Fun with science

January 25, 2010 10:09:58 AM PST
The words "science project" don't have to send you into a panic, says Phil Cable of American Science & Surplus. Science can be fun, he says. Just take a look at some of the science kits Phil has shared with ABC7. They are fun to build and very educational.

All are available at the American Science and Surplus stores at 5316 N. Central, Chicago or 33W361 Roosevelt Rd (Route 38), Geneva; 888-SCIPLUS (888-724-7587);

We Have A Lot Of Energy!

Snap Circuits® Green "Alternative Energy" kit by Elenco® is for curious people from 8 to 108 who want to learn about energy sources and how to "think green." Build over 125 projects, using the flexibility of the award-winning Snap Circuits. Kit Includes a 100-page, full-color manual and a separate educational manual that explains all the forms of environmentally friendly energy, including geothermal, hydrogen fuel cells, wind, solar, tidal, hydro and others types. Contains over 40 parts.


Hydraulics Made Easy

Cleverly made, and mighty heuristic (educational) too. You pick from a variety of Pathfinders hydraulic-system teaching kits made up of unfinished wood, transparent tubing, and plastic syringes, which power the movement. The finished mini excavator will stand approx 10" tall on a 7-1/8" x 3-1/4" base, with a 5" x 2-1/4" claw, and (4) syringes. The mini scissors lift has a 9-1/2" x 3-1/2" base and a 3-3/8" x 7" platform and a single syringe. For someone entranced by hydraulics, or for a whole classroom of students, there's the 4-In-1 kit, with the excavator and scissors lift, plus a cherry picker and platform lifter. Very clever teaching tools for ages 8 and up.




Lay Siege To The Doghouse!

Right after you build your own working medieval catapult or trebuchet. All you'll need is glue, scissors and a steady hand (plus a small bag of marbles or rocks or something as a counterweight for the trebuchet) to construct these wooden, Canadian-made siege engine kits. The catapult stands 6" tall x 5" wide x 10" long and will toss assorted stuff 15 feet or farther, depending upon the stuff. The finished trebuchet will be 26" long x 18" wide x 24" tall and will propel small objects (meatballs?) 20 feet or more. Both include detailed instructions. Note: Please don't propel small mammals, and please don't put anyone's eye out.


Bridges To Burn

Or break, actually, as an heuristic exercise. Here's a classroom-full of bridge-building supplies based on the Illinois Institute of Technology's national bridge-building contest. Each kit contains enough balsa wood pieces and glue to supply (24) budding engineers or physics students with what it takes to test their skills at wooden bridge construction. Includes a 12pp teacher's guide with info about (6) bridge styles and (8) types of trusses, (24) rules/instruction sheets for students, (360) pieces of 1/8" square x 24" long wood, and (24) bottles of white glue. Among the most engaging and popular classroom projects in the country, it's designed for grades 7-12.


Really Big T-Rex

Impressive, this 3-foot Lizard King. The 1:14 scale plastic model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton has 51 bones that snap together, then snap apart easily for later use, which is more than you can say about the original. Measures 36" long, and comes with a display stand. Bones are nicely aged for paleontological verisimilitude. Very nice kit, with legs, as they say! For ages 8 and up.


Cooler Than Monkeys

Triops: way cooler, bigger and more active than sea monkeys. They're dinosaur shrimp, leftovers from some 200 million years ago. Don't eat them; just grow them and enjoy this bizarre & ancient display of nature! You get a kidney-shaped tank 2-3/8" tall x 8-1/2"x 5-3/4", a very informative instruction booklet, and a packet full of triops eggs and food. Add the eggs to water and watch them go; they'll hatch in a day and reach 1" to 2" or more in a few weeks. Really easy to do, and really cool too.


Who? Who?

Owl pellets, that's who! Or whom, actually, but owls can't say whom. No lips. A perennial favorite, these are the all-natural regurgitated balls of fur and bones that are the leftovers of the owl dining community. You'll get three rather large pellets from a barn owl, along with a small acrylic magnifier, a pair of 5" long forceps, a bone ID chart and 10pp instruction booklet explaining how to dissolve the pellets and reassemble the (usually) complete small rodent skeletons that the owl couldn't manage to digest. We also recommend going to to see a virtual dissection and learn more about these fascinating and educational little beauties.