If you walked into a toy/hobby store in the ’50s, you would see boxes of Erector sets, cans of Play-Doh, checkers and chess sets, yo-yos, dolls, and perhaps the “First Adventures in Optics” hobby kit made by American Optical in conjunction with Encyclopedia Britannica. Using the detailed instruction book, dozens of exciting experiments could be performed using the lenses, mirrors, prism, color filter, or pin-hole aperture included in the kit. In addition, kids could build four types of telescopes and learn how to make a magic lantern. In all, there were 28 optical projects that could be investigated. Sold in the Sears Roebuck catalog, these educational hobby kits were part of a series that included weather, electronics, and medical training. If you’re an ECP who had one of these kits as a youngster and it inspired you to enter the optical field, please let us know! Courtesy of the Optical Heritage Museum.


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