31 07 2011

Let me take a minute or two to tell you why I was looking at Meteor Crater a few weeks ago. My motivation wasn’t linked specifically to observatories or instruments, but more to the historical ephemera of science and astronomy. But I’m a historian, so that’s okay.

Front of Card

Card No. 6, A Close-Up of the Craters

Back of Card

Card No. 6, reverse

This is Card No. 6 from the Ed-U-Cards of Astronomy published by Random House in the 1960s. Random House pretty much had the science and entertainment industries covered with these card collections. I’ve seen Ed-U-Cards of Science (Biology, Chemistry, Astronomy), Ed-U-Cards Baseball Card Game, Ed-U-Cards Book of Knowledge and Ed-U-Cards Quick Draw McGraw Card Game (which I totally want!). I happen to own the Astronomy set.


Box Cover

Considering they were written in the 1960s, they’re amazingly relevant. Okay, the card on the expanding universe doesn’t include new thinking about the moment of inflation or the competing theories on the expand/collapse of the universe. It did, however, include a description of the balloon experiment, which I found super useful as a youngster trying to understand the expansion of space.

Most of the cards have  useful activities for children: how to find Arcturus by using handle of the Big Dipper as a guide; how to recreate the phases of the moon with a ball in motion; how to draw a model of our solar system.


Card No. 3: How to Make A Sundial

The front side of Card No. 3, Telling Time, provides a graphic for U.S. time zones (drawn before the State of Indiana really messed things up for its citizens) and a picture of a rough sundial.* On the reverse is a basic explanation of keeping solar time and instructions for making a sundial out of cardboard or wood.

Back of card

Card No. 3, reverse

The sundial won’t be accurate to the second, or even the minute, but as I found out while constructing a model astrolabe, while you can buy a sundial off the internet, you’ll learn more if you build the instrument yourself.

These cards are still available here and there. My word of caution: don’t buy them from the folks who are charging multiple dollars for a single card on E-bay. They are completely ripping you off.

*You can tell the photos are from the distant past because the kid’s wearing a wristwatch, not checking his smart phone for the time of day.


ETA: the photos referred to in the comments section for this post, 29 Jan 2012:

Bottom edge of Astronomy ED-U-CARD box

First page of Astronomy ED-U-CARD pamphlet

Last page of Astronomy ED-U-CARD pamphlet



5 responses

22 01 2012
Roadtrip-'62 - Don Milne

Thanks for the look inside the box on these cards. I’ve long been fascinated by Ed-U-Cards, and did a good bit of research on them for my site. I’m interested in your reference to Random House. In my research, I found the science sets published by Grolier. One other reference mentioned Random House, though they clearly showed an Ed-U-Cards trademark and I found no evidence that Grolier has ever been part of Random House. Would you please let me know just what your set says, maybe even send me a photo? Thanks for any help.

23 01 2012

I’ll be happy to take a look at them. Right now they’re in my other office (in another state), but I can double-check and send a photo on Friday or the weekend.

28 01 2012
Roadtrip-'62 - Don Milne

Thanks; I look forward to your findings.

29 01 2012

Well, I’m not sure what the answer is on this one. I can’t find any reference to Grolier on the cards or box. The only copyright marks are for ED-U-CARDS and Random House. Maybe the astronomy set was different from the rest because it was based on a Random House book. I’ve uploaded a shot of the edge of the box cover with the Random House copyright (the cover with the reference to Random House is shown in the original post). I’ve also scanned the front and back of the pamphlet included in the box. No mention of Grolier there, either, just Random House’s copyright and the ED-U-CARD MFG. CORP. reference on the back page.

19 02 2012
Roadtrip-'62 - Don Milne

Thanks for the follow-up and the additional photos. I’ll add this info to my research, as it’s the first time I’ve seen the Random House connection documented.