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Best science kits for kids: Fun experiments for children of all ages

Best science kits for kids - Two cute children at chemistry lesson making experiments on white background.
(Image credit: master1305 via Getty Images)

Children are natural explorers and always curious about the world, which is why the best science kits for kids are the ideal gift to help them learn through exploration and spark their excitement for science. Why is the sky blue? How do airplanes fly? Why do we have day and night? Instead of trying to answer your kids’ curious questions with dry explanations, let them explore and discover the answers for themselves.

With these kits, science becomes tangible and learning is both fun and informative. According to the Journal of Science Education and Technology (opens in new tab), research shows that hands-on learning improves retention of information and learning and makes children want to learn even more. Not only that, but it also encourages creativity, critical thinking, and improves problem solving skills. Experimenting creates a space for positive failure, where kids are encouraged to learn from their mistakes, which reduces the fear of failure and builds confidence, explains Nicola Whitton (opens in new tab), Professor in Education at Manchester Metropolitan University. These are life skills that are quite handy to have.

The best science kits for kids help to develop an understanding of the world and teach them valuable skills. But which kit to choose for your budding scientist? Well, we’ve scoured the web for the best science kits for different age groups, a variety of scientific fields, and varying budgets, too. If you’re after something more specific, we’ve got guides to the best chemistry sets and best coding toys for kids as well.


Smithsonian Mega Science Lab

(Image credit: Smithsonian)

1. Smithsonian Mega Science Lab

Specifications

Price: $32.99
Recommended age: 10+
Brand: Smithsonian
Number of experiments: 6

Reasons to buy

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Activities from different areas of science
+
Contains all materials required (excluding common household items)

Reasons to avoid

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Crystal-growing activity is a multi-day project
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Only 6 experiments

Build an erupting volcano, dig for dinosaur bones, make your own weather station, or grow crystals – the Smithsonian Mega Science Lab kit has it all! Plus it also comes with an Earth model and an eco dome habitat for bugs too. If your children would like to get a glimpse into different science fields, this kit is the way to go. In six activities, they'll get introduced to the world of physics, chemistry, and Earth and environmental science. 

This kit comes with various tools and materials, including a thermometer for the weather station, a bug collecting tool, safety glasses, and tools for fossil digging. You will only need to supply common household items like vinegar or baking soda.


National Geographic Mega Gemstone & Fossil Dig Kit

(Image credit: National Geographic)

2. National Geographic Mega Gemstone & Fossil Dig Kit

Specifications

Price: $29.99
Recommended age: 8+
Brand: National Geographic
Number of experiments: 10 fossils and 10 gems to dig out

Reasons to buy

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Contains genuine fossils and gems
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Has an accompanying informative learning guide

Reasons to avoid

-
Can get messy
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Tiny fossils are easy to miss in the dig brick

Is your kid excited about fossils and gems? Then this is the perfect kit for your little Earth scientist. The National Geographic Mega Gemstone & Fossil Dig Kit contains a large dig brick with genuine gems and fossils hidden inside. Your child will excavate gems like tiger’s eye, pyrite, and blue quartz, or fossils from clams, corals, and even sharks. 

All necessary tools for the excavation are provided: a chisel, brush, and magnifying glass. After the excavation, your explorers can learn all about their new treasures using the learning guide included in the kit which contains additional information about each of the specimens.


Einstein Box Ultimate Science Kit

(Image credit: Einstein Box)

3. Einstein Box Ultimate Science Kit

Specifications

Price: $34.99
Recommended age: 6-14
Brand: Einstein Box
Number of experiments: 40

Reasons to buy

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Easy-to-follow instructions
+
Minimal to no assistance from parents required 

Reasons to avoid

-
Contains instructions for 40 experiments, but there’s only material for 15

With this Einstein Box, your youngling will dive into the fascinating world of chemistry and material science. Fizzy magic potions, color changing liquids, fragrant soaps, and self-grown crystals – the engaging and colorful experiments will help your children understand the basic principles of science. The included instructions are really straightforward so your kids will be able to do the experiments all by themselves. 

