ICE LogoICE Banner

News Archive

Hands-On Science Kits and Demos

Teachers love our hands-on kits—they are tried and tested, they provide value for your dollar, and they are scientifically correct.

Click to go to the main catalog page.

DNA Optical Transform Kit

AP, Coll; D, I, CP

Click on the image for an enlarged PDF version of the DNA transparency layout.

You can simulate Rosalind Franklin's famous X-ray ­diffraction experiments that led to the discovery of the DNA double helix. All you need is a visible laser and two-dimensional diffraction pattern transparencies from the DNA Optical Transform Kit.

Note, as of January 2011 the DNA Diffraction Transparencies have been updated. The new transparencies are laser photo plotted at a higher resolution which allows us to better model the true structure of B-DNA. As a result you will find that the diffraction pattern of B-DNA (cell J) is different from that produced by the old diffraction transparencies, but is a more accurate representation of DNA's structure. The manual has been updated accordingly; please refer to it for more information.

The kit includes: a manual with background information and directions, a diffraction pattern transparency, and overhead transparency masters. A source of visible laser light is not included, but any red laser pointer will work. The comprehensive manual provides: an overview of the DNA structure solution and diffraction principles; an optical transform demonstration; Your students can participate as well—additional diffraction transparencies can be purchased in sets of 5 or 10.

Exploring the Nanoworld Kit

(MS), HS, AP, Coll; G, I

Exploring the Nanoworld Kit components. Click on the picture for a full size version.

Nanoworld adventures await inside this kit! Explore how we can accomplish the feats of "seeing" atoms, assembling them into a variety of novel structures, and customizing their properties to develop new technologies. Exploring the Nanoworld is available in both English and Spanish language versions. This general-audience activity kit contains everything you need (except a standard 9V battery):

• color booklet • magnifying glass • diffraction slide
• fiber optic cable • memory metal • magnet
• LED flashlight• light emitting diode

Fusion Science Theater Performance Kits

Elem; M, D

Fusion Science Theater Performance Kits. Click on the picture for more information on FST.

A Fusion Science Theater (FST) show uses elements of story to teach age-appropriate science concepts. FST uses demonstrations, prediction, audience participation, modeling, and embedded assessment to produce demonstrable gains in learning, interest, and self-efficacy. The shows target children in grades 1–5 and can be performed by teachers, students, outreach specialists, and museum educators. The Fusion Science Theater outreach model was developed by Holly Walter Kerby, an award-winning chemistry teacher and playwright.

ICE/FST kits include what you need to plan, rehearse, and present Fusion Science Theater shows. Carefully crafted scripts ensure that FST principles are embodied in each performance. A handbook explains how to set up schedules, memorize dialog, rehearse, and interact effectively with children in the audience. These materials have been used successfully by staff at science centers and ACS undergraduate members across the country.

FST Kits Available

LED Color Strip Kit (Note: back-ordered, new design in development)

HS, AP, Coll; D, G, L

LED Color Strip Kit components. Click on the picture to see a full size version.

See nanotechnology in action! The LED Color Strip Kit illustrates the properties of LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and semiconductor ­materials with a series of hands-on, minds-on activities that fulfill NSES Science Content Standards and STL Technology Content Standards. Because semiconducting materials found in LEDs are grown virtually an atomic layer at a time, LEDs represent an exciting application of nanotechnology. This kit can be used as a demonstration or as an activity for group work (additional color strips available).

The LED Color Strip Kit contains:

• diffraction grating slide • luminescent cap
• incandescent light bulb • fiber optic cable
• strip of light-emitting diodes (including an infrared LED)
with a capacitor
• 50-page instruction manual

Line of Resistance Kit

HS, AP, Coll; G, L

Measuring the Resistivity of a Graphite Line

Using the Line of Resistance Kit you can explore the electrical properties of materials and circuits using a graphite pencil, a piece of paper, and a multimeter (not included).

The Line of Resistance Kit will help you teach your students to measure resistance using only a piece of paper and a graphite pencil!

