Maybe you have a 12 year old that loves Chemistry or maybe you’re trying to figure out how to engage your student while they do distance learning this year. Either way, you have a multitude of options.
We’ve highlighted the best chemistry sets available, whether you want a molecular modeling kit for your student to work alongside their peers or advanced chemistry set to ignite their curiosity, there is a set for you.
Our top pick of traditional chemistry set for budding young scientists is the Thames & Kosmos Chem C2000 Chemistry Set because it covers a wide array of chemistry concepts, includes high-quality equipment, and enough supplies to conduct 250 experiments. Thames & Kosmos kits are always listed among the best chemistry sets, and they come in several different experience levels and budgets.
However, our overall winner is actually a chemistry set subscription! To find out why we picked MEL Chemistry as our favorite chemistry set for 12-year-olds, read on!
Related post: Best Chemistry Sets for Adults
- Best Chemistry Sets for a 12 Year Old
- Best Overall – MEL Chemistry
- Best for Young Scientists – Thames Kosmos Chem C2000 Chemistry Set
- Best Budget Option – Discovery Extreme Chemistry Science Kit
- Best Molecular Modeling Set – Happy Atoms Magnetic Molecular Modeling Set
- Best Crystal Growing Kit – National Geographic Mega Crystal Growing Lab
- Best Beginner Chemistry Set – Thames & Kosmos Kids First Chemistry Set
- Most Unique Chemistry Set – Playz Edible Candy Food Science Chemistry Kit
- Best Chemistry Experiment Book – Kitchen Science Lab for Kids
- What to Consider When Buying a Chemistry Set For 12-Year-Old Kids
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Chemistry Sets for a 12 Year Old
Best Overall – MEL Chemistry
Subscription boxes have become very popular. With so many of us doing distance learning from home, MEL Chemistry subscription box might be just the tool you need to teach Chemistry to your 12 year old. Each box includes 2-3 chemistry experiments that all focus on a single chemistry concept which changes monthly.
Your first month comes with a Virtual Reality (VR) headset as the subscription includes chemistry lessons in virtual reality. Each kit includes the necessary ingredients, instructions, and equipment to conduct all experiments. Your child can create liquid wires, paint with light, create a galaxy in a bottle, or make a battery out of a lemon. Looking through each of these chemistry sets, the MEL Chemistry kits were the most exciting and diverse in their experiments in my opinion.
Because each kit comes with enough chemicals and supplies to conduct each experiment 2 or more times, you won’t need a second subscription if you have two children. These kits are suitable for children 10 years and up.
Check out our MEL Chemistry review and see how awesome this kit is!
Best for Young Scientists – Thames Kosmos Chem C2000 Chemistry Set
Your young scientist will learn a wide variety of chemistry concepts with the Thames Kosmos Chem C2000 Chemistry Set. This set comes with 50 pieces and high quality professional equipment, including an alcohol burner for those experiments that require heat.
This kit covers chromatography, physical properties of fluids, solutions, electrolysis, acids and bases, molecules, and introduction to inorganic and organic chemistry, and more. It also includes a 128-page full color manual with instructions to conduct 250 experiments, which must be the reason why it received the Parent’s Choice Silver Award.
The Thames Kosmos Chem C3000 builds on the C2000 and includes an introduction to the periodic table, physical chemistry, molecular and chemical structures. A more affordable option from Thames & Kosmos is the Thames Kosmos Chem C1000 Chemistry Set. This kit includes many great experiments, but it is not as advanced as the C2000 or C3000.
Best Budget Option – Discovery Extreme Chemistry Science Kit
The Discovery Extreme Chemistry Science Kit includes all the components needed to conduct 40 fun experiments. Make glowing slime, watch eruptions, grow crystals, and more!
This kit has consistently received great reviews from parents and received the Seal of Approval from the National Parenting Center. It’s a budget-friendly option for anyone looking to bring chemistry into their home. All experiments are outlined in the instruction booklet that accompanies this kit.
Another budget-friendly option is the Thames & Kosmos Chemistry Chem C500 Set. This kit is smaller than the other Thames & Kosmos Chemistry Kits we have reviewed. However, it still includes materials and equipment to conduct 28 classic chemical reactions, including litmus reactions, invisible ink, and color-changing solutions. As with all the other Thames & Kosmos kits, it comes with a full-color manual guiding your young scientist through all the experiments.
