Let’s Play No-Chemical Chemistry!

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Here’s another victory for those folks attempting in vain to protect their children from any harm. The makers of this Chemistry 60 set are marketing it as “60 fun activities with no chemicals.”

Yes, because the way to learn chemistry is to have no contact with chemicals, am I right?

I mean, my mother had an oven that her father made for her in which you could actually bake cakes. Baking is nothing more than chemistry. Anyway, Chemical & Engineering News weighs in:

How does Elenco Electronics, the Chemistry 60 manufacturer, succeed in teaching about topics such as acids, bases, solutions, and colloids without chemicals? It appears that the “chemicals” the kit does not contain are the substances you supply from your kitchen cupboard. The set does include goggles, safety glasses, vials, test tubes, and other lab implements. Of course these plastic tools are chemicals in their own right, but why get technical?

Still, I find it reassuring that, as benign as it appears to be, the Chemistry 60 kit does have an element of danger, just like those kits of yore. The manufacturer cautions parents that the product contains small magnets. “Swallowed magnets can stick together across intestines causing serious infections and death,” Elenco warns. But at least children playing with the Chemistry 60 won’t be able to blow up the family manse. I came close to doing that once or twice, but parental supervision saved the day.

Now that I’m a parent, I’m somewhat surprised by all the dangerous activities my parents permitted us to engage in. From the time we were very young, we were allowed to go miles away from home without supervision, for instance. But you know what? It’s how we became responsible adults. Yes, I know that chemistry can be dangerous. But it’s sad when children aren’t allowed a bit more fun experimenting with test tubes.

Photo via Make.