I need to get this out of the way right now: Groovy Lab in a Box is so awesome I don’t think this review will do it justice. But here goes: There are a variety of monthly subscription-based educational and crafting “kits” on the market, but what makes the award-winning Groovy Lab in a Box stand out is that its contents are specifically hands-on science fun delivered monthly, based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
According to their website, with a subscription to Groovy Lab in a Box, you will receive boxes full of everything you need to learn about and do hands on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) experiments for ages 8+. The contents are not intended to just be assembled, but rather to inspire scientific imagination, determination and critical thinking.
The box we received was themed, “Here Comes the Sun” with the engineering design challenge: “You’re shipwrecked on a deserted island with only your Groovy Lab in a Box. Inside your groovy box are the materials to design and build a solar balloon, solar oven, conductivity tester and desalination plant. How can you eat, drink and get someone to rescue you using only your Groovy Lab in a Box materials?” Seriously, does learning get any cooler than this?
While the contents are designed for children 8 years and older, it can be adapted down to suit younger children. Our almost 3 year old (who recently built her own Mars rover out of a berry carton and disposable spoons) went wild working through the various projects in our Groovy Lab in a Box. Obviously, my husband and I had to help with cutting the cardboard, etc, but our daughter was engaged throughout the process and asked some very thoughtful questions that confirmed she was “getting it.”
The box contained just about everything we needed to complete each activity. We did need to fill the bowl with water from our sink and use our own pair of scissors to cut the cardboard box. But otherwise the box contained all necessary items, including the little things like glue, tape, string, batteries and salt. The adhesive tape included in the box was a little wimpy so we found it easier to upgrade to our trusty roll of packing tape (I use that stuff on EVERYTHING!) to assemble and line the solar oven. The solar oven, by the way, was built out of the groovy box itself. Two thumbs way up from this green mama for using every bit of the kit so cleverly!
How hard is it to make a solar oven with a three year old, you ask? Not hard at all because (unlike IKEA manuals) the instruction booklet included in our box has clear written directions with perfectly accurate corresponding illustrations. Because of this, our preschooler could “read” the instructions just by looking at the differences between illustrations.
We lucked out with extremely hot, sunny weather this week so had no trouble experimenting with the different projects in our solar-themed box. Our daughter enjoyed flying the solar balloon off our patio, making “crayon soup” in the solar oven and testing various materials for their conductivity with the supplied 9-volt battery and a buzzer. While I knew our daughter was enjoying the activities with my husband and I, it wasn’t until we shared the projects with our playgroup (girls age 3-6) at the park that I saw the wheels of imagination turning. And that collective imagination was magnetic. Stray children around the park joined our playgroup in the science fun. Moms approached me asking where I got the unique projects and I was more than happy to share with them the Groovy Lab in a Box web address.
Here is just one example: as the girls huddled around, one took the conductivity kit (the 9v battery and buzzer) and curiously tested it on the foil-lined solar oven. It buzzed! So I asked the group, “if this foil paper conducts electricity and makes the buzzer sound, do you think there are other surfaces in the park that could also conduct the electricity to sound the buzzer?” After a brief discussion about the difference in surfaces (plastic/wood/metal/etc), they raced off in a pack, testing the buzzer on everything they thought was metal around the park – swing chains, water fountains and slides – squealing with delight each time the buzzer sounded. Watching my child get this excited about learning is priceless. And to think that excitement can be shipped to us in a box each month is pure magic!
The pricing of Groovy Lab in a Box is totally reasonable for the superior quality of content and varies based on subscription length. Single boxes are available to purchase for $33.95 USD while pre-paid 12-month subscriptions reduce the price to $23.95 USD a month. And the website, www.groovylabinabox.com makes it super simple to order for your own child or to give as a gift for other budding scientists in your life.
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Disclosure: I received a sample of a product to facilitate my review. No other compensation was provided and all views and opinions stated on this post are 100% my own.
Allison Baltzersen is a mother of two baby girls and blogs about her bumblings through green parenting over at Funny Shade of Green.