produced some very sophisticated kits which included manuals (and books) written
by Bell System employees with PhD degrees. These weren't your typical kits
like you buy today where you just snap part A to part B and hook up a 9 Volt
battery. No, these were in a class of their own. The books
themselves go into great depth on the subject material.
titled "Bell System aids to high
school science" tells educators to
contact their local Bell Telephone company for details on obtaining a limited
quantity of kits for free.
Barbara A. Sweeney
of the AT&T archives department stated that there
were five titles in a series of "Bell System
Aids to High School Science
Programs". The first science kits from the program, which was
introduced in 1961, included:
"From Sun to Sound", "Speech
Synthesis", "Energy from the Sun"
with Crystals and Light". In 1968, another kit was made available
These kits were designed for
classroom use by students who had
demonstrated high scientific aptitudes. Program materials
were distributed to high schools by the local
Bell System telephone companies. Figures are
not available on the number of kits that were
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An article appeared in the February
27, 1965 issue of "The Journal of the Telephone Industry" about the
Bell Labs teaching aids. The article can be viewed by clicking
(in PDF format).
1963 Bell System advertisement mentioned some other kits as well but I
don't know if they ever actually made them. (A big thanks to Jim
Shaughnessy who was selling an original copy of this ad on eBay!) In
that advertisement it states the following:
"Three other aids offered to America’s
Wave Motion Machine, which illustrates behavior common to sound, light,
electricity. Unit also includes film, books, lecture.
Ferromagnetic Domains, a basic approach to the study of magnetism,
including books, a motion picture and four demonstration units.
Solar Energy Experiment for advanced students containing all the
materials necessary to turn silicon slabs into working solar cells.
The Speech Chain, various classroom materials for physics and biology
teachers on the interdisciplinary study of speech and hearing.
Speech Synthesis, for advanced students. Circuitry, electronic
components, biology. Completed unit simulates speech sounds."
probably already know, Bell Labs invented the transistor and the solar cell (solar
battery as it was sometimes called). Two of these experiments involve
converting light into electricity by using a solar cell;
one of these solar kits
involve making your own solar cell while
the other one comes with a solar cell
that you use to power an audio oscillator using a Western Electric transistor (a
beautiful gold color as you will see later). The other two kits that I own
series are "Speech Synthesis" and "Crystals and
The first four kits were
purchased from a seller on eBay and, from what I can tell, these kits were never
used and all parts are present. There is some kind of water and/or
chemical spill damage to the cardboard of the boxes and some torn corners of the
boxes, but otherwise they are in fair condition for being over 35 years old.
I also purchased a second Speech Synthesis kit on eBay that was still in it's
sealed shipping cartoon including the original ten cent postal stamp!
The fifth kit, called the
CARDIAC, was sent
to me by Morgan Bright.
To view some photos
and brief descriptions of these kits, click on a picture of one of
the four kits below. To return to this page, click your browser's
"Back" button or click on the "Bell Labs Science Experiment
Kits" link in the title bar at the top of each of the four pages
representing the individual kits.