Chemistry Set For All Ages Takes Inspiration From The Retro Music Box

Chemistry Set For All Ages Takes Inspiration From The Retro Music Box

Device that requires zero experience, and can test water supplies for just $5.

Ross Brooks
  • 9 april 2014

Manu Prakash, an assistant professor in bioengineering at Stanford University, recently came up with a hand-cranked chemistry set that works just like a music box to create precise chemical reactions. At just $5, it’s not simply a toy for kids, but an accessible way for anyone to create their own experiments.

The devices uses a paper punch card, which can be configured to deliver different amounts of chemicals at different times, to control exactly what chemical reaction will take place. It can be configured with up to 15 different chemicals, and once set, requires nothing more than the turn of a simple hand crank.


Created with the help of graduate student George Korir, Prakash and his team also received a $50,000 grant from the Science Play and Research Kit Competition (SPARK), a competition which challenges people to reimagine the chemistry set for the 21st century.

While it might look like a child’s plaything, Prakash explains why that’s exactly what makes it so powerful.

“I’d started thinking about this connection between science education and global health. The things that you make for kids to explore science are also exactly the kind of things that you need in the field because they need to be robust and they need to be highly versatile,” he told Stanford News.


Apart from education and getting kids involved in science, the music box chemistry set also has the potential to test water supplies and diagnose common illnesses. With a cost starting as low as $5, and almost no experience required, it’s an idea that anyone can put into practice straight away.

[h/t] Gizmodo

Images: Standford News


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