This weekend there’s a science fair at the Crieff Hydro, in light of this Jo and I put together a couple of science themed windows in the Crieff shop, it wasn’t a competition or anything but even so I still think Jo won, as you can see above. Thanks to the science windows I’m now even more clued up on our stock of science toys than I was before and it got me reminiscing about the kinds of things I played with as a kid.
As a child I was pretty cerebral (I guess I still am as an adult ). I won’t say I was bookish because I lived in the country and I loved to play about in the muck about as much as anyone, but the games I played were different. I had bug finding equipment and binoculars for investigating the bugs that lived in our garden and in the woods beside our house. I also loved to ‘dig for dinosaurs’ (though not in the lawn) and I had a fair collection of other indoor ‘sciency’ toys too. It’s fair to say I played with science toys as a kid and loved it.
I just started wondering about our science section and racked up how many we sell in comparison to construction toys, collectibles (like moshi monsters and trash packs), and the bits and bobs from the top model range. Initially started to think that kids don’t play with science toys as much as other things but when I look back to my childhood, I had one magnifying glass, one set of binoculars one chemistry set, and so on: pretty much for every science toy, I only ever had one of it, because they lasted and they weren’t subject to popularity. They were always there in the background allowing me to be a budding entomologist/chemist/archaeologist etc. etc. and I can see no reason to believe that things will be different for kids today. In fact there are so many science toys on the market that today’s kids probably have far superior compilations of science toys than I could have dreamed of when I was wee.
I could be imagining things here but the fact that the turnout for the Science fair has been on the up year on year makes me think that there’s a sizeable portion of the children in this town who really enjoy playing around with experiments to find out more about the world around them. When you get down to it that’s really what science toys are for and most of them are re-usable. The ‘Kitchen chemistry set’ from John Adams is a perfect example of a reusable science toy, as it can be replenished with simple household items. Other simple examples are things like binoculars, microscopes and small pieces of equipment like the ‘Cartesian diver’ and gyroscopes.
All of these things don’t have a shelf life as such; they aren’t some of the ‘popular/fashionable toys‘ which can lose their status almost overnight and what’s more they span an age range which can follow kids into their early teens (a feat which few toy types can achieve nowadays thanks to computer games). I might be wrong about how many children still play with ‘science toys’, but I hope I’m not.
What science toys helped you to discover more about the world? Do your kids use something similar or do you help them understand the world around them in a different way than you did? I always love to hear from my readers so feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post (click on ‘comments’ to add yours) or you can head over to the Fun Junction facebook page and join in the conversation there. As always thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing your experiences in discovering the world through science toys as/with a child.
(Thanks to David Sader for some online advice he put out that let me get to grips with WordPress’s ‘gallery’ feature as seen above)