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12 low-cost science supplies for hands-on learning at home

home science lab

Many science teachers ask how they can help students get hands-on science experiences at home without a fully stocked science lab.  To help you mull that over, we’ve posted a few articles on setting up home labs, such as

To build on those ideas, we want to share some simple, low-cost science supplies you can use to help students set up a basic science lab at home.  These tools can be used for various experiments across topics and grade levels to help make learning at home feel more like learning in the lab. Whether they’re at home or in the classroom, your students can get the accurate measurements, reliable data, precise calculations, and safety equipment they need to complete the science activities you assign.

To get started, we asked our in-house science experts on the Ward’s Plus Us team what essential supplies students should include in their distance learning science toolkit. The result is this list of 12 low-cost, helpful items for students to have on hand at home to use for various science experiments. Students will enjoy learning about some of the basic tools scientists use while conducting hands-on science investigations of their own!

  1. Graduated cylinder - helps your young scientists observe and measure the volume of a liquid. They learn how a cylinder is divided and practice reading the scale.
  2. Stopwatch - no need to wonder where the minute or second hand was when the activity stopped. Students get accurate measures of the time that elapses between the start and stop of their lab activities. Digital displays make it easy to view from a distance.
  3. Measuring cups or beakers - used to measure, store, mix, and heat liquids in the lab. Students use the measuring lines to approximate the volume of liquid in the cup or beaker.
  4. Test tubes- aka culture tubes or sample tubes, a must-have for general chemistry work, especially qualitative lab activities.
  5. Pocket calculator- from calculating routine arithmetic, percent, or decimal values to metric conversions and statistical equations, pocket calculators fit all user levels. The compact, portable size allows young scientists to use them in the field for on-site calculations.
  6. Goggles, gloves, apron - proper safety gear is required in every lab to minimize the risk of injuries. Make sure your students have personal protective equipment to follow safe science practices.
  7. Hand magnifier - whether students are out and about or in the lab, they’ll need to closely examine rocks, minerals, sediments, soils, sands, and other materials for proper identification. Hand magnifiers are the most efficient way to perform these observations.
  8. Lab notebook- your students can use laboratory notebooks to record and reflect on their observations, activities, and investigation. Students learn how good lab notes help others follow their experiments step-by-step so they can recreate them.
  9. Student compound microscope - open up a fascinating new world to students. High-quality optics and magnification help students find their own answers about the world around them. A compound microscope can provide excellent images that intrigue talented young scientists.
  10. Economical kits for individual study - build science connections from anywhere with flexible, comprehensive solutions for remote and hybrid learning.
  11. Phone scopes - adapt students’ cell phones or tablets to look at images on a large screen, zoom in, and take pictures to document their observations and easily share with others for identification.
  12. Periodic table pen - puts the periodic table in students’ pockets. Easily look up elements, and use a reference chart on the back for detailed study. Color coding helps students distinguish between metals, non-metals, and noble gas families and differentiate types of metals, solids, liquids, and gases from synthetic elements.

Of course, there are plenty of other basic supplies like scissors, markers, writing utensils, and more that can be found around the house and are great for incorporating into hands-on science lessons at home. This list helps ensure students have the things they need to succeed in their home science lab.

Don’t have time to gather and assemble these items for each student? We can help! With Ward’s Quick Kits, you can build your own supply kits with these simple supplies and more for your remote or in-classroom lessons.

Check out this popular post to see a bunch of activities that your distance or hybrid learners can use in their freshly stocked home lab: 26 hands-on science activities to do at home or school – plus a FREE 5-in-1 Science Activity Power Pack.


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Ward’s Plus Us

Questions? Our team can help you find the right products that meet your science standards, recommend which products to use for a particular lab activity, demonstrate how to use a product, and much more.