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 "Colorful Chemistry" Review January 2020
At the top of our box was a note from the founder about giving time to your child by answering questions. This was a nice reminder!
This month our experiments are focusing on "Colorful Chemistry" 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 a beaker and several of these little plastic cups. They actually asked us to use our glass beaker, but since I was working with my young kiddos, we took out our plastic one this month!
We received this little card which introduces the new user profiles in the MEL Chemistry app.
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.
The projects come neatly organized with all of our reagents neatly stored in plastic bags with absorbers in each to help in case of any spills. Let's get to our first experiment!
Experiment 1: Color-Changing Milk
Our first experiment was "color-changing milk." For each experiment, they provide a card like this one that contains all of the necessary information such as safety, disposal and the directions complete with colored illustrations. The front gives a brief descriptor of what to expect and also provides a scale to rate the difficulty and danger of the activity as well as the duration. On the back is a little box we can scan with our app which allows us to open directly to the experiment on our phone or tablet. 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!
I went ahead and added some milk to our Petri dish.
They always provide a little paper clip for us to use to open our bottles which have tiny rubber stoppers in them so they don't leak during transportation.
For this experiment, we needed three different reagents; Annatto, Methylene blue, and Eosin. All of our reagents 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.
The app gives so much detail about each of the reagents including a description, hazards, precautions, and even a link to the Wikipedia page for further information. So thorough! And it's even more fun if you interact through the VR app!
My daughter got to work adding a few drops of each of the colors to our milk.
Then she added a dab of liquid soap to the end of a cotton swab and stuck it in the center of the milk.
She enjoyed the reaction and seeing how the colors swirled together. Then she added just a drop of soap to the milk and observed.
Then, she had some fun swirling the milk and colors around with the cotton swab.
This was a fairly simple experiment, but with a fun reaction! At the end, our app asks us to rate the experiment and then there is a section on how it works which includes helpful information such as a scientific description, interesting facts, and disposal instructions, all of which we had access to from the main page of this experiment as well.
Experiment 2: Acidic Patterns
The next experiment involved acidic patterns.
First, my daughter added a drop of sodium carbonate to the dish along with some water and a few drops of the Thymol blue.
Then she stirred it all up using the sticks they provided.
Next, she added some of the sodium hydrogen sulfate to the mixture and stirred it up.
This turned the blue mixture yellow!
To turn it back to blue, she added more sodium carbonate to the dish. Since we received so many of each reagent, she was able to go back and forth several times turning the solution from yellow to blue and back again! This was pretty cool and a fun visual experiment!
Experiment 3: Colorful Chemistry
Next, we learned about pH and explored this concept through our experiment. They provided a lot of helpful information on our instruction card.
We used our little scooper and added a large spoonful of Thymol blue to our beaker. Then I topped it off with water.
Then we followed the instructions adding the correct amount of reagents to each of the five cups we set out. We used the sodium carbonate, citric acid, sodium hydrogen carbonate, and sodium hydrogen sulfate.
Then we divided our beaker solution evenly between the five cups.
We made a pretty rainbow of colors and then we had a nice discussion on what pH is and talked about whether each mixture was acidic or alkaline.
Verdict: This month's set of experiments from MEL Chemistry were all so visually fun! They were experiments that provided fairly instant reactions and we enjoyed watching them take place. There was also a lot of great educational information about the topics we covered as well. The lessons are always so thorough, the box is well organized with easy to follow instructions and all of the official lab equipment makes this feel like a science class in a box! I love that they also have such great extension opportunities through the app that really allow us to further explore the topics and learn more about the reagents and chemicals we are using. I think it's a great value for $34.90 + free shipping and would be such a great supplemental chemistry lesson!
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
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add MEL Chemistry to your subscription list or wishlist!
What do you think of MEL Chemistry?