Laboratory Equipment

We set up an extensive science laboratory when I started our son's high school science program. In some areas, this was a particular challenge. In Australia, it is very difficult to obtain chemicals, for example, even in small quantities. I had to endure the suspicious questioning of local pharmacists to secure some items, and ultimately to take advantage of 'industry contacts' to secure supplies of some of the simple chemicals that I ultimately used. I note from various Web sites that this is not at all a problem in the US, for example, where there are several suppliers (Home Science Tools, for example) of 'educational quantities' of chemicals that used to enjoy a place in the home chemistry laboratory. Glassware, and general laboratory equipment was not a real problem (see below), although the cost and buying quantities of some items may make purchases difficult to justify in the home education environment.

The equipment available for physics experiments is only limited by the size of your bank balance—there's some really neat stuff out there for gear freaks! IEC (mentioned below) makes a range of really good educational equipment, primarily related to physics and engineering, that is available through a number of suppliers. Suppliers also seem to suggest that no laboratory is complete without data logging equipment, but we haven't made that step just yet. The two most popular brands seem to be Data Harvest (supplied locally through Serrata) and Vernier (supplied locally through Scientrific). The relevant experiments described in Holt Physics, the physics text that we use, use the Vernier data logger.

We have a low power binocular microscope that we purchased several years ago, primarily for the examination of botanical specimens. Unfortunately, this is not powerful enough to see cell structures, and our biology laboratory would benefit from a higher power microscope.

I was also fortunate enough to discover an excellent supplier of geological specimens (Geological Specimen Supplies) in Turramurra, Sydney (not to be confused with the business of the same name in Queensland). Their contact details are still available from various on-line business directories, but, to the best of my knowledge, they wound up their business in 2007.

Scientific Equipment Suppliers

Industrial Equipment & Control manufactures a range of equipment and kits for science education, many of which bear the name of the company founder Laurence Hodson (the Hodson Light Box, Hodson Induction Kit etc.). The company is based in Melbourne, and while it does not sell directly to the public, its products can be purchased through all of the scientific equipment suppliers listed below. The equipment is generally robust, being designed for use in schools. Some items are, nonetheless, quite reasonably priced.

Haines Educational operates out of Oakleigh, in Melbourne, and distributes a wide range of educational products, including laboratory equipment and a range of educational kits.

Scientrific, based in Yamba, NSW, is also a supplier of a wide range of equipment for the science classroom. They have been one of our primary equipment sources.

Serrata, also based in Sydney, is another supplier with whom we have dealt in setting up our laboratory.