History - Thames & Kosmos
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  • 1956-microscope_kit
  • 1958-telescope
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  • 1993-microchemistry_set
  • 2001-fuel_cell


Nearly 100 Years of Science Kits,
Nearly 200 Years of History

Thames & Kosmos was founded in 2001 when a small science center and toy store called the Thames Science Center, located in Newport, Rhode Island, teamed up with the publishing house Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co. KG — Kosmos for short — to create excellent science kits for the U.S. market. The Thames Science Center started in New London, Connecticut in the 1970s and opened a second location with a large science toy store in Newport, Rhode Island in the 1990s. Kosmos has been headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, for most of its long history.

The original company that is now Kosmos was founded in 1822 by Johann Friedrich Franckh. At first, the company published mainly fiction, fairy tales, and popular German ballads. As the natural sciences made rapid advances towards the end of the 19th century, the publishing house's focus changed. Around this time, the company published its first nonfiction guidebooks under the theme "Understanding Science," with titles such as "The Kosmos Handbook for Nature Lovers."

In 1922, Kosmos published its first science kit aimed at explaining the world of science and technology to children and young adults by bringing it to life with hands-on experiments. The concept of presenting scientifically well-grounded information in a format that is accessible to everyone still dominates the publisher's offerings to this day.

Kosmos has published edition after edition of chemistry sets, physics labs, and electronics kits over the decades. In the past two decades, Kosmos has diversified its range of science kits to cover topics in almost every area in science that is of popular interest, including high-tech alternative energy kits such as Fuel Cell and Stirling Engine kits. With Thames & Kosmos expanding into the North American market, the science kit offerings from both companies have exploded over the past decade.


Thames & Kosmos Timeline

April 2001

  • Thames & Kosmos is founded in Newport, R.I., by Jane Holdsworth. T&K operates a retail science and learning store, offers educational programs and summer camps for children, and runs science programs for the community. T&K's name comes from the Thames River in New London, C.T. and Kosmos, its partner company in Germany.

April 2001

  • Work officially begins on new science kit distribution business with Kosmos.

September 2001

  • T&K's first science kit, the original Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit, developed in collaboration with Kosmos, hits the North American market.

September 2002

  • Fuel Cell Car wins a Silver Parents' Choice Award.

December 2002

  • The original Power House kit released.

June through September 2002

  • 10 more kits are announced: Balloon Adventure, Bubble Builder, CHEM C101, CHEM C1000, Micro TREK, Kite Dynamics, Mind's Eye, Solaro, Detector Radio, and Crystal PRO.

August 2003

  • Founder Jane Holdsworth succumbs to lung cancer. Her son, Ted McGuire, becomes president.

September 2003

  • T&K begins to focus entirely on its growing wholesale kit distribution business, and closes retail store and educational classes.

December 2003

  • T&K moves its headquarters to a larger, more suitable facility in Portsmouth, R.I.

January 2004

  • First product catalog published.

July 2004

  • Brainy Freeze Ice Cream Maker released.

Summer 2004

  • Thames & Kosmos wins five Parents' Choice Awards, including two Gold Awards for Bubble Builder and CHEM C1000, and three National Parenting Center seals of approval.

September 2004

  • CHEM C2000 and Perfume Science are released. A total of fifteen products are available during the 2004 holiday season.

January 2005

  • Eleven new sales rep groups now cover the entire United States.

February 2005

  • Two kits developed with the National Geographic Society are announced: 
  • Dinosaurs & Fossils and Earthquakes & Volcanoes.

February 2005

  • CHEM C3000, Creative Cosmetics and Physics Workshop are announced. Twenty science kits now compose the T&K line.

September 2005

  • Radio Ace joins the product line.

November 2005

  • Six kits win Parents' Choice Awards, including a Gold Award for Creative Cosmetics.

February 2006

  • Elements of Science, Dinosaur Expedition Kits, Dinosaur Skeleton Kits, Candy Factory, Microcontroller, Physics Discovery and Physics Solar Workshop are announced.

May 2006

  • Fulfillment center moved to Wisconsin for more centralized shipping.

February 2007

  • Fifteen new science kits announced, including Little Labs™, CHEM C500, Fuel Cell X7, Milestones in Science, and Physics Pro.

February 2008

  • Eleven new science kits announced, including four new Little Labs, Electronics Workshop 1, Wind Power, TK2 Scope, Genetics & DNA, Space Exploration, Archaeology Kit: Egyptian Pyramid. Four new editions are announced, including Perfume Science, Creative Cosmetics, Balloon Physics, and Bubble Science.

February 2009

  • Eight new science kits announced: The Dangerous Book for Boys Classic Chemistry, The Dangerous Book for Boys Essential Electronics, Little Labs: Intro to Engineering, Global Warming, Optical Science & Art, Hydropower,Fuel Cell 10, Power House Green Essentials Edition.

