Earth Science Projects for Kids Book Reviews

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Booklist, October 15, 2011

On A Project Guide to Earthquakes, A Project Guide to the Solar System, A Project Guide to Volcanoes, and A Project Guide to Wind, Weather, and the Atmosphere

Each slim book in the Earth Science Projects for Kids series begins with a general introduction and ends with a glossary, a source bibliography, and recommended reading lists. In between, 12 or 14 short chapters feature instructions for science projects as well as background information on the topics explored. Earthquakes offers activities such as constructing a simple seismograph and observing convection motion by watching pieces of toast in a pot of boiling water. The projects in Solar System include retrieving micrometeorites from rainwater and showing the relative distances between solar-system objects on a roll of cash-register tape. In Volcanoes, many of the activities involve building models, such as the “papier-mâché cinder cone” and the edible stratovolcano with a Rice Krispies Treats base and chocolate lava. Wind, Weather, and the Atmosphere features projects such as making a pinwheel anonometer or a simple precipitation gauge. Varied in quality, the illustrations include stock photos, snapshots of children engaged in the activities described, and helpful diagrams. The pages are a bit crowded but colorful. The text is more difficult than one would expect, given the relatively easy projects and the very young children shown in some of the illustrations. Supplemental material for larger science collections.

Booklist, December 2010

On A Project Guide to Rocks and Minerals

This colorful book from the Earth Science Projects for Kids series presents basic information about rocks and minerals within suggested projects, encouraging readers to learn about topics such as the formation, layering, and weathering of rocks and their density, porosity, and specific gravity. Projects include using heat and pressure to form “crayonite” from crayon shavings, creating a layered Jell-O dish that mimics sedimentary rock, making 3-D paper models of geometric crystal shapes, and growing crystals in a jar or, geode-like, inside an egg shell. Although the projects seem well designed and practical, the book’s intended audience is puzzling. Its polysyllabic vocabulary seems better suited to high-school than elementary-school readers, but the activities frequently call for “an adult’s help,” and the photos occasionally show a young child. And indeed, while many of the activities could be done by young children with help from adults, they would also make good projects for older students. A good supplemental source of science projects.