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Kansas City Science Store Resurrects AC Gilbert Chemistry Set, the best-ever toy

McGruber (1417641) writes | about 4 months ago

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McGruber (1417641) writes "The A. C. Gilbert Company (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...) was once one of the largest toy companies in the world. It manufacturered Erector Sets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erector_Set), American Flyer toy trains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Flyer), and chemistry sets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemistry_set).

Chemist John Farrell Kuhns (https://www.kickstarter.com/profiles/1742632993/bio) received an AC Gilbert Chemistry set for Christmas 1959, while he was still in grade school. By the time Kuhns was twelve years old he had a home lab set up in my family's basement. Now, more than 50 years later, he still has a home lab.

As an adult, Mr. Kuhns wanted to share these experiences with his daughter, nephews and nieces, and their friends. But he soon discovered that real chemistry sets were no longer available. He wondered how, without real chemistry sets and opportunities for students to learn and explore, where would our future chemists come from?

In 2004, Kuhns and his wife opened their science store, H.M.S. Beagle (http://www.hms-beagle.com/) and last year used Kickstarter to launch a new Heirloom Chemistry set. (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1742632993/heirloom-chemistry-set). Kuhns uses a CNC router to cut out his wood cases, which are then hand assembled and finished with the shiny brass hardware and exotic wood inlays. Kuhns also synthesizes, purifies and/or formulates and packages all of the chemicals.

Gary Hanington, professor of physical science at Great Basin College, was another child who was lucky enough to own a Gilbert chemistry set. Hanington wrote about his set in this article (http://elkodaily.com/lifestyles/speaking-of-science-a-c-gilbert-chemistry-sets/article_30dc31c8-c258-11e1-9dfd-001a4bcf887a.html).

Sadly, not everyone sees the educational value of real chemistry sets. The AC Gilbert chemistry sets are #3 on Cracked's "The 8 Most Wildly Irresponsible Toys" (http://www.cracked.com/article_19481_the-8-most-wildly-irresponsible-vintage-toys_p2.html) and #8 on Complex.com's "The 25 Worst Must-Have Christmas Toys Ever (http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/12/25-worst-must-have-christmas-toys-ever/gilbert-chemistry-set)"

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