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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mason Jar Science: 40 Slimy, Squishy, Super-Cool Experiments, by Jonathan Adolph. Storey Publshing, Thomas Allen & Son. 2018. $22.95 ages 8 and up

"You think growing bigger takes a long time? Try being a stalactite. Those drippy columns you see in caves grow just a few inches every thousand years! You can observe how they do it by growing your very own string of stalactite crystals. The best part is, it won't take a thousand years! (More like a week.) Set up your experiment where no one will touch it, check your drip bowl every day, and watch what happens."

The table of contents shows that the purpose for this fun book begins with the importance of science, the reason for using mason jars, and also for using the scientific method to solve some of the mysteries of the natural world. The five sections include learning in chemistry, earth science, botany, biology and physics. That seems to cover it! Back matter has a glossary, a metric conversion chart, a barometric pressure chart and finally, an index. It is filled with fun, and a whole lot of learning.

The title reveals that there are forty experiments to try. The kids have been home now for a while, and might be looking for something new and different to do with new discoveries to be made and understood. This book is sure to inspire them. It would be a great instruction manual for a summer science camp.

The author begins each new section with a description of the science being explored, and then goes on to share ideas for activities sure to entice readers into making their own discoveries by following a clearly designed plan for each. An introductory paragraph gives pertinent facts and connections. A list of materials needed and clear instructions for using those materials follow. Experimenters are encouraged to observe carefully what happens, and are given an explanation for what they see. Information boxes are useful, citing Science In Real Life, Speak Like a Scientist, Tell Me More, and Take It Further.

The mason jar is the perfect container for many reasons; they are very effective as the reader moves from one experiment to the next, all the while using this versatile, inexpensive, and often found in the home receptacle. Clear and useful photographs accompany the investigations. So much here to try for those who are 8 and up, but also fun to do with little ones as long as they have some adult supervision while making their discoveries.

Low-cost and easy to try, while teaching children what they need to know about the science that is part of our every day life, this is a book that will make some long summer days more exciting and informative. Perfect for summer diversion, but worthwhile for any middle grade science class as well.

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