Your favorite kids' chemistry kit?
October 16, 2018 1:16 PM   Subscribe

I recently gave my younger child four plastic test tubes in a rack, and she is going to town with kitchen ingredients. It's a joy to watch. To riff off this, my parents have asked me to pick out a chemistry experiment kit as a birthday gift for the second grader. Do you have a favorite?

The criteria are not too complicated - ideally it would contain at least small amount of basic reusable tools, like another set of test tubes so they could each have their own. Ideally these would be durable. But, it doesn't have to be the main focus - we have plenty of measuring cups and spoons and suchlike.

I would also like there to be some kind of fun and approachable experiments and ingredients included, and would like the ingredients to be more interesting than "baking powder". We have shit tons of baking powder, and I just bought new food coloring. The kid is a solid reader, so that's not a concern, but it is important that instructions be logical and preferably visually appealing. If the experiments inspire the kid to create their own riffs, so much the better. (That said, it's probably better not to go too hardcore with the hazards - they won't eat the stuff exactly, but they will spill it and get it on their hands and whatnot)

Finally, functional >> gimmicky. While I'm aware that complicated chemistry apparatuses are real, I'm not convinced the kid versions I've seen are a good idea, unless you have one you can personally vouch for.

I know some of you are charging in to say "don't get a kit, get x assortment of random shit". My parents want something they can easily gift, so I do want some sort of kit. But I am ALSO 100% on board with suggestions of random items to toss in the mix over time, so fire away.

So: is there a set you can recommend that's gotten your little mad scientists amped up?
posted by telepanda to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
A middleground to "get random items" would be The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments which is inspiring.

The "illustrated guide to chemical experiments" would be the next step I guess, I don't know if they still sell kits to go with the latter book.
posted by monocultured at 1:36 PM on October 16, 2018

Those books look really cool, and now I kind of want them.

To clarify, though, I'm ok with something that's a little closer to "toy" and not necessarily "set up an entire functioning chemistry lab" - the kid is just turning 8 - but within that context, more content and usability is preferred.
posted by telepanda at 2:27 PM on October 16, 2018

This one worked well for my 7-8 year old. Comes with a good instruction book.
posted by carter at 3:12 PM on October 16, 2018

baking soda, vinegar, and put a balloon over the end of a test tube.
cooked red cabbage - add vinegar(acid) to some, add baking soda(alkaline) to some.
Fill a small plastic container with water, freeze it (water expands when frozen, which is weird)

posted by theora55 at 5:01 PM on October 16, 2018

Steve Spangler has lots of great kits, the C1000 and C2000 especially, but also Test Tube Adventures, Big Bucket of Science, etc.
posted by at at 6:29 PM on October 16, 2018

The My First Mind-blowing Science Kit was a favorite with my kids last year (now 7 and 4). The ingredients are all completely non-toxic but it does get a bit more interesting than baking soda (although baking soda does play a part). Lots of acid-base color changing.

Steve Spangler Science malso does reliably fun kits that are slightly more sophisticated than the Mind-Blowing Science kit but are good for a range of intellectual inquiry--like, if your kid really wants to know about sound or microorganisms or whatever, the booklet will tell them, but they can also just make stuff go fizz or boom.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 7:18 PM on October 16, 2018

All of our 2nd grade friends are getting this book for their birthday this year, along with a box full of ingredients called for in the experiment recipes; white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, etc. So far it's gone over really well.
posted by vignettist at 7:58 PM on October 16, 2018

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