MEL Science for Budding Chemists – Good, but Pricey

MEL Science for Budding Chemists – Good, but Pricey

MEL Science is a subscription service that we were gifted for a few months and, for ages, didn’t get around to using (for one reason or another) so we had a bit of a stockpile. When we eventually got around to using them we enjoyed following the experiments.

 

The first box we used was “Flame” which was “pretty cool”. Think different coloured flames, some whooshing, smoke and some classic magnesium burning action. I used this with three 10 year olds and they were able to follow the instructions to be able to do the different activities but some of the explanations went way over their heads. But they had fun and enjoyed science.

 

The other boxes were good, but not as engaging as “Flame”. That said we were using one kit for three children and they were taking turns to do the activities. I also probably didn’t make enough of the VR glasses and app that you can use alongside the experiments.

 

A definite plus is that when you start the subscription, you get a free starter kit. This contains some mini stoves, conical jars, beakers, safety glasses and the like – very useful if you want to do other experiments of your own! Also, each subscription kit comes with everything you need for all of the activities and, additionally, disposable gloves. The instructions are step by step and well presented.  Another plus is that everything can be disposed of in your normal bins or down the sink when you’ve finished experimenting.

 

One of my slight gripes with this subscription service is that while it is possible that one or two children can successfully use the kit, any more and there’s not a lot to do. Some experiments can be repeated because there are enough resources, but that’s not always the case. It is expensive at nearly £30 a month and it feels like you should get more “bang for your buck”. However,  I don’t know the cost of all the chemicals and equipment that you get sent through. 

 

This was good to do with our little group of 10 year olds, but I think an older individual 11+ may find it more interesting and beneficial to run alongside other science learning. In summary: good but pricey.

South West Science School – GCSE Physics

South West Science School – GCSE Physics

My son is currently doing iGCSE physics course (they also have biology, chemistry and dual science, plus A levels). Once you have paid you gain access to the site and the whole course. You can work through at your own pace. My son is doing one module each week which generally consists of a teaching video between 20 – 45mins, sometimes a few extra YouTube videos which are short), an online assessment (on average about 15 questions) and sometimes an assignment to print out which has exam style questions.  Every so often there is a mock exam paper which has about 4 questions on and laid out exactly the same as an exam question would be. The mock exams and print out assignments all come with answer sheets. Once a week there is an option to log in to a live Facebook session where the course leader takes questions and work through problems with the students. 

Once you have got your head around the set up, which I confess took me a little time (although the SWSS were amazing in helping me set up), it is fantastic. My son is finding the teaching videos engaging, he is definitely challenged by the course but we did start this september when he was 13 (so in theory he should have started next year). However, he has stayed on target and reviewing the sessions he has already done this year at present and really seeing he has learnt a lot. 

The SWSS are great at responding to questions and have been very supportive for us on our journey. My understanding is that we have to organise the exam centre and pay for the exam when we reach that stage.