012-10-13 09:30:55 AM  

Tom_Slick: pottie: After that they gave me a Heath Kit that allowed me to build a tube type stereo amplifier.

Ahh the joys of burning yourself with a Weller Soldering gun plugging in a homemade appliance hoping you shielded all the wires correctly and chassis of the project was not live when you flipped the metal switch.


Too bad there's no kit for English.
 
2012-10-13 09:36:00 AM  

exparrot: Just bought my son a 'Getting started with Arduino' kit at the Maker Faire a few weeks ago.
Since then we visited the Hoboken hackerspace, learned how to solder, and are going to make a arduino project that makes a programmable video game that attaches to a TV.

That is the new heathkit.


The maker spaces (any kind, really, not just Make-approved) are very powerful learning environments, because they leverage the one factor none of these kits were able to include: peer pressure. Really, I'm serious. A kit with a kit can learn some stuff, if they're motivated. But if they regularly associate with others who are also interested in learning and doing stuff, they'll be a lot more motivated. And it's not just that: those environments are filled with people who have knowledge they're eager to share and demonstrate, which enhances the learning aspect of it even more.
 
2012-10-13 09:49:18 AM  

kroonermanblack: Tr0mBoNe: I was more in to lego, meccano, and making rockets.

Yes, I am an engineer now.

Lego, and the build an electric thing that was all hex plastic bubbles and drive trains and wheels.

I'm...not an engineer now. Damnit. There goes that self confidence and self image again. JERK?


The plastic bubble things was Capsela. Had a bunch of those things. And of course i had the accumilated mass of Lego from all my siblings and cousins.

Had a chemistry set as well.

Dad was a mechanical engineer and avid RC modler and pilot.

I started on a carreer path of mechanical and electrical engineering which, through a interesting series of events dropped me into the brewing industry.
 
2012-10-13 09:49:49 AM  

redsquid: kroonermanblack: Tr0mBoNe: I was more in to lego, meccano, and making rockets.

Yes, I am an engineer now.

Lego, and the build an electric thing that was all hex plastic bubbles and drive trains and wheels.

I'm...not an engineer now. Damnit. There goes that self confidence and self image again. JERK?

The toy was called Capsella. It was one of my favorites. I want to get a set for the oldest nephew but they are pricey now.

Last year my sister got him a 'chemistry' set disguised as a wizard's spell kit. It had citric acid, food coloring, baking soda, beet powder, a few plastic test tubes, a glitter filled wand and a few other items. It did very little to explain the science but gave it all a sheen of magic. After my blood pressure went back down and I stopped muttering about luddites we went outside and did the experiments while I explained what was actually happening. We had fun. Afterwards I turned it into an economics lesson by showing him that the kit came with tiny ammounts of the chemicals for a lot of money but most of them were already in the kitchen.
Legos are great but with all the specialty pieces and themed sets they seem more like model kits these days. This year he's getting a motorized erector set and the Mad Scientists Club books. It's up to me to prevent this kid from losing his imagination. Me and the old lady are not breeders so the nephews are the closest I have to a legacy. Being the cool uncle is way more fun than being the dad anyway.


I think the object lesson at the end of this would be to show him how to reproduce the equivalent of the kit with $5 at the grocery store and the dollar store (if you really want the wand and other stuff). I think it's an unfortunate oversight that a lot of these kits and lessons don't draw clear connections to the world outside of themselves. When you learn that mustard gas is bleach + ammonia, you gain a new -- and healthy -- respect for the strong chemicals in your daily life, not just the ones in little labelled bottles safely stored in a box. A lot of home accidents and tragedies could be prevented by such knowledge.*

* CSS: I had a boss once who decided to clean a floor by putting some hot water and ammonia inside a cut-off bleach bottle, because he found that a handy (and cheap) container. I assumed he'd thoroughly rinsed it first, but when it started to fizz, I yelled at him to get the hell away from it. "Why?" - "You just made mustard gas!!" - "Is that bad?" (Yes, he really said that.)
 
