CK01A Standard/Honors Home School Chemistry Laboratory Kit

I’ve had my eye on this chemistry kit that caters to homeschoolers for a while now.  I featured it in my column back in 2011 here  and wrote:

If you’ve ever tried to put together your own chemistry kit for homeschooling, you know what an overwhelming (and expensive) task it can be. A new chemistry kit is now available to make it easier and more affordable for homeschoolers.

The CK01 Chemistry Kit contains everything needed (other than a few basic supplies like table salt) for a one year chemistry course, along with lecture notes.

The kit contains over 40 chemicals (such as Phosphoric acid, Thymol blue indicator solution and Copper), 25 types of equipment (with multiples of many of these, such as pipettes, beakers and alligator clips) and other related consumables such as cotton balls, cotton swabs, a lab notebook and pH test strips…

I have not tried the kit and have no affiliation with the company, but it sounds like an easy and affordable way to assemble a pretty thorough year of chemistry.

The kit now costs $184, with shipping available at an additional cost to countries such as Canada, Great Britain and Australia.

The manufacturer says:

Because chemistry is widely considered to be the most difficult lab course to do well—particularly on a tight budget—we offer the CK01A Standard/Honors Home School Chemistry Laboratory Kit. It provides a comprehensive, rigorous laboratory component for a first-year high school chemistry course, and does so affordably. With the exception of standard household items (such as table salt, sugar, vinegar, aluminum foil, foam cups, and so on) and other minor items that are readily available locally, the kit contains all of the special equipment and chemicals you’ll need for a complete chemistry lab course…

It’s a serious science curriculum, too, which can be modified to make a lighter version:

For a student who will go on to major in college in chemistry or another science, the kit provides a rigorous, comprehensive first-year chemistry lab experience. For non-science majors, you can, at your option, reduce the rigor and scope of the chemistry lab experience simply by doing only selected core lab sessions, while still providing an essential introduction to chemistry lab concepts and procedures.

I still have not tried the kit myself, but I have tried the book that it was created to accompany, Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture (DIY Science) (affiliate link), and I love the book!

This is truly a book for kids who want to do real science with real materials.  I loved reading about how the author discovered science as a child and how he worked to create a chemistry kit like those of his youth, before they were so “dumbed down.”  The book makes for a very thorough chemistry course/lab, and it is perfect for kids who love science or for kids who want to love science.

The book is not necessary to use the kit.  It comes with a complete PDF manual.  I do recommend the book in addition, just because it’s such a fantastic, thorough resource.

The CK01A kit provides 39 hands-on chemistry experiments in 14 topic areas:

Topic I. Separating Mixtures

Session I-1: Recrystallization
Session I-2: Chromatography
Session I-3: Solvent Extraction
Session I-4: Salting Out

Topic II. Solubility and Solutions

Session II-1: Solubility as a Function of Temperature
Session II-2: Conductance of Ionic and Molecular Solutes
Session II-3: Colligative Properties of Solutions: Boiling Point Elevation and Freezing Point Depression

Topic III. Chemical Reactions and Stoichiometry

Session III-1:  Observe a Composition Reaction
Session III-2:  Observe a Decomposition Reaction
Session III-3:  Observe a Single Replacement Reaction
Session III-4:  Observe Double Replacement Reactions
Session III-5:  Stoichiometry of Double Displacement Reactions

Topic IV. Reduction-Oxidation (Redox) Reactions

Session IV-1: Observe Oxidation States of Manganese

Topic V. Acid-Base Chemistry

Session V-1: Determine the Effect of Concentration on pH and the pH Range of Indicators
Session V-2: Determine the Molarity of Vinegar by Titration

Topic VI. Chemical Kinetics

Session VI-1: Determining the Effect of Temperature, Concentration, and Surface Area on Reaction Rates
Session VI-2: Determining the Effect of a Catalyst on Reaction Rate
Session VI-3: Determining a Reaction Order

Topic VII. Chemical Equilibrium

Session VII-1: Observe Le Châtelier’s Principle in Action
Session VII-2: Determine a Solubility Product Constant
Session VII-3: Observe the Characteristics of a Buffer Solution

