I can never forget how much fun I had when I was younger playing with chemistry sets. The memories of experiments done on a hazy Sunday with my family are some of my most cherished.
Even to this day, that tradition continues as I have grown older and joined in with my younger relations when they have started to discover home chemistry sets.
The last thing we want for our kids is to be in an accident, and it is something that all parents worry about. That worry is just a part of raising children. It would be so sad if an accident did happen to a child, and sad if it happened while playing when they are at their most vulnerable.
This concern got me thinking about how safe are chemistry sets and should we be more worried about our children or young family members using them?
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Are chemistry sets dangerous?
No, Chemistry sets are not inherently dangerous. This comes with the stipulation that you strictly adhere to the safety instructions that come with each experiment or set. Chemistry sets are like most activities, where danger only comes from improper play or irresponsible actions.
Where does the misconception come from?
The idea that chemistry sets are dangerous comes from the past when health and safety standards where much lower and some sets had activities that by today’s standards would be seen as way too unsafe for children to be partaking in.
Some of these sketchy activities included experiments with radioactive uranium ore, use of a blowtorch, play with iodine – which is lethal if ingested – and bomb-making using potassium nitrate, which is the key ingredient in gunpowder.
Today, chemistry sets have to meet strict health and safety codes that do not allow anything that will cause harm to a child, as long as they have adult supervision of course. Most of the sets available today will be ‘no chemical sets’ and those that have chemicals will have strict rules to follow.
The experiments are less open-ended and have a definite start, process and end to reduce any possibility of danger. Some argue that all this has taken the fun out of home chemistry sets, but it is surely a worthy trade-off for our children’s safety.
How can I help my child learn through chemistry sets?
Chemistry is a very important subject in a child’s development and it is essential to stoke the fire of curiosity as early as possible. Here are a few ways you can help them achieve scientific greatness.
Supplementing your children’s learning of chemistry at home – Using chemistry kits is a great way to help them by providing them with a deeper understanding of the subject. Learning at home is very effective. The home environment is a safe and comforting space for the child and gives a good grounding for learning.
Use learning methods that suit your child specifically – Every child learns differently and it is important to focus on their favored techniques. There is a multitude of kits out there using different learning styles. Some are more hands-on and active, some are more technical.
Test and play – If your child is just starting out on their scientific journey, it is possible that you haven’t figured out what they like best yet. This is where chemistry kits come in as they will provide a wide range of experiments all across the chemistry field.
Use these to gauge what your child naturally gets excited by or is talented at. Then, in the future, you can specialize down to a few specific Chemistry elements.
How difficult are chemistry sets to use?
The difficulty of chemistry sets is really quite varied as a result of a number of factors. The primary factor amongst them is the targeted age of the set. Obviously, the younger the target age the easier the experiments activities in the set will be. Sets that are designed for teens and up tend to be more technical and there is a considerable difficulty spike.
This is not a reason to worry though, because all sets will come packaged with a detailed step by step manual that breaks down each part of the experiments and is as easy to follow as possible. Then, it is just a matter of taking your time and moving through the steps.
Where is the best place to use chemistry sets?
Of course, each Chemistry set is different, and as a result, the best place to use them will differ too. Most modern-day chemistry sets are designed to be used at home. This can either be in the house or if the experiments are a little wilder, in the garage or garden.
If you are unsure, the manual that is provided in the set will provide you with complete instructions on where it is safe to use the set, what surface to put it on, what materials should be avoided and the size of the space needed to complete the experiment without damaging anything or hurting anyone.
How do I know if a chemistry set is at the right age range for my child?
Because chemistry sets come in a massive amount of variety, it can be somewhat difficult to pinpoint the correct age range for your child’s abilities. The last thing you want is to spend money on a home chemistry set and later discover that it is too easy or way too hard.
When you are looking around for chemistry sets to buy, there should always be some information about the ideal age range that the set is geared towards. This will be displayed with an age range, say 3 – 5 years. The age ranges will start at 3 years and top out at 18 plus.
Sometime, there will not be a definite age range and the set will simply say something like 7 plus. This means that the activities and experiments inside the set will be suitable for children age 7 years and older. These types of sets are great because they provide a lot of value for your child, even as they age, they will not grow out of them.