Updated: May 9, 2015
Chemistry Set Reviews and Buying Guide:Kids love to experiment with all sorts of things which makes chemistry sets the ideal gift for girls and boys ages 9-13. The modern kits are safe and offer an educational experience (not too many other toys can say that). Discoverthis.com is one of favorite sites for science related gifts and toys. They carry over 8 of the top selling chemistry sets on the market from Smithsonian, Skilcraft, Thames & Kosmos, Scientific Explorer, and Young Scientists. Prices range from around $20 all the way up to $200. Many of the experiments that are outlined in these sets are basic and simple to do without having to be a "rocket scientist". My daughter has attended a local science camp every year and the director of the program has recommended that all parents purchase one of the chemistry sets to help their child learn the basics and get more acquainted with topics that aren't taught in school very well. You can go online to sites like Amazon.com to read reviews on the various sets available and see what other parents have to say about the pluses and minuses of each set.
From our experience, you want to find a set that offers as much quality instruction as quanity. Some promise over 1500 experiments and you come to find out that many of the experiments are just a slight change from the previous one. Instruction manuals also need to be written in language that the average 12 year old can understand. Many of the manuals we saw were too confusing or didn't have the proper illustrations to guide you. Imagine trying to put together a bicycle without some written or visual instructions to follow (it would be hard). The easiest to follow manual was that of the CHEM C3000 set listed below. It had nice graphics and detailed instructions which made the experiments flow much easier. The idea most of these sets is to give your child some background in basic chemicals, elements, and lab work. The experiments should be fun to do and easy to see the results. "Magic" is one word that comes to mind when you think of kids doing chemistry and science experiments. They find a way to use elements and mix them together to create "cool" results. With video games and TV as your competition, it's not easy getting kids to be interested in science, but chemistry is perhaps the best way to get them started. I recently took my daughter outside to show her the famous "Diet Coke and Mentos" exploding soda fountain trick and she was amazed. Although we had a mess to clean up, she was totally sold on trying other experiments (safe ones) with similar principles of mixing liquids or gases. We found just a few reviews on chemistry sets - some online at Amazon.com, a few more at Discoverthis.com, and a recent review article in the Wall Street Journal. Below we have tried to list the best sets based on different criteria and let you be the judge of which one fits your child the best. See the top selling chemistry sets for kids online here.