2012-10-13 10:00:29 AM  
Not sure which was scarier, the 70's chemistry set I had or Dad's Bernz-o-matic propane torch I was using to heat stuff up (and melt metals with, because that was even more fun). Sulfur, chlorine, lead, had some mercury around too... And yes, this was all in a closed basement. Good times, good times.

/can't believe I didn't burn the place down
 
2012-10-13 10:02:36 AM  
Truth is, the broken glassware was probably more hazardous than the chemicals in the kit. Never rinse a hot beaker.
 
2012-10-13 10:04:11 AM  

h2oincfs: rufus-t-firefly: ltdanman44: [www.otrcat.com image 550x547]


Let's bring this one back

Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab

The set came with four types of uranium ore, a beta-alpha source (Pb-210), a pure beta source (Ru-106), a gamma source (Zn-65?), a spinthariscope, a cloud chamber with its own short-lived alpha source (Po-210), an electroscope, a geiger counter, a manual, a comic book (Dagwood Splits the Atom) and a government manual "Prospecting for Uranium."

Sure, they're not sold anymore...but you can make your own.

I have a Gilbert #12026 Chemistry Experiment Lab in front of me right now; it's never been used. Picked it up from some guy whose garage I was helping clean out. I thought a friend of mine would like the case, so when he offered it to me, I said, "Sure." I couldn't believe it when I got it home and opened it up to find everything sitting there like the day it was bought.


save that for your grand kids. It will blow their mind
 
2012-10-13 12:04:13 PM  

Sylvia_Bandersnatch: redsquid: kroonermanblack: Tr0mBoNe: I was more in to lego, meccano, and making rockets.

Yes, I am an engineer now.

Lego, and the build an electric thing that was all hex plastic bubbles and drive trains and wheels.

I'm...not an engineer now. Damnit. There goes that self confidence and self image again. JERK?

The toy was called Capsella. It was one of my favorites. I want to get a set for the oldest nephew but they are pricey now.

Last year my sister got him a 'chemistry' set disguised as a wizard's spell kit. It had citric acid, food coloring, baking soda, beet powder, a few plastic test tubes, a glitter filled wand and a few other items. It did very little to explain the science but gave it all a sheen of magic. After my blood pressure went back down and I stopped muttering about luddites we went outside and did the experiments while I explained what was actually happening. We had fun. Afterwards I turned it into an economics lesson by showing him that the kit came with tiny ammounts of the chemicals for a lot of money but most of them were already in the kitchen.
Legos are great but with all the specialty pieces and themed sets they seem more like model kits these days. This year he's getting a motorized erector set and the Mad Scientists Club books. It's up to me to prevent this kid from losing his imagination. Me and the old lady are not breeders so the nephews are the closest I have to a legacy. Being the cool uncle is way more fun than being the dad anyway.

I think the object lesson at the end of this would be to show him how to reproduce the equivalent of the kit with $5 at the grocery store and the dollar store (if you really want the wand and other stuff). I think it's an unfortunate oversight that a lot of these kits and lessons don't draw clear connections to the world outside of themselves. When you learn that mustard gas is bleach + ammonia, you gain a new -- and healthy -- respect for the strong chemicals in your daily life, not just the ones in little labelled bottles safely stored in a box. A lot of home accidents and tragedies could be prevented by such knowledge.*

* CSS: I had a boss once who decided to clean a floor by putting some hot water and ammonia inside a cut-off bleach bottle, because he found that a handy (and cheap) container. I assumed he'd thoroughly rinsed it first, but when it started to fizz, I yelled at him to get the hell away from it. "Why?" - "You just made mustard gas!!" - "Is that bad?" (Yes, he really said that.)


CS indeed but he made chlorine gas (nasty) not mustard gas (nasty too).
 
2012-10-13 01:17:08 PM  

anfrind: Nightsoil: I got a little caught up later we had a store in San Jose called the Science Shop where I was able to get Iodine crystals and I mixed them (carefully!) up in ammonia - best purple cloud explosive ever!

Is this the store you're talking about, by any chance?

/alas, closed on weekends


I think that's it. Years ago it was off First St. by the airport. Come to think of it, I believe it was closed weekends even back then.
 
