Sunday, February 11, 2007

A terrific physics science kit for BSS

I have probably cursed my kids to always receive science-related birthday presents because everyone knows we do Big Science Saturday. For Ryan's last birthday, he received a physics kit and we finally got around to giving it a go yesterday.

This is one of the best science kits of any kind that I have ever used. It's the Physics Workshop from Thames & Kosmos. What makes it the best?
  • The build quality of the equipment is very high.
  • There are 37 unique experiments included that all appear to build logically on one another. Although we only did the first so far, a quick skim of the workbook indicates that they each experiment appears to be entertaining and informative.
  • Everything is included, except the occasional household item. (Yesterday's experiment required thread, a couple of potatoes, and a wooden matchstick.)
  • The experiments are sufficiently entertaining that Maddox, who's four, is able to participate, even though the kit is designed for kids eight and up.
  • Best of all, the workbook is terrific. At 64 full pages, it clearly explains how to perform each experiment and provides a narrative that the kids can understand.
One potential shortcoming was highlighted to me by Scott Dalgleish of Dragonfly Innovation in a brief conversation last night. (I'll write about some of his other comments in a coming post.) He asked if the experiments encourage the kids to explore follow-on steps based on what they learned.

For instance, yesterday we learned about gravity and how gravitational force, mass, and acceleration might be related. The creative next step that Dragonfly would provide is to encourage the kids to find other examples of how force, mass, and acceleration might be related. For instance, remember when we launched rockets and lost our rocket? Lots of force, not much mass ... lost rocket.

Given that relatively minor shortcoming (which I should be able to creatively address myself), I love this kit. I hope their other kits are of the same quality, because I'm looking forward to buying one of their chemistry kits next.
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