Call for Reimagined Science Kits

The SPARK (Science Play and Research Kit) Competition is requesting submissions for what they are calling “Reimagining the Chemistry Set of the 21st Century.”

To be clear, we’re interested in science beyond chemistry. We borrow this term to capture the spirit and magic of what the classic chemistry set spawned in the 1940s – 60s. We’re looking for ideas that can engage kids as young as 8 and inspire people who are 88. We’re looking for ideas that encourage kids to explore, create, build and question. We’re looking for ideas that honor kids’ curiosity about how things work.

We’ve delved into that spirit with our posts on Vintage Chemistry Manuals and Vintage Chemistry Sets. We also see it in our community in groups like Public Lab, with projects like Thermal Photography. It is exciting to see this contest trying to promote that spark of curiosity. Submissions are due in January, and we’re looking forward to seeing the winners when they’re announced in February. In the meantime, we would like to hear what you want to see in science kits for the future.

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6 thoughts on “Call for Reimagined Science Kits

  1. I envision a touch screen where the periodic table is presented as a set of choices of atoms that can be dragged onto the work surface and combined with each other. There are lots of videos showing such things, but it needs to be more game-like and interactive. It’s ridiculous that kids spend vast amounts of time doing extremely complex but largely meaningless tasks in a game-playing context, while subjects like math and chemistry are presented in needlessly boring ways. One advantage of a chemistry game is that it would allow students to progress as quickly as possible past the material that many find tedious and boring, rather than being tied to a teacher’s schedule.

  2. I’d like a solar powered energy-exchange kit that drives cooling/freezing refrigeration over a large surface area during the night to condense and collect water from the air which during the day (1) recharges the battery for the cooling unit (2) allows the ice to melt into water to water my balcony plants/kitchen garden (particularly when I’m on vacation).
    This kit could combine lessons in:
    solar power
    heat exchange
    phase transitions
    the hydroelectric cycle
    botany (kitchen garden)

  3. As a child, my parent subscribed me to a science of the month club. Every month, a box would arrive with an experiment in science along with a description of the science involved. As a confirmed nerd, I couldn’t wait each month to see what surprising bit of science I was to learn that month.

  4. Mike Schatzberg’s comment reminded me of a wonderful time in my teen-age life – the monthly arrival of my new science kit from James S. Kerr’s American Basic Science Club. Please read about him in the article at the website: http://www.quickreference.info/small-business-stories/american-basic-science-club-case-history-of-a-successful-small-business. No need to reinvent the wheel – this man did it right. Talk with his son, imitate his format but update the kits, and you’re in business! I LOVED the kits, and having talked with him several times (he was very reachable by phone), I LOVED Mr. Kerr!!

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