2012-10-13 01:42:29 PM  
Came for the picture of the guy with the tiny giraffe, leaving disappointed
 
2012-10-13 02:08:42 PM  

fo_sho!: * CSS: I had a boss once who decided to clean a floor by putting some hot water and ammonia inside a cut-off bleach bottle, because he found that a handy (and cheap) container. I assumed he'd thoroughly rinsed it first, but when it started to fizz, I yelled at him to get the hell away from it. "Why?" - "You just made mustard gas!!" - "Is that bad?" (Yes, he really said that.)

CS indeed but he made chlorine gas (nasty) not mustard gas (nasty too).


Drat, I got it wrong. Yes, indeed. I went and looked it up. Reaction products may include:
- hydrochloric acid
- bleach
- chlorine, chlorine gas
- chloramine
- hydrazine
- (table) salt
- water
WW1 vets said that chlorine gas smelled like something between pepper and pineapple, and tasted metallic. So if you smell that while cleaning, back up and think about what you've been using. If you didn't buy Glade Metallic Pepper 'n' Pineapple, you may have made some nasty stuff you shouldn't be around.
 
2012-10-13 02:12:42 PM  

Sylvia_Bandersnatch: When you learn that mustard gas is bleach + ammonia,


It's bad for your lungs but it's not mustard gas. The main product of bleach + ammonia is chloramine, which is used at lower concentrations to treat drinking water.
 
2012-10-13 03:15:26 PM  

xynix: There are a couple things that I would love to teach my son but are no longer available. Of course the chemistry set but also Heath Kits that my dad used to buy for me when I was a kid. As a result of building Heath Kits I can fix just about anything electric in my house. An example would be the Samsung flatscreen I have. It had two blown capacitors causing it to not power on and I replaced them for $4 in parts. The TV shop wanted $150 to fix it.. Another would be the controller on my stove which had a blown cap and I replaced it with one from an old DVD player for free. The replacement part from Whirlpool was $185.

The only thing available that comes close is a really dumbed down snap-together electric set which teaches absolutely nothing about the parts or how to replace anything. The last chemistry set I got my son was a plastic pile of Chinese trash. It's really hard to find anything that will educate children on real-world stuff that requires hands-on work. None of the learning toys I played with as a child are available in any level of quality and not even Radio Shack has anything useful anymore. Plenty of iPhone 5s though...


CSB and me too also same story, pretty much.
I know one single person younger than 28 who knows who to use a soldering iron... maybe two. -But not as common knowledge, as specialized interest. Like fixing cares once was as well.

But I guess watching 4 hours of TV when I get home and playing video games for the rest the night is better for the nation.
 
2012-10-13 03:16:01 PM  

Reverend Monkeypants: Like fixing cares CARS once was as well..


Engines, whatever. FTFM
 
2012-10-14 05:15:29 PM  
Set fire to magnesium on the gas cooker last weekend to demo to my daughter the incredible heat and light it produces. The wife's not happy about the cooking pincers or the state of the chopping board tho.....
 
2012-10-14 08:55:23 PM  
Okay, I've been thinking about it for awhile, and this thread has put me over. I got a new soldering iron. (Someone just gave it me awhile back, actually.) I don't have a wirestand for it, so I just hammered some small nails into a large flat piece of wood, to hold it in place while I'm not using it.

I have a nightlight I'd been thinking about trying to fix. Need to spec a lamp and verify the resistor. (Common type, but bands degraded by heat over the years. I *think* it's 3K, but need to verify.) A shop in the next town over can probably spec the lamp (neon) and find a replacement; if not, I'll talk to them about alternatives.

Now then. I found my old 150-experiment electronics kit. I'm going to go through it, page by page, and try to learn something again. But this time, I also intend to go out, buy the same or similar components, and actually build some of these experiments on breadbords or the like. (I read awhile back about a cheap DIY alternative to breadboards, but don't remember what it was. I should try to find that again.) In time, I should have some practical knowledge and skills down, enough to maybe do something useful with. Wish me luck! Any tips are gratefully received.
 
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