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Archive for February, 2013

MOVA Solar Powered Spinning Globes

We’ve been waiting for these to come in, and now they are here. We are talking about the MOVA Solar Powered Spinning Globes!


These globes sit on their base and with just a little bit of light will spin. If you pick up the globe it will still spin! Put it on the table and it continues to spin! There is no cord, no batteries, and really odd is no obvious solar cells.

The secret is that the the globe is actually immersed in a liquid that in turn is inside a clear acrylic globe. There are solar panels located behind the printed image of the globe. Since the globe only needs a little bit of light to runt he drive mechanism this works out fine. Let;s take a look at a video of the globe in action:

The MOVA globes are a great desktop toy. and don’t just come as a globe. We also have ones that are the surface of the Moon


And also one that is the Planet Jupiter



There are more of these MOVA globes available and we will be adding more very soon. Keep an eye out on this blog for more Solar Spinning Globes.

Want to buy a solar spinning Earth? Moon? Jupiter?


Tangle Proteins Building Set

Since we like supplying schools and laboratories with important equipment, we regularly carry molecular model kits that are used to build models of various complex chemical compounds. These kits area a necessity for any biochemist or organic chemist.

Trouble is, these kits have a bit of a scaling problem. They are fine for molecules, but what if you wanted to build a model of something a bit larger. Quite a bit larger, actually. Mind you we are still talking about stuff that is microscope in scale, but by comparison are huge compared to the molecules built with the model kits.

We are talking about proteins.

Now, in theory, one could build a a protein out of models kits. This is not very practical, however, and would take multiple kits and would probably fill up a large sized room just make one protein. This is why there have been some attempts at making protein model kits but they haven’t been very impressive .

Enter a couple of new people thinking on the subject, one of Dr. Marcel Jaspars, professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Aberdeen,, the other person is Richard X Zawitz, whose company Tangled Creations has been making twisty bendy toys for ages.

As the story goes, Dr. Jaspars wife gave him a Tangled Toy as a gift and the good Professor realized it could be used to make models of proteins. Its twisty, curved pieces were perfect for modeling proteins. Somehow the professor and Mr. Zawitz got together and collaborated on making the Tangle Proteins Building Set.


With this building set, students and kids can use the Tangle pieces to build actual models of various proteins. The included booklet talks about what proteins are and some details on protein modeling, along with instructions on how to model 3 different proteins:

  • Streptococcal Protein G
  • Ubiquitin
  • ω – Conotoxin MVIII

Tips for building other proteins are given:


The kit includes 75 blue pieces, 75 red pieces, 75 white pieces, 25 green pieces, 300 normal hydrogen bonds, and 50 long hydrogen bonds.

This kit is an excellent, accurate and affordable protein building set that is a must for many biochem classes as well as for kids interested in biology or in need of a science project.

Want to buy the Tangle Protein Building Set?

Want to buy Molecular & Atomic Modeling Kits?


New Agarose

We’ve been selling BenchMark’s Agarose LE ever since they announced it. Agarose is a very Multi-Purpose, High purity growth medium used in laboratories for growing bacteria cultures and other special growths.

But now BenchMark Scientific has released 3 new Agaroses as part of their expanding molecular biology line. These have the purity of the Agarose LE, but have other features various laboratories may find useful.

First up is the Agarose LM, or Low-Melt. This is an Agarose designed to remain liquid at just 37 degrees Celsius and gels from 26-30 C. Most other Agaroses need gel at 33 or more degrees C. This allow procedures such as restriction digests and labeling to be carried out in the gel.


The 2nd new Agarose is the Agarose HR, this Agarose is excellent for dealing with very small fragments. Agarose HR is for applications such as analysis of STR’s, AFLP’s, and PCR products where separation of small fragments is required, Benchmark’s Agarose HR is ideal. Clear resolution of 20bp to 800bp fragments can be carried out in this intermediate melting agarose.

Finally, the 3rd new Agarose is the Agarose 3:1, this blended high resolution agarose is designed for separation of fragments less than 1,000bp. Gels made with Agarose 3:1 are suitable for analytical and blotting applications.

