Create a Rube Goldberg-style Lego Sequence with Klutz’s Chain Reaction!

 


Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit

Legos are a long-standing favorite here among the Scientist Approved team. Being able to build a lego Batmobile or Star Wars Death Star makes Lego transcen81rw4Bh+NAL._SL1500_d ages. Of course, some of those sets are pretty expensive, and the truly best part about Legos is the ability to make your own creations with the parts available to you, where your imagination is the limit. If you ever feel you or your kids hitting a wall with your Lego building, check out this Chain Reactions kit from Klutz. Taking inspiration from the creative, yet complex, creations of Rube Goldberg, expand your imagination with some clever engineering to generate machine sequences of your own with Legos! String together some of the ‘reactions’ in this kit to create sequences that will wow your friends and family.  This kit comes with instructions for several examples, paper ramps, string, lego pieces, and anything else you’ll need to create creations to spur the imagination. Recommended for ages 8 and up.

Classic TV Series Batmobile

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At-Home Experiments: Fun kits to try

When my girls were younger, one of my favorite boredom killers/fun activities to do was conduct fun experiments. I wasn’t necessarily teaching the heavy duty science but, they did learn some cool concepts by doing these experiments with me. One of my favorite kits has to be the Be Amazing Lab-in-a-Bag Test Tube Wonders! It was relatively cheap and came with 15 possible experiments. The bag does say it is for ages 8 and up but from experience I can say it works best for kids between 5 – 8 years of age. After 8, these simple experiments aren’t going to be as fascinating.

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Be Amazing Lab-in-a-Bag Test Tube Wonders

This kit comes with polyacrylamide beads that turn into awesome crystals. The girls really enjoyed waking up the next day and seeing their tiny beads turn into huge crystals.

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Drying their crystals!

You can also make fake snow, a lava test tube, and play with the magic sand that stays dry no in water. My favorite thing about this set is that several, not all, of the experiments, can be saved to use again at a later time. The girls would bring out the kit anytime they had playdates. I highly recommend this set! You can buy it on Amazon.

They also have a kit that contains more activities. If my girls were still between 5-8, I would definitely try this out.

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Be Amazing Toys Big Bag Of Science +70 Activities

Another cool kit to try is the Scientific Explorer Mind Blowing Science kit. It is in between the two I mentioned above in that, you get 20 experiments similar to the ones you would find in Lab in a bag , the first kit I mentioned.

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Scientific Explorer Mind Blowing Science

Find more fun activities for you kids here

At-home Experiment: Alter Your Taste Perception

Looking for a cool science experiment to do at home or for an outreach project? Try mberry Fruit Tablets!

mBerries are a product made from ‘miracle berries’. These berries contain miraculin. This protein selectively binds to sweet receptors on the tongue and cause fruits that would normally be sour, actually taste sweet. The effect is reported to last up to an hour, but in our experience, it lasts about a half hour and can be affected by drinking water after having them.

Materials needed:papillae-of-tongue-e1458050293421

mberry Fruit Tablets

Foods that are bitter, sour, or sweet (lemon, lime, cheese, grapefruit, pineapple, kiwi)

Cups of water to drink

Activity:

  1. Cut foods into pieces and have kid(s) try each one and classify the taste. Is it sweet? Bitter?
  2. Be sure to record observations!
  3. Follow instructions on mberry Fruit Tablets packet: Place one pill on the tongue and let it dissolve. NO CHEWING!!
  4. Once dissolved, have kid(s) try foods again and re-classify the taste. Make sure they drink WATER between each food. Their answers should be different!

Lesson:

How do we taste?

Receptors inside the taste buds on our tongues catch chemicals from things we eat.

There are different types of receptors.

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These receptors send signals to our brains to tell us exactly what kind of taste we are experiencing.

How do mberry Fruit Tablets change our taste?

Chemicals from the pill get stuck to the sweet receptors and take a long time to come off. This way, your tongue is only tasting the sweet receptor, no matter what you eat!

Try this fun experiment with your kids! You can buy mberry Fruit Tablets on Amazon!

*We have done this activity several times during out outreach events. It is safe for kids!

Toys that Teach – Ages 24 Months and Under


VTech Click and Count Remote is a nifty device to keep the lil one entertained by giving them lights to look at, buttons to press, and sounds to listen to. However, how will this most likely be used? As a chew toy. That’s what babies typically do with these flashy things. There is a “Limited Edition” of this chew toy,I mean learning device, available. It plays over 45 songs and given that it is shaped like a tv remote, which admittingly irked me when I first saw it, there are 9 channels to “surf” through. Why did this irk me? I originally felt like it was encouraging kids to learn how to use the tv but, toddlers naturally want to play with adult toys, i.e. remote control, cell phone, or wine glass…

LeapFrog Scout’s Learning Lights Remote is a similar product and essentially performs the same functions and serves the same purpose but THIS one come with 65 songs! As a mom of former toddlers, I can guarantee that doesn’t really matter since kids tend to fixate on 1 or 2 songs and play those on repeat for HOURS.

