National Geographic Crystal Growing Kit
This National Geographic Giant Crystal Growing Kit was bought for Christmas a couple of years ago. Father Christmas bought it for around £20 and it's widely available and can be found cheaper. National Geographic is a brand that you presume is going to be of good quality but this kit was disappointing. The box looks smart and ... professional (you know what I mean) the crystals pictured look great. The kit is for children 10 years and over, and I think needs an adult to supervise. Inside the box there is an impressive array of stuff:
Plaster of paris
3 petri dishes
2 plastic moulds
1 large measuring cup
1 small measuring cup
2 measuring spoons
15 granite base rocks
15 blank labels
Aluminium potassium sulphate
Everything you need (except the jam jar) to make 12 different fantastic crystals- shame it didn't really!
The first problem we encountered was the instructions, poor to say the least, anyway we followed them as best we could. My son was keen so after popping on the goggles we got started. There was a lot of faff making these, you have to measure the chemicals with water and then heat it up in a pan to dissolve the salt crystals which was the second hurdle as you aren't supposed to over heat. Third hurdle was the colour of it, if you spill some it won't ever come off (I know this for a fact!!). Of course it was everywhere!! strangely it didn't stain my pan- just a pine table which needed sanding.
Having done the heating, mixing and then pouring into a jam jar we put it away and waited. Some crystals started forming after a few hours and a days later we had our first 'crystal'. It was rubbish, the colours were vibrant- too much so, they didn't hold together and we ended up with a crumbled mess, not really a display piece.
After several attempts we gave up and it ended up gathering dust on the shelf. For us it didn't work very well and what results we did have were poor. Saying that my son enjoyed mixing the chemicals and then checking everyday to see what was happening so in that respect it was okay. Experimenting is seeing what will happen whether successful or not so on that grounds I would recommend it.
I'm giving it 3 stars for that reason alone.
Read the complete review
National Geographic Crystal Growing Kit
I'm sure every reader here immediately recognises the National Geographic brand. They have published magazines for since 1888, and the name to me conjures up images of exploration. The society which produces this magazine has supported a vast array of scientific or geographical projects including - Jaque Costeau's undersea exploration, ... Jane Goodall's work with chimpanzees, Peary and Henson's North Pole exploration of 1905 and much, much more. Of course they had a few snafu's as well - the biggest embarrassment being a falsified story of a tribe with no concept of violence , aggression, or hatred - just pure joy and innocence - a shame they never existed. But overall, the National Geographic society is known for quality exploration and research. In addition to the main magazine, they also produce a children's magazine, a television channel, an array of books of and dvd's and a line of educational toys for children, and in general, I would associate the National Geographic line with high quality products. This time however, this was not the case.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX:
10 bottles of crystal growing salts
plaster of paris
2 plastic molds
2 measuring cups
2 measuring spoons
magnifying glass ( poor quality so I would advise using a better one)
15 pieces of granite as starter bases - but these are too small to work so just bin them.
WHAT IS NOT IN THE BOX:
You will need growing dishes - preferably small and round - glass jars cups etc -- I do keep a science box so this was not a problem. You will also need several rocks, at least as big as 50 p coin, which should have rough surfaces and not contain large calcium deposits. Do not use any type of flint or metamorphic rock with a glass like surface. You'll also need a pot to heat mixtures, and plenty of newspaper, kitchen roll or cloths about. If possible, larger chunks of granite would be ideal.
This was not our first crystal growing set. We had previously picked up a Smithsonian set from ebay and the results were pretty good. Smithsonian is not widely available here though, so I chose National Geographic as a replacement set, expecting even better results from such a well known brand. It is a very good thing we had grown the Smithsonian crystals before hand, as we had some idea how this was meant to work, and had learned the hard way that only rocks with a rougher surface work. Thankfully, the Smithsonian set had an excellent set of instructions, which were very clear and well detailed. I actually ended up pulling these out and attempting to read both sets of instructions in trying to figure out how to do these. I may not be a rocket scientist, but I would normally find following instructions intended for a 10 year old a fairly easy task. The National Geographic sets instructions can only be described as horrid. Well I can think of a few better words - but I don't think we are meant to use them on dooyoo - and in all honesty - I may think them but I don't ever say them. Not only could I write a far better booklet myself. I expect my 7 year old child could write something far more clear and concise as well. You get 30 pages of information, but only a small amount relates to actually using this product. But you will get plenty of other "activities". For instance you may discover ice crystals in your freezer - slightly interesting yes - but I really want to grow the crystals.
Despite the horrid instructions, we made the best of things and attempted to grow the crystals. Thankfully, my science box has a number of containers of all shapes and sizes, and we collected various rocks to get started. In short you heat up a batch of chemical salts and water dump it over your chosen rock and wait about 2 weeks for it to evaporate. Please be advised that this is very messy, and the solutions can stain. Dress the children in old clothing and wipe up any stains immediately. If you would be upset by having your fingertips stained various shades for a day or two, you might consider gloves as well. Once mixed the crystal growing containers must not be moved as any disturbance effects the growth so think carefully where you are going to put them beforehand. Keep in mind if this spills it may stain. You may also find tiny crystals grow up the sides of your container and can manage to create some staining around the container. I advise placing the cups on takeaway lids. If a cup cracks and leaks expect staining so bad you may need to redecorate.
