View Full Version : Kid science kits may take a hit from safety rulings

10-01-2010, 12:57 PM

Not something secular homeschoolers want to have to deal with!

10-01-2010, 01:27 PM
O common sense, where art thou?

10-01-2010, 02:30 PM
Seriously? I mean... seriously?

10-01-2010, 04:08 PM
Say it ain't so! As soon as I saw "CPSC" my heart sank, remembering tales of all those pre-1985 children's books in dumpsters (http://overlawyered.com/2009/02/cpsia-and-vintage-books/).

"If the first introduction a student has is seventh or eighth grade, you've lost them already," said Steve Alexander, business manager for the Hands On Science Partnership, based in Denver. The costs associated with "the testing requirements would far exceed the value of the materials in the kits," he said.


10-01-2010, 04:57 PM

What's happening with the CPSIA anyway? I mean, they didn't dump all the pre-1985 books from our children's section at the library as was predicted. And I still see kid-related stuff on Etsy. What's going on with that?

10-01-2010, 05:00 PM
Civil disobedience?

10-01-2010, 05:09 PM
If it *is* civil disobedience, that's kind of awesome.

I feel like the government shouldn't try to pass laws it can't enforce when there's not a moral imperative to do so. Also, that the far-reaching effects of laws should really be thought through a little more sometimes.

10-01-2010, 05:12 PM
"I'm not burning my books... come get me, copper!"

I won't go into my opinion on the government here, as it will rapidly descend to diatribe. Suffice it to say that the CPSIA destroyed any chance of my wife's extremely cute children's clothing designs from ever seeing a sales counter.

(And yet we're mystified why small businesses need help in this economy...)

10-02-2010, 06:08 AM
Paper clips, really??? Oh my GOSH I am so tired of this. Can we not use common sense? I get some things, really I do. The ropes on blinds, yes that had to be fixed. Child safety seats need to be monitored, of course. No sharp knives in a preschooler's play dish set, got it. Regulating paper clips and other tings in an elementary, middle or high schooler's home science kits? How about instead we monitor and regulate the things some kids would find really interesting in the internet to test as a home science experiment? You know, homemade bombs or drugs. Things that will and do truly harm people. Ugh.

10-02-2010, 07:40 AM
I called a chemical supply company trying to get iron filings and sulfur powder. The customer service representative sighed and said "You know, it's stupid, even iron filings are considered hazardous materials these days." We commiserated about stupid people, she gave the number for a different supply house that could sell me iron filings and I took my business elsewhere.

Anybody else read "Uncle Tungsten" by Oliver Sachs? My chemistry obsessed B1 sighs about being born to late to get the good stuff.

10-02-2010, 09:24 AM
When my dad was a kid in the early 1940s his mother allowed him full reign to take time time off school when he was deep into a personal science experiment (she was a public school teacher, but clearly understood how much he learned on his own). By the time he was in late elementary school she ensured him full access to the local chemical supply house; at that time all it took was a visit from her and the owners gave their okay. My dad would take a streetcar downtown by himself and spend hours upon hours there in his house of scientific bliss, purchase what he needed and go home to his backyard laboratory (that his dad built for him) and experiment away. The chemicals he used would make any parent shudder in horror today (mercury anyone?) but the point is that he learned through experimentation and common sense because he was given the opportunity to.

I love hearing stories about his childhood--how free it was, how much he took upon himself to learn and expand his otherwise limited world. While I'm not advocating our kids play recklessly with chemicals (for the record, my dad is very much a scientist and even as a kid he was hardly reckless), I can't believe that we've regressed so far that we can't even give our children paper clips and a magnet anymore.

Somehow we as a society simply must regain our common sense.

10-02-2010, 09:50 AM
We've let it happen. Every time we nod along and say, "Okay, that seems a little extreme, but if it saves ONE child..."

"If it saves one child..." or "It's for the children...." are possibly the most dangerous anti-liberty statements around (second only to "it's a matter of national security...").

10-02-2010, 10:14 AM
My daughter is 5, and loves science. I had a bit of a hard time at first finding science kits labeled for age level. If these regulations go through I doubt I'll find any. Of course then I'll just have to judge for myself and then buy the kits marketed to older kids.

Also paperclips? It seems silly that it would all be over paper clips. So I have a question would the same science kit, without paper clips not have the same regulations? Even if they put paper clips on a "provide from home" list.

10-02-2010, 10:22 AM
When I was a kid in school in the late 70s and 80s we played with mercury and I turned out just fine...contrary to popular belief!

It's absurd the lengths people go to protect children from any kind of risk. They're not allowed to be curious children who learn by making mistakes. Come to think of it, I bet it has more to do with reducing the risk of lawsuits than protecting children.

If you have an old unused hard drive (the actual drive inside the case) laying around, let your kids take it apart. It contains a couple of SUPER-powerful magnets. And if anyone needs iron filings, I got a pile on the workbench under my grinder. :)

10-02-2010, 10:47 AM
I am having a hard time with this article...I almost feel like kids today are "too soft." I also played with mercury, ate paste and glue and oh my gosh! I even used paperclips and staplers! I understand testing the safety of chemicals in science kits, that sounds like a good idea to me. But seriously. In our homeschool supply bin we have paperclips, scissors, staplers, several professional painting kits...my list goes on. My ultimate goal is to make sure my kids grow up to be fully functional adults and if I don't let them use adult materials (within reason) then how are they going to learn?!

10-02-2010, 06:27 PM
I can never figure out how to feel about all these various materials and what's safe for kids. On the one hand, I'm generally relaxed about things, won't let myself worry, am sick of all the over-protection that the government and some people seem to think kids need. On the other hand, our lives are really ruled by so many more chemicals than ever before. The people I know who have gone all glass and won't use plastic tupperware for any food... Oy. But then I think about it and realize that when I was a kid, very little of our food was ever in plastic. Oh well... I'm sure we're fine. And I *know* we're safe from paper clips.

10-02-2010, 07:42 PM
Ok, finally actually read the article. Its seriously vague. its say that, as an example, paperclips and magnets in kits would have to be tested . . . but you could certainly buy the things yourself. The issue is if the paperclips have to be tested for lead content and that sort of thing. Its like the article I saw (but didnt read) about a cancer treatment that cost, was it $100,000 - something? and asked what's a life worth? Trying to insure that no one ever dies seems like a total paranoid waste of effort to me . . . and seems like people are refusing to accept that, sometimes people die. they want to control the world so that there are no accidents. We might as well all live in a plastic bubble in a padded room. but i'm a bit on the i-dont-give-an-f side . . . ok, not as far as my parents were tho (leaving us home alone when I was 8 and my sister was 6, for example).


oh, but i meant to say - you can still buy books that describe the experiments, and buy your own paper clips. but its true, its much harder to get in to the kind of trouble kids used to be able to get in. I never had a science kit as a kid, and was shocked how many of the boys in my EE classes seemed to already know how to do the labs because they'd had kits that covered much of the same material. I do remember WANTING tinker toys, tho. But we got lincoln logs, cuz that was what my mom had always wanted.

um, am i in a really strange mood here? sorry . . . .

10-02-2010, 07:54 PM
I think that the original intent of this law was to protect us from the things that were being imported from China from the huge toy manufacturers, but it has had the effect of squishing the small businesses that can't afford the testing and has gone on to require to make these ridiculous requirements.