What if you have a kid who seems to think your cell phone is the most interesting thing in the world, second only to their feet?

VTech Touch and Swipe Baby Phone is similar to the two products above but allows kids to imitate mom and/or dad using their “super cool talk box with people inside” (this is what my daughter used to call it). It’s touch screen. One problem I eventually had with my tiny scientists is, they figured out this phone was a ruse! I tried to trick them by changing it up and purchasing the Fisher-Price Elmo’s World Talking Cell Phone which resembles a flip phone and they loved it! Something about flipping open a phone delighted them. However, this was also when Elmo’s World was super popular. So if you want a play phone that is a bit more realistic, go for the VTech Call and Chat Learning Phone. Kids can add up to 5 family members into their phonebook to “pretend” call. There are also 10 realistic apps which might just trick the smartest of little einsteins into using their own phone and learn numbers and letter.

Who doesn’t love magnets! I was fascinated with them as a kid! What would have blown my mind more than Magnetic Building Blocks?!?813Ui7OnPuL._SL1500_

Not only does this toy teach kids about magnetic forces, it encourages their creativity, a trait that is vital in the STEM field. There is a misconception that science doesn’t require creativity but, that is WRONG. The great thing about these is that toddlers, kids, and adults will want to build crazy contraptions with these.

Find more options for your toddler here

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books for Tiny Wonderers

For older children, stimulating interest in the sciences can be difficult, as by those ages the topics become intimidating and a chore. As with most things, its best to get started early, by exposing children to topics with wide appeal that lead towards STEM. Space, animals, and dinosaurs, are all things we are frequently fascinated with as children and it is often these things that drive us to explore the world through books and knowledge. The National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book series is a great way to get children reading and learning about all sorts of things. Watch as they wow you with facts ranging from dinosaurs to black holes!

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National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why (National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books)
Price*: $9.79 Hardcover (Amazon)

As a parent, those questions about why something is this or that are often the ones that can stump you. Why is sky blue? Why do planes fly when they are so big? Maybe you know the answer, but sometimes it can be difficult to explain to a young one. The Big Book of Why tackles many of these questions in a way that is easy to digest for young children. Who knows, odds are there will be something to learn for even adults within these pages!


National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of How (National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books)
Price*: $10.00 Hardcover (Amazon)

Like the Big Book of Why, the Big Book of How takes on the question of how things work, and with children there are many! Knowledge is power, and empowering children with knowing how things work can inspire confidence in both their schoolwork and life, as it takes out some of the world’s uncertainty. Written to be engaging and funny, kids will be looking over this one over and over.


National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean (National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books)
Price*: $9.52 Hardcover (Amazon)

On this Earth, few things are as mysterious as the ocean, and this book helps dispel some of these mysteries by shedding light on the expansive environments that make up the ocean waters. Learning about both well-known and obscure creatures will rouse any child’s curiosity about this exciting world!

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National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals (National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books)
Price*: $9.52 Hardcover (Amazon)

For those with a passion for animals, they might want to begin with Big Book of Animals! With information on several animals from all walks of life, these books are informative and easy to read, and this instance makes a great entry into the series.


National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs (National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books)
Price*: $12.61 Hardcover (Amazon)

How many of us spent time outdoors searching for ladybugs and roly polys? For those with an interest in the creepy and crawly, check out the Big Book of Bugs!


National Geographic Kids First Big Book of Space (National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books)1
Price*: $9.77 Hardcover (Amazon)

Learning about the universe can be humbling and also inherently magical, as some concepts, such as the size of some planets, distances between galaxies, and how far comets travel can be mind-boggling. This book helps make some of these concepts accessible and fun. After going through the Big Book of Space, your child will be the acting astronomer in your household!


National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs (National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books)
Price*: $9.22 Hardcover (Amazon)

Back when I was a child, I couldn’t get enough of dinosaurs. And if this book were around, it’d definitely be a part of my collection! The Big Book of Dinosaurs will teach children about many dinosaurs, including teaching you how to pronounce some of those difficult names (I sure had difficulty with some of those names). A great gift for any young dinosaur fanatic.

Best Microscopes to Buy For Kids!!

The invention of the microscope changed the way we look at our world. By allowing us to see what we could not with our naked eye, it was as though a new universe were unveiled. In our modern world, we now have entire fields of science devoted to studying this tiny world, with a multitude of microscope types to help view it. With microscopes nowadays being more accessible than ever, with several affordable options and applications, you too can get a glimpse of the microscopic world.

