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Tuesday March 5th 2024

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Resources Resources by Becky Rupp

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Resources, Resources by Becky Rupp

American Science and Surplus

Anybody read the Peterman catalog? It’s a clothing catalog that doubles as micro-novel. There’s a picture of a white shirt and an accompanying paragraph about walking onto the porch of a hotel in Singapore and there she is, in the shirt, sipping pink gin and leaning against a potted palm. It’s supposed to make you want to buy the shirt.

RecycleTimeAmerican Science and Surplus is a sort of Peterman equivalent for geeks. The catalog is a marvelous source for mechanical gadgets, electronic widgets, optical dohickeys, lab equipment, science toys and kits for kids, and much more – all described in clever and hilarious detail. (A bag of tiny belts, suitable for attaching tags to luggage, became “Collars for hamsters?”) The enormous collection changes continuously, though it’s always (1) fascinating and (2) cheap.

We owe them for any number of wonderful projects: this is where we got our collection of music box innards, our box of miscellaneous lenses, our lab beakers, a lot of teeny light bulbs and electrical switches, and a ton of magnets.

Check them out at

Creature Cast

Creature Cast – a.k.a. “The Unexpected World of Animals” – originated as a podcast from the invertebrate zoology lab of Casey Dunn, professor at Brown University, and it’s terrific. The site is a collection of videos, animations, and photographs, with background text and explanatory narration, on a wide range of animal (mostly invertebrate) topics. Searchable topics include Annelids, Arthropods, Chordates, Echinoderms, and Comb Jellies, as well as “Science and Art,” “Symbiosis,” and “Convergent Evolution.”

Try “Squid Iridescence” or “Hiding Submarines Beneath Jellyfish,” for example – or maybe “Royal Jellies,” in which you learn that Japan’s Emperor Hirohito was a hobby marine biologist. Or all of the above.  This is great science, plus – as Lewis Carroll’s Alice recommended – “pictures and conversations.”

Visit the site at

The GEEE in Genome

From the Canadian Museum of Nature, this is a great site for introducing kids to genomics: that is, genes, DNA, the genome, stem cells, and more. At “The Basics,” kids are introduced to cell structure and function, heredity, and reproduction – click on a photomicrograph of cells, for example, for a quick (friendly) overview.

Also included are an interactive introduction to the genome, a multipart explanation of the uses of genomics (in gene disorders, cloning and stem cells, and genetically modified organisms or GMOs), a genomic timeline of researchers and developments from Gregor Mendel to the present, and “Try It” – a fun collection of videos, polls, puzzles, activities and experiments.

Among these are complete step-by-step instructions for extracting your own DNA, and an array of online games in which, for example, kids can find the cloned kitten, create their own GMOs with a “gene gun,” code their names in DNA and investigate mutations, and pick the perfect genes for baby Melvin Melonhead.


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