When I was working as a librarian, I got a ton of science project questions. We had a lot of good resources, but some of the best books had ugly illustrations, and some of the pretty books had boring or overly-prescriptive projects. The Curious Kid’s Science Book is the book I always wanted to give out. It hits a sweet spot with photographs that will make you wonder, “Ooh, what are they doing there?”
The experiments are divided into eight chapters:
- Plants and Seeds
- Water and Ice
- Mold, Bacteria, and Fungus
- Food and Candy
- Baking Soda and Vinegar
- Environmental Science
- Living Things
Within each chapter, there are experiments, challenges, and “explore” projects.
Experiments are the most like what you’ll find in most science project books, with a question and list of materials. But, I love how much the book encourages the child to design the experiment, rather than just following a list of instructions. In the experiment to determine the best depth for growing seeds, it gives a list of things to consider: “How many seeds will you use? What kind? What depths are you going to use? How long will you run the experiment? How often will you measure growth?” and so on. (p. 35) So many science project books would tell you all those things to make sure you get the right answer. This book really encourages scientific thought.
Challenges give a goal and ask the child to figure out how to get there. One of these challenges is to keep ice from melting. There is no list of required materials, instead it asks the scientists to find materials around their house to try — “plastic wrap, towels, paper towels, tape, rubber bands, and anything else you can think of!” (p. 68)
Explore projects are the most open ended and include things like dissecting plants and flowers, fitting as many drops of water as you can on a penny, and making Epsom salt crystals.
Throughout the book, there are pictures of real kids with their experiments, inset boxes with real-life applications, and extension ideas. On the egg drop experiment, the “real life application” box asks the child to look at the what is protecting the contents of a mailed package. “Do you see any similarities between this and what you tried? Does it give you more ideas?” (p. 113) On the same egg drop experiment, an extension suggestion is to try using a smaller container for the egg. “Is it easier or harder to keep the shell from cracking?” (p. 113)
While the book gives the kids a lot of freedom to investigate, the book is also designed with parents in mind. Experiments that require no preparation ahead of time are clearly marked — and there are many! The materials are easily found and inexpensive. Most projects have a number of options for materials or ask the child to find things around the house to use.
My family has enjoyed several of the projects from this book and I’m looking forward to doing more! The subtitle of the book is “100+ Creative Hands-on Activities for ages 4-8,” though I’m sure older kids would have a great time, too! Have fun!
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Source: Purchased for my home library
Laura Jewell is a mom to three young readers in Richardson. She was a children’s librarian at a public library before deciding to stay home with her girls.