When looking at microscopes, it is helpful to know what makes it work. Typically, one looks through an eyepiece, which is linked to an objective lens, the component which does the magnifying. Microscopes can come in compound, stereo, or digital varieties, which differ in how these pieces are arranged. In compound microscopes, there are either one or two eyepieces that look through the same objective lens. They are the most common type of microscope, many allowing for very high magnification, mostly suited to viewing items on glass slides or petri/culture dishes. Stereo microscopes use two objective lenses, one for each eyepiece, giving you depth perception you can’t get with a compound microscope. Stereo microscopes are also known as dissecting microscopes, as their low magnification and dual-objective perspective makes them ideal for magnifying larger objects which you’d like to see in more detail. Digital microscopes are used to display an image on a monitor, rather than looking through a lens.

Here we compiled a some great options for entry-level microscopes that will allow you to look at the world on the tiniest of levels.


My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope – MFL-06
Purchase on Amazon

The Duo-Scope from My First Lab is a compound microscope that comes with 3 objective lenses allowing for different levels of magnification (40x, 100x, 400x). It can be converted to function like a dissecting scope (like stereo microscopes), allowing you to view larger, whole objects not on slides. With no cords, it offers portability and it also comes with several accessor903513_10200741849766571_2094569790_oies such as blank slides and cover slips, along with stains, and more to allowing you to prepare your own samples for viewing under the microscope. Makes a great microscope starter.

My girls absolutely loved it! Purchased it as a birthday gift and it was the hit of the party!


AMSCOPE-KIDS M30-ABS-KT2-W Microscope Kit with Metal Arm and Base, 6 Magnifications from 20x to 1200x, Includes 52-Piece Accessory Set and Case, Awarded The 2016 Top Pick of Microscopes For Beginners
Purchase on Amazon

The Kids M30-ABS-KT2-W Microscope from AmScope is a compound microscope with 3 available objectives allowing for magnification up to 300x, 600x, and 1200x. This microscope, along with providing levels of high magnification, also comes with a huge amount of accessories to expand your use of the microscope. From blank slides, already prepared slides with stained samples, and even brine shrimp (Sea Monkeys!) eggs for you to watch hatch and grow, it provides several ways for you to enjoy your microscope. A fantastic value.

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AMSCOPE-KIDS M30-ABS-KT51 120x-1200x 6-Powers Metal Frame & Base with 52-pc Accessories, Among the TOP 3 PICKS of the Best Student Beginner Microscope Kit in 2016, Recommended by Multi Organizations
Purchase on Amazon

And it also comes in black!

AmScope AWARDED 2016 BEST STUDENT MICROSCOPE 40X-1000X Dual Light Optical Glass Lens All-Metal Framework Student Microscope + Microscope Prepared and Blank Slides
Purchase on Amazon

Another entry level compound microscope, this kit comes with 3 objective lenses, and two levels of eyepiece magnification, giving you up to 5 levels of magnification (40x, 100x, 250x, 400x, & 1000x). In addition, has several accessories, such as 5 blank and 5 prepared sample slides, to allow you full enjoyment of your microscope. It also comes with a book with information about microscopes to help spur your imagination and open the microscopic possibilities available to you.


AMSCOPE-KIDS SE100ZZ-LED Portable LED Stereo Microscope with 20X and 50X Magnifications

So far all the microscopes we have presented have been of the compound variety, with a single objective, although some also come with lighting options to allow you to use them as in a manner similar to stereo microscopes. However, the AmScope SE100ZZ is a true stereo microscope, with two objective lenses, and 2 levels of magnification (20x and 50x), allowing you to view greater detail of objects that aren’t suited to being mounted under a slide coverslip. Take just about anything that fits on the microscope stage and get a new perspective that you’d is sure to expand your mind. Ideal for those with high levels of curiosity about the world around them, this quality microscope is a great entry level alternative to a compound scope.

Best Board Games to Teach Kids Coding

What’s so important about coding?

Coding literally means the transformation of data into a form understandable by a computer – basically, telling the computer what you want it to do. Coding also factors into some everyday tasks that people perform without a second thought: for instance, programming a microwave to heat yesterday’s leftovers, or entering numbers into a calculator in a specific order. Coding today may not always look like the routine programming of the past. It can be active, visual, engaging, and most importantly, fun!

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Learning Resources Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set
Purchase on Amazon

If you’re looking to introduce your children to coding concepts at an early age, this Robot Mouse set is perfect for kids as young as 5 years old! With it, they will begin to understand how to implement the logic of coding rules to guide Colby, a programmable robot mouse, through a maze of your own creation. Mazes come chock full of obstacles that you will have to get around. Can be combined with other sets, and with multiple sets children will be able to challenge others to mouse maze races and other activities.  Colby can be programmed to follow up to 40 steps, allowing for great flexibility and creative options. A great introduction to coding for children!

