In the battle against boredom, brain drain, and the dog days of summer, it’s time to bring out the best tool available; making a mess. When our parents told us about baking soda volcanoes, there was of course an educational component, and for many scientists, educators, and people in STEM fields it flipped a switch and got them interested in a lifelong pursuit of scientific knowledge, but it also served the very important purpose of getting us all to stop saying “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do” for five minutes. Nowadays there’s the internet, and literally millions of family accessible activities to spark new interests, encourage scientific pursuits, and buy ourselves five minutes without complaints of boredom.
NatGeo offer a range of hands-on science lessons, but this kit in particular is a fun choice, since it includes a variety of activities that explore the science behind tornadoes, volcanoes, and more amazing topics in earth science. The included activities are suitable to a wide age span, ideally as a family activity, since the instructions aren’t suitable for young children to follow along without help.
Kids 5 and up can have several months worth of experiments with this multi chapter kit that contains instructions for over a hundred experiments. Most will require additional materials, such as magnets, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, and other common children’s crafting materials, but many make do with common household items.
This extensive kit includes everything kids need to feel like real scientists. With petri dishes, beakers, and more, they’ll be having fun while learning the basics of chemistry.
BYOP and spur your young scientists along in their pursuit of knowledge. With an introduction to voltage, oxidation, and other important scientific concepts, this kit includes everything you’ll need to make a potato-powered clock, except two potatoes.
Snap Circuits have a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and parents in engineering adjacent careers have been known use them to help their children grasp elementary programming and binary concepts in a hands-on way. This hands-on kit offers an array of builds that are sure to get children curious, and encourage them to pursue further mastery of the concepts of circuitry and resistors.
If your local grocer offers Dry Ice for sale, then this kit is one of the most entertaining choices available. Dry Ice is safe to work with when the proper precautions are taken, but its dangerous reputation means even teens and tweens can acknowledge this as a cool activity, and it helps them grasp sublimation, reactions, and the variable states of matter.
Eminently practical, this book of experiments focuses on explaining our everyday encounters with gravity, pressure, temperature, and other common objects that frequently make children question why? These elementary questions about why trees change color, or what makes something float, can be guided into a lifelong interest in the sciences.
If the kids are already sick of the dog days of summer, bring on a winter wonderland. This pack of instant snow yields twelve gallons of faux snow, and helps teach kids the basics of polymers and catalysts, plus it’s just really cool to watch this stuff bubble up like a baking soda volcano. It’s magic, it’s crafting, it’s tons of fun, but there’s still educational value.
Science can be extremely entertaining, as any long time fan of popular shows like Mythbusters can attest. The same chemistry and physics that students may find completely un-engaging in a school setting may be enthralling when it’s put to practical use with fun projects like slime, cola and Mentos fountains, and other hands- on activities.
4M offer an array of builds that can let kids feel like a sci-fi action hero, but some of their best kits are uber-practical, like this water filter and purification project. Help kids understand the water table, the pressures of pollution, and the intense energy requirements that supplying households with water, something so ubiquitous that most American’s don’t spend any time on an average day considering where it comes from, and how it arrived in our tap.
A Toy of the Year and Parents Choice Award winner, Yellow Scope is working to break the gender barrier in STEM education, so girls stay interested in math and science throughout their school years. They currently offer five kits, so if this is a hit you have multiple birthdays and holidays worth of experiments to follow up with. Make sure you pair it with a lab coat!
This DIY planetarium is a fun build for detail-oriented older children who enjoy complex puzzle and model work. The glow in the dark paint means the finished build is an entertaining piece of decor, and it’s a unique gift for children with an interest in astronomy that already have all the telescope related apparatus they could ever need.
So, this build is incredibly cool, but it is also best suited to very patient kids or families used to complex builds and parental supervision. As a way of teaching older kids the basics of levers, fulcrums, cams, pulleys, and other important concepts it’s a good early step. Kids and teens with high level interests in mechanical engineering, architecture, and construction will find this a stepping stone to complex builds like homemade drones.
Transform your existing Lego stash into Rube Goldberg machines with this extremely versatile kit that encourages creativity and imagination. Master friction, gravity, and more with a build set that rewards kids for taking new approaches and seeking out inventive solutions to problems.
From 4M’s award-winning Green Science series, this multiple experiment set teaches about environmental sciences, from plant growth to lightning to the greenhouse effect. Your mini meteorologists will love mastering new knowledge and making their own indoor weather forecasts with accuracy.
Everything the aspiring mad scientist needs to plot their world takeover. Conduct experiments, collect data, and compare results with the extensive collective of experiment cards. Free of dangerous chemicals, there is nevertheless tons of fizzy, bubbling chaos to be created with this kit.