Thursday, February 10, 2011

What's Up? Ace Your Plant Science Project by Robert Gardner and Phyllis J. Perry

Science is the study of the things that are all around you, every day. No matter where you are or what you are doing, scientific principles are at work. You don't need special materials or equipment to be a scientist. By making careful observations and asking questions about how things work, you can begin to design experiments to investigate a variety of questions. You can do science. You probably already have but just didn't know it!

And all around us whenever we go outdoors is the wide world of plants. Resolutely growing, growing, growing almost anywhere, even in the most relentlessly urban area, plants delight us, nourish us, sometimes annoy us, and contribute to our basic need for oxygen by their very existence. Robert Gardner's and Ann Perry's Ace Your Plant Science Project: Great Science Fair Ideas (Ace Your Biology Science Project) (Enslow) is an engaging introduction to the world of plant science as well as a useful handbook for easy, inexpensive, and very educational science projects for those middle elementary years. As always, the authors begin with a brief but thorough discussion of the scientific method, followed by safety tips for the novice experimenter.

What then follows are a series of chapters organized around the basics of plant science--"Seeds and Germination," "Leaves," "Stems, Roots, and Buds," "Plant Reproduction," and "Trees," which in themselves cover most of the objectives of the elementary curriculum. Experiments are described step by step, with diagrams, maps, formulas, labelled drawings, and material lists included within the text, and most require little in the way of equipment and adult supervision, presenting ideas without condescension to the young reader, leaving room for open-ended questions to the creativity of the student.

Backed up with a book and web site bibliography and index, this entry into Enslow's notable Great Science Fair Ideas series is a useful starting point for any student to begin preparation for that science fair project sure to be in his or her future.

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