During the past year there has been an explosion in subscription boxes in the UK. From books to nature study and more. One that caught my eye was the Mel Science Chemistry Kit, a monthly subscription of experiments through you letterbox to explore and learn with. We love science, but I've found it challenging to find "real" science kits for kids in the past, especially as a science teacher. So I thought I would take the plunge and we subscribed and have been learning with our boxes so I thought it was time to share a review of them for you.
Before I move on, to make it clear I have bought the subscription with my own money after umming and ahhing over the adverts on my Facebook feed. But, I have joined their affiliate programme as it's something that we think is worth it as you will see as you read on.
We have included affiliate links to some of the products and resources as an associate we may earn from qualifying purchases.
The Nitty Gritty of the Mel Science Subscription Box
Mel Chemistry is a monthly subscription of 24 themed chemistry sets delivered to your door. Aimed at 10 - 14 year olds, this is real science that will engage and excite your child. Combined with VR lessons that match the Key Stage 3 topics in chemistry as well as an app to learn more about the science and ideas for follow up experiments to do it's great for supporting your child with their science education as well as making science fun.
Cost: When you set up a pre-paid subscription (fee is taken monthly) it costs £29.94 (US$34.90)
What you Get: A starter kit, Cardboard VR Headset, First Subscription Box
|Real Science - this isn't kitchen science it's real science. Box one explores electrons and crystal structures.||It isn't cheap - it is a monthly expense of nearly £30 but what you get for that money it's well worth the money|
|VR Lessons - these really impressed me. I thought they may have been simple "fun" stuff, but they are aligned with topics I taught in chemistry. Like going down into atoms and seeing how solids and liquids differ.|
|Full Instructions - science can be daunting and chemistry especially. There are 3 ways to access all the instructions. In the booklets provides, the App or on the website. As the started kit comes with a phone/tablet stand it makes it even easier to watch and do at the same time.|
|Supervised not do - As the instructions and videos are so clear even the 10-year-old found that these were much more of a do with me floating around (OK photographing her) rather than having to handhold and explain what to do next each step of the way.|
Mel Science Subscription Box
Mel Science is a subscription box service, that provides different kits for kids to do at home. There are 3 kits available, Chemistry, Physics and Kids in the USA and 2 in the UK Chemistry and Kids (the Physics will be available at some point). We subscribed to the Chemistry subscription for home education purposes and supporting our eldest in chemistry at school. Each kit comes with everything you need (plus equipment from the stater set) to complete 2 or 3 experiments that are real science.
Who is This Subscription For?
The subscription box for Mel Chemistry on the website says that it is from 10 years up and from the wow factor of the experiments a 10 year old will be interested in them and love getting the box and doing the experiments each month.
However, the kits will come into their own as your child gets older to explore some of the science that they are taught in school or cover for their examinations. As a science teacher, these were the experiments that I used to introduce quite complex chemistry to my students before we delved into the theory.
Whether you home educate or just have kids that want to progress further in science these are great for them to do at home. They would also make a great gift from a grandparent to their grandkids that will continue giving throughout the year as well as provide great educational content.
What Do you Get When you Subscribe?
When you subscribe to the Mel Chemistry set you get:
- Starter Kit
- Cardboard VR Headset
- First Subscription Box
The Starter Kit
The Starter Kit comes with your first months subscription. It contains equipment that you will need regularly for the experiments. All contained in a box with foam protection. Included in the box are:
- Smart phone stand
- Smart phone macro lens
- Safety glasses (2 sets, 1 for a child and 1 for an adult)
- Glass conical flask and beaker
- Solid fuel stove
There are extras as well, like bungs, a safety mat, a tray to do the experiments on, as well as an instruction booklet to read ahead of performing your first experiments.
As well a fantastic app for the smart phone there is a VR interactive experience that your child and you can use to extend the experiment further.
The headset is made from cardboard but from wearing it whilst we explored the "lab experience" it's quite sturdy and with the clickable function on the side makes it easy to interact with the view.
The lessons in the VR, and they are really lessons, match nicely with Key Stage 3 chemistry topics and are excellent revision for your Key Stage 4 kids of the basics. With our primary child, although she's not yet at the level, if she was in school, she was fascinated by it and immersing herself in the atom models she's come away with an understanding that we can build on more and more over time.
First Subscription Box
The first Subscription box is a "letterbox" sized kit. It comes with everything apart from 4 AAA batteries that you will need for the experiment.
It's called the Tin box and in it is enough equipment to perform the 2 experiments at least twice. The experiments are a Tin Hedgehog and Tin Dendrites. Both fascinating experiments and on their inital impact they certainly have the wow science factor.
Check out the selection of experiments here.
But, there is more to them and that is where the 2nd app comes in. So, the VR is through an app, but there is also an educational app that walks your child through the experiments step by step as well as providing lessons on what actually happens and more details as well as follow up experiments using the same principles and equipment.
We completed each experiment and now I have "saved" the rest of the kit. I expect there are a couple of more times that we can do the experiments and I've decided to save them to when they coincide with when the kids are covering those areas in Chemistry so they can see the theory side in action as they revise and work through them.
As well as the VR and App there are also Live Lessons that you child can join these have been on during the week as schools have been remote, but now schools are back the live lessons are on a weekend. You need to check the schedule for when they match your kits.
During the live lessons (5pm in the UK, 12pm EST), your child can do the experiments along with the teacher, ask questions and get more in depth from a "real live person". We've watched a past lesson to get a feel for them but haven't participated live as we don't have the kits for the upcoming lives yet.
Our Verdict on Mel Science
First, I will say that the one thing that delayed my subscription to it was the cost. I was a little worried that I was going to subscribe to something that was just kitchen science with no substance. And for £29.90 a month in the UK or $34.90 it would be expensive for that.
However, it's nothing like kitchen science. This is real science, with proper theory behind it that I would find difficult to do at home without spending extra on the equipment and chemicals.
The fact that everything (except the batteries) is included and with more than enough to provide a couple of tries of the experiments is a huge advantage. The added bonus of the VR lessons, app with further investigations and the lives make it worth while.
Would I have bought them if we weren't home educating? A resounding yes, especially at this time due to my eldest not doing any practical science experiments in school (he's not home educated), I see him really missing out at those interest-grabbing moments.
Subscribe To Mel Science
If it's perked your interest why not head on over and start a subscription now. You can follow along with ours as we try more of the experiment kits, VR lessons, and more here on Rainy Day Mum and over on our Instagram.