Your kids may not bond well with a textbook, but they will bond with this interactive play set.

Happy Atoms, from Thames & Kosmos, is a model chemistry set that has both physical and digital components. The set contains 17 different atoms equipped with magnetic bonding sites and connections to help kids assemble different elements. Once kids construct their elements, Happy Atoms allows young chemists to scan their creation into the Happy Atoms app to discover and learn more about what they built.

This innovative kit breaks down the science of molecular bonding into a simple concept. Some atoms bond with others simply because they want to be “happy” or positively charged, other atoms are neutral or stable, and some atoms are a little grumpy with abundance of electrons. Yikes!

TBH, was a little nervous while opening this box. Chemistry was never my element, HA. But I was immediately surprised by how fun these rubbery and magnetic atoms were. (They were easily as addicting to play with and touch as fidget spinners!).

The set contains hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sodium, and chlorine atoms. I downloaded the app and was greeted by Andee, an animated female chemist. Together she helped me construct water (H20) and scan it into the app using the camera feature on an iPad. By this point in my life, I can confirm that I’ve had many experiences with water (I mean, I’m drinking it right now), yet I had never really built it or broke it down. I grabbed two hydrogen atoms and connected them to one oxygen atom. The magnetic tips connecting the atoms are strong for a sturdy build.

After scanning it into the app, I was able to learn about the type of bond, the molecular geometry of the element, its state of matter, and how the element is used. While I already knew most of this, I was excited to explore the Happy Atoms set some more, and construct some other elements, such as Beryllium (Be), something that wasn’t a part of my everyday life. This was so much more enriching and entertaining than listening to my stuffy old grade school science teacher (no offense, Mr. Simons!).

The Happy Atoms app had many features and activities within it, including a molecule map, which tracks all the molecules kids assemble and scan. Kids can click on any of the molecules to learn information on its composition, systematic name, and how it exists in our world. The map contains undiscovered molecules, too. If kids get stuck trying to fathom their next molecule to build, they can click an undiscovered molecule and receive step-by-step assembly information on which atoms to connect and what the end result will be. Of course, any chemistry set would not be complete without a Periodic Table. And you can bet that the home screen —or the control center —of the Happy Atoms app is called the Nucleus (good one, guys!).

And just like chemists do research, your child can too, in Andee and Harper’s lab. Harper is a boy chemist who kids will bond with through the app, in addition to Andee. In this “guided research” part of the app, Harper and Andee will assign tasks and help kids complete them for an even more enriching molecular experience. Your child will be hooked on completing the mission; they won’t even realize they just learned the atomic number of helium!

Happy Atoms allows kids and teens to learn about different atoms and elements by physically building them together, then syncing them up with the fun app. While it can’t replace a science class, it can be a valuable study tool to really bring to life (and excite!) your child about some of the most important molecules in chemistry. The best part is that your child will never stop learning. The instruction manual lists some hands-on experiments children can do to learn even more. While this set starts at age 10, it is a valuable tool that even high school students can benefit from.

Our suggestion: Science teachers need bring this chemistry set into the classroom STAT to help students visualize the elements! We also think this would be a resourceful tool for parents to bring into their homes. These molecules are mole-COOL!