Included in the kit is a manual with 10 easy-to-do experiments that students will enjoy. Some topics covered are: electrical resistivity of graphite and wire; resistance of serial and parallel circuits; and open and short circuits. The kit contains a piezoelectric igniter, which allows your students to demonstrate how lightning rods work (the path of least resistance). A multimeter is required but not provided.

The Explorations in Materials Science Kit is available as a Teacher Kit, which contains enough materials for a single user or for a teacher demonstration, or as a Classroom Kit, which contains enough materials for 20 students.

The Line of Resistance Kit is the first in a joint effort by ICE and General Atomic Sciences Education Foundation to bring hands-on materials and physical science to teachers and students. It is available as a teacher demonstration or for hands-on classroom use.

Memory Metal

All Levels; D, I

Memory Metal

Pre-shaped memory metal

Some metal alloys have shape-memory retention—thus they are said to have a memory. Our Memory Metal publication includes an eight-page description of the chemistry responsible for shape-memory retention, many diagrams (ready for overhead projection), and a sample of ­memory metal wire (Nitinol™) in the shape of ICE. With the metal wire and a cup of hot water, you can demo science in action! Pull the ends of the pre-shaped wire to distort it, then watch as it returns to the ICE shape when put into warm water.

Nanocrystalline Solar Cell Kit

(MS), HS, AP, Coll; G, I, L

Nanocrystalline Solar Cell Kit components. Click on the picture for a full size version.

No wonder this is our most popular kit! When students build their own Nanocrystalline Solar Cell, they recreate the process of photosynthesis: they generate electricity from light using natural dyes from berries. The solar cell has enough electrical output to power a small ­motor (not included). The kit provides an interdisciplinary context for students learning basic principles in chemistry, biology, physics, as well as environmental science. The instruction manual includes comprehensive background information for the instructor, detailed laboratory instructions, and prepared materials for data collection and assessment.

The Nanocrystalline Solar Cell Kit contains enough to make 5 reusable solar cells. The following items are included in the Nanocrystalline Solar Cell Kit:

• instruction manual • potentiometer
• woodless HB graphite pencil • 12 cm copper tape
• 10 binder clips • 1 dropper bottle
• 10 conductive (tin dioxide coated) transparent glass slides in glassine envelopes
• 20 grams colloidal titanium dioxide powder, Degussa P25
• 15 mL iodine electrolyte solution in a dropper bottle

There are enough materials for 5 reusable solar cells; additional kit components or replacement parts can be ordered separately. Note: the Solar Cell Kit does NOT include everything needed to complete the activities in the kit. To see a list of all materials and supplies needed--those included, required but not included, and optional--click here. Those available from ICE as additional components and replacement parts are starred in red.

Note: The Nanocrystalline Solar Cell Kit is intended for use by students properly supervised by a teacher. Teachers are expected to have extensive laboratory experience and a strong physical science background. Students must be properly supervised at all times and both teachers and students are expected to respect normal laboratory safety precautions.

Nanoworld Presenter's Guide with Try This Packet

All Levels; D

Audiences of all ages enjoy learning about the Nanoworld! With the Nanoworld Presenter's Guide, presenters and teachers have access to background information on the nanoworld as well as the instructions and materials to demonstrate four simple nanotechnology-related experiments:

The Guide also includes talking points (with multiple variations for different audiences), supplemental information, applications, and Web links to enhance the presenter's own knowledge of the nanoworld. The Nanoworld Presenters Guide comes with a single "Try This!" packet (described below) that contains the materials to demonstrate the four activities described in the Guide.

Try This! Packet Parts

Try This! Packet components. Click on the picture for a full size version.

Nanoworld "Try This Packets", Extra Copies

If you have multiple "Try This!" packets, your students can join in, carrying out the activities on their own or in group. The "Try This" packets, with accompanying mini activity booklet, can be purchased in sets of 10 or 30.

One "Try This!" Packet contains:

• LED mini flashlight • diffraction slide • mini activity booklet
• magnet • memory metal • fiber optic cable

The "Try This" booklet is a product of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) Interdisciplinary Education Group (IEG) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, was funded by the National Science Foundation, and is distributed by the Institute for Chemical Education.