Best Molecular Modeling Set – Happy Atoms Magnetic Molecular Modeling Set
The Happy Atoms Magnetic Molecular Modeling Set by Thames & Kosmos comes with 50 atoms, plenty to construct even the most elaborate molecules. The atoms snap together with magnets. Each atom has the correct number of available free electrons and bonding sites, and vary in size based on their atomic mass.
Once they have built their molecule, kids can use the accompanying mobile app and scanning mat to scan and identify their builds. The app is available on Android, iOS, and Kindle and uses the camera in your device to recognize the molecular structure. The app then provides information about the molecule, such as name, properties, and usage. It’s a really great tool for distance learning as well as in the classroom. A storage bag and quick start guide are also included.
For a smaller version, the Happy Atoms Magnetic Intro to Atoms Molecular Modeling Set includes 17 atoms and utilizes the same great app.
Another option for a molecular modeling kit that is perfect for a 12-year-old, is the Duluth Labs Organic Chemistry Molecular Model Student Kit. I had a set just like this many years ago. With 54 atoms, this kit has plenty of materials to visualize functional groups and chemical structures. This kit is also useful for a classroom or distance learning setting.
Best Crystal Growing Kit – National Geographic Mega Crystal Growing Lab
Your 12-year old can grow colorful crystals with The National Geographic Mega Crystal Growing Lab. This kit comes with supplies and instructions to grow crystals in eight different colors. The kit also includes five different gemstones to start a rock collection.
Once your young scientist has grown a beautiful crystal, they can display it in the included night light display, creating a unique night light. An included guide explains the science behind how crystals form and what properties influence their organization.
Another fun crystal growing kit from National Geographic is the National Geographic Crystal Garden Kit. With this, kids can grow crystal-covered trees in unlimited colors. It’s a great way to combine art and science.
With the 4M Crystal Growing Experimental Kit, kids can grow seven differently-colored crystals. This kit comes with display cases for the crystals so you can display their creations.
Best Beginner Chemistry Set – Thames & Kosmos Kids First Chemistry Set
If you are looking for a perfect introductory chemistry set, the Thames & Kosmos Kids First Chemistry Set is great for kids aged 8-15. All of the Thames & Kosmos Chemistry sets are popular and consistently receive great reviews, and this kit is no exception. The Kids First Chemistry Set includes 26 pieces to conduct 27 experiments.
This kit does a great job of taking concepts like chromatography and solubility and turning them into engaging activities. For example, your kid can learn about chromatography while creating a magic flower. The kit also includes a 48-page guide to help you and your kid through each experiment.
Another great option for beginner chemistry sets are the YellowScope chemistry kits. The Foundations Chemistry Set will introduce your child to molecular motion, chemical reactions, and the impact of temperature. This kit includes everything to conduct at least 19 experiments as well as a 32-page manual to guide your young scientist through each experiment and concept.
Kids can learn about chromatography while creating artwork during one of over 100 experiments in the Paper Chromatography kit. The Acids, Bases, and pH kit will introduce the basics of acid/base chemistry. Young scientists will learn how to create acid-base indicators and pH paper at home.
As with all YellowScope kits, these come with full guides to conduct all experiments. In addition to being great chemistry kits, YellowScope provides representation for young girls. This is especially important at 12 years of age as it is in middle school that many girls shy away from science. To retain girls and women in science, this is a great age to foster their natural curiosity.
Most Unique Chemistry Set – Playz Edible Candy Food Science Chemistry Kit
Make delicious treats while learning about chemistry with the Playz Edible Candy Food Science Chemistry Kit. Every day we encounter chemistry, but food science is full of interesting chemistry lessons. Baking bread, making cheese, brewing beer, dissolving sugar in a solution, tempering chocolate – it all relies on chemistry.
Have you ever wondered why sugar has to be heated to a very specific temperature in order to achieve that perfect “crack” when you eat it? What a great way to engage kids with chemistry: making yummy treats while learning chemistry concepts. Your child will be able to make lollipops, crystal rock candies, chewy jelly candies, chocolates, and more. This kit includes materials, equipment, and instructions to complete 40 different experiments.
