50 Science Things to Make and Do is just that, a passel of experiments, all illustratively explained in two facing pages of this big 104-page flip book, and all easily done with common household items. Includes wind and water power, bugs, crystals, paper planes, rubber-band guitars, balances, gloop, optics and a ton of other fun, informative stuff. Officially classified as "cool" by several of our geekiest staffers.
If you're devoted to explosions, and who isn't, you'll love the new expanded 2nd edition of William Gurstelle's Backyard Ballistics, now 25% longer, with 25% more ka-boomery. Still the go-to reference work for building rockets, cannons (carbide and potato), flingers, fire kites, electromagnetic pipe guns, tennis ball mortars, cleaner-bag balloons, ballistic pendula and petards. You simply can't have more fun with common household materials. The soft-cover, 210pp compendium includes detailed and illustrated instructions, parts lists and sensible ways not to be hoist on your own petard. Be careful out there.
Coding for Beginners…using Scratch is a 96-page, hardback, spiral-bound book for teaching kids with basic computer skills how to write code using Scratch, an educational programming language developed by MIT. (Has over 12 million registered users and 15 million shared projects.) Book includes art and sonic projects plus (4) games.
The weirdness just gets weirder in the "Weird Civil War" entry in this book series, tracing ghosts, creepy legends and other spooky tales of the Civil War (or War Between the States, or War of Northern Aggression, depending upon how you hold). Stories weave through the Carolinas, Florida & Georgia, Kentucky & Tennessee, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and DC, plus the Midwest, Great Plains and Southwest. Lushly illustrated in a 207-page hardcover, but don't count on it for your SAT prep.
Our grandmother used to tell us that all the time, and we might have learned something while we were out there if she’d given us The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature, this 120-page paperback from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Chock full of information, photos and illustrations for exploring nature in both the city (includes pigeon info!) and the countryside, and in all four seasons. They might stay out of your hair until supper.
If they saw this color map eight times a day, they'd know where every place is-and its capital. Snap this tough, 8.5" x 11" laminated sheet into a school notebook and eventually they'll have to read it. It's a very nice world map with capital cities on one side, a U.S. map with state capitals on the other. It includes other major cities plus partial Canadian and Mexican bonus areas. Current, barring a coup since we got our latest shipment.
A must-have for micro-warriors; Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction by John Austin (author of the best-selling Cubicle Warfare) is 241 pages of detailed instructions for building (42) implements of spitball warfare from ordinary household objects and office supplies. With the caveat that this is written for responsible individuals who take reasonable safety precautions (don't do anything your mother would scream at) we have to say that we love the binder-clip crossbow and the tongue-depressor catapult. Volume 2, which is 251 pages, has a secret-agent flair with new gadgets like the push-pin dart, toothpaste periscope and cereal briefcase. Volume 3, 267 pages, continues with a Medieval flavor and over a dozen catapults and ballistae, plus a buncha bows and crossbows. Oh, just buy the whole 3-volume Library of Destruction and get it over with.
Learn atomic weights while winning money from your classmates. Here’s a double deck of (104) cards plus (4) jokers all stored in a stylish box because no one wants to lose their gold, krypton or rubidium. In addition to the standard playing card values, the decks cover the periodic table of elements. Each card includes one element’s atomic number, symbol, series, melting and boiling points, period/group, uses, est. atomic weight, standard state, and the element’s name in English. Includes instructions for (2) educational games if you aren’t in the mood for canasta or two games of hearts. Up to date: published in 2006.
Wonderful little book jammed with elaborate colored drawings that tells the beginner a little about everything to do with a microscope. And all in a mere 48 pages! From data on the history and types of microscopes, to introductions and samples and how to prepare them, (from tissues and insects to crystals) to ideas for experiments and lists of simple equipment needs, and how to build them at home, this book is a veritable cornucopia of information. If you are thinking of getting a microscope, we strongly recommend "The World of the Microscope" as a great stimulus for the novice user. It won't answer heavy duty scientific questions. But it will keep the beginner busy, challenged and entertained for days and weeks! By Chris Oxlade and Corrine Stockley. Paperback, 7-3/4" x 9-3/4". One of the Usborne science and experiments series of books.
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