I was a nerdy kid ("Noooo" I hear you cry). Had a hand-drawn periodic table on the wall, took apart anything I could get my hands on and had a number of toys that apparently you just can’t get any more because they’re "not safe".
One of my favorites was the Thomas Salter Chemistry Set. These things were available in "Levels". Level 1 contained some water, iron filings and probably little else. But by the time you reached Level 7, you had most of the periodic table, a dash of plutonium and enough odds and ends to do start some serious fires. Well, okay, maybe not plutonium, but you could have some scarringly good fun with any kit beyond Level 4 or so.
Sadly, if Wired
and other sources are to believed (and I think they can be), such
danger has been removed from the lives of today’s kids. And that’s a
I distinctly remember some random combination of Salter chemicals that bubbled up and out of the test tube, melted the test tube holder and made a fair sized hole in the various layers of newspaper etc protecting the kitchen table. Now that’s what I call an educational toy — I gained far more respect for chemicals from my Salter-inspired misadventures than I ever from what we did in school.