Thanks to Bob Artemenko for today’s guest blog. Bob is the other half of our PAL Award team, CMO, as well as a pilot and star gazer. 

Of all the kid’s activity-series you might consider this summer, Educational Insights’ Exploration Tools and Activity Journals, under the banner of “Nancy B’s Science Club,” is a must have. There are five tools in all, and while most may not own all five, great experiences will drive many to seriously consider a second or third. Reasonably priced, good quality, and drawing on a uniform  approach to instructions, scientific method and journaling, the set consists of:

  • 400X dual light and dissecting Microscope with dozens of activities and a bundle of accessories that will keep your budding Madame Currie occupied for weeks
  • 90X MoonScope Telescope with two glass eyepieces, a moon filter, tripod and red LED that allows you to journal while protecting your night vision
  • 5X AquaScope with three bright LEDs allowing young Cousteaus to peer into the murkiest ponds to detect the germ-y, the worm-y and the squirm-y
  • …and also Wildlife Binoculars and a Forensic Crime Solver Scope, both with instructive activity journals

Where to begin. I keep wanting to go to the overall ingenuity and uniformity of this great series. Each set has it’s own tool which is well constructed, described and accompanied by instructions which explain its usefulness to the scientific method. Ah “method,” that is the unique element of this series. Each set informs young explorers in a readily understandable and documented manner how to use these tools to learn more about the world around them. Whether looking at craters and mountains on the lunar surface, the backlit beauty of salt crystals or mosquito larvae swimming in a backyard puddle, the richness of this whole series is tied to the way scientist Nancy B. uses words. She uses them to describe how interesting, exciting and fulfilling it is to inform yourself with these unique gadgets. Having completed exercises and experiments, you then use words and language to record your learnings. Multiple observations evolve to discovery, sparking  understanding, leading to better informed and competent people, and maybe some day, preparing a young scientist to pass knowledge along to others!

All five tools deliver on “discovery” sparks, but the microscope and telescope I found most compelling. So much of our world is accessible to the magic of the microscope’s gaze. A piece of wool, granules of sugar, a grasshopper leg, an engraved letter on an invitation or a tomato seed all invite exploration. These new sights generate excitement giving off lots of descriptive language and opportunities to learn and use new vocabulary. While the Moonscope is mostly a nocturnal exercise, the mysteries of the night sky have always called man to closer inspection, and while it’s hard to go beyond spotting the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter – be ready for some merrymaking-with-the-moon. Identify specific features, see where the lunar module landed back in 1969, work in your journal to record the phases and changes in the moon over the month. Intently studying our nearest heavenly neighbor builds the interest, skills and patience to then move to more delicate journeys across the sky. Soon it will become time to view constellations and then, likely with some adult supervision, investigate stellar phenomena highlighted on the internet and in local print media. For example, during this June, 2013, Mercury, Venus and Saturn are all visible for about an hour after sunset. WOW! Sorry kid, back away from the Moonscope, I gotta see this !

The opinions above are solely those of the author. The Nancy B. Science tools were provided for review by Educational Insights.