MEL STEM (formerly MEL Kids) is a subscription box for children ages 5-9+ that delivers educational activities and everything you need to safely perform hands-on STEM projects at home. There is also an augmented reality portion you can access via their app for more learning fun!
This is a review of MEL Science's MEL STEM box (ages 5-9+), which costs $34.90 per month.
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.)
I knew Earthquakes would be something that would pique my daughter's interest and I loved how neatly the box was organized with everything being so easy to find. I was eager to see how this would all work!
Each month we receive a sticker to add to our Mystery Planet Map that came in our first box (swipe to take a look at the map). They also provide a little card that we can scan with the app to directly access the lesson.
Here is a look at the AR (augmented reality) section accessible from the MEL STEM app. This portion of the project is so unique and always very educational! They show you exactly how your project works and what happens, making sure to explain it in scientific terms. It is interactive and provides a great visual for kids to engage with. Now let's get into this month's project!
This thick, colorful booklet contains all of the information needed for this month's project. The beginning shows the contents of our box followed by a comic story introducing us to the project. This is such a creative way to get kids engaged in their learning! The rest of the book is filled with directions and some extra activities to complete. The directions feature large colorful illustrations and numbered steps making it easy for kids to follow along. This month we are working on making our own seismograph and learning about earthquakes.
Everything came packaged neatly for us with some smaller wooden components tucked inside this box. Other small pieces were enclosed in plastic bags.
We also received a battery pack, a motor, some rubber bands, more wooden pieces, a wire connector, paper, a felt tip marker, and a few other pieces we'd need.
I actually just let my daughter complete this on her own. Since the directions are all visual and larger than your average instructions, she was able to follow along easily and set everything up without any assistance from me until it came down to the wiring part. Assembly was easy overall, just fitting the wooden pieces together and adding the rubber bands and motor to the seismograph.
Once we had the batteries (which we had to provide...womp womp) in the pack, we matched up the wires in the wire connector and it immediately started working. The marker in the book moved up and down a bit more, but ours was moving kind of wonky. I think that's probably okay though because we were still able to grasp the concept!
Here you can see our machine in action.
Next, we talked about earthquake engineering and she built a tower to go on top of her machine before testing it out again.
Value - Was This Box Worth It?
The Cost: $34.90
I really loved that my daughter could easily complete this MEL STEM project by herself, there is definitely a lot of value in the fact that she was able to engineer this machine independently, but overall, I was a little disappointed that it didn't work quite as expected. I also felt the activities in the booklet were a bit lacking this month. That coupled with the fact that we had to provide our own batteries makes me feel like the value fell a bit short this month. We still learned a bit and got to build something cool, but I think we just needed a bit more out of this lesson!
MEL STEM provides boxes with engaging topics and the story to go along with it makes it even more so. They send you just about all of the materials you need to complete your projects and the simple directions make it perfectly age-appropriate while the supplemental lesson on the app is really unique and fun. Overall, it's a great box for some STEM learning in the safety of your own home, but this box in particular could have used just a little something extra!
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add MEL STEM to your subscription list or wishlist!
To Wrap Up:
"Your first package will arrive within 2 weeks of registration. Subsequent monthly packages will be delivered within 2 weeks of each monthly charge."
What do you think of MEL STEM? Click below to write a review!