EXPLORATOPIA: MORE THAN 400 KID FRIENDLY EXPERIMENTS AND EXPLORATIONS FOR CURIOUS MINDS by The Exploratorium (Little, Brown)
Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.
I will never forget visiting The Exploratorium in San Francisco, a hands-on mecca for science buffs that had me writhing with desire to recreate just a little of it in a classroom if I could. And now, like a wish come true, we have this absolutely glorious and generous compendium that captures the Exploratorium's inimitable creative energy and commitment to both science education and the glorious cause of curiosity. This inspiring, eye-opening and engaging collection of experiments, descriptions and fun facts shows science is not only a subject but a life-force that exists everywhere (exemplified by the contents: Exploring Yourself, Exploring Interesting Places and Exploring Interesting Stuff). This combo-pack of straightforward information and scintillating activities meet the criteria for great hands-on science text: the experiments are shared step by step, with clear lists of everyday items needed and explanations for why things happen. Some of the experiments are very simple and perhaps familiar (vinegar eggs, anyone?) but they are in such quantity and variety there is something for everyone, and will be a boon to teachers with limited resources. Brimming with both cartoon illustrations and photographs, I think what kids will come away with is the ability to make more careful observations; ever notice the star inside an apple, or that the number of points on that apple's ovary is equal to the number of petals on the apple blossom? Who knew? This is an amazing gift for educators; to the teacherly eye, it is laid out almost like a collection of lesson plans, and grown-ups could really arrange a whole after school science club just by using the ideas found here. But it's not just for educators; it is accessible enough to turn kids into naturalists, biologists, chemists and (drum roll, please...) readers! This is a belly-flopper of a book, as much fun to pore over as it is to use, and if you want to do an experiment about whether a book of nonfiction can make a hit as a holiday gift, well, I have a hypothesis for you. (8 and up)