All BenchMark Agarose is manufactured under a “green” process that eliminates the use of organic solvents. They provide gels with enhanced resolution and clarity, low EEO and low backgrounds. All the agarose is tested to be RNase, DNase, Protease and Endonuclease free.

These new agaroses have free shipping within the Continental USA.

Want to buy Agarose, Agar, and other biological mediums?


New MetalWorks Part 2

OK, so we got the MetalWorks  3D LaserCut Metal Models F-22 Raptor, The Tiger Tank, The Golden Hind, The Tin Lizzie and the Brooklyn Bridge in our last blog entry.  But these were not all the new MetalWorks models we added. There’s actually a few more! Let’s take a look:

First up is the Pirate Ship Black Pearl from the Pirates of the Carribean movie:


From the world of Modern Drone Aviation there is the RQ170 Sentinel Drone


For more classic aviation, there is the Japanese Zero Fighter Plane


And also this incredibly detailed Steam Locomotive


A classic detailed Ferris Wheel


And countering the Zero Fighter Plane above is an excellent model of a F4U Corsair Fighter-Bomber


All these models come on 1 or 2 sheets of flat metal and range in size from 3″ to 5″ on their long side. The models are incredibly detailed and take 30-60 minute to assemble. Great for ages 12+.

Want to buy more Building/Construction Toys?


New MetalWorks Models

The folks who make MetalWorks (formerly Metal Marvels) have been busy adding new products to their line. They particularly been adding a lot of new ‘2 sheeters’ – Metal models that use two sheets to build larger and more detailed models. As always, these metal models have an incredible amount of detail and can usually be assembled in 30-45 minutes. These are the models we have added recently:

MetalWorks Tiger I Tank


The fearsome and infamous German Tank is first up. It is about 5″ long and even has a camo pattern on the tank’s ‘skin’.

Next up is the famous Ford Model T 1908 ‘Tin Lizzie’


The Tin Lizzie is another 2 sheeter and measures about 5″ long with incredible detail – including the Ford Logo and pattern on the seat fabric.

For modern warfare enthusiasts there is the USA F-22 Raptor Fighter


Enjoy building this 2-sheet Fighter Jet!

For those who enjoy the engineering models in this series we have a model of one of the oldest suspension bridges in the USA – The Brooklyn Bridge


So, wanna buy a bridge?

And we also have the incredibly detailed Golden Hind, a model of the ship Sir Francis Drake used to circumnavigate the world:


Rigging, flags, and other incredible details are visible in this 2 sheet model.

More MetalWorks Models to come tomorrow! See you then!

Want more building/construction toys?





Fun, Fun, Fun in the (classroom) sun, sun sun!

Its the cold, hard winter roaring outside right now, but that is little reason to not consider the study of our nearest star. We have a whole set of equipment for classroom or home-study that shows how our sun changes position through the year and how powerful its rays are. Let’s start with a couple of devices that demonstrate the latter.

First up is the Solar Furnace:


The Solar Furnace is a 12″ diameter mirrored parabolic dish. A copper bracket is attached to it where various materials can be attached (paper, wood,  small bits of meat). When properly aligned with the sun the intense concentration of heat is enough to burn or even melt certain materials. The power of 12″ diameter of sunlight (113 square inches) being concentrated to a small point demonstrates how powerful sunlight can be and how that energy can be harnessed. A teacher’s guide with 6 experiments is included and is for grades 3+.

Continuing on the same vein is the more down-to-earth Sun Spot Solar Oven.


The Sun Spot Solar Oven does not use a parabolic dish but instead employs mirrored surfaces aimed towards a central area of the oven that can produce temperatures of 350 degrees! This is hot enough to do some actual cooking! In fact some classes have done actual solar cook-offs. Includes a teacher’s manual.

OK, so the sun is powerful, especially when you concentrate its rays. But depending on the time of year your solar furnace and oven may work better than other times. Why is that? Well the sun’s position changes throughout the year. This makes for a great curriculum project that can be aided with the Suntracker


With this fascinating sky dome, students can plot the position of the sun for any given time and date. An effective tool for illustrating Earth/Sun relationships. Learn about how the sun changes height and position as the seasons change. This in turn lets students learn about why the seasons change!

