Tag Archives: science

What are Diamonds and How Do They Form? by Judith Hubbard

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What are Diamonds and How Do They Form? by Judith Hubbard, non-fiction e-book, 63 pages, published in 2016.

Geology has never been my favourite facet of science, but this book impressed me. It was interesting, engaging and informative. The writing was perfectly pitched for the intended audience; it was clear and easy to understand with appropriate photographs and diagrams throughout.

This is the first In Depth Science book written by Judith Hubbard, and after reading this, I would definitely like to read more in the series. The way she conveys such complicated material is excellent, and I think it will help to get, and keep kids interested in earth sciences.

Towards the back of the book there was a section of interactive activities. These included a quiz on the content of the book, as well as a range of experiments and projects that could be done at home. Such activities are a great way to get kids involved and excited about science. There was also a comprehensive glossary explaining terms used within the text.

Suitable for middle and upper primary school through to high school kids. I will be giving What are Diamonds and How Do They Form? to both my 2nd and 5th graders to read.

 

*I received this book as a digital edition from the author in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

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A Day in the Park by Matt Weiss

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dayparkA Day in the Park by Matt Weiss, e-book, 271 pages, published in 2016.

During a science lesson at school, Ryan’s teacher suggests that he investigate a local park area to look for frogs and frog spawn. Along with his mates, Casey and Jay, Ryan heads to the park, but along one of the trails in the forest, he discovers something else. Even though they do not know what it is, the three boys decide to dig it up and research it.

Overall, I quite enjoyed A Day in the Park. I have an interest in archaeology and palaeontology, so a book about fossils and prehistoric creatures is right up my alley. There were a lot of references to scientific terms and processes during the story, which might throw some readers. However, all of the terms were explained sufficiently for people new to this area of science.

I was surprised the first time that Ryan drifted off into the prehistoric landscape. And I’m still not sure if he was dreaming, hallucinating or actually travelling back in time! There was also no explanation as to how or why he was experiencing these prehistoric travels. These sequences were some of my favourite parts of the story. They were well developed with lovely descriptive language, bringing the prairie and its inhabitants to life.

The boys were average young teens being encouraged to leave their screens behind and find adventures in nature. Jay was definitely the clown of the trio, doing some rather silly, though funny things. Casey was the brains, always ready to investigate things thoroughly, and read extra information. Ryan was kind of in between. He was quieter than Jay, but less studious than Casey. I liked all three, and through the story I learnt plenty about each of them.

A Day in the Park is most suitable for middle primary school to lower high school children. I read the whole book in one day, and it kept me entertained throughout. While I enjoyed it as an adult, I know that I would have loved this book when I was about ten or eleven, so I am recommending it to my ten year old to read.

 

*I received this book from the author as a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Apophis by Caron Rider

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apophiscoverApophis by Caron Rider, e-book, expected publication by Smashwords on 6th May 2016.

A huge asteroid is heading towards Earth where it is expected to cause a global catastrophic event. To preserve the human race, scientists develop two groups of genetically modified children. One group is to be placed into stasis until the effects of the asteroid strike have dissipated and life on earth is possible once more. The other group are sent to Mars to live, with the hope that their descendants will at some point return to Earth to live. Almost two thousand years later the group in stasis is awoken to find the Martians terrorising the clans of human survivors.

It’s taken me a couple of days to write this review because I wanted to tell you how great Apophis was, but I was hugely disappointed by the ending. It left me with mixed feelings, but for most of the book, I love it.

At first I had intended to just glance through the first few pages to get a feel for the story, next thing I find I’m half way through the book! The plot was reasonably fast and easy to follow. I read this entertaining book quickly. I was intrigued! The science was interesting, and the possibility of such advancements in technology is mind boggling. It felt like that could really happen in our futures. I liked that the science fiction still had a realistic feel to it.

The characters felt real too. I had a hard time remembering that Alec was actually a computer program rather than a person. I liked the way he interacted with Cynthia, always watching out for her and doing his best to protect the whole stasis project. Cynthia had a lot of responsibility, but she bore it well, and she was quite personable. However, I liked Tedo the best. Even with his physical limitations, he strove to do his best, and he was a really good person, despite the way others treated him.

However, the story ended far too abruptly and left me feeling very unsatisfied. The ending was rather lame, and after enjoying the rest of the book so much, I was very disappointed. I actually flipped through the following pages to see if there was more, but there were only previews for other books… I’m not sure how I wanted it to end, but it definitely needed more fight between the martians and the humans. The end let the whole book down.

Apophis is suitable for young adults and adults alike. It is quite tame in respect to levels of violence and romance, and there is no foul language to speak of, so younger readers could also enjoy it.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Fluid Mechanics: A Fairy Tale by Sarah Allen

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Fluids Fairy Tale CoverFluid Mechanics: A Fairy Tale by Sarah Allen, e-book, 21 pages, published in 2013.

What an interesting concept! Learn about physics through the telling of a fairy tale. The first section of the book tells the fairy tale, while the second part goes over the physics concepts that were found within the story.

