A chemistry set is a great way to introduce students to science and can be a lot of fun. There are a lot of options for a chemistry set, with good options for kids of different ages. Listed here are some great choices of chemistry sets for any setting, whether it’s going to be in a homeschool setting or as a toy for a kid that’s interested in STEM.
What Comes with a Good Chemistry Set?
The most important part of a chemistry set is the instruction manual. Each of the sets listed here includes a guide to the experiments, which show the student how to conduct the experiment and what they can learn from doing it.
The content of the instructions vary between companies, but most try to create instructions for the experiments that are consistent with the age ranges described on the box.
Examples of the equipment is beakers, test tubes, pipettes, and stands. Many kits, such as the Thames & Kosmos C3000, include safety equipment such as safety glasses or goggles.
Chemical compounds that are required to complete the experiments are included, but you’ll see more variation on this. Most chemistry sets have at least some chemicals, compounds and materials that you’ll need to find from around the house. Some examples of these types of additional materials are baking soda, rubber bands and vinegar, but sometimes the additional components required to complete all experiments in a kit are more specific and will take an extra trip to the store.
Should You get a Big or Small Chemistry Set?
This depends on the situation. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all prescription, but there are some times when getting the big set is a good idea and some times when getting a smaller set is the better option.
For homeschool, especially if there is more than one kid being homeschooled, then get the big set. The amount of equipment that comes with the big sets will do a better job of starting your lab than a smaller kit. In a homeschool, the parents are guiding the lessons and while the students end up making a lot of choices, if Chemistry is on the lesson plan then you should just get the big set and you’re on your way to a good lab environment for learning.
For younger students, especially if you’re not sure of their interest level, you should start small. A lot of parents have fond memories of playing with their chemistry set as a child and are now shopping for a set for their own kid, hoping to give their children a great and scientific toy to improve their mind, but also to relive some of those memories they had growing up.
Just remember that kids today have a lot more distractions and more things competing for their attention. So just because you played with chemistry as a kid, and your son or daughter is super-smart, that won’t necessarily translate to them being into it like you were.
If this describes you (I’ll bet it does), then take my advice and start small, have fun working through the experiments with them and then after they’re hooked you can splurge on the bigger set.
Best Advanced Chemistry Sets for Homeschool and STEM
The Thames and Kosmos CHEM C3000 is the best choice for a complete chemistry set for homeschool and students interested in STEM.
With over 300 experiments and a large collection of equipment and materials, it will be a great start for your chemistry lab.
Almost to the level of the C3000, the Thames and Kosmos CHEM C2000 is an intermediate level kit that includes much of the equipment available in the larger set at a slightly lower price point.
This set does include an alcohol burner, and this is the smallest T&K set to include it, but some of the chemicals that are included may not be enough to complete all of the 250 experiments in the book, so a trip to the store could be in order after it’s been played with for a while.
The Smithsonian MicroChem XM 5000 is marketed as the safest chemistry set made. It has no burner and the experiments all call for smaller amounts of chemicals. It also has a very nice case which opens like a toolbox but can stand up on the table.
Unfortunately, even though its popular, this set is no longer made. So check ebay for a good deal and don’t get taken advantage by people charging hundreds for this kit. It can be had for anywhere between $50-$100 for a complete set.
Best Beginner Chemistry Sets for Homeschool and STEM
Elenco’s Chemistry Lab is perfect for a beginners lab. It has enough equipment and chemical compounds in the kit to do all of the experiments in the book. This is great as it keep you from having to make a trip to the store or scavenge supplies from the cupboards and garage.
The Thames & Kosmos CHEM C1000 is the biggest set from T&K that is still a “beginner set”. It includes 30 pieces of equipment and instructions for conducting 125 different experiments.
Some experiments call for heat to cause the reaction, but in this set you don’t get a burner, so a candle or possibly a lamp with an incandescent bulb will need to be used.
Chemistry from Science Wiz is a book and a kit together in a combined package. What I love about this is that the book and experiments are geared at a younger group. This is a great option for the very first set, when your student is somewhere between 1st and 3rd grade.
Despite being targeted for younger kids, this set puts the focus on education and you don’t just get the experiments but a guided tour to what’s going on with them.
Focused chemistry sets great for younger kids and gifts
John Adams’ Sparkly Science is the glitzy chemistry set for girls. Women in STEM is not just a problem in the grown-up world. It starts small with girls being encouraged to find their passion and spark their interest in science from a young age.
The experiments in this set seem to be a little lighter on the science, with extra emphasis on the sparkle. But if it brings out the inner geek in your little girl, then I’m all for it!
Batteries are required for the lava lamp project.
The Thames & Kosmos Glowing Chemistry includes the equipment and MOST of the components needed to complete 22 experiments that glow! The chemical reactions in this experiment can cause light to be radiated from household objects, including coins, bananas and tree bark.
One bad thing about this set is that the tree bark called for is horse chestnut, easily available in some areas but not everywhere. Too bad it doesn’t come with the bark in the box, but you could try the experiment with other tree barks and see what you can find!
Still most of the ingredients you need to come up with are easy to find, and if you can’t locate some of the uncommon items you’ll still be able to do most of the experiments.
Explore the fun of chemistry in one of its most practical applications – cooking!
With the Thames & Kosmos kit Candy Chemistry, you not only get to experiment with temperature and crystallization, but after you’re done with your experiments you get a tasty treat.. of knowledge! (and candy)
The emphasis is more on fun and less on chemistry with this set, but from taking the wrapping off the box, to digging in and making the candy, your youngster is going to be very excited to eat their science project!
Set does not include all required ingredients, so plan for a trip to the grocery store as part of the whole experience.