This means you can just lean back and let them explore on their own (although we do recommend keeping an eye on them just in case)! The kit has the materials necessary for 15 experiments and the manual includes instructions for another 25 experiments which you can easily do with household items.


National Geographic Stunning Science Chemistry Set

(Image credit: National Geographic)

4. National Geographic Stunning Science Chemistry Set

Specifications

Price: $34.99
Recommended age: 8+
Brand: National Geographic
Number of experiments: 45

Reasons to buy

+
Simple instructions
+
Provides background information to understand the chemical reactions

Reasons to avoid

-
Only contains material for 15 out of the 45 experiments
-
Requires adult supervision as there are some mild chemicals involved

Yes, it’s another National Geographic kit, but their STEM series are such good quality and highly rated that we just had to include another. From launching a rocket to making pop crystal fireworks, this Stunning Science Chemistry Set can get a little messy with its hands-on fizzy chemical reactions. The kit includes the materials needed for 15 experiments with instructions for an additional 30 experiments, all using common household items like baking soda or vinegar. 

The experiment guide contains details about the chemical reactions involved as well as illustrated, step-by-step instructions that are easy to understand and follow. Your kiddo will spend hours conducting their own experiments, just like a real scientist! However, we do recommend that these are done with adult supervision as chemicals are involved.


Kango Kids The Genius Lab

(Image credit: Kango Kids)

5. Kango Kids The Genius Lab

Specifications

Price: $29.99
Recommended age: 5-12
Brand: Kango Kids
Number of experiments: 50

Reasons to buy

+
Experiments with varying difficulty levels
+
Easy-to-follow instructions both in a manual and as videos
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Manual also includes scientific facts and background info

Reasons to avoid

-
Some experiments can get messy

Satisfy your children’s curiosity with this science kit that includes 50 experiments and activities. From growing crystals or building your own exploding volcano, to colorful reactions and mixtures, your kids will dive into the fascinating world of science. The kit includes experiments with varying difficulty levels, so that children from 5 to 12 years old all will be entertained. The kit includes all chemicals and equipment for 50 experiments except for a few household items like vinegar and lemon juice, or a stapler and paper clips. 

The kit was designed by a math and science teacher and includes a manual with step-by-step instructions and background information on the science behind the experiments. If your kid is an audiovisual learner, then the accompanying video tutorials will be a big hit as they guide them through the experiments. Most experiments can be done without the help of an adult and those that do require a bit of assistance are clearly labeled in the manual.


AmScope Kids Beginner Microscope

(Image credit: AmScope)

6. AmScope Kids Beginner Microscope

Specifications

Price: $33.99
Recommended age: 8+
Brand: AmScope
Number of experiments: 10 prepared slides, plus reusable blank slides

Reasons to buy

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6 adjustable magnifications
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 Comes with all necessary tools for setting up your microscopy experiments
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Contains 10 prepared slides and a complete brine shrimp experiment

Reasons to avoid

-
Focusing the microscope requires a bit of practice and finesse

Let your kids discover the invisible world with this beginner-friendly compound microscope. It offers six adjustable magnifications up to 1200x and produces a reasonable level of clarity for the price – you’ll be able to see individual cells and even nuclei! With this kit, your kids will gain hands-on experience with the scientific method: setting up an experiment, analysing, and documenting the outcome.

The microscope itself is made out of metal with a plastic stage, so it’s pretty sturdy. It even comes in a hard-sided plastic case, so it’ll be well protected and easy to tidy away. As well as the microscope, you’ll also get 49 accessories – like tweezers, an eye dropper, and even a Petri dish – all of which allow your curious child to easily set up their own microscopy experiments. 

There are 10 prepared microscope slides included so you can immediately get a glimpse of the fine-grained structures, like a fish scale or a bean leaf, as well as some blank reusable slides to get creative with. We love this microscope so much that it tops our best microscopes for kids list!


