Things of Science

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Things of Science was an educational program launched by the nonprofit news syndicate Science Service in November 1940. The program consisted of a series of kits available by subscription and sent by mail monthly.[1] The program continued until 1989. As of 2018, there is no mention of the program or its archives on the website of the Society for Science & the Public, which succeeded the old Science Service organization.

Each month, thousands of subscribers received a small blue box about the size of a videocassette containing some material such as nylon thread or dinosaur bones.[2] The box contained a yellow booklet explaining the topic for that month, along with the pieces and supplies needed to cover the topic. Some kits would teach about a specific topic, such as coal, static electricity, mechanical linkages, nonwoven fabrics, electroplating, or optical illusions.[3] Other kits would provide parts to build items such as a small spectrograph, telescope, or pinhole camera. In addition to the monthly subscription, some kits were available for individual purchase, such as a "soilless gardening" unit which provided seeds, plant food, and instructions in hydroponics.[4] Some kits contained basic materials for simple experiments in psychology.[5]

The modest annual subscription price ($5 in the 1960s) covered the cost of printing and postage. The instructions were written by Science Service staff, and the kit materials were donated by various companies.[6]

The Things of Science Club was started by Watson Davis, editor-in-chief of Science Service, because editors served by the service often asked for samples of the things the syndicate wrote about. The initial focus of the program was newspaper editors, but it soon shifted to young people. By 1946 the Science Service estimated that half of its subscribers were school groups and science clubs, and the other half were individuals.[7] Membership in the club was limited to a few thousand because some of the "things", such as dinosaur bones, were hard to come by.[8]


  1. ^ Parsons, Cynthia (April 22, 1967). "Discovery comes in a box". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  2. ^ Robitscher, Jonas (August 29, 1946). "Thing-of-the-Month Club Gets Industry Aid For Its Science Service". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Experimental unit shows seeing not believing". St. Petersburg Times. August 21, 1959. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  4. ^ "New Kit Grows Plants Without Soil". Calgary Herald. May 11, 1961. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  5. ^ Schlosberg, Harold (1953). "Things of Science". American Psychologist. 8 (3): 124–125. doi:10.1037/h0053882.
  6. ^ Knetzger, Bob (25 January 2011). "Things of Science". Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  7. ^ Moody, George B. "Rediscovering Things of Science". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  8. ^ Othman, Frederick C. (October 7, 1947). "Thing-of-the-Month Club will provide remarkable objects". San Jose Evening News. Retrieved 1 November 2013.

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