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Snot in a Box Review by Tammy Walker

By B.K. Hixson
Loose in the Lab: Seriously Funny Science
9462 South 560 West
Sandy, Utah 84070

The Loose in the Lab creators certainly know how to grab the attention of young science hopefuls. With kit names like "Snot in a Box," "Giant Volcano," "Shark Tooth Stew," and "Stink Bombs & Sewer Maggots," who wouldn't be interested? The website boasts at least 17 all-inclusive science kits, as well as many individual chemicals and paraphernalia needed to do a variety of science experiments. If hands-on science is at all interesting to you, you will find the website a great resource.

The Snot in a Box kit contains all the ingredients necessary to create goopy and disgusting scientific reactions. Designed for two students, grades 3-6, the kit promises three hours of memorable fun working with and studying colloids and polymers. The instruction booklet is very thorough (and yet fun) and includes a list of materials included in the kit, detailed pages on lab safety, and explanations told in a humorous manner at the end of each experiment (so students will know, chemically, what they have just done).

The Experiments:

Snot in a Box: mix a polyvinyl alcohol solution with a sodium tetraborate solution to make slime resembling snot.

Paperclip Polymers: work with paperclips and a plastic bag to understand the nature of polymers.

Guar Gum Goobers: mix guar gum powder and sodium tetraborate to make a rubbery blob of colloid (a mixture of two compounds).

Coffee Cup Catastrophe: watch Styrofoam melt using acetone.

Persnickety Ghost Poop: see how packing peanuts react when bathed in acetone.

Thyxophyllic Goo: mix cornstarch and water to get a semi-liquid/semi-solid mixture.

Polymerized Horse Hooves: mix good old-fashioned glue (horse hooves) and borax to produce a rubbery mixture that bounces.

Paper Rubber Molecule: create a rubber molecule model with paper, scissors, and tape.

Make Your Own Bouncy Balls: everything is included.

Orange Sorbet: create a huge pile of orange bubbles using aluminum sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, detergent, and food coloring. Yum!

Foam Gnomes: watch how stiff rubbery foam grows using polyurethane.

The Loose in the Lab creators seem interested in making science fun for young minds. The Snot in a Box kit is particularly interesting for elementary-aged children who are more kinesthetic learners, who like getting their hands dirty while learning. Many of the chemicals, when mixed, are perfectly safe to be handled (which makes the experimentation even more fun). Additionally, the follow-up explanation and instruction is light-hearted, and sometimes plain silly. I learned much more about polymers and colloids than I ever did while in school. Even more valuable to busy homeschoolers is the fact that EVERYTHING is included! No running to the hardware store or drugstore. And no need to do research on the terms used, as the booklet is very instructive. This kit, which retails for $31.75, would be a fun summer or winter break project. Kids are bored? Give them a kit to work on. Enjoy your Snot in a Box.

Product review by Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2009