Simple family fun turned into a huge adventure for Justin and Melia Rice and their children. It also lead to a family business aimed at growing future earth scientists.
Two years ago, these Liberty Lake parents wanted to help their then 3-year-old son Grayson explore the outside world. They purchased an explorer kit to help him learn about one of his favorite things: bugs.
“It was such a great gift and we spent so much time digging up creepy crawly specimens and finding cool rocks along the way,” says Justin Rice, who is a working geologist. That kit got them wondering if there was a similar product for introducing their children to Justin’s line of science. They wanted to find a game or kit to entice the budding rock lover and wanna-be kid geologist.
Creating what was missing
Unable to find much, they started putting their own kit together, It included dad’s old hand magnifying lens, a compass, field notebooks, colored pencil, specimen bags, display boxes, streak plates and, eventually, an identification guide.
“Of course we were overconfident on (his) ability to use a lot of these tools, but he had so much fun using this kit in his own way,” says Rice. “His greatest joy was finding cool rocks to show dad.”
Over time, the family’s kitchen became what Rice calls a “crazy laboratory” of all sorts of home experiments. Spread across the room were models to explain rock cycles, experiments to learn about magma and create magnetic slime, and other geology-based thrills.
A family project
“We created our GeoKidz Creative Kit from our kitchen laboratory,” Rice says. “I like to tell people it represents the tools and information I had when I was in my Geology 101 lab.” The business now offers several other kits, including a Seismic Adventure Kit, RockHounding, and The Dig Kit.
GeoKidz is a family project, says Rice. Each product is designed to grow with a child. Parents may want join the exploration with younger children, then invite kids explore on their own as they master skills and expand their reading ability. Kit tools are made for real scientific exploration. For example instead of a magnifying glass, they include an authentic geologist hand lens.
Grayson, now 5, and Haylen, age 2, help determine whether GeoKitz kits will hold up to hard play.
“Our kids test out everything and it has been invaluable to see what they like — or what they can easily destroy,” he says. “Being able to involve the entire family is one of the most rewarding aspects of GeoKidz.”
Rice says he feels his family is making a difference each time they send a package out. As a geologist, he believes each is the potential spark for the new generation of geologists.
“Sounds silly, but some future geologists may remember their first GeoKidz kit. I am truly inspired by this.” Recommended for ages 5 and up with a parent, 12 and up without. exploregeokidz.com.