Make a whole bunch of fun and instructive Lego® machines/chain reaction models like marble runs and mousetraps involving ramps, buckets, funnels balances and much more. Comes with (33) Lego® elements, (6) Lego® balls, a dozen paper props, and a 78-page instruction booklet for (10) machines. You add a few common household items. Includes suggestions for more complicated devices if you have your own Lego® pieces, and if you don't, what are you waiting for? ! WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD–Small Parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
Very popular with elementary school teachers, these hardcover blank books let students create their own storybooks. (Middle-schoolers interviewing and making books for primary grade kids is a popular and civilizing project.) Also great for sketching, journaling or scrapbooking. Pure white blank covers with (14) sheets (28 pages) of 80-lb blank paper inside with a sewn-in binding. You pick the 6” x 8” books or the 8-1/2” x 11” versions.
Knot everyone knows how much fun knots are. You can join the knot knowledgeable with Knots, Splices and Rope Work an 88-page soft-cover book originally published in 1917. Includes detailed instructions for tying many dozens of knots, ties, bends, hitches, loops, nooses, lashings, seizings, splices and things like the Matthew Walker, Selvagee Tie, Flemish Eye and the Topsail-Halyard Toggle. Includes (4) pieces of nylon rope for practice. Will tie up a kid for weeks.
Titled "The Field and Forest Handy Book," this volume has been justifiably in print since 1906. Written by Daniel C. "Uncle Dan" Beard, the founder of the Sons of Daniel Boone and one of the founders of the BSA, it's a compendium of eternally relevant woodland lore, from building cabins, sleds, boats, and bridges to camping in swamps. The only part we skipped was on how to cook a muskrat. (We know a place that delivers.) Loaded with illustrations. In soft cover from David Godine's Nonpareil Books, 428 pages.
50 Science Things to Make and Do is just that, a passel of experiments, all illustratively explained in two facing pages of this big 104-page flip book, and all easily done with common household items. Includes wind and water power, bugs, crystals, paper planes, rubber-band guitars, balances, gloop, optics and a ton of other fun, informative stuff. Officially classified as "cool" by several of our geekiest staffers.
Kids driving you nuts? We think a 3D coloring book ought to tie 'em up for an hour or two. You get a book with (8) different pictures to color, including the ocean, planets, hot air balloons, birds, and others. You also get (5) markers, (1) each in orange, red, yellow, blue and green, plus a coloring guide and a pair of cardboard 3D glasses. It's almost like real life.
If you're devoted to explosions, and who isn't, you'll love the new expanded 2nd edition of William Gurstelle's Backyard Ballistics, now 25% longer, with 25% more ka-boomery. Still the go-to reference work for building rockets, cannons (carbide and potato), flingers, fire kites, electromagnetic pipe guns, tennis ball mortars, cleaner-bag balloons, ballistic pendula and petards. You simply can't have more fun with common household materials. The soft-cover, 210pp compendium includes detailed and illustrated instructions, parts lists and sensible ways not to be hoist on your own petard. Be careful out there.
Now comes this ball of geometric possibilities, from creativity guru Roger von Oech. Perfect for anyone with a 3-dimensional mind, from a precocious child to a bored nonagenarian, including your favorite artist, mathematician, designer, engineer, or whatever. The little red ball, 3-1/4" dia, comprises (30) magnetized right golden rhombic pyramids that will fit together in endless shapes, from a rhombic triacontahedron (see the pic), to stars, wreaths, animals, sunbursts, and endless others. Comes with a 96pp booklet on geometric possibilities and creativity. Plenty of desktop noodling fun, but a lot more than just a toy.
Surprise your parents with a little science at home. “Science Surprises” is a 192-page paperback in its third edition with over 100 experiments that can be done using common household goodies. OK, a couple of things might require a trip to the hardware store, but still. The science ranges from the Bernoulli principle and Stroop effect to making your own perfume and cold cream. (And remember what Shaw said: “Science never solves a problem without creating ten more,” so that makes a thousand experiments.)
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In addition to this fabulous on-line catalog of incredible stuff, American Science & Surplus has three great retail locations. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by! Store hours may vary. Feel free to call for store hours and directions.