Review of the Thames & Kosmos STEM Science Advent Calendar
We put the Thames & Kosmos STEM Science Advent Calendar through its paces and share our thoughts on this hands-on educational Christmas countdown.
This cleverly constructed interactive Science Advent Calendar makes a great alternative to a traditional calendar. It’s aimed at that tricky tween / teen age group and provides plenty of opportunity for STEM education in a fun accessible way.
Below we’ll share more details about how the calendar works and what we think you’ll enjoy and need to bear in mind.
We were kindly gifted the advent calendar for the purpose of review. The opinions below are all our own.
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What Is The Science Advent Calendar?
Quite simply, it’s an advent calendar of 24 simple home science experiments. Each is designed to be straightforward to carry out at home without the need for much time or extra equipment. Easy-to-use instructions and scientific explanations are included for each day.
How Does It Work?
The calendar is housed within a sleeve. Once you remove the sleeve, you’ll find a tray with 24 numbered boxes pieced together like a Tetris board.
Each box contains (most of) the components required to carry out a STEM-based activity. And, in each case, the box itself unfolds to reveal the instructions for the activity, together with the scientific explanation and extended thoughts on the subject.
It’s neatly constructed so the science feels bitesize and like “fun facts” rather than a school textbook which we’ve experienced with other STEM advent calendars. The cute graphics on the outside of each box hint at what might be inside which makes for a fun guessing game.
The experiments themselves vary considerably from day to day. As a flavour of the kinds of things to expect inside, we:
- made oobleck (the fluid that act as both a solid and liquid)
- played with a small air rocket
- investigated which household items were magnetic
Who Is It Designed For?
The manufacturers say it’s for 8-12+ so approximately Key Stage 2 upwards.
We would agree that younger children may not be able to get the most out of this advent calendar. Whilst they can certainly participate in some of the experiments, others may be a little too fiddly or they may not have the patience or learning yet to appreciate the science behind what they are seeing.
The science experiments are not complex but, for a short daily activity, most would hold the interest of older children too. My Year 11 son found plenty to enjoy and said he would readily recommend the calendar to friends of his age with a scientific interest.
Who Will Enjoy This Science Advent Calendar?
Anyone with an interest in science will enjoy this advent calendar. It’s accessible for anyone from about 8 years old upwards and great for those who enjoy home experiments or love learning how things work.
Points To Bear In Mind With This Advent Calendar
A few things we noted as we explored the advent calendar and may be worth you considering:
You’ll Need A Bit Of Time
You’ll need to commit a little bit of time each day to get the most out of the calendar. It’s not an open-eat-done calendar! We found that the experiments were well designed and took no more than 10 minutes each (although they could be extended in many cases if you wanted to). Good on the value for money side but just something to be aware of if your children typically open their calendar in the morning and so would want to get busy experimenting before school!
Some of the items are required again at a later stage so be sure to hang onto everything. E.g. the pipette from day 3 was needed again for day 10. So don’t throw anything away that could be more than one-use.
A Few Extra Purchases Required
To complete some of the experiments, you’ll need a few extra simple items. Most of these you’ll have at home already (such as water, hair dryer, plastic bottles, items to test for magnetic qualities, etc.). However, you may need to purchase one or two more.
The manufacturer has thoughtfully listed these items on the back of the box: household vinegar, lemon juice, baking powder (although we think they mean baking soda or bicarbonate of soda) and cotton swabs.
Needs Work To Keep Neat
We love the look of the design of this calendar and think the box instructions and equipment is really neat but the drawback is that it’s a hard calendar to keep neat and tidy once you’ve started using it.
Once you start taking the boxes out of the calendar and undoing them to read the instructions, it can become a bit of a Tetris puzzle to fit them back together again. And, unless you keep the original sleeve, there’s nothing holding the boxes in place if you tip the calendar over.
There’s A Little Bit Of Wastage
Some of the items are one-use only or easily broken through experimenting / use. I guess in theory you might keep things like the pipette for further science experiments at home, but we think likely come the end of December most of the reusable items will end up in the bin as well. So, it’s not the most sustainable calendar we’ve seen. That being said, using the packaging for the instructions is neat and the manufacturers have clearly put thought into minimising packaging and excessive plastic waste as much as possible.
Is The Science Advent Calendar Good Value For Money?
Obviously, it’s hard to determine value for money as this is different for each person.
At RRP £30, that’s £1.25 per experiment. For us, we felt that this was a reasonable price given the provision of equipment, instructions and scientific information shared and opportunity for daily activity to enjoy. It’s a bit like 24 mini science kits and a science book rolled into one. It also seems to be priced similarly to other advent calendars of a similar style.
Overall, we were really impressed with this Thames & Kosmos Science Advent Calendar and would whole-heartedly recommend it. We felt that it was well-constructed and provided much entertainment for a range of ages. There’s clearly a lot of thought been put into the design by the creators. It offers a great way for families to spend time together on the run up to Christmas and plenty of opportunity for hands-on fun STEM education.
What We Think You’ll Like:
- Great alternative to traditional advent calendars, very interactive and entertaining.
- Experiments were very straightforward to carry out.
- Boxes are decorated with graphics related to the theme inside so guessing what’s coming becomes an additional activity.
- The informative science notes shared are in small accessible sections, so it doesn’t feel like school learning.
Things To Bear In Mind:
- There’s a time investment to complete the experiments each day so you’ll need to be committed to get the most out of this calendar.
- A little effort is required to keep the calendar neat and tidy, and hang onto items in case of future use.
- There’s a small shopping list of other items required to complete some of the experiments.
Looking for more advent calendar inspiration?
- More Advent Calendar Ideas For Tweens & Teens
- Get Those Selfies Printed For A Fun DIY Photo Advent Calendar
- Christmas Books For Older Kids & Tweens
And be sure to check out our guide to 300+ advent calendar filler ideas – there’s something for everyone!