Want to see more Earth & Sun Science Products?


BenchMark myBlock Digital Dry Baths

BenchMark Scientific has been in the market with digital dry baths for a while with their excellent, if unnamed, Digital Dry Baths.


This series was excellent and affordable, but that didn’t mean it could not be improved upon. So BenchMark has come up with the myBlock Digital Dry Baths.


The myBlock comes in single chamber or double chamber (shown). The base version comes with no blocks so you can purchase optional bath blocks, but there are versions where you can buy them with the excellent QuickFlip Universal Block (more on that below) in single chamber or double chamber (Which comes with 2 blocks).

The myBlock has several improvements over the original Digital Dry Bath: It has a removable hinged lid for better uniformity and minimize temperature stratification in the block by maintaining a warm air jacket layer. It also helps to reduce energy consumption by minimizing heat loss to the environment.. They are the first digital dry baths to include advanced microprocessor controls, timed or continuous operation. It has an optional external temperature probe. They also can employ the previously mentioned QUickFlip Block:


This universal block can hold a wide variety of containers: 0.5ml tubes, 1.5ml tubes, 2.0 ml tubes, 0.2ml tubes, 0.2ml strips and PCR plates.  This gives the Quickflip a much greater versatility over traditional bath blocks.

BenchMark once again demonstrates their ability to innovate lab equipment and bring it to us at an affordable price:

Want to buy Laboratory Dry or Water Baths

Spectrum Scientifics

Sexism in the Science Toy Store Part…something

Over the weekend there was a bit of internet outrage over a United Kingdom department store Marks & Spencer apparent decision to place science toys in what was clearly labeled the ‘Boy’s Stuff’:


There was more than a bit of outrage over this and it is not hard to see why. The toys here are all science toys: A Visible Human Body, A planetarium toy, Dinosaurs, and more.

Had this shelf not been marked as ‘Boys’ Stuff’ obviously it would not have received the outrage aimed at it.

Its hard to tell what the store was trying to do here. It does not seem to be the regular toy section, what with the bowls (kitchen or plant pots it cannot be determined).  Is this a kiosk? And endcap? It is very hard to tell.  In any case it was pretty poor decision on the part of this store.

That being said, sometimes we can go a little too far with our recreational outrage. This photo was included with a link to an online petition. This petition did go one step further and demanded that all toys have no gender aim. While I can understand the sentiment, the aim might be misguided.

Sometimes a little “gender-aiming” of a product is needed. Now I have ranted in the past about extremely poor efforts by manufacturers to aim science products at young girls (with such products usually being a poor imitation of the ‘boys’ kit with a pink coat of paint).:


Examples like this are what is wrong with such efforts. The kits end up being limited in scope, limited in appeal, and limited to which kids you can sell to. A soap-making kit aimed only at girls is a bit limited and rather odd. Let us remember that Tyler Durden of Fight Club made soap. So why should soap making be limited to girls only? Conversely, why should engineering and building kits be limited to boys only? The answer is that most boy’s toys these days aren’t.

Its actually a bit of a double-standard – most toys that are thought of as traditional ‘boy’ toys actually have taken a lot of effort in the past couple of decades to avoid having any gender typing on the packaging. Most of them have a mix of children, or no children at all – just the product picture. It has actually helped a lot to take a neutral stance on this, and in fact such a neutral stance tends to make the ‘aimed at girls’ products stick out like a sore thumb and makes a lot of folks uncomfortable: We as the retailer are uncomfortable using such blatant gender targeting, parents are uncomfortable buying such products for their daughters, and the girls are actually smart enough to know when they are being targeted.

So should no effort be made to aim science products at children? The answer here is: it depends. The trick is to do it properly, and with subtlety. That is a very fine line to tread.

For example: Tomorrow we will be going to the New York Toy Fair. One of the booths we will be visiting while we are there is a little start-up company called Goldie Blox.

