Research has shown that hands-on learning in math and science classes helps students retain and communicate what they have learned*. In this post, we are reviewing some hands-on and engaging Stem & Straws science kits from Smore Science.
The kits are ready-to-use, fun, and require minimal prep. The suggested age range for these kits is 8-12, with a note that 5 to7 year olds could complete the activities with adult help.
We received three kits to enjoy and review. Disclaimer: we received compensation to do this review.
We took lots of videos, but I don’t want to give away all the surprises!
The Smore Science Stem & Straws Kits We Received
Smore Science sent us one of their Stem & Straws combo science kits, which has three of their individual kits inside. Some of these kits had several activities, in addition to Extension Activities, which means these kits are packed with science fun.
The 3-kit set we received included the:
- Draw with Light Kit
- Phenomenal Physics Kit
- Slimy Worms and Popping Pearls Kit
What Is In Each Stem & Straws Kit?
Each kit comes with almost all of the items needed. You will need to provide everyday items like water, mixing bowls, spoons, a measuring cup, etc. But those hard to find things like sodium alginate, pipettes, calcium chloride are included.
Often when purchasing a science kit, there is no explanation of the science behind the activity or results. That can be frustrating!
The instruction booklet Smore Science puts in each kit is especially helpful because it includes:
- A list of materials
- Step-by-step instructions
- An explanation of the science behind the activities and results
- A Challenge to take the activity further
- Extension Activities
- A place for your child to write or draw their results
What We Liked About the Stem & Straws Science Kits
- The Strong Connection Between the Activity and the Science Concept it Demonstrates. My son, who is a mechanical engineer, reviewed the Phenomenal Physics kit in our trio of kits. He liked that the activities very clearly and creatively taught the outlined concepts of the kit. For example, there is a simple yet very visual activity demonstrating the law of inertia. For young learners, listening to us talk about or read a passage explaining the law of inertia can be met with a glassy-eyed stare. Well-thought-out activities bring these concepts to life for a child. Even at 20-something, he enjoyed the Flying Beads activity…which I guarantee will be done over and over and over! Your child most definitely will understand the law of inertia. (Be sure to follow the instructions to film it in slow motion with your phone!)
Which leads to another feature of the Stem & Straw kits…
- The Kit Activities are Accessible for All Learning Styles and Learning Differences
A QR code is listed with some of the experiments. When scanned, the code plays a video of the activity. This video is ideal for students who need help breaking down the multiple-step instructions. With the visual, they can follow along as they complete the steps themselves.
I love this because students with learning differences can have the visual to help them have a great experience with the activity. Plus, some of us are very visual learners.
The booklet has a place for children to either write or draw what happened in the activities. So, if you have a young or reluctant writer, they can enjoy the accomplishment of the activities without feeling pressure to fill a page with words they aren’t able to write.
- Encourages Discovery Learning
This may be one of my favorite features of these kits. Discovery learning is a term I used over 20 years ago when I was developing science kits and curriculum. It’s when a student is doing an activity and moves beyond the “walls” of the instructions. It’s when they take the experiment further and make it their own.
Smore Science encourages students to engage in this discovery learning via their Stem & Straws kits. There are additional activities in the enclosed booklet to take the experiment further. When our children do science, some of the best learning comes from moving beyond the outlined activity or experimentation and trying one’s ideas.
Kudos to Smore Science for actively encouraging children to pursue scientific exploration and become active participants in the world around them.
When you do these kits, not only do the outline activity, but allow your children time to do the Challenge activity and the Extension Activities.
These kits are a great springboard for discovery learning!
- Live Classes are Available for a VERY Reasonable Price
There are times when we could use some help teaching a subject or a specific concept. Smore Science offers affordable (as in just $4.99!) classes to go with a kit. The instructors explain the science concepts in detail and go through the kit activity.
If “science isn’t your thing”, the classes are ideal. You can read more here about the classes they offer.
- Enough Materials to Do Most Activities Multiple Times or As A Family
Most of the activities we had never done before, so they were new-to-us activities.
If you have more than one child, there is enough included in each kit to do each activity at least twice. Most likely, your child will want to do these activities a second time. When we did the polymer works and beads, my daughter did it three times–once for each color tablet!
However, if doing this in a co-op or classroom, order the kits in bulk from Smore Science. It is very frustrating when there isn’t enough to go around, and a student is just standing and watching others do the experiments. Be sure to engage every child in the discovery learning of the Stem & Straws kits!
Here is just one of the activities my daughter completed.
How to Integrate Stem & Straws Science Kits Into Your Homeschool
When it comes to teaching science in your homeschool, are you intimidated by science or are you jumping right in and leading the specimen dissections?
Regardless of where you are in your science teaching style, there are numerous ways to add Stem & Straws science kits to your plans.
Here are some ideas:
- “Confession… I’ve never done science in our homeschool.”
When I was developing science kits and talking with parents at homschool conferences, there were many times moms would comment that they had never done science with their children. They didn’t know where to start with science in their homeschool because they were never science-oriented in school.
If you fall into this category, start with some hands-on kits. The Stem & Straws kits are a great place to start because they are engaging, have the materials you need, provide the scientific explanation, and are just.plain.fun. Plus, their affordable classes are a good resource as well.
- Textbooks and Kits
If you are using a textbook curriculum, add some additional hands-on activities to go with your science curriculum. Or set aside a few days a month to take a break from the curriculum and do a day of experiments with Stem & Straws science kits.
I had to include this suggestion because science and discovery learning should not be limited to a prescribed time. We always have a shelf stocked with science supplies and kits, art supplies, and dollar store art kits so hands-on learning opportunities are just part of the day. You can use a storage bin; it doesn’t have to be elaborate…just available!
- Family Activity Time
Schedule a family science time when everyone is home at night or on the weekends. Make it a relaxed time where the kids can take the discovery learning as far as they want! Smore Science includes Extension Activities that are ideal for a relaxed afternoon of family time.
- Science Fair Project
When activities open up in your area, and your homeschool group is doing a science fair (or you decide to organize one), the Stem & Straw kits from Smore Science are ideal for a science fair project.
Add some discovery learning to your homeschool or classroom with the ready-to-use and fun Stem & Straws kits from Smore Science.
Be sure to connect with Smore Science:
- Visit Smore Science at stemandstraws.com
- Follow Smore Science on Facebook
- Follow them on Instagram @smorescience
IMPORTANT GIVEAWAY INFORMATION
Two families are going to win the Stem & Straws science kit combo we reviewed.
Please note: Because this is a U.S.-based contest, U.S. contest rules apply
and mailing is restricted to US addresses only.
Please use the widget below to enter. Contest ends midnight Eastern on February 14, 2021.
* (Cecilia O. Ekwueme1, Esther E. Ekon1 & Dorothy C. Ezenwa-Neb 2015 and Beilock & Fischer 2015)