The 1950’s — Fun……and Uranium…….For the Whole Family!


In 1950, the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab was one of the most elaborate science kits available. It was an actual radioactive learning set that came with four samples of uranium-bearing ores — autunite, torbernite, uraninite, and carnotite — as well as a Geiger-Mueller radiation counter and various other tools……all for a whopping $49.50 ($538.99 today). Part comic book, part educational, the manual used the popular comic strip characters Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead to explain the basics of atomic energy. The intention was to allow children to create chemical reactions using radioactive material. Alas, fewer than 5,000 of the Gilbert kits were sold, and it remained on the market only until 1951. The lackluster sales may have been due to the eye-popping price, or it could have been that parents didn’t want their little Johnny to glow in the dark.