Review: Letterbox Lab – Explore Box 9 Chain Reactions

This month’s Letterbox Lab is called Chain Reactions! My lovely helper is my daughter, Little C, who is seven. I was sent an Explore Box, which is perfectly designed for her age group. It costs £8 + £ p+p. More subscription details are at the end of the review.Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

I like the look of this month’s experiments!

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

First of all, Make It Snow. We’ve not had any actual snow this year, so this is nice and seasonal!

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

We measured out some of the sodium polyacrylate (which looked like white powder) and then added water. 

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

And look what it turned into! It really does look like snow, though fortunately doesn’t feel like it.

The next experiment was called Disappearing Water. It uses more of the sodium polyacrylate, and this one is really cool. 

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

Instead of taking pictures, I just videoed it instead. Take a look!

It worked perfectly and looked great!

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

Next up was an experiment which was designed perfectly to appeal to children: Squirmy Worms!

This one was in two parts.Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

First, mixing up some slimy sludge from water and sodium alginate. 

This had to be left to sit for an hour, so we had lunch!

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

Then we mixed up the calcium lactate into some water.

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

Then came the really fun part. 

We used the pipette to squirt the sludge into the bowl of calcium lactate solution.

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

You couldn’t see what was into the bowl, but then…

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

It turned into slimy, squishy worms!

As you can see, Little C enjoyed this tremendously.

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

Slimy, squishy fun!

The last experiment, Crystal Balls, also required some preparation.

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

The preparation itself was very simple.

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

The little water beads had to be left to soak in water for an hour. We actually prepared it right after we did the sludge preparation for Squirmy Worms, and left it over lunch.

After spending some time playing with the worms, we took a look at the glass of water beads.

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

You can just barely see some circles in the glass.

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

Here they were! Beautiful soft little crystal balls! This was really magical, seeing those tiny water beads increased so much in size.

A little vial of blue food colouring was also included, so we mixed it into water and added more beads.

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

And they turned blue! So pretty and incredibly effective. 

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

This box was absolutely incredible. The mess factor was just right, the results were very impressive, and there were plenty of extra bits to use again!

The Snow was a lot of fun (we’ve still got the extra to make another time). This, I think, is actually very similar to the artificial snow you see being sold. There was a stall selling it at our local Christmas market, little vials of white powder that magically swelled up into snow when you added water. Little C looked at it longingly many times, so this was a lovely surprise!

The Disappearing Water was a great trick! It’s simple but very effective.

Crystal Balls was again very simple, but very enjoyable. We have another package of beads, so I’ll buy some different food colouring and make more. We’ve got the little balls in a plastic box, so we’re keeping an eye on them to see what happens to them over the days. Little C thought they might shrink back, so we’ll see!

The most enjoyable was, of course Squirmy Worms! Not only does it also have dramatic results, the tactile nature of the worms made it even better. Little C spent ages squeezing and playing, and making as many worms as she could. 

The one thing I thought (and this is an observation, not a criticism) was that some of the actual ‘science’ part of this box was perhaps a little bit advanced. 

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

The expanding water beads and snow were very simple, but I think that the reason behind the worms was still a little too complex.

That being said, this is something that will come up in science class in the future, and there will be a little echo there. I also think that just the process of mixing stuff and seeing something change is important for learning and discovery, so I’m still incredibly happy with this!

One thing that I thought was incredibly thoughtful was the proper kid-sized gloves included. As soon as she put them on, Little C commented that they fitted her, so extra points to Letterbox Lab for thinking that one through! 

Little C enjoyed herself immensely.( OK, I admit I played with the worms too, they were brilliant.)

 

Oh, one other thing. There was a little extra gift in the box for getting the Gold Explorer Certificate.

Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

Isn’t that a wonderful thing for a child to have? Fossilized dinosaur poo! Little C decided immediately that she would be taking it to her next Show and Tell at school. Letterbox Lab Review Science Subscription Box Kids 9 Chain Reactions

See other Letterbox Lab reviews here.

Letterbox Lab provide innovative children’s science kits as subscription boxes.

The Explore Box (£8 + £2 postage) is for kids aged 6+ and contains a least an hour’s worth of fun science.

The Investigate Box (£22 + £2 postage) for kids aged 8+ has more experiments and more items of collectible lab equipment with enough to keep a junior scientist busy for 3 or 4 hours.

Both kits have full-colour illustrated instructions and online videos to make it easy to do all the experiments.

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A different version of this review was first published on allsubscriptionboxes.co.uk.