Try Before You Buy: Genius Box

geniusboxTarget Market: Children 8 – 11

Price – $25/month

Rating: 5/5 – great value, fun, educational, easy to use

Website: http://www.geniusbox.me/

Discount Code: BRIDGES25 to get 25% off new subscriptions

Company Overview

Genius Box aims to bring hands-on learning experiences to children through STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) experiences. Each box features three or more experiments designed to inspire and empower children to be curious, experiment, make mistakes, and explore new topics.

geniusbox3What’s In the Box?

Each Genius Box is created around a theme. Our box was paleontology, which featured three experiments and everything necessary to complete them – a toy dinosaur, puzzle to create Pangaea, digging for bones and creating our own fossils. Instructions were contained in a “Top Secret” envelope, which made the box a joy for my tester – 7 year-old Arabella.

“We definitely try and make sure we are mixing it up among the science, technology, engineering and math realms and try not to do similar topics in consecutive months,” said Kate Pipa, co-founder of Genius Box. “Sometimes we decide on a topic and then delve into it to come up with other activities, other times we come up with one solid activity and then try and expand the theme around it. Sometimes we correspond the theme to the time of year – for example, in April we did an Earth Science box to correspond with Earth Day. We also did a sun-themed box over the summer and a forensics-themed mystery-in-a-box in October where Team Genius members (what we call our subscribers) needed to solve to coincide with Halloween.”

My Thoughts

The presentation of the box was very exciting. As I watched my child open it starting first with the “Top Secret” instructions, she was delighted and curious about what the box contained. As she pulled each of the items out, it was very clear to her what she’d be doing.

The “Top Secret” instructions were written in very easy-to-understand language for her. She was able to easily separate the contents and prepare to get started.

Pangaea Puzzle – For this project, the instructions told the story about what scientists believed happened to the dinosaurs millions of years ago. Each piece of the puzzle also featured a photo of a dinosaur that was thought to inhabit that continent, which is how the puzzle would line up together. This only took a few minutes to construct before moving on to the real fun.

Digging Up bones – What kid doesn’t want to dig for fossils? This experiment featured a solid block for digging, a brush and a sharp stick to carefully scratch the bones free. This experiment took the longest time as Arabella scraped carefully and brushed to make sure she did not damage her find. It took her a good 15 – 20 minutes to unearth her find – which was a claw. On the back of the instructions were photos of the types of claws it could be, which Arabella then had to identify using size, color and markings. We then read all about the type of claw she found, where it was frequently found and what type of animal it once belonged to. This claw has become a prized possession for her, making it’s way to school, daycare, grandma’s and friends. She shows it off proudly all the time.

Making Fossils – The last experiment for the Genius Box was making our own fossils with shells, a dino, clay and plaster. As with the rest of the box, the instructions were very easy to follow with no parental help. Roll the clay into a ball, press something down inside, fill with plaster and water and let it dry. We first tried the dinosaur. This was a little difficult to push into the cup for a good impression, but upon drying you can still see that it was a dinosaur. Next we tried some shells, these worked much easier to push into the clay for an impression and came out great. This experiment led to more questions about what else we could use to press into the clay and fossilize, which was a lot of fun!

geniusbox2Cost

Single boxes are $25/month with free shipping. Subscribe for three months and it’s only $24. The company is offering our readers 25% off new subscriptions with the code BRIDGES25.

“Right now we are only offering one and three month subscriptions. In the future we are looking to offer some of our previous boxes on their own, but not currently,” said Pipa. “We do send out coupons to our newsletter subscribers and social media followers every so often so definitely sign up for our newsletter on the website and interact with us on social media to stay in-the-loop (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest).”

Educators

At this time Genius Box does not have a defined educator package; however, they have worked with other teachers and program leaders to order in bulk for a district or group. If interested, reach out to the company at info@geniusbox.me.

Giving Back

Genius Box partners with ManyMentors, which connects students interested in STEM fields with near-age peer mentors – either university students pursuing STEM degrees or young professionals with STEM degrees – via interactive, engaging workshops and highly innovative online platform. For every box purchased, $1 is donated to ManyMentors and as of December 2015, more than $1,450 has been donated.

Genius Box is a “benefit corporation” meaning legally our mission is to generate positive social impact for society,” said Pipa. “For every Genius Box sold, we donate $1 to the non-profit ManyMentors which supports middle and high school students’ interest in and pursuit of STEM careers, with specific support for women and minorities who are often drastically underrepresented in the STEM fields. Our mission is to empower the change-makers and problem-solvers of tomorrow, today, and by exposing kids to STEM in a fun, hands-on way with a narrative challenge to solve in each box through the activities inside, we believe we are doing just that.”

The Verdict

Absolutely! Genius Box was very impressive. It was fun, engaging and a great learning experience. I love that each month features a different theme, which will keep the box new and exciting. Children love to receive mail, so I see this as a great opportunity to spend quality time as a family each month for a great price. Genius Box would make a great gift for kids as well for any reason or even just because.

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Product Review by Hayley Lynn Martin for Pennsylvania Bridges