MEL Science Review
MEL Science provides monthly chemistry kits that let children conduct hands-on experiments, visualize processes with VR lessons, and participate in online classes with science teachers.
What makes MEL Science interesting is that it’s not one static chemistry set. It’s an evolving set of chemistry experiments.
At least for a kid, the problem with a chemistry set is that after all of the experiments from the instruction book are carried out, the child has no idea what to do.
When I was a kid, I was fortunate to have an old and well-supplied chemistry kit. I think my mom found it at a garage sale. It was GREAT! I had glassware, a bunsen burner, and dozens of chemicals! I even had a thick manual that had extensive instructions. Unfortunately, the manual was written for high school kids and I was 10 years old.
I had no earthly idea what to do with it!
This is where MEL Science comes in. Every month, they send a new, and generally amazing, chemistry kit.
The kit includes everything you need to conduct 2-3 experiments, safely and with detailed, but fun and interesting, explanations of what’s happening chemically in the experiment.
Check out their website for videos. They had me after the second demo video.
The Experiment Kits
When you first sign up with MEL Science you will receive a starter kit. This kit includes safety goggles, a syringe, a borosilicate glass beaker, a borosilicate glass flask, and other supplies that will be used with kits in the future.
Each month, you will receive a self-contained MEL Science chemistry experiment kit. Each kit will include all of the chemicals, tools, and supplies needed, with instructions and explanations of the science involved.
Our Favorite Kits
Chemistry of Monsters
The MEL Science Chemistry of Monsters kit features experiments that rapidly change in shape, size, and consistency. In one of the experiments, anthocyanine (a purple dye, naturally found in grapes) is mixed with water. Citric acid (also known as vitamin C) and sodium carbonate are then mixed together so they will be a source of carbon dioxide, but they do not react in their dry form. Lastly, liquid soap is mixed with the dry ingredients, to act as a foaming agent.
This looks fairly unimpressive until the water is poured in, at which point a chemical reaction is triggered and the results are both colorful and surprising.
In another experiment, a mixture of sugar, sodium hydrogen carbonate, and hexamethylene-tetramine is shaped into a small block and then ignited. The first surprise is that something primarily consisting of sugar burns at all, but growths are soon noticed on the block.
Then suddenly a black “sugar snake” starts growing from the block of sugar. The pure volume of the material growing from the block almost defies logic and will make the observer question what is really going on chemically.
As with all of their kits, MEL Science has a great explanation of the science happening within the experiment, and most of the magic is caused by producing carbon and carbon dioxide in great volume.
Pure Water Kit
The Pure Water Kit is our favorite MEL Science kit because it shows how fairly simple science can transform our world in very real and tangible ways.
Even in first world countries, it’s common to use water filters instead of trusting tap water, which may contain heavy metals and other contaminants. With this kit, your child will create their own carbon filter and watch as bright blue colored water is filtered into pure clear water.
Though watching it seems like magic, the truly fascinating part for the child is how such a simple and easy to construct filter doesn’t make an incremental change but instead produces a result pure enough to drink.
The second part of this experiment uses an ion-exchange resin to remove heavy metals from water. It’s important to point out to the child that water polluted with heavy metals is worse than junk. It is, in fact, poison in it’s truest sense. But, by using chemistry in the right way, the water can be reclaimed and made perfectly clean and safe. This is the power of science!
Tin Science Kit
This science kit contains two very different, but very interesting experiments. In the Tin Hedgehog experiment, metallic tin grows on the surface of a zinc pellet, forming needle-like crystals that resemble a hedgehog in a test tube. This experiment demonstrates both soluble metals and the reactivity of zinc in comparison to the tin.
For us, the more fascinating part of this kit is the tin dendrite experiment. Electrodes are attached to opposite sides of a petri dish and tin dendrites form from a solution of sodium hydrogen sulfate, liquid soap, and tin chloride.
What makes the tin dendrite experiment so interesting is that the dendrites form rapidly enough to watch with focus but slow enough to really consider what is happening in the solution and why the dendrites are growing in the way you see before you.
They do not grow in purely straight lines from one electrode to the other, as may be logical, but grow as though they are limited by mathematical restrictions on its crystal structure. Some stages of dendrite growth may remind the experimenter of ice crystals growing, or parts of snowflakes.
MEL Science kits are designed to be as safe as possible. The tools and supplies provided are of high quality and your child is unlikely to get hurt because they skimped on something.
However, many of these kits use chemicals or involve chemical processes that can absolutely be dangerous if the instructions are not followed. I strongly recommend that your child have adult supervision at all times with these kits.
Follow the instructions, discuss safety with your child, participate to the extent that they want you to, and you will both be amazed by the chemistry of our world.
Learning about lab safety is part of learning about chemistry.
MEL Science kits provide the kind of hands-on science that I would have loved as a kid. If you are fortunate enough to have a child with an inventive mind, curiosity, and an interest in science, these kits will likely be captivating for them, and you as well.
MEL Science is a little expensive, but that’s only in comparison to the toys out there that call themselves chemistry sets. There really is nothing out there as well put together, thought out, safe, and engaging for learning about chemistry. And from that perspective, it’s worth every penny.
About MEL Science
MEL Science was founded in 2015 but did not start selling their chemistry kits until 2016. The founders come from diverse backgrounds such as game development (FIFA 12) and 3D design, but all had a fascination with exploring science since childhood, whether that was mathematics, physics, or chemistry.
When it came time to raise their own children, they realized that standardized education left a lot to be designed when it came to hands-on, or even interesting, science. So they developed something better.
They developed a line of chemistry kits that they would have loved when they were kids.