When I was in high school, I had a fantastic chemistry teacher. She was young and hip and smart and attractive. The Spanish teacher was hot, too, but I was taking French, so I settled for crushing on Ms. Chemistry 1. The problem was, I was terrible at chemistry. That, and the fact that I was 16 and she was somewhere in the neighborhood of statutory rape. Not that she would even consider such weirdness, but it didn’t stop me from wondering. Weirder still, she allowed me and a few other of my high school friends to look after her house while she and her then-husband were away on vacation. This was a horrible idea. She came home to find frozen condoms in her freezer (yeah, we thought that would be funny) and giant chunks of watermelon in her swimming pool (not so funny). She was so cool she never said a thing about it. Years later, when I was a student at the University of Florida, I ran into her. She had divorced and was working on her Ph.D. She demanded that I call her by her first name. “Pam,” she said. “We’re friends, now. Schoolmates. Call me Pam.” Talk about a surreal moment. I never saw her again, but you can imagine where my head was at. Certainly not on the periodic table, though I have since nurtured a deep interest in chemistry, physics and cosmology. In the interest of giving my kid a leg up on her science classes – and hoping that she will find interest in this stuff much earlier than I did (and hoping harder that she’ll have a really ugly chemistry teacher) – I want to turn her on to the wonders of chemistry without scaring her off with memorization tasks and difficult-to-answer questions about nature’s tiniest building blocks. One of the best ideas I’ve seen in trying to convey complex concepts to kids is the Periodic Quest card game. Using tried-and-true card game concepts like Rummy and War, Periodic Quest offers a wide range of knowledge over several skill levels. If you are a chemistry novice, or your kid is unfamiliar with the discipline, there are easy-to-follow games. Well-versed chem fans, say high school kids who are paying attention to the information rather than the teacher, will be challenged by several more intense games as well. On the artsy side, Japanese artist Bunpei Yorifui has created the book Wonderful Life with the Elements: The Periodic Table Personified, a funny, character-driven trip through the periodic table. Each character is an element, and each facet of each character is important to conveying information about that element. The illustrated periodic table itself looks like the popular cast poster from “The Simpsons.” (BONUS!) Also along those lines is the Walls 360 peel-and-stick, re-positionable, large-format table of the elements. Cool thing about this periodic table is that it comes with QR codes on each of the elements. The scannable codes take you to articles about each element, with high-res graphics and other media explaining how it all works. Had I had these nifty items at my disposal, who knows? I may have scored much higher in Pam’s class. Maybe she would have realized what a science stud I was turning out to be. Maybe I should just not talk about that anymore. To anyone. Ever.