November 2009

  • Thames & Kosmos moves to its new headquarters in Providence, RI.

February 2010

  • Ten new kits: CHEM C100, Physics Simple Machines, Recycled Paper Press, Solar Cooking Science, Glowing Crystals, Little Labs Stars & Planets,Crystals Rocks & Minerals, Electronics Workshop 2, Sustainable Earth Lab, and Stirling Engine.

May 2010

  • The seven new kits in the Construction Series are announced: Wind Power 2.0, Solar Power, Air+Water Power, Solar Power PLUS, Elastic Power,Electric Generator, and Remote-Control Machines.

August 2010

  • Thames & Kosmos goes live with SAP Business One software.

February 2011

  • Seven new kits are announced: Spectacular Science, Global Water Quality, Forensic Fingerprint Lab, Dinosaur Fossils, Little Labs: Botany Experimental Greenhouse, Little Labs: The Human Body, Electronics Learning Circuits; and new editions of CHEM C1000, CHEM C2000, CHEM C3000, andPower House are announced.

February 2012

  • 18 new kits are announced: New editions of Chemistry C500, Bubble Science, Physics Discovery, Genetics & DNA, Optical Science, Archaeology: Pyramid Dig, and Space Exploration; Candy Chemistry, Motors & Generators, Magnetic Science, Solar Mechanics, Climate & Weather, Volcanoes & Earthquakes, Science Experiments On The Go, Physics: Force & Pressure, Crystal Growing, Electricity & Magnetism, and Eco-Battery Vehicles.

January 2013

  • Kosmos completes a major investment in Thames & Kosmos and acquires majority share of the company. Andrew Quartin becomes CEO and Ted McGuire stays on as President. The deal instantly boosts Thames & Kosmos marketing, product development, and logistical resources.

February 2013

  • 20 new kits are announced: Crystal Garden, Solar Thermal Lab, Electro Chem Clock, Little Labs: Optical Illusions, Little Labs: Bubbles, Little Labs: Magnets, Little Labs: Water, Science Experiments In The Tub, Rocket Science, Electronics, Crystal Creation, Science or Magic?, Kids First Biology Lab, Kids First Chemistry Set, Air-Stream Machines, Scope Constructor, Solar Car, Solar Boat, Air+Water Power PLUS, and Electronics: Advanced Circuits.

June 2013

  • Three new kits are announced for Fall 2013: Smart Car Robotics, Gyrobot, and Vibrobot.

February 2014

  • 40 new kits are announced: The Spark: Science In A Flash Line including Molecule Madness, Mini Volcano, Fingerprint Detective, Crystal Geode, Flower & Leaf Press, Kitchen Chemistry, Dinosaur Skeleton Dig, Gold Rush Geology, Crystal Animals, Cosmic Colors, Amazing Gyroscope, and 3D Crystal Shapes. The Geek & Co. Science Line including Glow Stick Lab, Slime Time, Plasma Reactor, Crystal Jewelry, Neon Light Writer, Ultralight Airplanes, Crystal Nightlight, Musical UFO, Giant Mars Volcano, Grass Head, D-I-Y Solar System, and Wind Racer; The Geek & Co. Craft Line including Yarn Storming Machine, Airbrush T-Shirt Makeover, Spin Art Revolution, Monster Sewing Workshop, Flip-Flop Bead Party, Plaster Sculptures, Do-It-Yourself UFOs, Garden Pirate, Braided Slingshot, and 3D Sidewalk Chalk; Bubble Blower, Electric Fan, Jumperbot, Remote-Control Machines DLX, Glowing Chemistry, and Electricity: Master Lab.

Summer 2014

  • Thames & Kosmos relocates its main warehouse from Wisconsin to Grantsville, Maryland.

February 2015

  • 26 new kits are announced: Physics Pro (V 2.0), Geeker Speaker Lab, Space Farm, Chocolate Science Lab, Rubber Band Racers, Flight Test Lab, Bouncy Ball Planets, Pixel Stitch Embroidery, Felting Bakeshop, Stepping into Science, Intro to Engineering, The Human Body, Botany - Experimental Greenhouse, Kids First Science Laboratory, Automobile Engineer, Aircraft Engineer, Amusement Park Engineer, Remote-Control Machines: Animals, Remote-Control Machines: Space Explorers, Robotics: Smart Machines, Wind Power (V 3.0), Kids First Physics Lab, Physics Solar Workshop (V 2.0), Master Detective Toolkit, Nanotechnology, Mineral Discovery and TK1 Telescope & Astronomy Kit.

