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I recently bought a John Adams Swamp Science set, which was missing the best and most expensive component. I phoned customer service and it seemed that not much research had gone into the product, and they really didn't know the difference between triops and brine shrimp - but apparently, even though advertised as part of the set - the triops eggs had never been included. They did promise however to send something to make up the value of the missing items and ended up sending me this set and Plants with Attitude. So I did not pay for this set ( and if I had I would be demanding a refund) but it does retail at £10.99.
WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE BOX:
A crystal tree and parrot, both made of treated paper with plastic stands.
crystal solution - needed to make the crystal tree and parrot grow
plastic stalactite cave
bottle of red food colour
plastic toy magnifying glass ( very low maginification).
WHAT WAS MISSING / DAMAGED:
The crystal solution was burst open and had leaked into the plastic bag. We did still try to pour it into the bases for the crystal tree and parrot, and there was enough to fill each base, but nothing grew.
My youngest was delighted with the goggles, as they were smaller than teh many sets of goggles in out science box - but they were also badly scratched - he could not see through them and so was terribly dissapointed to learn that this new toy had arrived broken.
Paper clip was missing but not a major issue - I do have some of these in our magnet box.
WHAT IS NOT IN THE BOX:
Most of these science sets require a few extra household items, so it was no surprise to learn that we would need baking soda, vinegar, a pencil, slat and sugar and a jam jar.
USING THE SET
As always, my children were excited to try out a new science set. We started with the crystal trees. The children have made these before - they are a pretty common item, but they always enjoy them. The tree was easily slotted into the base, but the bird was much more difficult. The children couldn't get and neither could I. My husband tried for awhile before declaring it a _________. I eventually managed by trimming the paper which had become very frayed attempting to fit into a base that had gaps to small, prying the gap open with a butter knide and having my son jam it in. The whole process took about 45 minutes. We then discovered the jar of crystal fluid was broken but it appeared to have gathered up in the plastic bag so I carefully poured this into the base. By the next day they were a couple of tiny crystal cluster on both, but none larger than a half a grain of rice.. The picture to the far left on the box is meant to be the crystal tree and resembles ones we have grown in the past. We did grow a seperate tree from another company at the same time which came out perfectly. So experiment #1 & 2 - total failure.
Experiment # 3
For this experiment you were meant to place the limestone rocks in the tray with vinegar, and crystal are meant to grow as the vinegar evaporates. Our rocks just dissolved into mush - we never did get even the tiniest crystal. You are meant to add the food colour after the crystals start to grow, but as ours never did, we never used this. Once again, this experiment was a total failure.
Experiment #4 called for us to suspend the paperclip in a jar of salt water. Slat crystals should form on the crystal as the water evaporates. We didn't have the paper clip, and we've done this before - so we didn't bother.
Experiment number 5 called for collecting rocks and soaking them in a salt and vinegar solution. This does not require anything from the kit, but is basically a way to make it look like you get more activities. We did not try this one.
The instructions for this are terrible. You are meant to braid a bit of string and drape it between the two peaks. You are then meant to make a solution of biocarbonate of soda exactly as done in experiment 4 - except you didn't use baking soda in experiment 4, it was salt. However I assumed they meant use the same amounts of baking soda. We tried it , it did not work. I have however looked up the experiment online - it is common one, and I'm sure it is in some of science books too, you just normally use two glasses instead of the cave. The instructions I have found do not call for baking soda at all, but salt, so we are going to try again tonight. I'll also need a new string. The thick absorbent string that the instructions said to braid sucked up the liquid too quickly, so there was no time for anything to evaporate, it just ran all over the table and down onto the floor. My son ran past in sock feet, slipped in the water and fell on the coffee table where this was set up. Still this is the best part of the set. The plastic cave can be used with toy dinosaurs, which means it goes nicely with the Swamp Science Set, which also ended up as a plastic dinosaur habitat.
Needless to say, the children were disappointed with this set. So was I . I can't really come up with much in the way of redeeming qualities, but once again I would suggest they might consider hiring my either of my sons as a scientific advisor. They do know the difference between triops and brine shrimp and they also know the difference between salt and baking soda.
Discover the science of crystals as you grow stalactites in your very own cave and a crystal bearing tree that gives almost instant reults, plus much more.