Once upon a time there was a princess… and she rocks! She becomes queen, and goes off to face the wizard that has stolen her baby daughter, and put her beloved husband into a never-ending sleep. Her husband’s brothers help her out in her quest, giving her a magical golden ball and a silver boat.

The fairy tale showed the Archimedes’ Principle, Buoyancy Force, Bernoulli’s Principle and Archimedes’ screw in action. The story was well written, and I enjoyed it. I also liked the Queen, who shows innovation, perseverance and courage along her quest. She faced the wizard, and solved his conundrum, using fluid mechanics, allowing the reader to explore an example of these concepts. They were then explained more fully in the second section. Simple diagrams were used to help illustrate the physics. This is a great way to introduce physics to younger students, or anyone having difficulty getting their heads around it. I found it was quite easy to understand the science in this format, and it hardly seemed like learning at all!

Suitable for kids from upper primary through high school and beyond, Fluid Mechanics: A Fairy Tale is a fantastic introduction to this interesting subject. More Sarah Allen science books are available through Amazon.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Static Electricity

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Does anyone else remember rubbing your school shoes on the industrial school carpet until you’d built up enough charge to zap people? We spent many wet winter days stuck in a classroom doing this to each other! This is static electricity, and there are other ways to experience it, which are much better with the kids.

Static electricity is caused by friction between two surfaces. Some surfaces are better at building and maintaining a charge than others. We used a balloon for our experiments because it is easy to create the charge and to witness its effects. The friction causes the surface to gain a charge (negative or positive), and when another surface has the opposite charge, they become attracted. Static electricity can cause a ‘zap’ if you touch someone or something after building up some static on yourself. You can find a good explanation of static electricity at Science Made Simple.

Rubbing the balloon on the rug.

Rubbing the balloon on the rug.

Raising L's hair.

Raising L’s hair.

Stuck to L's head.

Stuck to L’s head.

We used balloons to demonstrate and play with static electricity. I blew up a couple of balloons and gave one to each of the kids. First they rubbed their balloons against their hair to build up the charge. When they raised the balloon away from their heads their hair was attracted back to the balloon, looking like it was standing on end. They also tried rubbing the balloons on the carpet, and on their clothes, but it didn’t provide enough charge to lift their hair.

Stuck to the wall.

Stuck to the wall.

They discovered that after rubbing the balloons on their hair, there was enough charge to hold the balloon to the wall. They were amazed by this, and spent quite a lot of time trying this over and over.

I emptied the hole punch onto the carpet (this can make a big mess, so be prepared to vacuum after, and ask a parent first!). All the little bits of paper from the hole punch scattered on the floor. The kids charged up their balloons and then attempted to pick up these bits of paper. They tried picking up the paper from different heights to see how far away the balloon could be before it lost its attraction. They marveled as they watched the paper fly up to stick to the balloon.

Lifting paper off the floor.

Lifting paper off the floor.

Paper stuck to the balloon.

Paper stuck to the balloon.

They discovered that they could get the best reaction by rubbing the balloons on their head, though this did cause their hair to become rather knotty after a while. We had to carefully brush their hair out at the end, but they had a brilliant time playing with the balloons.

We also discussed some other places that we might encounter static electricity zaps, such as on the trampoline and the slide.

Optical Illusions by Dr Gareth Moore

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IMG_2514Optical Illusions by Dr Gareth Moore, hardback non-fiction, 96 pages, published by Parragon Books Ltd in 2013.

Optical Illusions presents more than 150 different images with explanations of these truly amazing illusions. The book was broken up into sections containing different types of illusions, such as perspective illusions, movement illusions, and colour illusions.

Both my daughter and myself pored over this book for hours allowing our minds to be tricked by the images. Some of them we had to move closer or further away to experience the illusion, and a few I couldn’t see at all, but most of them were very obvious. Even knowing that it was an illusion, it was incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to ignore the trick and see the image for what it really was. I loved trying though!

There was a handy little visual interpreter card inside the front cover that could be used to remove the illusion. Throughout the book, if an image could be decoded using the visual interpreter, there was a coloured circle besides the illusion indicating which part of the visual interpreter to use. This made checking whether lines were really straight or areas were the same colour much easier. My second grader liked using this visual interpreter to help her to see the reality of the image.

Optical Illusions is a very entertaining book that really has to be seen to be believed!

 

Rainbow Milk

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When I was in school, we did an experiment with milk and food colouring that was really cool. I couldn’t remember exactly what went into the milk, so I had a look about the internet, and found the experiment I was thinking of over at DLTK’s Crafts for Kids, and they even had a video showing how it’s done!

Food colouring and milk in the tin.

Food colouring and milk in the tin.

This experiment is really easy, yet so amazing! We placed a shallow layer of milk into a cake tin. We only had light milk, so that’s what we used, and it worked just fine. A used a pipette to place some red, yellow and blue food colouring at roughly evenly spaced intervals around the edge of the tin. Once the food colouring was in, I placed a squirt of dish washing liquid into the centre of the tin, and we watched eagerly to see what would happen.

