Why is it so hard to find a science kit for a six year old?

When you search for science kits one phrase tends to appear over and over again regardless of the theme of the kits you look at: “for ages 8+”. How do you find a science kit for a six-year-old? And why is there an age restriction on experimental kits?

Let’s start with the second question. The age restriction exists as part of a suite of laws governing the safety of toys. Science kits do count as toys, which is marvellous because it suggests law-makers see the fun value in playing with science, and means that they are covered by the safety laws. Any toy that’s being put on the market in the EU must be designed to meet these regulations and bear a CE marking to demonstrate compliance. As a result, children can happily play with their toys without being put at risk.

Children play with a toy in the testing stage

Children can play with toys without risking harm thanks to the laws that govern their safety.

As far as science kits (referred to as “experimental sets” in the legislation) are concerned, this involves limiting the variety and quantities of chemicals that can be included, and ensuring that appropriate warnings, advice and safety equipment are included. And once an experimental kit contains a chemical that has the potential to cause harm, the “age 8+” restriction comes into play. This is the age at which most people agree children are capable of safely handling chemicals such as citric acid, given the right instructions and safety advice. This is why our Investigate Boxes are intended for children aged 8 years and over. They contain unusual chemicals that you might not have around the house, which are perfectly safe when handled according to our instructions and produce some amazing results.

So what if your child is below this age? Thankfully, the restricted chemicals only make up a part of the vast web of science activities that can be performed at home. There’s much more to science than citric acid, and plenty of science activities out there that do not involve the rigour of safety gloves, and that younger children can enjoy without risk.

You can buy science toys that aim to recreate the look and feel of an experimental kit without any of the chemical reagents – you get a box of test tubes and food colouring. This is great for make-believe play but not a great introduction to the wonder of discovery.

Dissatisfied with the available options, we have carefully designed a kit for six and seven-year-olds, the Explore Box, that allows for free, creative exploration of scientific topics without the need for anything that could be harmful to young children. There may be fewer chemical reaction experiments, but there are plenty of fun science activities in the box from which six- and seven-year-olds can learn about the Universe. From making their own pH paper to exploring the properties of polymers, the Explore Box allows six year olds to carry out real scientific experiments just like their older friends and siblings.

The Explore Box, a science kit for a six year old

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