Thursday, October 14, 2010

Unauthorized Review: Chem Kit 1000 Disappointment

If you want to mix some compounds and see some chemical reactions, this Chem 1000 kit by Thames & Kosmos is for you. If you want to understand why you mixed certain compounds and why  they reacted, you might be left a little perplexed, as we have been.

Let me just put this out there: This is my first foray into the world of chemistry.

The kit's marketing material promised the Chem 1000 is great for beginner chemists, ages 10 and up. I figured I fell into that category.

Here is an excerpt of yesterday's experiment. We were "On the Trail of Carbon Dioxide." Well, first, what is carbon dioxide? Am I making it? Will it be a byproduct? No explanation.

We continued, trusting, as good scientists do, that the process will answer our questions. We mixed calcium hydroxide with water to make "limewater." The instructions ask if the calcium hydroxide separated completely and tells us we will find out in the next experiment where we were instructed to prepare a "red, i.e. acid-reacting solution." We did. It was pink.

Next, the instructions told us to add an equal part of the clear limewater. We did. It was pinker.

The manual asks, "What do you see? What do you conclude?" Um. Pink....and...we conclude nothing because we have no idea what we just did. Professor Probenius, the kit's mascot, tells us to label the cup of solution with a Caution label. Okay.

Dud. SJ and I looked at each other, shrugged, and collectively stated, "Wow. That was ... fun." We put the box away and moved back to our textbook where, while flawed, concepts are at least explained.

Call me optimistic, but I was hoping to gain a wee bit more understanding as we worked through the experiments. The kit promises a punch in that it is well-packaged with cool vials and substances. It looks super science-y, but in my book, fails to deliver in any way except making the student feel like a chemist.

I am not going to scrap the kit--the experiments are nice diversions but, in my opinion, that's about all they are.

1 comment:

  1. Not fun when a product doesn't live up to expectations (or promises). Thanks for sharing. And a great big THANK YOU for the HSBA nod!!! I'm so honored!!