Austin has let us know his first career ambition. He wants to be a paleontologist.
His bedroom wall is decorated with dinosaur posters. For his second birthday, he requested a dinosaur-themed party. And now, as a reward for being kind towards his sister, he is given a weekly treat of a book from the Dinosaur Cove range. They’re so precious to him that he stores them in the top drawer of his cupboard, rather than with all the other commonplace reads on his bookshelf.
Austin’s itching to begin his career as a scientist. He’s always asking to do some experiments (which, I have to say, I know little about. I remember something about bunsen burners from my own school days, but I don’t think it would be wise to unleash my four-year-old on one of those….).
So we were delighted when Learning Resources asked us to review some products from their Primary Science range.
The Lab Set has plenty in it to keep curious minds occupied: 12 pieces of kit, which are sturdy and easy for little hands to grasp. The bold primary colours are a good alternative to a lot of the hideously gendered stuff that’s out there, and it comes with a chart explaining what each piece is (I didn’t know the correct names for all of them). So you can discuss the tools of the scientist’s trade with your child before you get going on any experiments.
Best of all, the set includes step-by-step cards describing easy experiments. These were spot-on in the amount of information they gave: only a small bit about the science behind the experiment, which was perfect for Austin. He was most interested in what was happening when he carried out the experiments, not how it happened (though I’m sure requests for more detailed explanations will come later).
We tried the mini volcano experiment first. For this one, Austin needed to wear the goggles, which prompted much excitement about how he needed to ‘protect his eyes from danger’.
First, he added water to the beaker.
Then, a couple of teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda.
Next came the fun part: Austin used the eye dropper to transfer the vinegar and food dye into the bicarbonate of soda mixture.
There weren’t enough bubbles for his liking, so he added a bit more vinegar….
then, the whole lot went in.
Whoompf! An eruption worthy of the Jurassic Era.
We also tried the shiny penny experiment, where you put one penny in water, the other in lemon juice.
We were instructed to leave the pennies for ten minutes; while we were waiting, we decided to try out the Primary Science metal detector, which we had also been sent.
The metal detector is chunky; very easy for children to grasp. It has a dial which you have to calibrate when you switch it on, which is a bit fiddly, but Austin seems to have worked out how to operate it unaided.
Any metal in the mint?
No, but the garden shed lock produced a piercing beep.
These pieces of science equipment are good value, and they’re not in the slightest bit flimsy, so they should last well beyond the point when Austin’s outgrown them. Their sturdiness is a virtue, except for one aspect: the red tweezers, which the experiment cards tell you to use for taking items out of the test tubes, are so chunky they don’t actually fit into those test tubes. And some of the measurements on the cards needed interpretation rather than following to the letter: for instance, we had to add a lot more vinegar to the bicarbonate before it ‘erupted’, and the pennies needed to stay in the water and lemon juice for longer than ten minutes before we could notice any difference in shininess.
These are minor points, though. And – as Austin said, unprompted by me (*proud face*) – part of the science was in working out exactly how long we needed to leave the pennies in the liquid, and how much vinegar to add.
Austin’s gearing up to discover his first dinosaur bone before his next birthday, so watch this space….you heard it here first.
If you liked the look of these, why not check out my review of the Learning Resources Geosafari Jr Talking Microscope and Animal Eye Viewers; or their Buggy Balance measurement set, Shapes Don’t Bug Me geometry set, and Primary Science Discovery Lab.
Disclosure: we were sent a Primary Science Lab Kit and metal detector for the purpose of this review, but all views are my own.