A few moments after the dish washing liquid was added.

A few moments after the dish washing liquid was added.

The dish washing liquid doesn’t mix with the milk, so it spreads out across the surface of the milk. The food colouring gets caught in the movement of the dishwashing liquid, and causes the colours to move and mix. We got a rainbow! The reaction can continue for a while, making new colours and awesome patterns. There’s no need to mix or move it for the colour mixing to continue. After about ten minutes, A wobbled the tin a little to see what would happen. It made the colours mix even more.

After a few minutes.

After a few minutes.

After about 10 minutes.

After about 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A thought this experiment was so incredible, she asked to repeat it once L and Big L were home. L put a lot of dish washing liquid into the milk, and the reaction happened much more quickly than our earlier attempt. As the colours mixed, Baby T was completely mesmerised by the movement of the colours. This time, after the colour mixing had begun, we let the kids have a toothpick to drag through the colours to make even more interesting patterns. They enjoyed doing this, and kept doing it until the colours had mixed so much it was a murky brown colour. Science is pretty cool 🙂

A few minutes into the second experiment. The spot in the middle is the dish washing liquid.

A few minutes into the second experiment. The spot in the middle is the dish washing liquid.

Using a toothpick to make new patterns.

Using a toothpick to make new patterns.

Celery Experiment

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The kids don’t really like to eat celery (though I do), but they weren’t averse to using it for an experiment. What happens when we place celery tops into cups of coloured water?

At the start.

At the start.

We chose five food colours, red, pink, green, yellow and blue. We placed some of each colour into five separate plastic cups and then filled the cups up to about half way with water. Each cup got its own celery top. I asked the kids what they thought would happen if we left them like that, they both thought the celery would suck up the water. We also talked about what would happen to the colours, and would we see a difference between the colours. I was predicting that blue and red would produce the most dramatic change, and L predicted that yellow and green wouldn’t do anything.

We left the celery for about an hour. By this time, we could see some colour rising up the stalks, and travelling through the leaves. The pink and blue ones had the most obvious change in colour.

Pink, blue and red (l-r) after an hour.

Pink, blue and red (l-r) after an hour.

After an hour.

After an hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After about 24 hours, much more of the colour had been transferred from the cups into the leaves, producing a mottled effect on the leaves. We could also see the colour in the stalks. The red, pink and blue showed a major change in the colour, while the yellow and green ones were much harder to see. Looking closely at the green one, we could see the colour where some of the leaves were a little damaged, and around the edges of the leaves. The yellow one’s leaves appeared somewhat brighter than before the experiment, and we could see the yellow around the top of the stalk, but compared to the other colours, it was very difficult to see what had happened.

After 24 hours, the red, blue and pink (l-r) had a dramatic change.

After 24 hours, the red, blue and pink (l-r) had a dramatic change.

This little experiment demonstrates the way plants suck up water throughout their stem and leaf systems. It is another example of capillary action at work. L was quite interested in it, but A mostly just liked the pretty colours the celery had turned 🙂

Magnifying Glasses

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Looking at the tree leaves.

Looking at the tree leaves.

Big L brought home a magnifying glass in a sample bag last week. He gave this to L and found our kids magnifying glass for A. The kids took them into the yard to explore. They looked at leaves, grass, bugs, feathers, flowers, the concrete path, pegs, and many other things, including their own hands and feet. This gave the kids a different perspective on the outside things that they see every day. They really enjoyed using the magnifying glasses, and have asked to explore with them again soon.

Investigating a leaf.

Investigating a leaf.

Investigating a curled up leaf.

Investigating some bark.

Investigating a Coconut

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L asked what was inside a coconut. So we decided to buy one and see for ourselves.

Draining the milk.

Draining the milk.

Both kids held the coconut and touched its rough skin prior to us attempting to open it. Then Big L took a screwdriver to one of the coconut’s eyes, and pierced a hole into the centre. He drained some of the coconut’s milk out through this hole. L was surprised that this milk wasn’t white like cow’s milk, but she didn’t want to try drinking it.

A helped Big L put the milk through a fine sieve to remove the debris from the shell.

Sieving the milk.

Sieving the milk.

Big L upgraded to a bottle opener to make the hole bigger so that the milk would drain more quickly, and he let each of the kids use a corkscrew in the hole too.

Using a corkscrew to open a hole in the coconut.

Using a corkscrew to open a hole in the coconut.

Once all the milk was drained, Big L used the dull side of a large knife to tap the coconut’s shell until it weakened, and he was able to cut the coconut open. The kids were fascinated by the white flesh inside the hairy brown shell. We explained to A that this was where the white stuff on the outside of lamingtons comes from (lamingtons being one of her favourite foods at the moment).

Opened coconut.

Opened coconut.

Unfortunately the coconut had a crack in the shell when we bought it (I can thank online grocery shopping for that) and some mould had grown in the crack, infiltrating the flesh, making the coconut unsuitable for eating. We did have fun opening it and seeing what was inside though, and I think we will probably get another one sometime so that we can try the fresh milk and flesh too.