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Friday, July 22, 2016

Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects, by Jack Challoner, with a foreword by Jack Andraka. DK Canada, 2016. $24.99 ages 8 and up

"It's amazing what experiments you can carry out with everyday items like paper, rubber bands, and balloons. As you'll see in this exciting chapter, you don't need any special materials to understand the structure of DNA or to find out about the planets in our solar system. There are also experiments with paper planes and static electricity."

Oh, boy! You are going to love this book ... if you love science, and you have an interest in building, inventing, creating, discovering. It's all here for you, and the instructions make it easy for you to try your hand at projects in the kitchen, around the house, in the water, and in the great outdoors.

Each chapter starts with an introduction similar to the one quoted above. Each project is described in pages of information, instruction, and explanation for how and why it works, often including a connection to Real World Science.

"Like whisked egg whites, snow contains lots of trapped air, and is a very good insulator. That's why people can stay warm in an igloo, a shelter made from bricks of snow and traditionally built by communities living in northern Canada and Greenland."

Baked Alaska, anyone?

Jack Challoner happily shares his knowledge of science through talks and demonstrations in schools, libraries and museums. And now, in this wonderful new book from DK. He is happy to report that he has tried each one of the projects shared here. Most materials are readily available in the home and all help to explain scientific ideas. Kids learn best when actively involved in their own learning. In trying these fun projects they may fail and have to make another attempt. That just makes the real learning better and much more memorable for them.

There are more than twenty-five experiments to try, some much more difficult than others. All can be accomplished with perseverance and perhaps a bit of help. The instructions are very clear, the photos beautiful and extremely useful, and the science evident.

If you are looking for 'stuff to do with your kids on lazy days this summer, take a look at this terrific book and get learning yourself. I am going to try the Sugar Crystal Lollipops. I wonder if I can be patient enough to wait for them to be ready to share:

"Leave your glass for several days in a safe place. Check each day to see how the sugar crystals are growing. If a sugar crust grows on top of the solution, gently break this and remove it - this will help the lollipop to continue growing."

And now I know how hoarfrost forms!

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