As a parent who also works in medical research, I am struck by how intimidating many people find science. As a consequence, it is fraught with myths and misunderstandings. This is a shame, because not only does science affect every aspect of our lives, but it is simpler than most of us realize. If we only took the time to understand it, most of us would probably find it incredibly fun and interesting, especially children.
Enter the Mythbusters Science Exploration Kit series, brought to you by the makers of Elmer’s Glue. Like the Discovery Channel hit show of the same name, Mythbusters succeeds in bringing scientific fun into our homes. Needless to say, they are a great way to introduce children to hands-on science while encouraging them to look at the world with an inquisitive eye. Mythbusters accomplishes this by promoting the fun and exciting aspects of scientific inquiry, which includes formulating a hypothesis, running an experiment, taking notes, and then arriving at a conclusion.
From the moment that we unveiled the Weird World of Water Kit, winner of the FamilyFun Magazine 2009 T.O.Y. Award, our kids were hooked, and we wasted no time in checking out its contents. The kits include pretty much everything you needed to run the experiments, all of which are simple and familiar items that make science less intimidating. Any additional supplies that you need to provide are common household items like tap water, baking soda, and vinegar.
After sorting through the possible experiments, which included making a liquid rainbow and the examination of whirlpool dynamics, it was unanimously decided that the first project we were going to tackle was the water propelled rocket. Keep in mind, this experiment should only be done outside with parental supervision because it involves high pressure.
The rocket was easy to assemble, and our kids (ages 5 and 8) put it together without any help from their incompetent dad. The mixing of the chemical fuel (i.e., vinegar and baking soda), however, was my job. This was perhaps the trickiest part because the reaction is immediate, so it took a couple of tries to get the timing of the mixture just right. Also, the bottom plug, which propels the rocket upward, really needs to be on tightly to maximize propulsion, but not too tight as to prevent it from popping off. Fortunately, all of this is explained in the manual.
It actually took us a few tries to get it just right, and I couldn’t help but think that we were taking part in a true scientific experiment, complete with the modification of variables (things you change to affect the outcome), which is actually promoted in the kit. When we’d arrived at the optimal conditions, we stood back and watched in awe as the rocket shot up at least six to eight feet into the air, eliciting “oohs” and “aahs” from kids and parents, alike.
Of course, one flight was not going to be enough, so be forewarned that you might want to invest in a large container of vinegar because each flight consumes one cup. After polishing off an entire bottle, we turned to using apple cider vinegar, which for the record, worked just as well. Best of all, the plastic parts are completely reusable, so you can fly the rockets over and over again, or for as long as your vinegar and baking soda supply last.
Just as fun and interesting were the liquid rainbow and the whirlpool experiments. The whirlpool involved two plastic liter bottles attached at the mouths. All you need to provide is tap water, and if you feel inspired, various colorful objects to swirl in the vortex, though they include some in the kit. The liquid rainbow was a great introduction to teaching kids about water density. Again, the projects were quick and easy to prepare, they went a long way to sparking the everyone’s interest, and they can be repeated again and again. All that limits you is your imagination.
The Weird World of Water Kit is geared towards kids 9 and up, but our kids, ages 5 and 8, both got a lot out of them. Though it helps to be able to read and follow instructions, this is not critical to the execution and understanding of what is being tested. Furthermore, it is a great introduction to actual scientific method, whereby one must come up with a hypothesis, observe the outcome, take notes, and come up with a conclusion.
All in all, we found the Mythbuster Science Kits a great way to engage in hands on science, and they went a long way to making it less intimidating while teaching us that, while the world of science may be filled with complex and sophisticated concepts, their real life application can be simple and fun.
So if you’re looking for a great way to teach your kids about science, I would highly recommend the Mythbusters activity kits. Furthermore, as a parent, you just might learn a thing or two, yourself, and have fun while being involved in your child’s education.
Disclaimer: I received this product free for review.