Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stuff not included

This is a continuation of the last post...

After reading the instructions for the Space Age crystal growing kit I've come to the sad realization that the person buying the kit (ie. me) needs more stuff. How aggravating!

When I was a kid and got a toy that said "Batteries not included" I was upset. However at least the manufacturers put a notice on the box of this deficiency. My parents being the smart people that they were bought batteries separately and packed it in with the present. Come my birthday, Christmas, or whatever fun day it was I would get the whatever it was all good to go.

The science kit I picked up yesterday lacks a whole bunch of things. What is worse is that they don't list the items on the outside of the box. It's not until you're ready to do the experiment and open the box that you realize you have to find all these other items.

To try to be fair, in most households the items are pretty common. Then again some are not. Does everyone have safety goggles? Granted I do, and they're designer one at that but I'm a nerdy geek (so I've been told). In my case only a few things on the list were readily available in my home.

The items required are...

1. Container for mixing the solution - the instruction manual (sheet) recommends cutting a coke bottle in half.

2. Container for crystal growth

3. a rock (10 cm in diameter, and up to 2.54 cm in height) - they couldn't provide a base for the crystals to grow on? I picked this one up at the Beach.

4. rubber gloves - to protect hands from touching the Ammonium Phosphate and pulling out the rock from solution

5. newspaper - to lay over things that may get stained (ie. table)

6. flashlight - not really needed but handy if you're in a dim room.

7. magnifying glass - also not really needed for the experiment to work but handy for observation. ( so yeah, the only magnifying glass I own is part of a Lego set)

8. safety goggles - the instructions do not say anything about safety goggles yet warn you about getting the stuff in your eyes. I have added this as something one should use.

9. Measuring cup or utensil - kind of important to have especially if you require an exact amount of water or crystal mix.

Another interesting observation I have made is that, for a science kit, the instructions for the use of the ingredients is poorly written and really not very scientific at all. There should be an action method, something like the Joy of Cooking book uses. List the items required. List the actions taken in a specific order. Use millilitres instead of grams if talking about fluids and specify the exact amount to use.

If adults can't write instructions properly how can we expect children (12 and over) to understand them? Because of this I looked up the web to see if I could find anything to make things clearer. As a result I found the chemistry section on

Another point to make is getting a rock that's 10 cm in diameter. With only 10 ounces of liquid getting a container wide enough for the rock would mean that the water level would be pretty shallow for crystal growth. I went through a lot of containers to find that the optimum one would be a plastic container that used to hold whole mushrooms.

What should be a simple science experiment watching crystals grow has become more of a treasure hunt for things not included with the kit. Thank goodness it doesn't require batteries as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I got the same kit, for another adult kid. She never got as far as you. It took years in Toronto just to find a good rock. :-)