Topic VIII. Gas Chemistry

Session VIII-1: Observe the Pressure-Volume Relationship of Gases (Boyle’s Law)
Session VIII-2: Observe the Volume-Temperature Relationship of Gases (Charles’ Law)
Session VIII-3: Determine Gas Mass Ratios by Effusion (Graham’s Law)

Topic IX. Thermochemistry

Session IX-1: Determine Heat of Solution
Session IX-2: Determine Heat of Fusion of Ice
Session IX-3: Determine the Specific Heat of a Metal
Session IX-4: Determine the Enthalpy Change of a Reaction

Topic X. Electrochemistry

Session X-1: Observe Electrolysis
Session X-2: Observe the Electrochemical Oxidation of Iron
Session X-3: Measure Electrode Potentials
Session X-4: Build a Voltaic Cell

Topic XI. Photochemistry

Session XI-1: Photochemical Reaction of Iodine and Oxalate

Topic XII. Colloids and Suspensions

Session XII-1: Observe Some Properties of Colloids and Suspensions

Topic XIII. Analytical Chemistry

Session XIII-1. Determine Boron Concentration with Curcumin
Session XIII-2. Determine Salicylate Concentration in Urine
Session XIII-3. Determine Vitamin C Concentration in Urine
Session XIII-4: Detect Lead in Household Materials

Topic XIV. Synthetic Chemistry

Session XIV-1. Synthesize Esters

If anybody out there has used this kit, I’d love to hear your experiences with it! 


Thanksgiving Fun and Science Nifties

I hope those in the states had a fabulous Thanksgiving.

We had quite an adventure.  Bad roads and mild illness kept us home instead of going to Grandma and Grandpa’s, and we ended up rescuing a giant dog roaming the streets dragging a leash and a kennel door behind him!  We had him for about 24 hours before his owner came and got him.  My kids had a blast as dog owners for a day and a night, and he was a giant, lovable house guest (even if he did hog Victoria’s bed!).

We threw together our own Thanksgiving feast, and Victoria asked me to make it vegan.  I did, and it was unexpectedly delicious!  I didn’t bother trying to do some sort of fake turkey (I hate fake anything!) so we just had mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, fettucini in garlic cream (almond milk) sauce, fresh rolls, Victoria’s orange cranberry sauce, sparkling grape juice, apple crisp and maple-pumpkin pie.

Everything was perfect, we were all stuffed to the gills, and the kids proclaimed that the pumpkin pie was way better than traditional and have already eaten almost two whole pies!  🙂

And now, as promised, some science nifties I’ve happened upon lately…

Free Middle School Chemistry Curiculum:

I’ve been looking at this curriculum for the girls.  It looks pretty neat, and who can have a problem with free?

Fabulous Periodic Table of Elements Poster:

I love this PTOE poster from The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.  You can download the PDF to view it, enlarge it and/or print it and you can also order it for free.  What is especially nice is that each element has a list of its applications, plus generally a picture of one of its uses. They say that shipping it outside of the UK will be at their discretion, but they took my order without adding any charges and gave me a confirmation number.  If it comes, I’ll be happily surprised, and otherwise it’s a fantastic online resource.

Take a look at the sun:

Bad Astronomy has an amazing post about the sun that must be seen (and read).  The detail about fitting our earth in that little dark spot was pretty boggling to Jack.  Amazing stuff!

And a bit of science with home ec…

I wrote today about the science of gluey mashed potatoes.   This would be a fun extension when talking about cells!  I’m all for any science that’s tasty.  😉

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you have a fun Friday — whether you shop till you drop or celebrate Buy Nothing Day and stay home and play board games.

A Little History of the World

I mentioned that we’d been reading A Little History of the World the other day and Kat commented that she’d love to know what I thought of it.

So far, we love this book!  Having started out with Story of the World, the kids and I all much prefer the charming conversational tone of this fun little volume.

We also adore the history of it — written in a matter of weeks nearly a hundred years ago by a German art student, and then updated recently by the author in his old age, when it was still highly in demand after all of these years.

I think that SOTW attempted in many ways to copy this book, but that series failed for us where this one shines.

That one is full of so many names and dates that we could never remember past the paragraph when they were mentioned.  This one limits the amount of details and focuses on the big picture, plus cheerfully reminds us of the characters and events we need to remember later.

That one drones on and we had to keep pushing ourselves to read more.  This one makes us laugh and makes us love the author, and the kids ask for one more chapter.

