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 Chemistry "Egyptian Night" Review February 2020
This month our experiments' theme is "Egyptian Night" 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, and several of these little plastic cups. We also needed our rubber stopper with one hole in it.
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: Iron Pepper Shaker
Our first experiment was to create an "iron pepper shaker." 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! For this experiment, we did also need to provide some matches from home.
They provided four birthday candles for us and I stuck one in the center of our rubber stopper on our tray.
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. Since this iron is actually a powder, this time we simply had to add a little cap that they provided to make it easier to "shake" and sprinkle.
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!
This experiment was very simple but really fun to watch and perform! I simply lit our candle with a match and then shook some of the iron powder over it to create some fun flames.
The kids liked watching this one and thought it was pretty cool! It was also very pretty with the variety of flames and sparks that shot up. This video is nearing the end of our bottle, and our candle flame, but at first we got some nice high sparks!
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: Egyptian Night
The next experiment was "Egyptian night" and included several different reagents for us to use.
First, my daughter used the large end of one of the scoopers to add some starch to our small plastic cup.
Then my son measured out 5 ml twice using to get 10 ml of water into our cup using this little syringe.
Then we activated our timer in the app so that we could wait for 2 minutes before adding some boiling water to the cup and stirring it up for another 2 minutes.
My son then measured out 5 ml of the mixture from the cup and added it to our glass beaker. Then my daughter added some cold water to the beaker.
Next, she added in 5 drops of the sodium thiosulfate solution.
Then I helped my son add 2 big scoopfuls of potassium iodide.
To our flask, we added 10 drops of sodium hydrogen sulfate and one ampule of hydrogen peroxide.
Then I quickly poured the mixture from the flask into our beaker and we stirred and stirred.
You can see my son was very concerned that it wasn't turning blue in the video and while at first, it looked like nothing was happening, all of a sudden our mixture turned dark blue! Pretty much right after I stopped the video, of course!
The surprise of the sudden change was really cool to see since it was slightly unexpected!
The fun part was that we could easily turn the mixture back to clear by adding back in some more of the sodium thiosulfate! This was also necessary for the disposal of the products from our experiment.
Verdict: Each month MEL Chemistry sends some really great experiments that are so fun to watch! While the experiments themselves are so simple, they provide such a wealth of information regarding the materials and reagents used and what is happening in each reaction. The information is also so easily accessible through their app and the extension with the Virtual Reality portion provides a way to further engage with the projects. This was another thorough lesson that felt like we were performing very official lab experiments thanks to the neat reactions and all of the cool lab equipment we used to conduct them! It's a great way to learn more about chemistry 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 all of our MEL Chemistry reviews and our list of the best subscription boxes for kids, as recommended by MSA readers!
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