ROBOT WARS Coding Board Game – Learn and Play with Computer Programming. Geeky STEM Toy and Gift for Boys and Girls ages 7 years and up. No Prior Coding Skills Required

Purchase on Amazon

Understanding programming languages and the logic they use is a very valuable skill to develop in today’s world. Growing up surrounded by computers, many will take to wanting to get a better handle on programs and apps work. With ROBOT WARS, both kids and adults can get introduced to programming logic and coding basics!

ROBOT WARS is a board game which utilizes Java commands, in plain English, to control robots, which are used to destroy opposing robots and gain control of the board. With gameplay for up to 4 players, it is a great board game to enjoy while also picking up coding principles. As it requires a strategy for success, this game is best suited to ages 7 and up.

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Littlecodr – Kids Coding Game
Purchase on Amazon

This card game began its life as a Kickstarter project. This simple game uses programming and coding concepts to program friends and family to do all sorts of fun crazy actions! A great game for all ages, with something to learn for everyone.

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Robot Turtles Game
Purchase on Amazon

Another Kickstarter game, this board game is one of the first to pioneer coding concepts in a fun package to allow kids to learn programming while also having fun. Using cards, kids will write programs to control turtles, and there is great replayability with several game difficulties and levels of code complexity. With gameplay for up to 5 players, this is a game the whole family can enjoy, while also learning something new.

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CodingFarmers by MathAndCoding.org
Purchase on Amazon

Coding Farmers is board game which, like ROBOT WARS, utilizes Java language to create a game that is both engaging and challenging. With several difficulties to choose from, children will understand how to use programming language and how it can make software programs function. Each action in this game is a Java command, meaning with repeated play, players will become proficient in simple programming language! This makes it especially fun for not just children, but adults also interested in learning alongside their kids.

Best Snap Circuit Kits

What are snap circuits?

In today’s age, having a grasp of electricity and how it is utilized by the machines we use every day is a valuable skill that is often overlooked. Electricity is harnessed in circuits, where an electrical stream flows, guided by switches and detours to power our phones and turn inputs, like keyboard presses, into action. Snap circuit kits teach the most basic principles underlying this machinery, showing children how to build a path for electricity to flow, how to utilize switches and sensors to create sound or ignite a lightbulb. The best part about these kits is that often there is much to learn from parents as well. We hope you’ll enjoy these as much as we do!

 

 


Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit
Purchase on Amazon

This kit is extremely popular amongst STEM educators. We have used them on several occasions during outreach events or STEM workshops! This kit comes with 30 parts that have the potential of creating 100 projects for kids in grades 2 and up to engage in. This kit will provide hands-on experience and give kids the chance to snap together parts to create a photo sensor, flashing light, and more. It does require 2 AA batteries (sold separately).

This was awarded The National Parenting Center-Seal of Approval, Dr. Toy 100 Best Children’s Products, and Dr Toy Best Educational Products.

here is also a 300 piece kit available

 


Snap Circuits Motion Electronics Discovery Kit
Purchace on Amazon

Another incredible kit from Snap Circuits. This kit takes the original kit and puts the focus on physics and motion. 50 parts can turn into 165 educational projects, such as creating an Optical Theremin, a Voice changer, air fountain and more. You can even connect this unit to your smart phone or iPod!

The best part about this kit is that you can use snap parts from other Snap Circuit kits. This will really allow your child’s imagination to fly!

Recommended for kids ages 8 and up.  Requires four AA batteries (sold separately).

 

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Elenco SCL-175B Snap Circuits Lights Electronics Discovery Kit
Purchase on Amazon

This kit allows you to create over 175 projects including a glow-in-the-dark propeller, color changing LED light, strobe light and more. Honestly, out of all of the Snap Circuits kits, this is the one that draws the most attention during STEM outreach events. Who doesn’t love things that light up or glow-in-the-dark??!

Ages 8 and up and requires four AA batteries, not included.


Snap Circuits Alternative Energy Green
Purchase on Amazon

We think this kit is really cool! Not only do you get to learn about circuits but education concerning renewable energy is included as well! This eco-conscious kit includes 40 parts, combines to make over 125 projects! This kit can also be combined with other kits from Elenco.

From the Manufacturer

Snap Circuits Alternative Energy Kit makes learning about electricity and alternate energy FUN. With over 125 projects to build, youngsters will have endless hours of fun while learning about circuits, electricity, geothermal power and lots more. Contains over 40 parts, including the award-winning Snap Circuits, plus an instruction manual and educational manual that show step-by-step instructions for all the cool stuff you can do. For ages 8-108. Warning: Choking hazard, small parts. For ages 8 and up.