Goldie Blox was initiated with a kickstarter fundraiser and plans to ship this April. It is a toy very much aimed at girls:


Essentially, Goldie Blox is a lever and pully design system children put together either by the instructions or in their own way to make the various characters on the poles spin around. The bright colors and female characters definitely aim this product at girls. To our knowledge, it is the only engineering/inventing toy aimed at girls – most other times such aimed products are in the chemistry or biology fields.

Is it a good thing? I know of several parents of daughters who have been waiting for this product to become available. So it looks to be popular at the very least.

However, looking back at the outrage over Marks & Spencer’s sexist toy placement, there were more than a few comments that raged against the very existence of this product. Gender neutrality, they growled, should be to order of the day.

Trouble is, when it comes to mechanical/engineering/invention toys…we already tried that!

Time will tell if Goldie Blox is successful in its mission. And while I might seem hypocritical by wishing them success while condemning other companies efforts to aim at girls I would point out a few things:

1) Goldie Blox is not an inferior version of a another Kit! This has always been one of the big issues with science toys aimed at girls (I really need to make up an acronym for that sort of thing if I write any more of these). Usually they end up with limited scope, or just a poor version of a better set with a box with pink colors.

2) Goldie Blox is not trying to sneak science kits in front of girls! This is a huge failing of science kits aimed at girls (That’s it, I am calling them SKAAG from now on!). The general philosophy behind SKAAG is that young girls need to be fooled into doing science. So kits are hidden as “make your own perfume kit”, “gel jewelry kits” and so on.  The idea seems to be that girls won’t want to do science if it is presented as such. While Goldie Blox has bright colors and fun characters it never hides the fact that it is an invention/engineering kit (of sorts).

I don’t know everything about Goldie Blox, it could make some massive missteps somewhere in its presentation, but I also refuse to condemn it because it doesn’t completely adhere to a gender neutral manifest of some sort. Start ups in the toy industry tend to be one shaky ground to begin with, I refuse to stomp the ground and make it worse for them.


Beetling 3D Wall Designs – Safari

UPDATE 6/23/14:  In early 2014 the Beetling company stated they had to move their studios to a new location. After several months they have not returned to operations, have barely answered their email, had no updated to their Facebook page, and now their main webpage would appear to be defunct. With this in mind we are assuming that they are now out of business and no longer producing 3D Wall designs. Note that we have broken the links to the products on this blog entry due to the incessant queries of “Do you have this?”. No, we do not.

Beetling Wall decorations are individually casted and painted three-dimensional wall mounted works of art, suitable for any child’s space. They are easily installed onto walls and create a great sense of fun for that room. Beetling 3D decoration castings are made of signature Designer Blended Foam,  a non-toxic and child safe material that is extremely light-weight and durable. We paint with Low VOC, child-safe water based paints and finishes.

Beetlings are very easy to install and each piece comes with step-by-step instructions on how to install them to any wall. Your 3D wall art piece can be ready in minutes in most cases as only a few screws are needed to hold it in place. If you need to move, the Beetling pieces uninstall as fast as they install

Beetling has several series of products, including Space and Dinosaurs. But for this blog post we will be covering the popular Safari line, which includes a Zebra, a baby and adult Giraffe and a 3D Acacia tree.

Let’s start with the Zebra,


The Zebra stands 36.5″ tall and is 41.75″ wide. The whole body is 3D and the head sticks out in particular


The Giraffe’s, both Baby and Adult make up the second parts of this series. The Baby Giraffe stands on a tree stump and measures in at 61″ tall:


Like the Zebra, the head sticks out for true 3D Effect:


The Baby Giraffe, of course, has a parent


Which again has an extended 3D head:


The final piece to the Safari series is the Acacia Tree:


The tree is 3D and stands 92″ tall. It can be installed straight on a wall or in a corner:


Beetling Safari pieces can be bought individually or can be used all together to make an impressive atmosphere in a play room, waiting room, or other kid’s location:


Want to order Beetling 3D Wall Art Safari Decor?