Welsh ICE families put science up their sleeve!

Welsh ICE families put science up their sleeve

Science up your sleeve is the second box of the Letterbox Lab science subscription box, containing science activities that look like magic.


For those outside of Wales, half term might seem like a long-distant memory, but here in Caerphilly it was in full swing this week. It was the perfect opportunity for us to invite our friends at Welsh ICE to bring their mini researchers into Letterbox Lab HQ. The science activities and instructions from our Science Up Your Sleeve box could then be put to the ultimate test. 

We tried similar testing sessions on a small scale over the Christmas holidays and it proved so popular with ICE members that this time we opened it up a little more. This time we brought six families into the lab and handed out science activity bags to another four. 

A child turns over a test tube, and no water comes out! Science: like magic, but better.

Our little researchers picked up a repertoire of tricks that blend science with magic!

It’s great to see how children react to our science kits. We test, tweak and re-test every activity over and over before putting our own stamp of approval on it, but there’s nothing like seeing the look on a little scientist’s face to confirm our long-held suspicion that science is weird, messy and fun to play with! Twenty researchers aged between 6 and 13 have now added their own stamps of approval.

Children testing science activities at Letterbox Lab HQ.

Little people make brilliant researchers! They are enthusiastic, honest and curious about the world around them.

A child tests a kids science activity from Letterbox Lab's science subscription box.

Unleashing little researchers on our activities allows us to judge from their faces how successful we’ve been in developing them!

Surprises along the way

There were a few surprises this week, too. One of the favourite activities – ‘Write with light’ – was a fairly last-minute addition to the box for us. We hadn’t realised quite how big an impression it would have on our testers. We’re lucky enough to have made careers out of playing around with science, so we might have become a little acclimatised to some of the amazing phenomena that are uncovered in the process. Write with Light – as the name suggests – is an experiment using lights, so we had to set up a dark den where our researchers could see the effects. Six times we patiently waited outside the den while the researchers crawled in and quietly set up the experiment. Six times we knew it was working when we heard loud “Oooo”s, “Ahhh”s and “Wow!”s from the den.

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Reviewing the instructions

The most important part of our testing sessions is to find out how well children can follow the instructions we’ve written to go with the activities. We have the instructions printed as full colour booklets and supplement them with online videos. Before we jazz them up with beautiful colourful designs and illustrations we have to be sure that they are clear and easy to follow. Having presented so many science shows and workshops in the past, it can be painfully difficult for us to step back and leave children to experiment on their own, but it’s invaluable to us to watch from a distance and pick up on all the steps where they might get stuck. We asked everyone to read over our explanations for the phenomena too, and to tell us if there was anything they didn’t understand or found confusing.

Children reading over the instructions for Letterbox Lab's kids science activities for their science subscription box

It was great to see siblings working together and helping each other to get stuck in to some magic tricks!

Thinking ahead

Most of the families who came had time to stay and play with some icky slime after they had finished with Science Up Your Sleeve. This was partly research for a later box but mostly just for fun!

Making blue slime

Making slime is great fun – but it also opens all sorts of doors to discovery!

Over the Easter holidays we hope to do it all over again, bringing in even more families to test, review and tweak further boxes for us. Our boxes will start shipping in April, but are available to pre-order now. Everyone who pre-orders will get a whopping discount on their first or first three boxes – click here to sign up!

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