Young Scientists Set 12 - Kits 34-36
Surface Tension; Polymers; Famous Scientists and Their Experiments
In a market saturated with both cheesy science kits containing cheap parts and science activity books with endless lists of supplies needed, it was refreshing to stumble upon this series of kits, which go way beyond the "standard science kit" in quality and usability! Each of the twelve sets in the series contain three different science "kits," each on a different topic, along with corresponding experiment guides and many of the supplies needed. Each kit in each set includes a booklet which devotes several pages to the parent with instructions on how to do each experiment, but offers lab sheets and information to the child as well. For the parent, each experiment is broken down into "Methods," "Results," and a "Conclusion." Instructions are brief, but cover all the bases and are easy to skim through prior to an activity. The "Results" and "Conclusion" sections explain what you should observe, and why, so you can discuss the results with your child. The child's section of the booklet is not segregated by experiment, but follows the progression of experiments naturally, with a good mix of science explanations (via "Celsius the Science Bug"), questions related to the activities, and a few graphs and charts so students can record results right in the booklet.
There appear to be around eight or more experiments for each topic, and these progress in complexity and concepts through the booklet. For example, in Set 9, Kit 25, which covers magnetism, children start by playing with magnets to find out what types of metal they attract, then discover and explore magnetic poles, find out how to magnetize non-magnetic objects, and then build up to making their own compass and using it. The nice thing about the experiments is that (based on my sample, at least), while they utilize many of the "standard" experiments related to that topic, they all seem pretty simple to complete, and offer visible results that children will enjoy. For example, in Kit 25, when they place a piece of cardboard over magnets of different shapes, sprinkle iron filings over the cardboard, and carefully tap it, they'll be able to "see" the magnetic forces around the magnet. And when they charge up a comb or a balloon on their hair in Kit 26, they'll be able to see the stream of water from the faucet bend.
As far as supplies go, it appears that many of the more specific or small materials needed are included, and only the very common around-the-house items are left for you to gather. In my sample of Set 9, the only extra materials you gather are: a cereal bowl, 2-liter bottles, tape, a pencil, plastic bottle caps, a crayon, glasses, ice cubes, water, jars, food coloring, a flash light, matches, and a plate. The other nice thing about the supplies that are included is that the ones belonging to each kit are bagged separately and labeled with the kit number. This makes keeping the supplies separate for the topic you're working on easy, and you won't have to go hunting through a mix of objects looking for that needle, scrap of silk, or a tiny magnet! All in all, these kits are very useable and would be easy to work in alongside whatever topic you may be covering in a science text, unit study, activity-based science unit, or just for a family fun night! Please note that although you could probably enjoy all of the kits with a child or children in the recommended grade range above, the manufacturer recommends that children as young as 5-8 should start with Sets 1-3, while Set 4 and beyond are more appropriate to children age 9-12. I think that children anywhere in this spectrum will certainly enjoy them - and if you have several children of different ages, all the better! ~ Jess