A chemistry set is an educational tool which allows young people to explore their interest in chemistry and the natural sciences. It typically includes equipment, chemicals, and an instruction booklet with suggested experiments and precautions. Chemistry kits vary widely, from simple and very safe versions designed for elementary school students to more complex sets meant for teenagers and young adults. At the very least, a chemistry set can be great fun, but it can also instill a lifelong interest in science.
Typical equipment in a chemistry set includes pipettes, beakers, graduated cylinders, goggles, corks, and dishes. A thermometer and magnifying glass for making observations are also common, as a timer for keeping track of experiments. In many cases, the chemistry kit will also have a logbook or lab book for noting down various reactions, especially if it is designed for older users. The logbook is designed to get the user thinking scientifically, encouraging students to think about their experiences and write down experiments in a widely accepted and useful scientific format.
An assortment of wet and dry chemicals will also be included, usually packaged in secure containers so that they do not react. Replacements for these chemicals can be ordered from the manufacturer, and in some cases a chemistry set is also designed to work with household chemicals. Depending on the age the chemistry set is designed for, the chemicals may be extremely safe, producing minimal reactions, or they may be more reactive, creating puffs of smoke or fire.
The instruction book will clearly list all of the chemicals included, along with their properties and precautions. It will also include suggestions for experiments that the user might want to try, with easy directions which are designed to inspire confident and safe use. Often, the instruction book may also have comics or jokes which are designed to make the educational experience more fun. While using the components of the chemistry set, the student will acquire hands on knowledge about chemistry and the natural environment.
Parental supervision is generally recommended when younger children use a chemistry set, out of concern for breakable items and potentially startling chemical reactions. It is also important to check the age recommendation on a chemistry set, to ensure that it is suitable for the intended recipient. A 15 year old, for example, probably would not derive much enjoyment from a set meant for a 10 year old, while an eight year old might not be experienced enough to handle a kit for a 13 year old.