Friday, January 16, 2009

"Fair' Play with the Frizzle: The Magic School Bus and the Science Fair Expedition by Joanna Cole

Ms. Frizzle's class is in a swizzle. Their school science fair is looming near, and nobody has a clue what to do!

But of course the Frizz has a plan. The class embarks on a walking field trip to the Walkerville Science Museum to see its exhibit on Great Scientists through the Ages, and the kids heave a sigh of relief as they leave the big yellow bus parked behind at the school. "We get to walk instead of riding on our wacky old school bus," they say with a sigh of relief. No surprises for this class, just a pleasant, boring walk-through at a nice, safe old museum.

NOT! When the kids arrive at the museum, there is a kitschy cutout of a yellow school bus in the main hall, and the kids climb up to have their pictures taken, cutely framed in the cardboard bus's windows. But with the Frizz in the cardboard driver's seat, they soon realize that they've been hoodwinked into another magical mystery tour--this time of science through the ages.

Landing in Pisa, Italy, the kids grumble, "We knew a nice boring trip was to good to be true!" "Wow," says Ralphie, predictably. "A whole city of pizza!" There's no pizza in Pisa in 1610, but the kids are just in time to take a look through Galileo's telescope at the moons of Jupiter, revolving around their planet as he proves Copernicus' theory that that Earth is not, as believed, the center of the universe. Then the students are whisked off to England to observe Isaac Newton as he describes the glue (gravity) which holds Earth and the planets in their orbits around the sun.

In due order The Frizz drives the mockup bus on to see Antoni Von Leeuwenhoek invent the microscope and view the first one-celled animals and plants seen by man. Building on von Leeuwenhoek's gadget, they fly on to Louis Pasteur's time to see him solve the mystery of anthrax when he finds the microscopic blood-borne pathogen for the first time. While in France Frizzle's kids also meet Pierre and Madam Curie as they discover radioactivity in radium, and then meet up with Albert Einstein, who explains how matter and energy are related.

"Our class will understand your ideas when they are older, Albert," says the Frizz.

"Take you time," says Einstein. "It took me a while to understand them myself!"

Back at the museum the kids' class photos are ready for them, and magically, in the pictures they see Al Einstein, Pierre and Marie, Louie P., Tony Von Leeuwenhoek, Leo G. and Copernicus waving from the school bus right along with them. Now the kids get it. Science is an ongoing process and they too are part of that story, and they can't wait to begin their own projects as they head back to school together.

As a science project starter, Joanna Cole's and Bruce Degen's twentieth anniversary
The Magic School Bus And The Science Fair Expedition (Magic School Bus) is a great place to begin for young science fair-goers.

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