PHILIP HARRIS SCIENCE TROLLEY PRIMARY SCIENCE RESOURCE PACK. Trolley, Pounds 325; trolley with resources Pounds 595; resources alone Pounds 295 Philip Harris, Lynn Lane, Shenstone, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS14 0EE. Tel: 01543 480077.
If you need the essentials for science, you might follow a couple of routes. Taking the scenic route, you would sift through every page of every catalogue you could find. Or you might take the expressway and get there in one move. Science specialist Philip Harris has put together the Primary Science Resource Pack, a one-stop collection of goodies to support science investigations.
You could sort the contents, as Harris does in its catalogue, under the four headings of the science curriculum. So for investigating science, you get masses and spring balances, measuring cylinders and beakers, and different types of thermometer.
These and many other items are the essential utensils of science. Disposables (plastic pots and gloves) and thievables (syringes they make excellent water pistols) are here in quantity.
For your "materials" heading there are bags of the key rocks: basalt, limestone and marble and there is enough to hand round to examine with magnifiers and test for hardness.
For topics on life there are pond nets and pooters to collect little bugs, dishes and magnifying pots to examine them more closely and a simple hand-held microscope for even-more-closely.
Then finally, there are basics for forces, light and electricity. So you get syringes and tubing for hydraulics, coloured filters, different lenses, and different pulleys that let you test how easy it is to lift a weight. There are battery and bulb holders, wires and switches you might want more, but this is a kick start.
"This is useful if you're starting out from scratch," commented Mary Marmary, senior co-ordinator at Wellington primary school, London. She saw the kit as something to build on. "As a starter pack it's good. There's not enough for a whole class you'd need more than one stopwatch, for example. I'd say you could see it as a sampler."
Wellington Primary, with its long wide corridors, was an ideal setting for the Primary Science Trolley. This stores all the equipment and could help with sharing everyday resources. It has a dozen storage bins, two side doors and a rack for scissors, hand lenses, or whatever.
How much you need for science can be frightening. The first fat science curriculum led Islington Education to spend around Pounds 6,000 on each of its primary schools: there were microscopes and microelectronics, even oscilloscopes.
That might not be the need with today's slimline curriculum, though there's still a need for costly things such as a skeleton or a human torso that have to wait for a windfall. The Harris set seems to hit a sensible point between nothing and the whole catalogue it's all the affordable stuff you can use.
That this resource pack could save a fortune in time and thinking is not really the point. More interesting is that it's a benchmark of the fundamental items needed for science. All that and a buzz for science will get any school started.