Optical Transform Kit

AP, Coll; D, I, CP

Click on the image for an enlarged PDF version of the four Optical Transform patterns.

Model X-ray diffraction using a visible laser and two-dimensional patterns on a transparency—the Optical Transform Kit. The kit includes: directions, four different diffraction transparencies, and overhead diffraction transparency masters. The four different diffraction transparencies have these patterns:

A source of visible laser light is not included, but any laser pointer will work. Additional copies of each transparency (in sets of ten) are available separately from the Kit for student hands-on use.

Photochromic ICE T-shirt

All Levels; D

Click on the image to see what the Photochromic T-shirt looks like before and after UV exposure.

Watch its colors change in sunlight! This snazzy white T-shirt has a black outline of the ICE structure on the front and a smiling sun on the back. Step into the sun, and the designs become bright shades of blue, purple, yellow and orange! UV active dyes in the shirt are colorless in room light, but become brightly colored in sunlight.

The shirts, made from 100% heavyweight cotton, are washable and come in both child and adult sizes: Child sizes: S, M, L. Adult sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL. Don't forget to indicate the size on the order form!

Polyhedral Model Kit

HS, AP, Coll; D, G, I, L

Polyhedral Model Kit building blocks. Click on the picture for a larger version.

Model of ice built with the Polyhedral Model Kit.

The Polyhedral Model Kit simplifies visualization of many complex chemical structures that involve polyhedral shapes. It can be used to make many structures that would commonly be discussed in science and engineering courses such as inorganic and solid-state chemistry, chemical engineering, geology, industrial chemistry, environmental science, materials science, soil science, and physics. The kit provides an alternative view of how structural components fit together that cannot be represented by ball-and-stick or space-filling models. Because structures are built with tetrahedral and octahedral units instead of individual atoms, models can be assembled quickly. Since students focus on units larger than atoms, they can more readily visualize and comprehend complicated structures.

The Polyhedral Model Kit nicely compliments the ICE Solid State Model Kit. Each kit gives different insights into molecular structures, an important pedagogical objective; together they can induce real comprehension into structure–property relationships. More information about the Polyhedral Model Kit and directions for assembling the more than 40 structures that can be built with it—such as NaCl, ZnS, H2O(s), rutile, perovskites, gibbsite, talc, muscovite, and quartz—can be found at

The Polyhedral Model Kit was produced by University of Wisconsin–Madison Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) and is distributed by ICE.

Salt Model–pre-built model of the salt structure

All Levels; D, I

1. Unit Cell as a Cube. Click on the picture for a larger version.

2. Closest-packed Layers. Click on the picture for a larger version.

Salt is a pre-built polyhedral model for demonstrating the crystal structure of sodium chloride (salt) using octahedral units from the Polyhedral Model Kit. The Polyhedral Model Kit provides an alternative view of how structural components fit together that cannot be represented by ball-and-stick or space-filling models. Most simple inorganic compounds consist of ions that alternate indefinitely rather than existing as discrete molecules in the solid state. Although the formula NaCl shows a one to one ratio of ions, a salt crystal does not consist of just one sodium ion and just one chloride ion. Rather, in NaCl each sodium ion is surrounded by an octahedron of chloride ions and each chloride ion is surrounded by an octahedron of sodium ions in an extended structure.

The Salt model comes in three layers that can easily be stacked one atop the other to form a NaCl unit cell. If the layers are connected, the model can be used in two orientations:

  1. Unit cell: When the model is resting on one face of the cube, the cubic shape of the unit cell is evident.
  2. Closest-packed Layers: When the model is balanced on a single octahedron, the closest-packed layers are evident.

Salt has been designed and adapted by ICE using octahedral units from the Polyhedral Model Kit. The Polyhedral Model Kit was produced by University of Wisconsin–Madison Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) and is distributed by ICE.

Solid-State Model Kit

AP, Coll; D, G, I, L

Solid State Model Kit: The structure of ice.

It's hard to describe the structure of a crystal with a two-dimensional drawing. No need to because the Solid-State Model Kit allows you and your students to easily build, examine, and study structural models of metals, ionic compounds, and even superconductors. See instantly how atomic packing determines physical properties­density, cleavage planes, conductivity directions.