So far, religion seems to be treated very differently in this book compared to SOTW as well.  I’m curious to see how it plays out as we go along, since I know the spread of various religions is supposed to be a big theme in the book.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

This is an unusual work for Yale: a children’s history originally published 70 years ago. But it is a work one can quickly come to love. Gombrich, later known as an art historian, wrote this primer in 1935, when he was a young man in Vienna (it was soon banned by the Nazis as too “pacifist”). Rewritten (and updated) in English mainly by Gombrich himself (who died in 2001, age 92, while working on it), the book is still aimed at children, as the language makes clear: “Then, slowly the clouds parted to reveal the starry night of the Middle Ages.” But while he addresses his readers directly at times, Gombrich never talks down to them. Using vivid imagery, storytelling and sly humor, he brings history to life in a way that adults as well as children can appreciate. The book displays a breadth of knowledge, as Gombrich begins with prehistoric man and ends with the close of WWII. In the final, newly added chapter, Gombrich’s tone sadly darkens as he relates the rise of Hitler and his own escape from the Holocaust – children, he writes, “must learn from history how easy it is for human beings to be transformed into inhuman beings” – and ends on a note of cautious optimism about humanity’s future.

We are on about chapter 6 or 7 and have MANY chapters to go, but so far the book not only teaches us but makes us smile.

I have heard that parts about America are completely inaccurate and I’ve told the kids as much.  We are anxiously awaiting our country’s mention so we can see how we’re portrayed.  The kids understand that all history is a reflection of who gets to tell the stories, and that it should all be taken in context with other sources.  We’re also planning on researching the areas that are supposedly inaccurate to see how far off he was, too.

I also understand that SOTW is much longer and has multiple volumes to cover all the history out there, so obviously this one is not going to teach as much.  But just in terms of what the title says… we love it.

It is also available as an audio CD, on Kindle and as a new illustrated edition, which are all tempting me as well (edited to update that now they have a whole series of little history books for United States, literature, economics, religion, science and more).  I’ve heard of a lot of families that use the audio version in the car and enjoy it, and we are always on the road….

In any case, we’re very happy with it so far.

I’ll update as we go.  Considering it’s so inexpensive, it was definitely worth getting for our gang.


** Note that this post contains affiliate links.




Why I'm an Eclectic Homeschooler

I just finished a series of articles for the Examiner that really solidified for me why our homeschool style here is so eclectic.  I wrote about five great lessons to take from all different types of homeschooling, including Montessori, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason and Unschooling.  They are all parts of what we do here, and why I love the freedom we have as homeschool parents.  We truly can take the best of all worlds and adapt it all to perfectly suit each of our children.

If you want to check out the series, here it is so far…

Montessori Methods:

Five lessons to take from Montessori for your homeschool

Making your own Montessori materials

Waldorf Methods:

Five lessons to take from Waldorf for your homeschool

Making your own Waldorf Materials

Charlotte Mason Methods:

Five lessons to take from Charlotte Mason for your homeschool

Make your own nature journals

Make pocket-and-handle nature journals from paper bags!

Unschooling Methods:

Five lessons to take from unschooling for your homeschool

Five great blogs by unschoolers for inspiration, projects, games and more

And next in the series… Five lessons not to take from public school in your homeschool.  🙂

Free World History Curriculum

Bringing Up Learners is offering a comprehensive world history curriculum free to download.  I checked it out and it looks thorough, diverse, interesting and fun.  There are fun read-aloud books, poems to memorize, maps, activities, world religions, myths and several history books that are used as spines.

You can even choose whether to download the one that teaches prehistory and evolution or one that skips it, along with choosing which history book to use as the main spine (Story of the World or A Little History of the World).

It lists what you’ll need for each week, along with day by day lesson plans and schedules to fill out the rest of your plans for the day.  The author also points out that it’s meant to be used loosely, so you can pick and choose which elements to use.

The plan does rely on a number of books that you’ll need to either buy or get from your library, but it really does look packed with good ideas and does a great job of dividing up the curriculum into bite sized bits.

We are so unstructured here that I doubt we’d ever do it the way it’s written, but I’ve found lots of stuff I’m planning on using with my crew.

Thanks Roots, Shoots & Fruits for passing it on!