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Get your hands on this store's stuff

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Halloween pumpkins that talk, glow-in-the-dark maps of the heavens, giant bubble blowers _ they're all here at Great Stuff, the gift shop at Great Explorations, The Hands On Museum.

"People tell us we have things you can't find anywhere else," said Jennifer Ferre, manager and buyer for the non-profit shop at 1120 Fourth St. S. "Everything in here has to tie in with the museum."

The rockets, the puzzles, the boomerang all have connections to chemistry, physics, astronomy or some other branch of the sciences.

Even the T-shirts are connected to science. There are shirts with skeletons of animals and glow-in-the dark shirts with your galactic address on them. There are shirts with snap-on bats, others with snap-on tropical fish, insects or the solar system. "I can't keep them in," Ms. Ferre said.

Diana Sisco and her cousin Kristi Guy, both 10, are in the shop with Diana's mother, Danita. The Siscos have come from Spring Hill and Kristi from Volusia to visit the girls' grandmother, Irene Edholm of St. Petersburg. All are interested in the shop's offerings, and the girls have each bought wooden flutes.

"I bought this to do something in my school," Kristi said. Diana is here for a school project, her mother said.

Ms. Ferre said the flutes have been a surprisingly big seller. "But of all the high tech stuff we have in here, these rocks just blow them out," she said, pointing to a triple shelf full of rocks, minerals and geodes, all priced at $1.

Another hit is Flubber, a gelatin-like substance that comes in a plastic cup. You can wad it, poke it, squeeze it through your fingers or drop it on your shoe. It doesn't come apart.

"Every school kid and adult loves Flubber," Ms. Ferre said.

One nook in the shop has been darkened to show off glow-in-the dark offerings, including night sky maps that can be stenciled and painted on the ceiling and a mobile of stars and planets.

The gift shop also has a scientific book selection, which includes How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space?, 84 Days in Space by astronaut William R. Pogue. Other topics range from animals to electricity.

The store is seldom at a loss for customers. A field trip from Palm Harbor Middle School comes in and student Lisa Dellapina, wearing a Salvador Dali T-shirt, buys Space Ice Cream in a cellophane package.

Nicole Speer, another Palm Harbor student, buys Fickle Foam for her sister. "It changes color when you touch it," she said. "It's interesting in here."

Prices fit every pocketbook, from the 5-cent glow-in-the-dark flowers to a $105 lightning ball, the shop's most expensive item.

Shop hours coincide with museum hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum, shop and house of horrors will be open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday in October.

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