Our tried and true kit is an excellent tool that has been used for nearly 20 years to present sphere packing, unit cells, coordination number, layering, radius ratios, and interpenetrating polyhedra. Radii of the spheres correspond with the radius ratio for cubic, octahedral, and tetrahedral coordination. The kit is designed for individual use, laboratory exercises, tutorials, and lectures. Using the detailed illustrated manual that comes with each kit, students can build structures one atom at a time by placing spheres on the appropriate rods as shown by a template. Each kit fits in a box that is 9" x 12" x 3.25"; the completed structures are approximately 4" x 4" x 6". Replacement parts are available.

Deluxe vs Student Versions. The kit comes in two versions, Deluxe and Student; the primary difference between the two versions is the number of spheres and rods, which ultimately impacts the number and size of structures that can be made. The Deluxe Version can be used to build more than 80 different molecular structures while the Student Version can be used to build more than 60 structures, most of the more common ones. Note that since two Student Kits (when combined) have four bases between them, they can build more structures simultaneously than one Deluxe Kit. However, one Deluxe Kit can be divided to build more than one structure at a time.

The Polyhedral Model Kit uses an alternative approach to seeing molecular structure.

Click the ICE structure to view an introduction to the Solid State Model Kit, a comparison of the two types of kits, and a list of the structures for which there are construction directions. Those structures that require one Deluxe Kit or two Student Kits are noted.

Click the ICE structure for sample directions on how to build H2O (s), pictured above, using the Solid State Model Kit.

Other Materials: Replacement Parts, Manuals, Kit Componets, etc.

Yes, we have it!

Many kits have replacement parts, individual or sets of kit components available. Refer to our Other Materials List (below) for availability and pricing information. Or contact the ICE Office if you have questions or can't find a piece you're looking for. We handle such requests all the time and will be glad to "top up" your ICE materials.

Click the ICE structure to view the full list of Other Materials avaialble for individual sale.

Explorations in Materials Science: Discontinued

HS, AP, Coll; D, G, L

The Explorations in Materials Science Kits Teacher Kit (shown above) came with a manual, 3 3-bar molds, and tin shot. The tin is melted and then poured into the molds to make bars as shown on the right; pre-made metal bars are not included. The molds are also used to make plastic and ceramic bars out of materials purchased from a hardware store.

Although the Explorations in Materials Science Kit is discontinued, ICE still offers Replacement Parts and the insturction manual with all the students activities associated with the kit.

High school students can actively explore and compare properties of different materials with the Explorations in Materials Science Kit. The core of the module is hands-on laboratory work, using elements of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering. Students prepare working samples of the major classes of materials (metal, plastic, and ceramic) from molds included with the kit. Then they investigate the mechanical behavior, the electrical, magnetic, optical, and thermal characteristics, the chemical stability, and other physical properties, including density and grain structure, of each material.

The Explorations in Materials Science Kit, a joint offering from ICE and General Atomics. Instruction manuals and some replacements parts are still available for sale. For a full list of materials needed to perform all the activities, click here.

Amorphous Metal Demonstration Kit

All Levels; D


NanoVenture: The Nanotechnology Board Game: Discontinued

HS, AP, Coll, GP; G, CP

NanoVenture: The Nanotechnology Board Game

The NanoVenture Board Game

NanoVenture: The Nanotechnology Board Game explores the connections between science, specifically nanotechnology, and society. In this game, players become leaders of a new country. The leaders are challenged to make decisions regarding their country's use of nanomaterials and nanotechnology for industrial expansion, military applications, economic security, and basic scientific research, while maintaining a high approval rating from the citizens of the country. These decisions require players to carefully analyze the interplay of technological advances, regulations, public perception and risk, while also learning about the emerging field of nanotechnology.

NanoVenture is ideal for use in high school and undergraduate classrooms. It is best to play the game with four to five players. However, teams can be used if there are more than six players.

NanoVenture was created by the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) Interdisciplinary Education Group (IEG) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Game rules, a glossary of terms, and an overview of the game may be found on the MRSEC website at

Click to go to the main catalog page.