Science Kits Delivered to Your Door
Recently when I was assigned to teach space science in addition to my life science courses I was less then pleased. With a degree in Animal Behavior I was not conversant nor comfortable with the topic. Like many teachers with specific degrees we are asked to dive into the unfamiliar. Fellow teachers are often the best resource. Being able to connect with an expert in the field would also be fantastic.
Although monthly science kits are meant for individuals at home to enjoy, I found the recent Neil deGrasse Tyson curated Maker Box perfect for my classroom. These mini activities would hook the students, grabbing their attention as we explored the next benchmark.
These programs are like magazines, but instead of receiving words on a page, subscribers receive actual items that tell a compelling story designed by a curator.
Every quarter, the Maker Box is delivered directly to subscribers’ doors filled with challenging DIY and STEM project ideas, kits, tools and more for makers of all ages and skill levels.
The value of tangible interactions that happen in the real world are crucial in creating buy-in with my students. The real-world application part of the box is the best quality.
While I received a science themed kit, there are other categories. So, what exactly do you get in a Maker Box? Here is an excerpt from their website:
A blend of original, exclusive, and consumer items. We like objects that are timeless, practical and exciting, and fly under the radar. We don’t want to fill up your house with clutter, and we’re mindful of the waste that each of us generates every day. But we also recognize the value of making smarter choices about the things we surround ourselves with.
Each product will reflect on the person who selected it, and help inform your understanding of them. So maybe you’ll get the same kind of notebook that your favorite author used to plot her recent bestseller. Or maybe it’s the tea a musician was drinking while he penned a famous track. Or perhaps it’s a secret family cold remedy an artist used while working on a masterpiece. The point is, every object—while uniquely brilliant in its function—will also have a story, and through that story take on new meaning.
The seismic accelerator activity included a teacher’s guide and was greatly appreciated. It offered discussion questions, goals and objectives. Discussing the Law of Conservation of Energy in a 4-5 care pile up on the road and then relating it to the ball rockets bouncing up to 5x higher than the original drop will certainly get your kids engaged.
I also enjoyed the Yardstick Eclipse activity which included a link to the full lesson. The idea is for subscribers to create a model to show how an eclipse works out of a yardstick, binder clips, toothpicks and small spheres. Something many teachers could duplicate to get each student or table to work on.
In this issue each box also included a mug featuring Cygnus, The Swan constellation, a Galileoscope, eclipse shades, a Sudoku like space puzzle and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book Astrophysics for Peope in a Hurry.
The 222 page book includes 12 chapters exploring the nature of space and time and how we fit within the universe. I could hear Tyson’s prominent voice when I read the book. As a middle school teacher I thought this collection of materials was perfect for them. The cost of the quarterly Maker Box is $99. Other programs range from $49 and up.
If you are looking for a monthly science kit for ages 7-14 check out Spangler Science Club.
The club was designed to inspire the next generation of scientists. Their products feature cool hands-on science experiments and inquiry-based activities designed by Steve Spangler. Spangler is a frequent guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show where he takes classroom science experiments to the extreme. He’s a former classroom teacher, best-selling author, two-time Emmy winner, holds a Guinness World Record for the Largest Physics Experiment and will do anything possible to make science fun.
Spangler is probably best known for his Mentos and Diet Coke geyser experiment that went viral in 2005 and taught millions of people how to turn an ordinary bottle of Diet Coke and a roll of Mentos into an erupting soda geyser.
I recently played with their STEM Lab Deluxe Water Wizardry Kit. In addition to a beautiful Lab Report booklet for the student, the kit comes with an adult guide and of course all the chemicals and equipment needed.
The adult guide (answer booklet) gives adult descriptions of the activities, much needed definitions (who remembers what a polymer is?) and guiding questions. Another beneficial tool in the book, which is greatly appreciated by teachers, is how long each experiment will take.
Possibly the best quality of this monthly science kit is that Spangler created the experiments and cool toys. When you watch him on the news or with Ellen Degeneres his enjoyment of science is contagious. These experiments, like the many polymers included in this kit, may leave your house or classroom a bit messy. But your kids will have had fun and covertly learned something.
These science kits save you time and money, by not having to research materials and buy the equipment and supplies individually. Open the boxes up and be ready to experiment. Science literacy is now entertaining and available at your door.