arts

Experiment Today -- Become A Scientist Tomorrow

gilbert chem labRemember chemistry sets? Most everyone had one. I had three. I look back and can't understand why my parents let me have not one, but three chemistry sets. I couldn't have my beloved go-cart and I couldn't even have toy trucks and cars to play with.

But, they somehow took the responsibility for me to potentially blow up the house.

These kits were marketed in the early 20th century to department and toy stores. They became the perfect birthday or Christmas gift in hopes to spark a budding chemist.

Some of the manufacturers were A.C. Gilbert, Skilcraft and Chemcraft. By the mid 1950's, there wasn't a kid in the US that didn't have or want one. lab tech setThese companies even made models for girls with pink cases and were labeled "lab technicians." Go figure.

We couldn't be scientists because we were girls, but we could be assistants. Some of the things found inside these treasure chests were: thermometers, measuring cylinders, magnifying glasses, beakers, and alcohol burners just to name a few.

Common chemical were borax, calcium chloride, ferrous sulfate, powered charcoal, sodium carbonate, and a whole lot more.

There were concerns over the safety of chemistry sets such as the heat sources, breaking glass, flammable chemicals, etc. but mainly, could this be a tool to make illegal drugs? Doubtful.

As it turned out, those chemistry sets were treasure chests of the unknown. It got to the point my parents wouldn't let me play with it in the house. So, I would set up my little lab table in the yard and go to town.

Joyce Welling believes that once a hippie, always a hippie. She continues to be on a magical mystery tour and writes the blog I Am A Boomer, where she frequently dips into the pool of our collective nostalgia.

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