MEL Chemistry is a subscription box for kids ages 9-14 that sends all of the materials you need to complete 2-3 chemistry experiments every month. This is perfect for kids who are interested in science or for homeschool students!
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About MEL Chemistry
The Subscription Box: MEL Chemistry
The Cost: $34.90 per month
ACTIVE DEAL: Use code FREEBOX to get your first box free w/new subscription
The Products: Everything you need to conduct 2-3 chemistry experiments each month safely in your own home!
Ships to: The U.S. and UK for free. International shipping to select countries is also available, although there may be additional shipping charges depending on location.
MEL "But Will it Burn?" Review December 2019
At the top of our box was a note from the founder about why a chemistry subscription makes sense.
This month our experiments are focusing on answering the question, "But will it burn?" and the contents were listed on the back of our box. You may note that they list a few items we need to get from our Starter Kit.
Note: The following items did not come in this month's kit!
Your free starter kit (valued at $50) will come in your first shipment. It includes all of the equipment you'll need to conduct your experiments each month and even includes some accessories for your tablet or smartphone to help you access all of the information they provide in their apps. To see more details about everything we received in our kit, you can check out our review here!
Also included with our Starter Kit was this virtual reality headset. This cardboard headset folds up easily and then you slip your phone into the slot and use their free MEL VR app. The app opens up in a lab where we have the opportunity to learn about different molecules and atoms and explore them closely. This is so great for gaining a deeper understanding of what happens throughout our experiments and as a fun extension to our lessons!
The first three items are those that we need each month, a tray to work on, our safety goggles, and our phone/tablet stand.
This month we also needed our beakers, flask, funnel, a rubber stopper, and our little stove to work on.
Our materials came packaged neatly inside this box with everything we needed for our experiments. The top of our box instructed us on what to prepare before we got started and also provided directions for how to open a bottle. They provided these heat-sensing stickers to use with our stove and two sets of gloves in sizes small and large.
Inside our box was an instruction sheet for the parents including some safety warnings, advice, and general first aid information. The directions for the projects are pretty thorough and can be found in this booklet, on the individual experiment cards or in the app. Having this separate sheet for the parents is great so kids can work independently, but parents can also follow along for supervising.
Experiment 1: Fire Foam
Our first experiment was "fire foam." They provided this card that contained all of the necessary information such as safety, disposal and the directions complete with colored illustrations. The front gave a brief descriptor of what to expect and also provided a scale to rate the difficulty and danger of the activity as well as the duration. On the back was a little box we could scan with our app which allowed us to open directly to the experiment on our phone. Of course, this is optional since you have everything you need on the experiment card, but I really like the interactiveness of the app instructions.
I set the phone in our stand and we clicked the "start experiment" button to begin. They provided information on safety, troubleshooting and even a scientific description of what happens during the experiment. There was also a "that's interesting" section and an easy way to set a reminder to conduct your experiment!
First, we checked out the safety section and prepared by putting on our gloves and our protective eyewear. They sent a pair of small gloves and a pair of large gloves so that an adult assistant can help.
The app provided thorough instructions about what materials we would need from our starter kit and what we would need from our set. Some of the instructions are even animated which is pretty cool!
First, we added one of the packets of liquid soap to our glass beaker.
Then we measured our water and poured it into the beaker.
My daughter added one of these metal tubes to the hole in our rubber stopper.
Then she connected the tube to the top of the rubber stopper and added another metal tube to the other side of it.
Then we added some water to our flask.
Now it was time to add our sodium hydrogen sulfate. All of our chemicals are clearly labeled and include information about any hazards. They provided enough materials for us to complete our experiments several times. Each label also contains a little code that we can scan with our forward-facing camera to open up for more information about our chemicals. We are able to view it in 3D or even in virtual reality by using the VR app and our headset.
I emptied the contents into our flask and then gave it a gentle swirl for about 1 minute.
I then used the paperclip they provided to open our bottle of sodium carbonate.
I used our scooper to measure out what we needed and added it to our flask.
The kids observed the bubbles that formed.
Then it was time to add the magnesium strips to the flask.
Then I added the rubber stopper to the top of the flask and placed the other end of the tube in our beaker and we waited for one minute.
They even provided a timer and a short video for us to watch while we waited!
We observed the foam that was forming in our beaker.
Then I lit one of these sticks and it was time to ignite our foam!
This was our first try and you can see nothing really ignited, but instead, we just got a loud pop before our bubbles burned up. This happened each time we tried it, even when we let the bubbles form over and over again. Also, I apologize for the music in the background. We received a toy karaoke-style microphone for Christmas, and my 21-month-old is constantly rocking out these days.
I think part of the issue for why our foam didn't ignite might have been because our rubber stopper would not sit securely in our flask and kept rising out of the top. We held it down, but it didn't make much of a difference; we were never able to get a successful fire on top of our foam. While it was a bit disappointing, we have enough materials to repeat this experiment, so we will have to test it out another time!
They also provide a great follow-up section after you're done about how it works, the safe way to dispose of the materials, and this time our follow-up says we can ignite the foam in our palm! This would be cool and is definitely something we'll try when we repeat this experiment!
Experiment 2: Igniting Iron
Our next experiment was to ignite some iron! While this was a more simple experiment, the app does still include all of the detail that the first experiment did such as the scientific description, safety, and follow-up information.
First, we set up our stove and got a bowl of water to keep handy just in case.
I added a piece of foil to the center of our stove.
Then I opened up our steel wool, fluffed it up a bit, and set it on top of the foil.
Then I lit the steel wool in several places and we observed!
Here you can see how it burned! The 21-month-old was in his high chair at this point and as you can hear, he is enjoying the show! We were able to light the wool several times and observe it burning, plus we have two more pieces to try this one again!
Verdict: MEL Chemistry is such a great educational subscription. This is perfect for anyone with an interest in chemistry or as part of a homeschool curriculum. The experiments are fairly simple, but the amount of educational detail surrounding them turns it into such a thorough lesson. Even as an adult, I enjoy that we get to use such official (and quality) scientific equipment from our Starter Kit to conduct these experiments. It's also great that they provide enough materials for us to conduct them multiple times and that we can further our understanding through interacting with the app and also the VR headset. It's a thorough and interesting educational experience for $34.90 + free shipping!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Yes, it is possible that you will receive this set. From MEL Chemistry:
"The topics are looped such that the start date of your subscription does not matter; you will eventually receive all the experiment sets."
ACTIVE DEAL: Use code FREEBOX to get your first box free w/new subscription
Check out our other MEL Chemistry reviews and our list of the best subscription boxes for kids, as recommended by MSA readers!
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add MEL Chemistry to your subscription list or wishlist!
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