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Professional Development Science Equipment

balance Balance
Simple balances can be made from a variety of materials. You can make substitutions for materials suggested here as needed.

  • Cut a piece of stiff cardboard into a rectangle that measures 12 in. long by about 1 in. wide. Draw a line across the width of the cardboard at its center. Draw lines across the width of the cardboard 1 in. from each end.
  • Use a thin nail to punch a hole on each of these lines, 1/4 in. from one long edge of the cardboard. On the center line, punch a second hole 1/4 in. from the other long edge of the cardboard. (A piece of pegboard with approximately these dimensions and having two rows of nine holes each can be substituted for the stiff cardboard.)
  • Invert two tall plastic-foam drinking cups. Make a shallow groove across the center of the bottom of each cup.
  • Push a thin nail through the second center hole that you made in the cardboard. Use the drinking cups as support stands by fitting the ends of the nail into the grooves on the cups. (If you are using pegboard, make a support stand by attaching a wooden dowel to a wood base. Then put a nail through one of the center holes of the pegboard and into the dowel near its top.)
  • Unbend two paper clips to form hooks. Attach the hooks to the holes at the ends of your balance beam. Use string to hang a small paper cup from each hook.
  • Small washers can be used as masses. Or, use the smallest masses from an actual set of standard masses.


graduate Graduate
Small graduates can be made from tall, thin jars made of plastic or glass.

  • Obtain a suitable jar (such as as olive jar) and clean it thoroughly.
  • Cut a piece of paper about 1/2 in. wide and about 1 in. less than the height of the jar.
  • Tape the paper strip along the side of the jar. One end of the paper strip should be even with the bottom of the jar.
  • Use a standard graduate to add water in 10 mL increments (or equal increments of your choice) to the jar. Make a line and record the volume on the paper strip in waterproof marker each time.
  • Place a piece of clear, waterproof tape over the paper strip.


Students can make their own temporary magnets, using a variety of materials found in the home or classroom.

  • Obtain knitting needles, nail files, or bobby pins made from iron or steel.
  • Hold the metal object to be magnetized in one hand.
  • Hold a strong bar magnet in the other hand.
  • Stroke the metal object 30 times with the same end of the magnet.
  • Always stroke the object in the same direction.
  • Do not bang or drop the objects once they are magnetized.


Students can make magnifiers using a clear glass jar and water.

  • Olive jars and instant-coffee jars work best.
  • Fill the jar completely with water, so that there will be no air space when the lid is put in place.
  • Screw the lid on securely.
  • Lay the jar on its side on a sheet of newspaper and look through the jar at the print.

Remind the students to be careful not to drop the glass jars.


planter Planter
Planters can be made in various sizes, depending on your needs. Soil can be varied as well.

  • Select a container of a suitable size for the purpose (a paper cup, a plastic gallon milk jug, a plastic seedling tray, or other container). Wash the container thoroughly. If necessary (as with a plastic milk jug), cut off the top section so that the planter is 4-5 in. deep.
  • Punch one or more holes in the bottom surface of the container to provide drainage. The planter can be placed in a pan, on a pie plate, or on a piece of aluminum foil turned up at the edges.
  • Add layers of soil as follows:
    About 1/2 in. of gravel
    About 3-4 in.(depending on the depth of the planter) of loam
    A sprinkling of very fine soil
  • Moisten the soil before planting seeds.


specimen box Specimen Box
Seeds, minerals, rocks, and other small samples can be organized and stored in a simple specimen box.

  • Obtain a clean cardboard egg carton.
  • Use a marker to number the pockets, 1-6 along the unhinged edge and 7-12 along the hinged edge.
  • Cut a rectangular-shaped piece of paper that will fit on the inside cover of the carton.
  • Mark a grid on the paper that is 6 squares in length and 2 squares in width. Number the boxes to correspond to the pockets in the egg carton. (The numbers should be written small and in one corner of each box.)
  • Tape or glue the paper to the inside cover of the egg carton.
  • As you store specimens in the box, write the name of each specimen on the grid in the appropriate box.


Test-Tube Stand Test-Tube Stand
Test-tube stands can be made from blocks of wood of various sizes and from other materials.

  • Obtain a block of wood that is at least 2 in. deep. The length of the block of wood can vary, depending on how many test tubes you want the finished stand to hold.
  • Drill 1 in. deep holes in the wood at about 2 in. intervals. The diameter of each hole should be slightly larger than the diameter of the type of test tube that you will be using.
  • A more elaborate test-tube stand can be made by drilling holes through a 1/4-1/2 in.-thick block of wood and attaching this to a support stand made from two vertical blocks of wood attached to a wooden base.
  • A simple test-tube holder can be made from a clean, 1/2 gallon milk container. Lay the container on its side and cut several X-shaped slits in the carton. Test tubes pushed through the slits will stand upright in the container.

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