Monday, November 30, 2009

Book of Totally Irresponsible Science

Biblio Bits The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science: 64 Daring Experiments for Young Scientists by Sean Connolly, Workman Publishing, 2008 (ISBN 9780761150206)

Reading Level/Interest Age Ages 9+

Genre Nonfiction, Science

Plot Summary
The title of this book pretty much says it all: it's a book of science experiments for young scientists (and their responsible adults). The book is organized into chapters: "Core Concerns," "Harnessing the Elements," "Food for Thought," "How Moving!", "A Lot of Hot Air," "100% Natural," and "Mad Science." The titles of each experiment are clever and eye-catching, like "The Rubber Chicken Bone" which is all about acids and bases and the importance of calcium. Each experiment gives a brief introduction, a detailed list of necessary supplies, a section called "Take Care" with any safety precautions, step-by-step instructions for the experiment, and the scientific principle the experiment demonstrates. The book has a vintage look and fun photos and illustrations.

Critical Evaluation
Overall, this is a fun book that is great for browsing. Most of the ingredients are readily available, and might already be lurking in your pantry. There were many that were suitable for younger children, though the forward admonishes readers that all experiments should be attended by a responsible adult. The Viking Funeral (p.116) was the only experiment that seemed confusing in the instructions, otherwise the instructions were clear and we had good results on the few that we tried. There is a list of the experiments that is organized by the amount of time each one requires. But it would be helpful to have an index, particularly one that organized the experiments by scientific principle or even just into different branches of science (physics, botany, chemistry, etc.).

Reader's Annotation
It's weird and gross, it's an egg without its shell, it's slimey and gooey, it'll make your hair stand on end... it's science! (And if you make a mess in the house, it will make your parents crazy!)

Author Information
Sean Connolly has written over 50 books for children and adults on many nonfiction topics. He is the father of three children. (Information from this author biography is from the back of the book. Not much else was online about him!)

Challenge issues
Experiments may result in messes and some of them could be dangerous, though there are ample warnings about what to be cautious about in the text.

Booktalking Ideas
The best way to booktalk this book would be to have a nifty, quick experiment to show and tell, probably something that's not too messy! I might recommend The Bold Little Ball (p.120), where you have a funnel and a ping pong ball and you blow air out. It turns out you can show why an airplane can stay in the air using this experiment. I would feature other books that of science experiments, maybe feature a few books on inventions, kid inventors, and biographies of famous scientists. The theme could be "Crazy Ideas That Stuck!"

Curriculum Ties
Obviously there are many links to science units in this volume (duh, it's a book about science experiments!), such as Boyle's Law (Potato Gun, p.45), Volume (Air Cannon, p.35), the Bernoulli Effect (The Bold Little Ball, p.121), and Photosynthesis (Sunny Exposure p.155).

Why this book?
This is a great book to have in your home or library for those long summer vacations or rainy November days (like today!). It's easy to find something in these pages that you have the ingredients for already!


Rockport Public Library owns?

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