These kinds of toys are exciting and educational for kids, which parents can appreciate as well. I like the way the kits require kids to work for their “prize,” whether it is a piece of “fool’s gold,” a shark’s tooth, or a bug encased in amber, giving the child the feeling of having really found something valuable. As a kid, I remember digging in the backyard looking for fossils and shrieking with excitement thinking I had found marble veins in the rocks along the Jamestown, R.I. coast. I would have loved these kits.
New to the Discover With Dr. Cool lineup this year is the Learn How to Pan For Gold! set. Mining tools, an adventure guide, and an activity booklet accompany the pan, “pay dirt,” and pyrite (hidden in the dirt). Kids learn how to pan for gold and can practice in a real stream or river with their tools.
I also love the Discover Amber kit. In its raw form, amber is opaque, but, once polished and rubbed enough, it becomes translucent and often contains the bodies of unlucky bugs from millions of years ago. The kit includes raw amber, six grades of gemstone polishing sandpaper, a guide booklet explaining how amber is formed, and a magnifying glass. Since there can be no guarantee of finding a bug inside the amber—the kit includes five pieces to maximize chances—an amber keychain containing a real scorpion is also included.
Discover With Dr. Cool has found dozens of ways to make Earth science exciting for kids while teaching them about the elements around them.