“Children’s product” ruling could impact edu science kits

Education Science
“Children’s product” ruling could impact edu science kits

You know how we’re always lamenting how lame science kits have become, as hyperactive safety concerns overwhelm common sense and individual responsibility? It may get worse. See the grade school bio sciences kit above, with little more than table salt, vinegar, potting soil, plastic tools, and binder clips? If a new safety ruling takes affect, it could force anyone selling such kits to test every item in them. The ruling may be so broad as to include not only things like office supplies in classroom kits but items like rugs or lamps with images on them that might appeal to children. Anything falling under this broadening “children’s product” category would be subject to stringent and expensive testing.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has been mired for weeks in deliberation as it writes guidelines on what makes a product a “children’s product” — and consequently which products would have to undergo more stringent safety testing as part of a 2008 law. Caught up in the debate are the classroom science kits and some of the items they contain, such as paper clips to show kids how magnets work.

Science kit makers argue that having to safety-test everything, from paper clips to rulers to binder clips, would be too expensive and… um… they’re already common household items. That salt and dirt look pretty dangerous, though. I wouldn’t let my kids near such peril.

Kids’ science kits may take hit from safety ruling

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


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