We have a problem at my house. See, I think science is very interesting, but could fit everything I know on the topic in an acorn; my nine-year-old son, Josiah, thinks science is the most fascinating thing on the planet and can run rings around most college students on the topic. So how am I supposed to teach my son anything about science or put together experiments that he will enjoy and find educational? Well, Delta Education (www.delta-education.com) has come up with some truly fascinating kits that help to solve this problem! They specialize in making large science kits for classrooms of 30+ students, but also make smaller kits that are perfect for homeschoolers. They sell a huge variety of science supplies for do-it-yourselfers as well. I could get absolutely lost in their wonderful catalog!
We reviewed two of the Science in a Nutshell Kits ($32.98 per kit with nearly 50 different titles to choose from): Weather Wise and Magnet Magic. These kits cover a specific topic with 10 or 11 activities per unit, and are recommended for grades two through six. Each kit comes in a handy plastic box to store the included supplies, Activity Guide book, and three Activity Journals. Virtually all of the supplies needed for the experiments are included in the kits. I liked having everything in one place and not having to scrounge around to find a rain gauge, ring magnet, etc., to purchase somewhere. After seeing all of the great equipment, we couldn't wait to get started on the experiments. The Activity Guides are well thought out, easy to follow, and include detailed instructions for all of the experiments. Each of the activities take about 15 to 20 minutes, including time for the child to record their results in the excellent Activity Journals. The kits have enough journals and supplies for three children, but could easily be stretched to more if needed. The equipment is good quality and can be used again for other experiments in the future. The experiments are interesting and easy to do, with lots of diagrams and helpful information in "Cracking the Nut," "In a Nutshell," and "Safety Nut" boxes.
For the Magnet Magic kit, we learned how to magnetize paperclips, learned about the magnetic field around objects, made paperclips levitate, made magnetic bumper cars, and made a compass boat. For the Weather Wise kit we learned about the various types of weather, started keeping a weather log, and made several types of equipment to study the weather, such as a mirror that helps determine wind direction, a rain gauge, a weather vane, a sling psychrometer, and an air mass model. Even my scientist-son learned some things he didn't know before and enjoyed the experiments. I think these kits not only do an excellent job of teaching specific science topics, but also provide some practice in basic scientific and critical-thinking skills, such as keeping accurate records and working through complex problems.
We also reviewed a number of Delta Science Readers ($4.95 each) which are 16-page books covering small science topics, such as Weather Instruments, Using Your Senses, States of Matter, Force and Motion, and Simple Machines. These readers were designed to be used with the Delta Science Modules, which are classroom science kits, similar to the Science in a Nutshell kits. However, these readers would be an excellent introduction or supplement for homeschoolers who want to focus on a particular topic. They are for grades K-8, with different topics for different grade levels. While I thought the price was a bit high, we enjoyed these brief books with their vivid pictures and illustrations, clear and interesting text, and wonderful overviews of various topics. One of my favorite things about this company was a note inside the kits that gave the name of the person who built the kit "with pride" and gave a phone number to call if you were not satisfied or were missing any parts. I love companies that show confidence in their products and staff! If you and your kids like science, you will love Delta Education!