Tag Archives: uncle milton

Seeing and Doing Science

Scientists work in a variety of ways. One is by designing and conducting experiments, essentially saying, “Hey, I wonder what would happen if we did x, y, or z.” Another is to simply watch, as if to say, “Let’s look closely at all those stars and other bright things in the night sky and try to figure out whether the sun revolves around the earth or vice versa.” This week we honor both approaches: the hands-on science that we do, and the hands-off science that we observe.

Ant Farms (Uncle Milton)

uncle milton ant farmUncle Milton has been making ant farms for decades (in fact, they just celebrated their 60th ANT-iversary!). Over the years, ant-farming technology has changed and so have designs and materials. But what’s stayed remarkably consistent is how fascinating it is to watch these tiny animals dig tunnels, build bridges, and move mountains (little ones). The inhabitants of the original ant farms did their digging in sand. Their descendants can go old school with sand or dig in a nutrient-rich gel that eliminates the need for feeding and watering. Whichever way you go, you and your kids will have a wonderful—and very educational—time observing. And in case you’re worried, all the farms are break resistant and escape-proof. Under $20. For ages six and up. http://unclemilton.com/

Triassic Triops (Toyops)

toyops triopsRemember Sea Monkeys—those tiny creatures that almost miraculously came to life when you dropped their dried out little bodies into water? Well, Triops are similar, in that you reanimate them the same way. But these bad boys could eat your Sea Monkeys for lunch—quite literally. Relatively speaking, they’re enormous—easily reaching 2-3 inches. What’s especially cool about Triops is that the ones you get in your kit are identical to the ones that lived millions of years ago. They thrived and reproduced in wet climates, but went into a state of suspended animation (called “diapause”) when droughts came. Now you can revive them, just like Dr. Frankenstein—just be sure to follow the directions carefully (especially the water you use). Triops look positively pre-historic and are eerily engaging to watch. For ages 8 and up. Prices vary. http://www.toyops.com/

Science X Smartscope (Ravensburger)

ravensburger smartscopeWant to get a closer look at your ants, Sea Monkeys, or Triops? Smart Scope is for you. Just collect your specimen—which could be pretty much anything from water to rocks, feathers to insects, and slip it into the housing. Now here’s where it gets fun: put your smartphone or tablet on top of the housing and it becomes a digital microscope—without using an app (yay!). You can simply observe or, better yet, you can use your device’s camera to capture amazing images. For ages 8 and up. About $45. https://www.ravensburger.com

Ultimate Secret Formula Lab (Smart Lab)

smart lab Secret formulaHydraulics and fluid dynamics are all the rage this year, and this kit makes what could be complicated concepts accessible and fun. It includes a base station, test tubes, valves, plungers, petri dishes, clips, beakers, and enough chemicals to conduct 40 experiments that fizz, change color, disappear, crystalize, and defy gravity (clear, detailed instructions are included too). A delightful way to combine doing and observing. For ages 8 and up (adult supervision definitely recommended). Under $40. http://www.smartlabtoys.com/

MC2 Soda Pop Science Kit (Alex Brands)

Soda pop scienceAfter a long day of doing and observing science, you’re going to be thirsty. Why go out when you and your budding lab rat can whip up your own scientifically delicious fizzy sodas? This kit comes with citric acid, baking soda, some artificial flavoring, a couple of test tubes, and instructions for making lime, fruit punch, and cinnamon drinks. Ages 8 and up (adult supervision suggested). Around $16 at your favorite retailer.

Better Late Than Never…

It happens to all of us—despite the non-stop “only-x-days-‘til-Christmas” warnings, somehow, the big day came and we still didn’t get presents for everyone. If this sounds familiar, here are some fun, easy-to-find, easy-on-the-wallet games for the whole family.

charmazingCharmazing (Wooky Entertainment)
Charmazing comes with six charms, thread, beads, gems, chains, and enough other art supplies to make three complete, stylish bracelets. Your future fashion icon can then download the free Charmazing app, scan the charms, and start earning points and exchanging ideas with other girls. Ages 7 and up. $14.95 at Toys R Us or charmazing.com








crunch a colorCrunch a Color: The Healthy Eating Game (Tiny Green Bee)
This is a really fun way to get kids to eat healthier foods without you having to bug them. The game consists of 90 cards and a chart. Each card awards points for eating a different type of food, some are listed by color (red, green, blue, white), some by category (protein, etc.). The dealer distributes cards based on what each member of the family puts on his or her plate. Eat your peas? 10 points. Had a sweet potato? 15 points. Try a new food and you just doubled your points. Bonuses for setting the table, good manners, and more. Each meal can be a game, or you can track points over a week. Also check out Lee’s book, The 52 New Foods Challenge. $12.95 at crunchacolor.com

 

dino hunter uv night vision gogglesDino Hunter UV Night Vision Goggles (Uncle Milton)
These goggles are a blast. In night-vision mode, you can actually do some exploring in the dark. Use the invisible ink pen (the ink is invisible, not the pen) and dino stencil to leave tracks, which someone else can follow using UV-vision mode. The tracks are great for for scavenger hunts or just to lure a reluctant child to bed. Ages 6 and up. $17.99 at retailers or unclemilton.com








science captain americaMarvel Science Captain America Shield Trainer (Uncle Milton)
Place your bad guy on the playing board, then try to knock him off by ricocheting your shield off of walls or other obstacles, just like Captain America himself. A really interesting, engaging way to introduce kids to the science of calculating angles and rebounds (this could also come in handy when your child wants to play pool in a few years). Ages 6 and up. $19.95. unclemilton.com

 

 

 


spiral designerSpiral Designer (Ravensburger)

If you were around in the 60s, you may remember Spirograph (if not, ask your parents or grandparents). Spiral designer is very similar, consisting of a round plastic frame and a set of discs that you run around the inside edge of the frame to create beautiful spiral patterns and designs. Your creations can be as simple or complex as you like, and what’s especially nice is that everyone in the family who can handle a pencil pretty well can have plenty of artistic fun. $20 everywhere or ravensburger.com

 

 

spy tagSpy Tag (Ravensburger)
Distribute the 12 spy cards among the players and turn them face up. Then, set the timer and the oldest player draws an “agent card,” which he matches with one of the spy cards. Whoever has the match (could be you, or you could make the match with someone else’s spy card) is It and draws the next agent card. When the timer goes off, whoever’s It has to pick a briefcase card. It it’s empty, you’re okay, but if it contains the stolen gizmo, (that’s what it’s called), you’re out. Play continues ‘till there’s only one player left. The game requires quick thinking, fast reflexes, and two button batteries (included), and always leads to plenty of giggles. For 2-4 players. $10.00. ravensburger.com