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 "Chemistry of Plants" Review September 2020
This month our experiments' theme is "Chemistry of Plants" 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 VR 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 needed our glass beaker and flask, some disposable cups, and our funnel.
In this month's kit, we received some measuring spoons, safety gloves, sticks for stirring, pipettes, and a paper clip to help open our reagent bottles which come plugged with a tiny rubber stopper. We also needed to get a potato, a lemon, and some red cabbage from home, although typically, we don't need any other supplies besides water and matches for these projects.
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: Plants vs. Iodine
Our first experiment was "Plants vs. Iodine." 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 the expected results, troubleshooting, and even a scientific description of what happens during the experiment. There is also an easy way to set a reminder to conduct your experiment! We always check out the safety information first.
The app provides thorough, detailed instructions. Some of the instructions are even animated which is pretty cool and usually if it is a timed experiment, they will have a little built-in timer on that page for you to use. They also have little "help" tips at the bottom in case you get confused about what to do.
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 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. For this experiment, we are using potassium iodide.
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!
Our first step for this experiment was to add a large scoop of copper sulfate to a cup along with two large spoonfuls of iodide. Then my daughter mixed it around a little by shaking the cup.
I cut a slice of lemon and a slice of potato for us while she stuck these absorbers into the cup and let them sit for a minute.
Then she used the absorbers and added a layer of the mixture to the piece of paper they provided until the entire surface was covered.
She set the potato and lemon slice on top of the paper and then we set our timer for 5 minutes and waited.
She was pretty impressed with the results!
She compared the two slices and you can see she didn't enjoy the look of the potato. Haha.
At the end of our experiments, 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: Is This Food Starchy?
The next experiment was "Is This Food Starchy?" and it involved the same reagents as our first project: the copper sulfate and iodide.
This time I cut our potato and lemon slices into quarters and my daughter placed them in separate cups. I added some boiling water over the top of them and then we had to wait.
Once 5 minutes had passed she added a big scoop of the copper sulfate to one of the plastic vials they provided and 2 big spoons of iodide solution. Then she shook it up for 10 seconds.
We added 5 drops of the mixture to each cup and observed. Then we discussed which food was the starchy one.
Experiment 3: Anthocyanins
The next experiment was "Anthocyanins" and this time we needed the red cabbage, sodium carbonate, and citric acid.
I cut up some cabbage and then my daughter measured it out. I added some boiling water and she gave it a stir.
I prepared a funnel from the filter they provided and placed it on our flask. We were supposed to use this to filter out the cabbage pieces, but I completely forgot when it came time. Luckily it didn't seem to affect our experiment!
My daughter placed three vials into the foam stand and then she measured out how much of the cabbage water she needed in each one.
Then she added the citric acid to one and the sodium carbonate to another.
While we first got to observe the color changes, it was then time to compare the pH of these solutions. We added some drops to either end of one strip and then dipped the others into the vials and my daughter used the chart on our instructions sheet to compare them. This was a great visual lesson!
Verdict: Each month MEL Chemistry delivers all the tools you need to perform some interesting experiments in a safe way with a simplified process. The boxes are well organized, the instructions are thorough, and there is a lot of educational information available between the instructions sheets and the app, which can be even further explored if you add in the VR portion! It's a fun way to learn and would be such a great supplemental tool for a homeschooler learning chemistry or anyone that just enjoys science and observing reactions!
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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