Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Craft Science: Smithsonian Maker Lab--28 Super Cool Projects by Jack Challonger

Long summer days are on their way, and when it's too hot to play or summer showers stray your way, it's nice to have some indoor fun that's actually educational.

Jack Challonger's Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects: Build * Invent * Create * Discover (Dorling Kindersley, 2017) is here, with 28 varied things to make, mostly from stuff found around the house.

Divided into four main categories--Food for Thought, Around the Home, Water World, and The Great Outdoors--Challonger begins at the beginning, with a succinct run-down of the scientific method, and then jumps quickly into "Kitchen Science" with an "electrifying" entry with the venerable Lemon Battery, extending this oldie but goodie with batteries using other fruits (but not the old dill pickle version).

Other sure-fire kid pleasers in this section include Homemade Slime (a household version of Silly Putty based on, yes, shampoo; Baked Alaska, an edible experiment into the insulating properties of air bubbles suspended in meringue; and Invisible Ink, the tried-and-true lemon juice concoction for penning secret messages--which also solves the problem of what to do with the leaky lemon after the battery project.

The Around the Home section is is loaded with ideas for utilizing stuff hiding in linen closets, kitchen cabinets, and junk drawers: Sensational Speakers for Smart Phones, crafted from toilet paper cylinders, paper cups, and paper towels, as well as Balloon-Powered Cars; while the Water World section offers a Soap-Powered Boat, self-scrubbing Bath Fizzies, and a working Water Wheel. The Great Outdoors section offers building a Jungle in a Bottle, Wind Cups, an anemometer crafted from plastic cups and a soda straw, and Sun Plants, artsy frameable prints made from ferns, flowers, or leaves which leave their image on light-sensitive paper when left in the sun.

To back up the science connection, DK editors offer a nifty glossary that supplies a working vocabulary for young makers, with terms such as "base" and "acid," "ions," "surface tension," and "UV (ultraviolet) light."

Jumping into the popular mania for "Maker Centers" (what used to be called craft or science centers), Dorling Kindersley invites youngsters in with their trademark page design, large, detailed, color photographs set spot-art style against the large, sturdy bright while pages, accompanied by step-by-step directions easily accessible to middle readers, making most of these activities safe and simple enough for upper elementary students to do with minimal supervision.

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