Thames & Kosmos Ooze Labs Chemistry Station

(Image credit: Thames & Kosmos)

7. Thames & Kosmos Ooze Labs Chemistry Station

Specifications

Price: $29.99
Recommended age: 6+
Brand: Thames & Kosmos
Number of experiments: 20

Reasons to buy

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A complete science lab station
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10 instruction cards that can be directly clipped onto the lab station

Reasons to avoid

-
Set up requires adult assistance

Give your children the joy of having their own science lab station, where they can conduct exciting chemistry experiments. The lab station is easy to assemble and reconfigure for different experiments with a helping hand from an adult. The kit contains all materials needed for 20 cool science experiments – invisible ink, self-inflating balloons, glowing slime, rainbow in a test tube, and more! Like a lot of other sets, some experiments will require common household items like scissors, tape, or salt. 

Instructions for half of the included experiments are printed on cards that can be directly clipped onto the lab station for quick reference. There’s also a 16-page, full-color manual that contains detailed instructions as well as easy-to-understand explanations so that your budding scientists can learn the science behind the experiments and how they apply to everyday life.


Crystal Growing Experimental Kit

(Image credit: $M)

8. Crystal Growing Experimental Kit

Specifications

Price: $19.99
Recommended age: 10+
Brand: 4M
Number of experiments: 7

Reasons to buy

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Everything you need in one kit (no need for extra household items)
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Comes with display cases to show off the crystals

Reasons to avoid

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Requires a bit of patience as experiment takes 7-10 days

Show your kids the fascinating world of both geology and chemistry by letting them grow their own crystals. This kit, selected by the University of Cambridge no less, provides all materials needed for seven different crystal growth experiments. Once fully grown, these stunning crystals can then be proudly shown off in the provided display cases. The detailed instructions are easy to follow and the experiments are straightforward to set up. 

Adult supervision is required for setting up the experiments as this involves boiling water. The crystals start forming in about five hours after set-up and will reach their full size in 7-10 days. The included fact sheet provides additional information on crystal growth. We really like this one as it provides a beautiful, tangible result that you can admire for years to come.


Magic Science for Wizards Only

(Image credit: ALEX Brands)

9. Magic Science for Wizards Only

Specifications

Price: $9.00
Recommended age: 6+
Brand: ALEX Brands
Number of experiments: 9

Reasons to buy

+
Demystify science by performing science-based magic tricks
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Comes with a magic wand to round off the magic show

Reasons to avoid

-
Some adult assistance required

Science experiments can seem just like magic. This kit will show your young wannabe wizards the science behind the magic. They will master nine different “magic tricks,” while learning about the science behind fizzy foams, color-changing potions, and glow-in-the dark liquids. 

The kit contains all required chemicals and equipment, including test tubes, a stand, and, of course, a magic wand! You will only need to supply some common household items like baking soda and vinegar. The instruction guide contains detailed descriptions as well as understandable scientific explanations and fun historical facts about famous wizards such as Merlin, Baba Yaga, and Circe.


Engino Discovering STEM: Mechanics Levers & Linkages

(Image credit: Engino)

10. Engino Discovering STEM: Mechanics Levers & Linkages

Specifications

Price: $24.80
Recommended age: 8-16+
Brand: Engino
Number of experiments: 16

Reasons to buy

+
Learn about mechanics and engineering
+
Includes a quiz to help with learning
+
Free downloadable 3D app

Reasons to avoid

-
Some pieces can be difficult to put together and take apart
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Requires AA batteries

Teach young minds about the mechanics behind levers and linkages and how they can be used to lift heavy objects with this lovely kit. In 16 hands-on activities your kids will build different structures such as a wheelbarrow, a parking gate, and a movable weight scale. 

The step-by-step illustrated instructions are easy to follow. In case these are not enough, you can also view the models in 3D using an app that is freely available for Android and Apple iOS. The kit also comes with a booklet with theory and interesting facts, as well as a detailed quiz to test the newly acquired knowledge.

Mihaela Bozukova is a science journalist based in Germany. She holds a Ph.D. in molecular and computational biology from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing and the University of Cologne in Germany. She is passionate about making science accessible to everyone. You’ll find her covering a variety of life science topics for outlets such as Massive Science, Laborjournal and Microbites.