Another fun kit from Playz is the Volcanic Eruption & Lava Lab. While this set is a bit limited in scope, it is full of fun explosions that will excite any young scientist. This kit makes the classic volcanic explosion simple, providing all the chemicals, tools, and equipment (plus safety gear) to bring your volcano to life.
Best Chemistry Experiment Book – Kitchen Science Lab for Kids
Maybe you don’t need the equipment and you’re just looking for inspiration to turn common household items into chemistry experiments with your kids. There are some great books available that do just that. Our favorite is Kitchen Science Lab for Kids. This book uses common household items like milk, dish detergent, cotton swabs to conduct chemistry experiments.
Because many of the experiments require little setup, it is a quick way to create an afternoon chemistry lesson when you need some inspiration. There are 52 experiments included in this book with colored images and detailed instructions.
Another book from this line, Kitchen Science Lab for Kids – Edible Edition, is a tastier version. Like a cross between a cookbook and a book about science experiments, this book also includes instructions for 52 household experiments, but each one results in a delicious treat. Cooking and baking rely on chemistry, so the kitchen is ripe for experimentation.
Outdoor Science Lab for Kids is another great book by Liz Lee Heinecke, though it covers physics and biology in addition to chemistry. If you’re looking to get your kids outside more, it’s a great option.
Real Chemistry Experiments 40 Exciting STEAM Activities for Kids brings art into the equation. This book, written by a Professor of Chemistry, introduces chemistry concepts appropriate for kids aged 8-12 and includes 40 STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics) activities. Like the other books we reviewed, it uses common household items like food coloring, glass jars, cocoa powder, and cotton balls. Each experiment is accompanied by pictures, making the book visually appealing but also much easier to follow.
What to Consider When Buying a Chemistry Set For 12-Year-Old Kids
There are many chemistry sets that are more gimmicky than they are useful. When considering a chemistry set, look for sets with open-ended experiments, tools, and equipment that can be used for a variety of concepts and experiments, and accompanying content either in print or online that expands the utility of the set.
While a chemistry set that is great at a single thing may have its place, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you invest in a set that can be utilized for many different experiments and leaves room for individual curiosity.
Chemistry is a broad field. Your 12 year old may be interested in building things and thus interested in modeling chemical structures, or they may be more interested in biochemistry and would be excited to do experiments that included biological samples. Maybe they are artistic and growing colorful crystals is right up their alley.
At this age, it is important to meet young scientists where they are and foster their individual interests and scientific curiosity. If you don’t know what your child is interested in, a subscription chemistry set may be a great choice as it will introduce them to a variety of concepts as they complete the experiments in each box.
Many kits host accompanying content online or provide printed materials. Like the mobile app that identifies molecular structures from the Thames & Kosmos Happy Atoms Modeling Set or the virtual reality (VR) lessons that accompany a MEL Chemistry subscription, this content makes these options more interactive. Often, the online content gets updated or expanded, giving your chemistry kits more value and versatility and can be enjoyed for a longer period of time.
This added functionality adds value to the kit but also gives your young scientist an opportunity to engage with software and/or digital tools that are essential in STEM.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Chemistry the study of?
Chemistry is the study of matter: it’s identification, properties, and the ways it interacts with other matter. But chemistry is pretty broad. While there is some overlap and others may distinguish further beyond these categories, chemistry can be divided into five fields.
- Physical chemistry deals with molecular structures and atomic properties – the smallest components of matter.
- Organic chemistry deals with compounds that are made of carbon.
- Inorganic chemistry involves all the non-carbon chemicals.
- Analytical chemists use some pretty elegant equipment to identify the components of matter.
- Biochemists – like myself – are concerned with the chemistry that occurs in living organisms.
At what age should children be introduced to Chemistry?
There is no specific age to introduce chemistry concepts to kids. For younger children, it would be useful to focus on chemistry experiments that are colorful, bright, or messy to retain their attention and have fun. Think color changes, eruptions, and crystals. Of course, safety is important, so adult supervision is required for younger kids.
What is the difference between a science kit and a chemistry set?
A science kit for kids is going to be broader than a chemistry set, though many sets labeled as “science kits” are primarily a combination of biology and chemistry experiments. Because the sorts of experiments in a chemistry set are more focused, they should also be more in-depth and better suited to teaching a specific chemistry concept.
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