We have now made most of the crystals, but I'm afraid our results have been very poor. In fact I am so disappointed I will be writing the company. I never really expected anything like the crystals shown, but having used the Smithsonian set, I was expecting so much more than what we got. We have 3 sets left to make, but out of 7, I only have two reasonably decent crystals, and even these are poor by comparison to the other set. We did use our own rocks for most, but I used the enclosed tiny rocks for two crystals. One was a total flop, but the blue is remarkable. It is incredibly fragile, and I don't think it will survive being removed from the growing dish - so it can not be displayed - but it is exceptional. The crystal is very fine needle like spires, but it has a luminescent metallic sheen which I can't describe. I don't honestly think it was meant to come out like this, but it is unique. I only wish I had grown it on a larger rock as the tiny rock that came in the kit is just a pebble in the middle of the cup, and I feel a larger rock might have made this crystal a bit easier to remove from the cup.
In spite of the poor results, my sons still had some fun with this set. We did get a couple of usable crystals, and we still have the plaster of paris molds and geode shaped crystals to make. Although this kit is intended for ages 10+, I see no reason a younger child could not use this as long as parent actually handles the heating and pouring of hot liquids. These are of course chemicals though and should be used only with adult supervision as well as being stored out of reach of any child young enough to possibly eat any of these chemicals. I do feel these kits in general are a grand idea. They allow children to learn new things, are a great way to spend quality time together as a family and are just plain fun. I believe exploration and discovery are the very best ways to learn - and these kits are a great way to facilitate this. I am giving this two stars instead of one, in case the poor results are my fault for not understanding the instructions completely, but I do think the company producing this should provide good instructions as well so I simply can not go any higher than this.
If I had not grown several crystals before, I would just think these kits do not work, but having used another brand, I know they can work, and in fact will be looking to buy more. I will avoid any kits with the National Geographic brand name though, and as it appears this kit was made by Trends for National Geographic - I will be trying very hard to find a kit made by another company. I only wish the Smithsonian sets were more widely available here.
Read the complete review
Trends Mad Science - Chemistry Lab
Why am I reviewing so many chemistry sets in one review? Because they are all the exact same thing under different names. I have written other names into my title to help anyone doing a google search for a specific brand. Trends and Science Mad, are in fact the same brand. Discovery World is a different company, but I am certain these ... kits are made by a larger company and just the cover of the instruction booklet is changed. I have the Science Mad, and Discovery World Books in front of me, and other than the cover page, all 72 pages are word for word identical copies. I had these sets opened up and side by side yesterday. All equipment in both kits is identical as well, with the exception of the stand for the test tubes which is yellow in the Discovery World Set and red in Science Mad/ Trends set. The chemical bottles are all identical. Having done some research online, I discovered National Geographic Chemistry sets are made by trends, and also feature all the same materials. So if you should be trying to choose which of these brands to buy - go with the cheapest - they are all the same. In fact, I would strongly suspect any chemistry set advertising 100 experiments, 22 chemicals and a cd rom instruction book to be this very same set.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
Pottassium Aluminium Sulphate
Sodium Carbonate (Washing soda)
Sodium Hydrogen Sulphate
Plus various equipment, test tube rack, four test tubes with lids, 5 corks, two of which have holes to thread a glass tube through, 3 glass tubes, a glass stirring rod, a decent pair of goggles, a small funnel a glass measuring flask, a conical glass flask, a rubber tube, a plastic pipette, a couple of small plastic measuring spoons, a spirit or alcohol burner, printed instruction book, copy of book on cd-rom, universal indicator papers, and filter papers.
WHAT IS NOT IN THE BOX?
You will have to buy extra items, how many you need depends on how many experiments you want to do, but you will absolutely have to have so check the materials list for each experiment before you begin, but if buying this as a gift be certain to have some methylated spirits on hand as you can use the spirit burner without them. You will also need:
Vinegar ( the book says it must be white - but we have used brown)
Sodium chloride - common table salt
Magnesium sulphate - epson salts
Vitamin c tablets
felt tip pins
Additionally a great many experiments call for a broken flower pot. I am assuming they want terra cotta clay, but I'm not certain. I've tried a couple of other items with no luck, but as yet, have not gone out and bought a pot to smash, so have been unable to do a fair number of the experiments. As this is so crucial - I really thing they ought to have given you a wee bit.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH THIS?
