Review: STEM kits for glow in the dark, sensory and bugs

(AD) The second package we received as part of our 2021 Bandai National Geographic STEM bloggers ambassador role contained 4 products to review: The Sensory Science Kit, Glow-In-The-Dark Science Kit, the Real Bug Dig Kit and the Dino Poop Mini Dig Kit. The Bandai National Geographic STEM learning kits encourage curiosity and help children (age 8 upwards) to learn about the natural world around them. Yes they might get to play with slime, putty, sand and dinosaur poo but that is tied in with learning about viscosity (and non-newtonian fluids), fluorescence, crystals, anthropods and more.

A 9 year old spooning blue hydrophobic sand into a pot of water with total concentration on her face
Bandai's National Geographic Kits make STEM learning fun and accessible

Bandai National Geographic Glow-In-The-Dark Science Kit Review

The Glow-In-The-Dark Science Kit covers learning about crystals, putty, slime and fluorescence. The kit contains 2 sachets to make glow in the dark slime (in purple and green) as well as plastic pots to store the slime in, ready made glow in the dark putty in a tin, a glow in the dark seed rock and crystal growing powder, a wernerite specimen, UV light keychain and instruction booklets.

Making the slime and growing the crystal take time and patience. The Learning Guide encourages children to treat it as real scientific experiment: taking care, watching what happens and recognising that different results might happen each time.

The crystal needs to be grown somewhere that wont get knocked or touched for up to a week which is a challenge in our house and we haven’t successfully grown one yet, but we made slime which was easy to do and it was fun to see it glow in the dark.

The Glow In The Dark Putty comes in a small tin. The guide encourages children to explore the behaviour of the putty and explains that despite it’s appearance it is actually a fluid. The putty can be “charged” by taking it in to sunlight or using the UV light and then it will glow when the lights are off. The UV light is fun because you can draw or write on the putty so only some areas glow in the dark.

Reviewing the contents of the Glow in the dark science kit
Reviewing the Glow-In-The-Dark Science Kit

A girl in a dark room holding glow in the dark putty with a face glowing on it and holding a uv light
Glow in the dark putty

A glass jar with glow in the dark slime made in it next to the box contents
Making green glow in the dark slime

Bandai National Geographic Sensory Science Kit Review

The Sensory Science Kit contains 2 types of sand: hydrophobic and play sand, 2 types of pre-made slime (“snotty” and “liquid”), colour changing putty, moulds and a play tray for the play sand and instruction booklets.

It is a great kit with lots of different things to play with and explore. I like that it is all premade so it is ready to go straight from the moment you open the box. This is a nice contrast to the Glow in the Dark set where you can explore the glow in the dark putty straight away, but it also has the ingredients to make slime and to grow a crystal. If you want to experiment more beyond the contents of the kit the Sensory Science Kit contains various recipe ideas for slime you can make at home.

The slimes, putty and sands all feel and behave differently and the guide suggests ways to explore them (as well as some science). We loved playing with them. The slime, putty and play sand were familiar to us as we have had similar products before (we have reviewed quite a lot of slime toys), but the hydrophobic sand was completely new to my daughter and I, we loved it. The hydrophobic sand (as the name suggests) repels water. When you add it to the pot of water it floats, but you can push it under the surface of the water and even make shapes with it. If you then bring it up to the surface of the water it instantly becomes the consistency of dry sand again. This was really cool.

The contents of the National Geographic Sensory Science Kit on the table ready to review
Reviewing the Sensory Science Kit with slime, sand and putty

A girl holding pink runny slime in her hand and smiling
Exploring liquid slime

Blue "snotty" slime being stretched in front of a girls face
Stretching snotty slime

A close up of a plastic pyramid mould being removed from some play sand
Modelling play sand which doesn't dry out

A spoonful of blue hydrophobic sand being added to water
Adding hydrophobic sand to water

Bandai National Geographic Real Bug Dig Kit Review

The Real Bug Dig Kit is a similar style to the dig kits we have reviewed in the past containing a digging brick, magnifying glass, digging tool and small brush. In this case the brick contains 3 preserved specimens: a fortune beetle, a scorpion and a spiny spider. Due to their delicate nature they are contained in acrylic nuggets. It would be impossible to get them out of the digging brick intact if they weren’t in the acrylic and while it means you can’t actually touch the “bugs” to appreciate what they feel like you can look really closely at them. I think they are less creepy this way and more interesting. My 9 year old didn't like them, but my 6 year old loved looking at them once they had been found.

I have one small issue with this set which is the name. The specimens are not “true bugs”, they are using the word bug as a generic term and I think it’s a shame they miss the opportunity to educate what bugs actually are. Having said that though after the headline the learning guide quickly goes on to talk about the phylum Anthropods which includes: spiders, scorpions and beetles.  I’m guessing that “Real Anthropod Dig Kit” wasn’t considered as catchy. 

The learning guide is interesting and talks specifically about the specimens in the dig kit as well as related information like arthropod development, insects and arachnids. I can forgive the “bug” issue because they do  clarify the differences between the different classes eg saying spiders are not insects which is another common mistake.

The contents of the national geographic real bug dig kit before review
Real Bug Dig Kit Review

Close up of the real bug digging brick cracked open to show a acrylic nugget containing an anthropod
The first find ...

super close up on a small plastic nugget with a real scorpion inside with the digging tool and brush next to it
A tiny scorpion in an acrylic nugget

Bandai's National Geographic Dino Poop Mini Dig Kit Review

We have done a few of the mini dig kits before including the shark tooth one and they are a nice introduction to the dig kits because they don’t take very long, this kit wasn’t particularly exciting though. The digging brick is poo (or poop) shape and the coprolite (or dino poo) was right near to the top of ours so it was found very quickly. It was also a pretty small piece so it felt like a bit of an anti-climax. It is the nature of the dig kits though that the finds will be in different places each time and that the finds will vary in size and interest. This is a strength of the kits because it means children who enjoy them can have multiple kits and have a different experience each time.

The Dino Poop Mini Dig Kit is a good small gift for a child that finds the idea of dinosaur poo entertaining, but I think it’s worth going for the larger Dino Fossil Dig Kit which we have previous reviewed because you also get a piece of bone and a tooth.

Contents of the Dino Poop Mini Dig Kit before review
The Dino Poop Mini Dig Kit

The top of a poop shaped digging brick has been scratched away showing the top of a piece of fossilised dino poop
Finding coprolite in the Mini Dino Poop Dig Kit

These STEM products from Bandai's National Geographic range were great to explore and learn with. They are available from Argos and shopDisney.

Previous Bandai National Geographic product reviews.

No comments

Thanks for your comment (unless it's spam in which case, why?)