School is back online for many children around the country, and as kids are finding out – it’s not all that exciting. Kids often learn best by doing hands on projects especially when it comes to developing concepts around physics, chemistry and biology.
I brought two amazing National Geographic STEM kits (National Geographic Mega Science Series Earth Science & National Geographic Science Magic Kit) and the National Geographic Air Rocket to show my 8 year old helper and eager learner. He had just finished a day of online learning and honestly he had looked a little deflated. When I pulled out the boxes, his face lit up and ran to the table to get started.
We examined experiments and activities from both Science kits and decided upon an experiment from each to perform. Grandma has decided that she would save a new experiments to do each day to supplement science learning – and some of these experiments may be done more than once to help reinforce learning.
The first experiment we did from the National Geographic Science Magic Kit was to make a Magic Water Bubble. Honestly, it was hard to just pick ONE experiment to start with from the Science Magic Kit because of how fun National Geographic has presented each task. Who doesn’t want to do science magic? In this kit, girls and boys will make a coin float, change the color of water, have snow magically appear, and much more!
As I read the instructions, my tester followed suit. He poured out the ‘magic sand or Hydrophobic Sand onto a plate and made a well with his finger. He then took the pipet and started to slowly add water to the mini-canyon. Right off the bat, there was learning. We discussed what the magic sand really was – Hydro meaning water, and Phobic meaning fear. So, would the water sink in? No! The sand is scared of water, so the water rested on top of the slightly oily sand. We then discussed concepts as he grew his magic water bubble in size. I asked him what happened to water if he dumped in onto the beach, and he knew it soaked in and disappeared quickly.
I asked him what would happen if an oil tanker sailed by and spilled oil onto the sand. He excitedly said that the water would not soak in as well! The concept of oil and water not mixing is simple, but can be applied to so many concepts in our daily life and environment. Also – bonus: He had never used a pipet before. Learning that you had to ‘release’ pressure from the squeeze pipet to ‘fill’ it was also a new concept!
I’m already obsessed with the Science Magic Kit, but we decided to move on so he could save experiments over the next couple of weeks to keep the ‘fun’ STEM learning going!
Next we opened the National Geographic Mega Science Series Earth Science which is chock full of 15 different activities! Activities include dueling water tornadoes, building an erupting volcano, growing a crystal, two geologic dig kits, and more.
We decided on doing a geologic dig as Ronan absolutely LOVES dinosaurs and many gems and minerals were formed by volcanic actitivy. Dinosaur extinction lines up closely with timing of volcanic eruptions, so we figured this was the perfect activity to start with! Also, he was told to carefully pick away at a GOLD block to find his hidden gems. As a dinosaur fossil lover, we discussed the importance of being careful when doing the dig and to gently sweep away debris, versus hacking it out. There is a guidebook that describes minerals and gems that come with the kit, and a starter rock collection.
I also observed that this is yet again another great activity to improve fine motor skills – and patience! Ronan’s little sister Lucy watched on and also participated in the discussion and wanted a crack at digging out those sweet gems. Although these activities are recommended for 8 and up, children are NEVER too young to learn about scientific concepts and she too was equally engaged!
Finally we went outside to play with the National Geographic Air Rocket The concept is to stomp the extra large foot pump to launch air rockets high into the air. Both Ronan and Lucy took turns and quickly learned about trajectory! The launcher may be angled, so they could angle the rockets into the pool, towards the yard and I begged them not to put them on the roof! Hah!
They also learned that the rockets path was relative to the force given with a hearty foot stomp. This is a great outdoor activity that allows kids to blow off a lot of steam in a constructive, fun way. Kids can set up targets and try to ‘air rocket’ by guessing trajectory.
I’m so impressed with all three kits as they make science truly FUN and tangible. If you’re a parent concerned about your kids (ages 8-12) being engaged in science this year, check out these fun kits on Amazon. They will need your help on some activities, especially if they are on the younger side, but most activites only need a little guidance and it’s fun to watch kids follow the sequence in magical science experiments.
Thanks to National Geographic & Blue Marble Toys for sending kits to review and learn from.
They are all available on Amazon here: