MEL STEM (formerly MEL Kids) is a monthly science subscription box for children ages 5-9+. Through exciting experiments kids can learn all about hydraulics, light, aircrafts, code breaking, and even infinite portals! Each month contains a new experiment and STEM lesson for kids to dive into, and will contain everything they need to safely and easily complete at home.
This is a review of MEL Science's MEL STEM box (ages 5-9+), which costs $20.90 per month with an annual subscription, or $29.90 per month on a month-to-month basis.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we review boxes.)
MEL STEM: Projector Optics
My 5-year-old was excited to open his MEL STEM subscription box this month and see what looked like (for him at least) a movie screen! This month's box was projector optics and learning about how a lens and light can illuminate an image on a screen. Which is actually pretty much exactly how a movie screen works, but on a much more advanced level, of course!
This project was actually perfect for my son as it was short and he could almost do it entirely on his own. It might be a little easy for older kids receiving this box, but there were some lessons that expanded on the projector box that would be great for them. These lessons went over my 5-year-old's head, but he did enjoy building the projector itself.
The first thing we always do is pull out the pieces and make sure they are all there. (I learned this from my own dad's mistakes as he would always get to the end of a project and a piece would inevitably be missing, ha!)
The first page of the instruction booklet will show you which pieces you should have!
Once we got started on building the projector itself, it went really fast. It took my son no more than 10 minutes total to put the projector together.
First, you make the base of the projector by attaching the wooden pieces and gears. This is the part that allows you to slide the screen and focus in on an object.
The instructions make it easy to follow due to having little to no reading and great instructional photos. There were a few parts that really needed to be pushed in harder until you heard them snap, and my little guy just didn't have the strength to do it. This was really the only area that he needed help with though!
Next, was attaching the projector covers. One of them was abled to be colored, however my son had no desire to pull out his crayons and color it. He just wanted to see the finished product!
The last step is to attach the project to the base! Once that was done, the projector was finished! Like I mentioned, it was super fast and great for his age! He had fun looking through it and seeing how the objects in front of him were inverted. They also included a rubber band, so that you could attach your phone while playing a video to see how it projected the screen. My son was not very interested in this part as it doesn't project it outward and preferred to walk around the house looking through it instead.
As always, they also give you a scannable card that you can use to check out other online experiments. This is perfect for those older kid extensions.
The instruction booklet also has a few comics and some easier games that my son enjoyed looking at. These are probably only going to entertain the younger kids, however.
Final Thoughts - Was This Box Worth It?
I think this box was great for the younger ages. While it was not our favorite box we have received, it still got his STEM juices flowing and started the conversation of light and projections, which is all I want for him at this point! I think this might be too easy for an older kid. My 8-year-old looked through it once, said "cool", and then walked away to finish up his. Plus, as it took my son (who is on the younger side of the age group for this box) only 10 minutes to do, I don't think it would engage an older child as much as some of the other projects through MEL Science.
The Cost: $20.90 with an annual subscription ($29.90 as a one-off box) + $5 shipping within the US
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Yes, this box is still available. From MEL STEM:
"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? Let us know below!