  • Thames & Kosmos' first six board games are announced: Kahuna, Lost Cities - The Card Game, Dimension, Dohdles!, Lost Cities - The Board Game, and Ubongo.

June 2015

  • Thames & Kosmos launches a new website!

January 2016

  • Thames & Kosmos's first three magic sets are announced: Magic Silver Edition, Magic Gold Edition, and Magic Onyx Edition. 
  • Thames & Kosmos launches ten new Kosmos games: Smugglers, Imhotep, Legends of Andor, Legends of Andor Journey to the North, Legends of Andor: The Star Shield, Legends of Andor: New Heroes, Tumult Royale, Steam Time, The Rose King, and Tally Ho! 
  • Thames & Kosmos launches 24 new science kits: 5 Ooze Labs, Robot Engineer, Kids First Science Laboratory (postponed from 2015), Chewing Gum Lab, Gummy Candy Lab, Flying Ornithopters, Hot Ice Crystals, Glowing Crystal Geode, Sewing Circuits, 4 Grow a Crystal kits, Gyroscopes & Flywheels, Catapults & Crossbows, Happy Atoms Complete Set, Geckobot, Robotics Workshop, CodeGamer, and Remote-Control Machines: Custom Cars. 

February 2016

  • Thames & Kosmos launches its first Barbie™ STEM kit in collaboration with Mattel, titled "The Barbie STEM Kit."

June 2016

  • Thames & Kosmos runs its first crowd-funding campaign to launch Happy Atoms with partner Schell Games. Two new versions of Happy Atoms are added: Happy Atoms Introductory Set and Happy Atoms Educator's Bundle.

January 2017

  • Thames & Kosmos launches its first four children's games: Lagoonies, Monster Trap, Jungle Party, and Harry Hopper. 
  • Nine new board games are announced: 3 EXIT games, Word Slam, Mag-O-Mag, Kerala, Brutal Kingdom, A Column of Fire, and Ingenious (postponed to 2018).
  • Two new magic kits are announced: Magic Hat and World's Greatest Magic Show with 415 Tricks.
  • Nine new STEM kits are announced: Barbie Fundamental Chemistry Set, Barbie Crystal Geology, Pocket Microscope, Boat Engineer, Remote-Control Machines: Construction Vehicles, Mechanical Engineering, Structural Engineering, TKx400i Dual-LED Microscope, and Creative Cosmetics Lab.

February 2017

  • Thames & Kosmos wins its first Toy of the Year Award: Tech Toy of the Year for CodeGamer.

July 2017

  • EXIT: The Game (the first three games in the series) win the Kennerspiel des Jahres (German Connoisseur's Game of the Year).

Fall 2017

  • Thames & Kosmos adds 3 more EXIT games, The Pillars of the Earth, and Legends of Andor: The Last Hope to its line.

January 2018

      • Thames & Kosmos announces 32 New STEM kits: Minerals Rock! Display; The I Dig It! Dinos line including T. Rex Excavation Kit, T. Rex Tooth Excavation Kit, Glow-in-the-Dark Pterosaur Excavation Kit, Real Fossils Excavation Kit, Real Minerals Excavation Kit, 3D T. Rex Excavation Kit, Glow-in-the-Dark T. Rex Excavation Kit, T. Rex Egg Excavation Kit, and the I Dig It! Dinos Eggs Display; Big & Fun Microscope; Ooze Labs 6 - Sunshine Slime; Ooze Labs 7 - Glitter Slime; Robotics Smart Machines: Rovers and Vehicles; Barbie Plant Science Kit; Ooze Labs Chemistry Station; Crystal Growing: Glow-in-the-Dark; Giant Dinosaur Skeleton Kit; Remote-Control Machines: Farm; The Big Engineering Makerspace; Geared-Up Gadgets; Kinetic Machines; Alien Robots; Off-Road Rovers; Gross Gummy Candy Lab: Worms and Spiders; Soap & Bath Bomb Lab; Kids First Dinosaur Dig; Kids First Coding & Robotics; Step-by-Step Magic Show; Sensors Alive: Bring Physics to Life; Pepper Mint in the Great Treehouse Engineering Adventure; and Pepper Mint in the Fantastic Underwater Science Voyage.

      • Thames & Kosmos announces the addition of globes to its line with 2 new globes: Day & Night Globe and Kids First Light-Up Globe.

      • Thames & Kosmos announces 11 new games: Andor Dark Heroes; 4 new EXIT games, Targi, Drop It, Imhotep: A New Dynasty, Word Slam Family, Mercado and Ingenious.

        • One new magic kit is added to the line: Step-by-Step Magic Show.

Thames & Kosmos

301 Friendship St.
Providence, RI 02903

Phone: 401-459-6787
Toll-free: 800-587-2872
Fax: 401-459-6775