The Madhouse kids have gone science crazy at the moment ! After discovering creepy crawlies in the Bug Barn, testing out a microscope and digging up dinosaurs in the Archeofun kits that we received for review and ended up buying more of, we've also been discovering the exciting world of crystals.
We opened up the box and took out all the intriguing little sachets and pots and tools. It contains absolutely loads of bits and pieces, so it took us a while to sort through and see what we had. Luckily there is a very detailed instruction booklet too.
The complete contents are : protective goggles, protective gloves, pipettes, spatula, tweezers, microspatula spoon, 2 x small 20ml measuring beakers, 2 x medium 50ml measuring beakers, 2 x large 100ml measuring beakers, 1 packet of rock fragments, brush, 1 packet of plaster of Paris (calcium sulphate), poster paints for geodes, test tube safety key, 10 sachets of alum (aluminium potassium sulphate), 10 colouring tablets, 7 test tubes with stoppers, small bowl for liquid plaster, mould (in two parts) with cover for geodes. I told you there was a lot !
The suggested age range is 8+ but I told 5-year-old Pierre that he could join in if he was very careful and did exactly as he was told. No sooner said than done, he put on the safety goggles and protective gloves, even if they were miles too big !
Juliette was taking things less seriously ! As I read the instruction booklet to see how to get started, she had fun blowing up her glove !
We carefully measured out the water and mixed in the alum. The instructions say that you can add the little rocks so that crystals can grow on them.
The kids were fascinated but patience is a virtue - you have to wait for the crystals to form overnight.
Pierre was very cute and keep popping back to check on them and see if anything was happening !
We did get some crystals forming at the bottom of the first beaker but they were very fragile and broke apart as soon as we touched them with the tweezers.
Nothing much happened with the rocks - we got the same crystals at the bottom but nothing on the rocks themselves, which is what was supposed to happen. I think I know what went wrong - the water is supposed to be at 40° and you should make sure that all of the salt grains are dissolved (some of ours weren't) so I think we weren't precise enough. Science is all about learning what doesn't work as well as what works though, so we are undeterred and will be having another go.
Once we've mastered the art of growing crystals, we'll be able to get more experimental, colouring them and even creating plaster of Paris geodes to grow crystals on. It's all great fun and the fact that you can't be sure if it will work or not just makes it all more exciting when it does !
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £27.99
Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.