In our house we love the kids to play, and with as little screen time as possible. We do like see them playing with toys that entertain as well as educate and John Adams offer a range of science toys that fit the bill, we have especially liked the Hot Wires electronics kit. The kids have now been off school for months now and it will soon be time to go back, so they really do need to get into a learning mindset. John Adams Toys offer a good range of educational toys including the Secret Science kit that we received for review.
Science is a fascinating subject, and it is not the so-called boring subjects like chemistry or physics, but it is constantly reported that for whatever reason girls do not engage with it as well as other subjects. John Adams Secret Science is a kit that will appeal to girls and hopefully encourage a bigger interest in different sciences – and it goes a lot further than the usual perfume or bath bombs kits I am used to seeing.
The packing for the Secret Science kit is clearly aimed at girls – whilst it comes supplied in a blue box most of the parts and activities are very pink, it has young girl scientists featured on the packing and the experiments will mostly appeal to girls with coding bracelets, heart shaped door guard (looks like a locket) and water fizzers amongst the activities.
The kit contains components for top secret activities:
- Magic Photo Box – frame, lid, insert and mirror
- 2 Coding Bracelets with Code Inserts
- Compact Mirror with Secret Notepad
- Black Light Pen
- Water Fizzer
- Locket Room Guard (this requires 3x LR44 batteries which are included)
- Black Hanging Cord
- Colour Activity Guide with 8 Activities
Please note that some activities require additional household ingredients (not included): 2x AA batteries, sticky tape, kitchen foil, small torch bulb, lemon juice, baking powder, purple grape juice and tonic water.
The John Adams Secret Science kit is ideally for children 8 years plus and has 8 top secret activities to create projects using Optical Illusions, Circuits, Coding and Secret Messaging. Only 6 of the activities require pieces from this kit whilst the other 2 use just the additional household objects/ingredients. It is a great introduction into learning about coding, circuitry, secret messaging and much more! It even supports the National Curriculum so will tie in with things the children will learn at school. Adult supervision will be required for some of the activities.
In the box there is a step-by-step activity guide that takes you through all the science activities, and it is really easy to follow with pictures as well as text instructions. It also contains information on what will happen and how as well as a small introduction about the type of activity, i.e. what an optical illusion is.
We were excited to open the box and get started (the adults just as much as the kids), so we had a read through the activity guide first and decided we would just do the activities in order.
Activity 1 – Magic Photo Money Box. This requires some assembly and can be customised with your own photo. This is an optical illusion activity where a coin is dropped into the top slot and then disappears – you can hear it hit the bottom on the box but can’t see it. The kids really enjoyed this, especially as the kids got us to use our coins and now say that as the coins have “vanished” we can’t get them back – make sure they use their own coins when demonstrating their magic otherwise you could be a bit lighter in the pocket.
Activity 2 – Reversing Arrows. This illusion does not require any pieces from the kit, just everyday household objects. This is a very simple experiment and shows how light refraction works. Simple, interesting to see how it works but one the kids lost interest in extremely quickly.
Activity 3 – Locket Room Guard. This is a heart shaped locket that is a basic motion detector. You can record your own message and when it detects motion the message is played back. No real science task in this as the heart is already assembled apart from the cord and recording a message but the kids enjoy it (We have been finding it on different doors in the house, always with a different message such as “Do not enter my room”).
Activity 4 – Make an Electrical Circuit. This activity is a simple activity to make a simple circuit to light a bulb. The components to do this are just household objects (although we do feel the small bulb could have been included in the kit, but we did have one in our Hot Wires set). Simple to do and one the kids enjoyed doing.
Activity 5 – Making Your Coding Bracelets. This was the kids favourite activity. This is an activity that introduces kids to cryptography (the art and science of concealing messages). This is quick and simple to complete, it has 2 bracelets, and the symbols used are ones found on a phone or tablet (we all know how familiar kids are we these) messages can be typed or written and still decoded by the other wearer of the bracelet.
Activity 6 – Create a Mirror Alphabet. This is basically writing your alphabet letters backwards and using the compact mirror to decode. You can also use the included black light pen to write a message on the mirror leaving it invisible to others until the button on the pen is pressed to light it up.
Activity 7 – Making Invisible Inks. This activity creates shows you how to create three different types of invisible inks – one that is revealed using heat, one that is chemically activated to reveal and one that is light activated. Only one uses a component (black light pen) from this kit but the kids enjoyed leaving secret messages for each other.
Activity 8 – Hidden Message Water Fizzer. Hidden within this water fizzer (not to be used as bath bomb) is a hidden message in a small capsule, drop it in water and leave to fizz to reveal the capsule.
Overall, the kids have enjoyed these activities, especially as they like the idea of having secret messages left around for each other. It has been good seeing them working, playing and learning together whilst having fun doing so.
Whilst the kit does seem to be aimed at girls there is no reason boys can’t, and won’t, play with it. Although we do feel the activities could have been a bit less pink and a mix of colours (pink might put boys off and not all girls love pink) and we feel that it could have contained a mixture of experiments that would appeal to all genders – maybe the coding bracelets could be a coding watch (or both as the bracelet could be adapted to have a removable watch front) etc.
It is a good set to introduce children to STEM activities in a really fun way and it will hopefully engage all children to have a better participation with different sciences. It kept the kids busy, engaged them (and hopefully they have learned something as well) and they have also had lots of fun (are still are) playing with the completed activities.