If you are anything like me, you have fond memories from your childhood of whiling away the hours playing around with chemistry sets. I just couldn’t get enough of them. In my eyes, they were a magical box of tricks that provided me with endless possibilities.
Contrary to the belief of some people, chemistry sets are still very much around today. They consist of mostly the same key elements while being a little safer than they used to be. Exactly what experiments were in today’s version of those chemistry sets that I was so fond of as a child?
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What kind of experiments are in Chemistry sets?
Modern-day chemistry sets are even more varied than those of yesteryear. This means that it would be difficult to list every single experiment available in chemistry sets today. There are some recurring themes though, like laboratory-style experiments, forensic experiments, explosive ones, and crystal growing.
- The most common type of experiment in chemistry sets is traditional laboratory-style experiments with different materials and beakers and test tubes for mixing.
- Crystal growing is also a very popular experiment.
- Slime making experiments is something that has taken off recently and is very popular with children.
- Sets with forensic experiments, using chemistry to build a story of what happened, are a great option for those of you with a love of crime-solving.
- Explosive experiments are my favorite and let you create explosions in a safe environment, all in the name of science.
- Food experiments let you make tasty treats using chemistry techniques.
- Color experiments focus on color theory and design elements.
The type of experiments present in the sets depends on many factors such as cost and targeted age range. Some sets have many experiments and some have only one style. To help you make an informed decision, we will go into more detail for each of them.
Chemistry sets types
Lab experiments – These sets often come with equipment such as beakers, chemicals and a detailed manual that has everything you need to set up a mini-laboratory. Experiments in these include invisible ink, chromatography, air pressure, surface tension, and fluids.
They are aimed towards homeschooled children and meet the standards set out in curriculums and often allow you to conduct many different experiments across many areas of chemistry.
They are important in helping a child understand how to act and work in a lab environment and are often high in quality. You will have to provide your own materials in some instances such as the fluids and household items that the manual states.
Crystal growing experiments – Unlike the laboratory sets which have often over 100 experiments, these sets provide materials for you to conduct experiments around one premise, crystal growing. Perfect for genealogy enthusiasts and children over 10 years old.
Slime experiments – Slime making experiments have seen a massive jump in popularity in recent years. These experiments consist of mixing different ingredients together in such a way to make slime. The results are pretty gross, but that is just what kids love.
Explosive experiments – These experiments are all about creating energy in its different forms through the mixture of different chemicals and substances and other scientific means. These experiments are thrilling and hands-on while being very safe if you follow the instructions. One of my favorite explosive experiments was ‘how to turn on an LED with a lemon!’.
Forensic experiments – Forensic science is a division of chemistry and involves many great experiments such as chromatography, fingerprinting and DNA extraction. These experiments let you live out the fantasy of being the one to catch the criminal, all using the power of science!
Food experiments – These experiments focus on using edible substances to make tasty foods, using chemistry. You can make candy, chocolates, lollipops and much more. The idea of a tasty treat at the end of an experiment would help any child learn chemistry faster.
Color experiments – These experiments utilize color as the main theme and include awesome ideas such as volcanoes, making your own crayons and paints and many more. Children love to use color to express themselves and these experiments are a great way to get them to learn chemistry too!
Do they still make chemistry sets?
Chemistry sets are still made today but compared to those of yesteryear they are a lot more safe and conducive with modern safety standards.
There is also a wider variety of sets today that cover not only chemistry but also geology, biology, and physics. Their popularity dwindled over the last few decades but they have been making a resurgence lately.
What equipment comes in a chemistry set?
The equipment that comes in a chemistry set varies greatly. Some are complete sets that have everything in the box to conduct the experiments. Crystal sets are good examples of this and feature chemicals, materials, guidebooks and even display cases.
Others have equipment such as glassware and manuals included but you will often be required to add your own ingredients and materials. Not to worry though as these are common household items that can be found around the house, like dishwashing liquid.
Are chemistry sets just for children?
No. Today, it is possible to find chemistry sets that are complex enough for adults, who, like me, have never lost that childlike urge to discover new things. These sets are not necessarily aimed at adults but are more than capable of providing lots of fun.
How young can children start to learn through the use of chemistry sets?
In the main, the earliest children can reasonably be expected to learn and work with chemistry sets at around 3 years old. Any earlier than this and the equipment and scientific concepts will just be unobtainable to them.
Do not be put off by this though, as there are kits specifically designed for young children that will ease them in gently. Research has shown that the earlier you start your child learning through science, the more natural it will become to them, giving a solid base for future learning.