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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!
I am currently home-educating my son and buying a chemistry set was high on my shopping list as he is far more enthusiastic about science experiments than about maths or English.
I had just got my £20 Amazon voucher through from Dooyoo so I looked on Amazon for chemistry sets. They all seemed similar so I chose the 100 experiment Chemistry Lab from Trends UK because it was the cheapest set at the time at £24.49, and also it was the only set to have a customer review attached to it. Amazon states that 'the Trends Chemistry Lab is perfect for science-mad boys and girls, encouraging learning and an interest in chemistry!'
The set is packaged in a big cardboard box measuring 14" high and nearly 17" wide. The box looks very colourful, it's blue with photos of the equipment and a list of contents. The packaging states that the set is only to be used by children over 10 years old who are being supervised by adults that have studied the precautions mentioned in the instruction booklet.
The back of the box has more safety information. The lab set contains some chemicals which are classified as a safety hazard, there is eye protection for a child but not the supervising adult, the toy is not safety protected, and you will need to buy some extra items and chemicals that are not included with the kit.
Inside the box the kit and the chemicals are all firmly held in place in a polystyrene block.
Equipment pieces include -
a 100ml glass beaker and a 100ml glass conical flask with measurement levels printed on them,.
4 glass test tubes with plastic caps, also a metal test-tube holder, a plastic rack, 5 cork stoppers (3 with holes) and a cleaning brush,
A spirit burner,
A pair of plastic safety goggles with an elasticated head strap,
filter papers (which are taped to the back of the polystyrene), litmus papers and universal indicator papers,
A plastic funnel, plastic dropping pipette and plastic measuring spoon and scoop,
100mm rubber tubing, 100mm glass tubing and a 120mm glass stirring rod.
The chemicals are all in identical plastic containers like pill bottles. They have child-proof caps. The chemicals name is printed on the front of the container with its symbol in the periodic table, along with large symbols underneath to indicate whether the chemical may be an irritant to eyes, flammable, toxic, dangerous for the environment, or harmful if swallowed.
The chemicals included are -
Aluminium Potassium Sulphate
Sodium Hydrogen Sulphate
Lastly the Chemistry Lab has an instruction booklet. This has the same cover design as the box the kit comes in. The safety rules are listed first along with first-aid information should an accident occur. It then explains how to set up and use the equipment and lists additional equipment and chemicals that you will be required to buy to complete the experiments. Then the 100 experiments are listed, followed by answer pages at the back of the leaflet.
The idea with the experiment list is that you start with the simplest experiments at the beginning, and follow them in order to build confidence and ability instead of ploughing straight into the ambitious ones. They start with basic comparison experiments, like 'which of these four chemicals dissolve in water?' and build up to making rotten egg smells, gorgeous colour combinations, turning pennies green and gold and growing edible crystals.
The most important advice I can give to anyone thinking of buying this set is that you must familiarise yourself with the instruction booklet before starting any of the experiments. It requires careful reading, and could be clearer in its presntation. There is only one illustration in the entire booklet. Sodium Chloride is mentioned by its more common name of salt in the list of additional chemicals that you will need, but for the experiments it was just listed as Sodium Chloride and I went through all 20 identical chemical pots looking for it before I remembered it was salt and I could find it in the kitchen.
The instruction booklet suggests you make crystallising dishes from yogurt pots and cut them to a 1cm depth. Then the first experiment that requires a crystallising dish instructs you to pour 2cm of water into the dish, which would obviously spill over the sides, so I had to make them at different sizes.
Another thing the instruction guide doesn't tell you is that you can use the chemical solutions from one experiment in another one. I tipped away a dissolved copper sulphate solution one day only to find that we needed to make a copper sulphate solution for a later experiment so we could have kept it. The kit only comes with small amounts of each chemical so it annoyed me that I'd wasted some when I could have used it again.
Therefore it's not only important to read the safety instructions first and stock up on your extra kit and chemicals, but it's a good idea to read through at least a couple of chapters of experiments to see where you can re-use solutions.
It seems annoying that you have to buy extra chemicals but legally toy companies aren't allowed to sell certain chemicals to children. Ones you need to buy include hydrogen peroxide and methylated spirits. I would rather have to buy extra chemicals than have to do restricted experiments with the kit provided. Also the delay gives you time to read the instructions properly.
The equipment is of good quality. The glassware is thick and it all looks like proper science lab equipment. The goggles have an adjustable strap and fit both my son and myself. There is a good assortment of chemicals and a wide range of experiments. Every experiment we have tried so far (about 20 of them) has turned out the way it was supposed to.
I like this kit overall but I bought this one simply because it was cheapest and had a favourable review. If I was looking now I would probably choose the John Adams Science Lab kit as it has reduced in price from £29.99 to £19.99 and is a better-known brand.
I will finish by giving a list of the science sites we have found which provide other experiments to try in case they can be of use to anyone.
This Chemistry lab is the ideal starter kit for any young scientist. Perform over 100 safety tested experiments and discover the Einstein within!