KiwiCo and MEL Science are two of the leading STEM subscription boxes for children and teens.
Both companies are great options for at-home learning. But there are also quite a few differences.
The main difference between KiwiCo and MEL Science is that KiwiCo boxes provide STEAM projects that are largely open-ended, while MEL Science has a stronger focus on scientific concepts and experimentation.
For example, MEL Chemistry provides not only dozens of possible chemistry experiments, but also includes a sophisticated starter set with some impressive chemistry equipment.
On the other hand, KiwiCo boxes tend to be more project-based, allowing children to express their creativity and explore a wide variety of STEAM concepts.
In other words, the best monthly subscription for one kid may not be the right choice for another.
Keep reading for our comparison of MEL Science vs. KiwiCo, and how to select the best subscription box for your eager learners!
|Age Range||0 to 16+ years||5 to 19+|
|Price||Starting at $17.50 per month||Starting at $25.90 per month|
|Shipping||Free within the U.S.|
$4.95 to $8.95 international
|Free to most countries|
|Kits Sold Separately||Yes||No|
|Sibling Add-On Available||Yes||No|
|Cancellation Policy||Cancel online at any time (goes into effect at the end of the current subscription term)||Cancel online at any time (goes into effect at the end of the current subscription term)|
|Refund Policy||Subscriptions are non-refundable (subscriptions can be paused and/or switched to a different box type)||100% satisfaction guarantee on first box (subscriptions can be paused and/or switched to a different course)|
KiwiCo is a monthly subscription service that specializes in STEAM-based projects.
Each KiwiCo crate features a unique theme that is meant to be both fun and educational. Crates are divided up by suggested age range as well as overall subject matter (i.g., engineering versus art).
Although KiwiCo is built on the concept of monthly subscriptions, you can also purchase single boxes if desired.
If you’re at all familiar with KiwiCo, you know that there’s no shortage of crates to choose from. Here’s a brief look at the crates most comparable to the MEL Science product range:
Created for children ages 5 to 8, the Kiwi Crate is a great introduction to hands-on crafting and experimenting. Each kit is entirely unique and offers an engaging blend of creativity and science-based learning.
The Kiwi Crate includes kid-friendly instructions for each activity and other fun content like comic books and zines.
KiwiCo’s Tinker Crate provides a more advanced STEM experience for kids between 9 and 14 years old. It’s a great step up from the Kiwi Crate.
The Tinker Crate offers experiments and construction projects that are relatively kid-accessible but never “dumbed down.” While kids on the lower side of the recommended age range will probably need a bit of supervision and/or adult help, each kit can technically be completed alone.
For teens and adults who are constantly looking for new projects and experiments to try, KiwiCo’s Eureka Crate delivers. Everything you need to complete each build is included.
Examples of past projects include functional instruments, pencil sharpeners, and pinball machines.
Older teens and adults should have no trouble completing each Eureka Crate independently. However, this crate would also make a wonderful team project for an adult and child.
KiwiCo’s Kiwi and Tinker Crates cost $22.95 on a month-to-month basis. The Eureka Crate is a bit pricier at $31.95 per month.
Keep in mind that KiwiCo offers discounted rates when you sign up for a multi-month subscription.
There’s no harm in purchasing a single box to test out the company for yourself. Just don’t forget to switch to a longer subscription if you fall in love!
MEL Science is a monthly subscription service offering hands-on STEM experiments and projects. Each subscription also includes access to virtual and augmented reality software and digital lessons.
While each MEL Science box is designed for a separate age range, they do overlap by a couple of years here and there. This gives kids the freedom to choose which scientific field they’d like to engage with each month. (Or, for the particularly voracious STEM enthusiast, subscribe to multiple boxes at once!)
Here are the courses MEL Science currently offers:
The MEL Science STEM box is a multi-disciplinary kit for children ages 5 to 9 years old.
Each monthly shipment comes with the materials for up to 3 hands-on projects that can be completed alone or with an adult’s help. The included instructions are age-appropriate and easy to understand.
As the name implies, this MEL Science subscription hones in on the building blocks of physics and related sciences. The MEL Science Physics course is recommended for ages 8 to 14.
Each monthly box includes 2 or 3 activities designed for independent learning (though adult supervision is often recommended). The included virtual lessons are particularly helpful for expanding upon the hands-on experiments and projects.
Children and teens with an interest in lab work will naturally gravitate toward the MEL Science Chemistry course. This subscription is designed for ages 10 to 16.
Each box includes 2 to 3 experiments — most experiments come with enough reagents to be completed twice.
This particular MEL Science course also comes with a free Lab Kit when you first subscribe. The Lab Kit includes basic equipment like vials, safety glasses, and a fuel burner, as well as a VR headset.
You can learn more about this MEL Science course by checking out our detailed MEL Chemistry review!
By far the most unique course offered by MEL Science is the Med subscription box! This course is recommended for teens ages 14 to 19 and explores countless themes throughout the medical world.
Each box contains up to 5 hands-on and virtual activities. These activities cover medical fields like dentistry, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, and more.
Most MEL Science subscriptions start at $25.90 per month. The MEL Science Med course starts at $69.90 per month.
Rates may vary based on the specific box you sign up for and the length of your chosen subscription.
MEL Science kits are not available for purchase without a subscription. However, you can pause or cancel your subscription at any time if you discover this isn’t the right box for you!
KiwiCo and MEL Science are two of our favorite STEM subscription boxes — hands down! But there are a few reasons you might want to choose KiwiCo vs MEL Science, or vice-versa:
- MEL Science boxes tend to include more immersive and hands-on experiments than their KiwiCo counterparts.
- KiwiCo crates tend to include everything you’ll need for the enclosed activities. MEL Science kits often call for additional items found around the house.
- MEL Science offers a unique and innovative experience for teens interested in the medical field with its Med course.
- MEL Science boxes are only available by signing up for a subscription (though you can cancel at any time).
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Difference Between STEM And STEAM?
While STEM has been used for many years now to refer to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, STEAM is quickly gaining popularity.
The truth is that both acronyms stand for largely the same thing. The “A” is added to represent the importance of art in childhood development and education.
You’ll see both STEM and STEAM used by educational brands geared toward children. And, in the case of subscription boxes, there is rarely a noticeable difference between the two.