Not Just Child's Play

We asked 18-year-old Iris Ahronowitz, the Harvard-bound whiz who captained North Hollywood High School's science bowl team to a No. 2 national ranking for the second consecutive year, to weigh in on what's for sale at the ExploraStore in Exposition Park's California Science Center.

The visible man (Skilcraft, $24.95) Human organs are connected in a clear jigsaw puzzle. Its success spawned Visible Dogs, Brains and Cows. "It shows that we aren't that different."

the ultimate science kit (DK Publishing, $99.95) In more than 100 experiments, kids learn how and why rainbows refract light, crystals grow and volcanoes erupt. "I would have played with this."

Titan base erector set (Meccano, $119.95) A staple for budding engineers, it allows kids to build intricate robots. "To see a finished product that works is extremely satisfying."

potato clock (Skilcraft, $19.95) Transfers energy from two spuds to fuel a digital clock. "I think it has something to do with electrolytes? It doesn't explain or teach. It's not fully developed."

Guiggle-gel brain mold (SKS Sibley, $9.95) Jell-O is shaped into a slimy brain. "It's less educational but fun and silly. It could really freak somebody out!"

Hoberman sphere (Hoberman Design Inc., $54.95) The transforming plastic globe grows and shrinks by expanding and retracting its shell, like a spherical accordion. "It's a smart use of space and design, which have applications in architecture." But for the price, she says, "It's a great toy to play with--in the gift shop."

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