Create your own Chemistry Set
by Beverley Paine
There are quite a few different 'off the shelf' chemistry sets you can buy for children interested in tinkering with chemistry experiments and they're fun and can spark a life long interest. With the incredible access to amazing 'how to' videos and pages on the internet it is possible to put together an exciting learning program focusing on chemistry using materials and resources usually found in the home.
If you need something specific, for example, test tubes (and you haven't bought a chemistry set with some supplied), have a look on ebay or similar.
My husband says if you can't find something on ebay it is probably not available! However, there are sciences suppliers around, eg Selbies (Adelaide). Modern Teaching Aids and other school suppliers often have clearance sales that are worth watching, although they are mostly geared towards selling classroom kits (great for homeschool groups and co-ops).
Put together your own chemistry science box or tray. Fill it with some of the materials and substances from the list below. Look for simple experiments online, print out or develop into activity cards which you can keep with your chemistry 'learning centre'. One family created a science kit as a present for her 8 year old - using a laundry caddie filled bicarb, vinegar, salt, washing up liquid, cornflour, food colouring and various spoons, jugs, funnels and droppers and safety googles and a child's lab coat. What budding chemist wouldn't enjoy this super gift!
Remember, as with any household chemicals, remember to store the chemicals safely, away from young children and pets and label containers appropriately.
ph test strips
universal indicator solution (try garden or pool supply shops)
plasticine (holding things in place)
blutac (patch holes to make things air tight)
instant heat pack (calcium chloride)
clear plastic cups
index cards (or similar)
scales that measure in grams
small glass jars
tea light candles
mentos and cola
seeds (from dry foods section in supermarket)
sugar, salt (growing crystals)
vodka (used as ethanol)
lye (sodium hydroxide - drain cleaner)
milk of magnesia (magnesium sulphate)
monosodium glutamate (MSG)
baby oil (mineral oil)
antacid tablets (Alka Seltzer)
tincture of iodine
Some websites to check out for ideas, lesson plans, etc:
- MelScience https://melscience.com/en/ (UK) ships boxed chemistry experiments and activities and is popular with home educating families. Can work out expensive, watch out for exchange rate fluctuations. The first box is the equipment, each box after is an experiment and activities.
- Guest Hollow, a family of homeschoolers, produce a range of resources including a chemistry program you can purchase. Different from other chemistry resources this program reflects a Charlotte Mason approach to learning combining learning using 'living books' as well as practical experiments and experiences drawn from everyday life. Their list of books and resources is well worth book marking: https://www.guesthollow.com/homeschool/science/chemistry_highschool/chemistry_books.html
- Mad About Science sells a huge range of science kits, toys and items https://www.madaboutscience.com.au/shop/
- https://www.sciencebydoing.edu.au/curriculum-units "Science by Doing is a comprehensive online science program for Years 7 to 10 available free to all Australian students and teachers and supported by award winning professional learning modules and a research based professional learning approach. The program provides a practical way of implementing the Australian Curriculum: Science. The curriculum units and professional learning modules are found within the website. " You will need to register and sign in either as a student or a teacher to use.
- Classic Science has a list of free printable science experiments: https://eequalsmcq.com/LabNotesArchive.htm
- Check out Khan Academy's introductory videos on chemistry: https://www.khanacademy.org/science/chemistry/atomic-structure-and-properties
- Compound iNTEREST produce a series of infographics including, including 'This Week in Chemistry'. Hundreds of infographics, great to print out and explore the topic more fully with your child: https://www.compoundchem.com/infographics/
- Fizzics Education has some simple chemistry experiments on this page https://www.fizzicseducation.com.au/Free+experiments/Kitchen+chemistry.html .
- Crash Course Chemistry is another series of entertaining You Tube videos that introduce basic and everyday chemistry: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtPHzzYuWy6fYEaX9mQQ8oGr (after a few seconds you can skip the ads).
- ThoughtCo have a comprehensive section on Chemistry: https://www.thoughtco.com/chemistry-4133594 , including some activities for kids https://www.thoughtco.com/chemistry-activities-for-kids-4133581
- ACS Chemistry for Life have a complete set of lesson plans, available for free, including explanatory videos, on their Middle School Chemistry website http://www.middleschoolchemistry.com/lessonplans/.
- For some more links and experiments you can do at home have a look at IFLSCIENCE: https://www.iflscience.com/chemistry/unfinished-20-fun-science-experiments-you-can-do-home/
- Mystery Science regularly offer free memberships: https://mysteryscience.com.
- To grow your interest in chemistry further connecting up with Science Buddies https://www.sciencebuddies.org
- Education Experience is an Australian online shop selling materials to schools and parents: https://www.edex.com.au
- Modern Teaching Aids is another Australian educational supplier that home educating families recommend https://www.teaching.com.au
- Popular Periodic Table printables: http://elements.wlonk.com/?fbclid=IwAR2S88MadtpAJlK_9jvoa31UsWN8QqYgMEOOFz-GHpC9ZQWJ64aBxXO9YLM and https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/224605807/make-your-own-elements-flashcards-pdf
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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