The work of chemists is to study different kinds of matter, these and hundreds of thousands of other kinds too. They learn what things are made of and find out how to make new materials by putting familiar ones together in different ways. As a result, we now have such useful materials as nylon, teflon, fiberglass and many others.
Until only three hundrd years ago, chemistry as we know it today did not exist. Instead of attempting to understand the materials around them, experimenters wasted their time in trying to make gold out of iron. Gradually, people began to think in a more scientific way, but the manufacture of new chemical products on a large scale began only about fifty years ago.
When you do the simple, safe experiments in this book, you will find out many things about the way chemists work. The materials needed for your laboratory can be found in your kitchen or medicine cabinet. All you need to buy are three or four test tubes which cost only a few pennies at a drug store or hobby store.