According to the instructions you can perform 100 experiments. I honestly think that is stretching it a bit, and many of the experiments duplicate each other. If working your way through this book, you would spend and awful lot of time testing solutions to see if they are acid or alkaline. This isn't terribly exciting to us, as we do keep various types of tropical fish and have been using wee test strips for years. One particular experiment really annoyed me. You dump a bit of black pepper in a solution you have already made, then dump the solution through a filter paper - and miracle of miracles you get black pepper on a paper. This is meant to show that some items are water soluble and some are not the pepper doesn't dissolve - but I think it is a really poor attempt to boost the number of experiments. I would also note, that you could not perform all 100 experiments without buying more chemicals to boot. I'd rather have a company tell me 25 experiments with ideas for additional activities and give me 25 good experiments, but perhaps I am being a bit pedantic here.
But you really can have fun with this set. You can grow crystals - nowhere near as spectacular as a proper crystal set, but still fun and educational. Just be aware that for the most part, you are making crystals to view with a magnifying glass, not put on display. You can make invisible inks, which my son thought was brilliant and in fact keeps asking to make again. You can make various solutions, test a few items and certainly have fun. We made the ammonia solution which is hard to find now and combined it with our own sulphur to make stink tubes ( which accidentally got dumped on me when my son was shaking - why do I always end up stinking?). By far and away though , the biggest hit with these kits is a small hydrogen explosion using vinegar and hydrogen ribbon to create hydrogen gas. This was brilliant as we had been reading about Zeppelins at the time and the Hindenburg disaster, but even better because we actually got to blow something up - no matter how small. Really all you get is a very small bang, but it does startle you the first time when you are holding a match and hear the pop. This is really why we bought the second set - we wanted more magnesium ribbon and I got it at a bargain price.
I do have a few issues with this set. I feel that they exaggerate the number of experiments, they should give us a bit of the correct broken flower pots ( or at least tell us exactly what we need), and I really dislike the instruction book. I think the instruction book should be completely rewritten, add a few pictures, and include expected results for each experiment directly under that experiment. This could be clearer, easier to understand and give some background into what the child should be learning. I feel the quantities of chemicals in the jars is also very small, and do feel they could have given us a bit more. Finally - I think the cd-rom is a rip off. There is nothing to it except a pdf document which contains the exact same instruction book that you have in print. It really would have been wonderful if they made a cd-rom with computer activities such as a virtual lab where you could try out experiments on the pc - but I realise that would be asking a lot. Still a simple you tube style demonstration of each experiment on dvd would have been a brilliant addition to this set and would not have cost very much to make and add.
On spite of my complaints, I do like this set. I got mine quite cheaply, one set at only £4 which was unused but the cd was missing and another at £8 which was new, complete and in box. Full price is within a few pence of £20, but I do feel that this is fair enough price. If you compare the amount of equipment and chemicals with other sets - you do get more than most for your money. My son's really do love this - and consider getting the science kit out a special treat and they do learn things at the same time, so I would still be happy enough had I paid full price. I am deducting one star though - primarily for the instruction book and the useless cd-rom. Should Trends ever revamp the book and perhaps give us a demonstration cd-rom or dvd I would be happy to rate this at 5 stars
The recommended age for this is 10 + My sons are age 3 ( almost 4) and 7 and both love this kit, although I can't imagine the 3 year old is really learning much. I would recommend this from age 6, but of course with direct parent involvement at all times. Even at the recommended age of 10 the manufacturer makes quite clear that this kit is intended to be used only under adult supervision. I would think common sense would dictate that when using chemicals and flames and adult need be present anyway, but common sense seems to be an endangered species nowadays. This also must be kept in a secure location out of reach of small children. The Discovery World kit really drove this home by attaching a small slip of paperto the booklet cover on which you are meant to write your local emergency room number , and the precaution that you must take any chemical jar with you to hospital. Of course I doubt anyone writes the hospital number down - but they are making sure you know these chemicals do pose a risk to unsupervised children.
I would point out that if you use the flame on the chemical burner just a bit too high, it deposits a fine layer of ash all over your kitchen. I only noticed this when I went to take plate from the cupboard after and noticed black on it. I then realised all of my dishes in that cupboard had black specks. I would also note, that even as an adult I find it difficult to resist the urge to try to get more magnesium and more vinegar and make a much bigger bang. As I child I doubt I could have controlled myself if I could find a source of magnesium. The booklet does make clear that this would be very dangerous - which would give any child who hadn't already thought of it the idea. If your children suddenly start looking more magnesium - watch out!
Read the complete review
10 Years+ Child Development
Manufacturer: Trends UK / Type: Child Development - Science
Manufacturer: Galt / Child Development / Type: Science / Age: 10 Years+
Manufacturer: Interplay / Child Development / Type: Science / Age: 10 Years+
Brand: Trends / Child Development / Age: 10 Years+ / Type: Science - This Chemistry lab is the ideal starter kit for any young scientist. Perform over 100 safety tested experiments and discover the Einstein within!
|10 Years+ Child Development Recommendations 1|
|dooyoo Results 1 - 4 of 4|