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Arbor Scientific – A Great Aid for Your Science Teaching

by Michael Leppert

When it comes to teaching science, the majority of homeschooling parents know that they need all the help there is available! Science is usually one of the most daunting subjects for a parent to teach. Arbor Scientific is a company that understands homeschoolers and their dilemma and provides excellent solutions and guidance.

Arbor Scientific
Click to visit Arbor Scientific's web site

Arbor isn’t owned or staffed by homeschoolers, but they design their products with classroom teachers in mind and based upon the assumption that most teachers are not a science teacher per se and therefore, knows little or nothing about presenting the subject. If a product will work for a teacher who knows very little about science, it will certainly provide the assistance needed for the parent in the same situation! Arbor Scientific has been providing great science tools and information to teachers for over 20 years – and now homeschooling parents can enjoy the same vast body of knowledge!

On the website you can peruse Arbor’s extensive catalog for great interest-piquing items like an inexpensive individual, hand operated vacuum pump and chamber. This allows you and your student to pump the air from the chamber and conduct a wide variety of interesting experiments relating to air pressure, vacuums and the like. (How often have you read a physics experiment that required you to perform it in a vacuum and wished you could re-create it at home? Now you can with ease.)

Arbor Scientific’s website,, offers a huge variety of great science resources. The Cool Stuff Newsletter, free of charge, written and prepared by Messrs. Chris Chiaverina, a highly-respected science instructor and member of the American Physics Teachers Association and Mr. David Barnes, of Arbor Scientific. The gentlemen publish Cool Stuff four to five times per year and they make sure it is brimming with demonstration ideas, lesson plans, teaching tips, illustrated experiments and discussions of scientific concepts that apply to daily life, making them much more “learnable”, as they relate to something concrete to each of us. Just a few of the topics are Chemistry, Electrostatics, Magnetism, Energy and Pressure & Fluids.

In the “Chemistry section, October, 2004’s edition of Cool Stuff, I found a number of experiments with Styrofoam, acetone and water, trying to dissolve the Styrofoam in both liquids and discussing the outcome and explaining why. I can’t think of a child who would not be fascinated at seeing a plain coffee cup dissolve into a lump of white goo – and then beginning to understand why!

The Cool Stuff Newsletters cover a broad swath of student ages, with projects that you can perform with both your younger and older children, reaching different scientific conclusions appropriate for the age and even performing different experiments with the same materials.

Cool Stuff also provides links to other great science websites – like a fusion site, FusEdWeb which provides information on fusion, plasma and other related scientific topics, as well as scientific glossaries of terms for this realm of science.

Arbor Scientific also has an exciting new product for middle school/high school level physical science courses. It is a 10-disk multimedia DVD series (which can be purchased per disk or as a set) called Conceptual Physical Science Explorations Alive!, created by world-famous Science instructor Paul Hewitt. Each disk contains animations, lectures, demonstrations and questions for discussion and covers a tremendous amount of information. In fact, the entire 24 hour-plus series contains more than would be taught in a typical physical science course. However, for a family with more than one child, this offers flexibility and a broad teaching approach. The parent can allow his/her child to watch the disk, showing Mr. Hewitt performing the demonstrations and the lectures or the parent can watch the presentation first and then teach the material directly. The series also has an accompanying textbook, developed to coincide with the disks.

For science fair fans, Arbor devotes a considerable section of their website to suggested projects and sage advice for parents in overseeing the participation in a fair.

To find a site that will provide you with hours of fascinating exploration – with and without your child! – please see Arbor Scientific’s site and be prepared to mark it as a “Favorite” so you can return to it quickly again and again! MJL

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