Books may appeal to kids who love science

Paleontology, astronomy come to life for youngsters

Posted 11/6/16

On a previous trip to the Smithsonian Institution, schoolmates Dominique, Eric, Josephine and Ajay went back in time to the 1876 Philadelphia Exhibition and discovered that the nefarious Barris brothers had brought back dinosaur eggs as a new …

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Books may appeal to kids who love science

Paleontology, astronomy come to life for youngsters

Posted

On a previous trip to the Smithsonian Institution, schoolmates Dominique, Eric, Josephine and Ajay went back in time to the 1876 Philadelphia Exhibition and discovered that the nefarious Barris brothers had brought back dinosaur eggs as a new business venture. In the first in a series of Smithsonian graphic novels for tweens, “The Wrong Wrights,” they enlisted Alexander Graham Bell, Nellie Bly and William Foulke to thwart this plot.

In a second graphic novel, published by the Smithsonian, “Claws and Effect,” these kids are riding home on a school bus one later day and they look out a window and see dinosaurs from every age and of all kinds creeping and flying through the neighborhood! The Natural History Museum has become The Museum of Extinction, and their friend Smitty from the Smithsonian has contacted the quartet on their DARC bracelets (database access and retrieval conduit — kind of like the wristwatch radios available to heroes of the past) asking for help in this latest incident.

Josephine, who knows the correct name for each specimen, adopts a Compsognathus, a sweet, cuddly little pink flying dino she calls Penny, which seems to have taken the place of her pet kitty. It says “meep” and rides in her backpack.
 
The others appear and they're off on another time trip visit to the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition, the first World's Fair … The involved tale goes on from there, with historical characters and situations and identification of a number of extinct species …

For a science-oriented, imaginative kid, the idea of a neighborhood full of dinosaurs is intriguing and fun to read about, I'd think. As is time travel … It should be available in bookstores by now after an Oct. 18 publication date. Authors are Chris Kientz and Steve Hockensmith.

Also recently received here is “Astronomy Lab for Kids” by Michelle Nichols, M.Ed. She describes 52 family-friendly activities, done with items that are around the house, or easily obtainable. This one will need occasional assistance from the adults around the house, when sharp items are needed for cutting, but otherwise, a kid can measure, tape, assemble and observe — and learn all sorts of techniques that will apply in an actual lab in the future if that's where she/he is headed. One learns to record results, measure and reach conclusions …

Units are: Observing, Scope it Out!, Size and Scale, Light, Motion and Gravity, Exploring Our Solar System and Seeing Stars.

Lab 107, for example, “Our Changing Moon,” explains “Why does our moon appear to be different shapes?” Time: 10 Minutes. Materials: chair; one bright lamp or flashlight; one round polystyrene ball, at least 2 inches in diameter (your moon); your science notebook, pencil. This requires two people: the modeler, who holds the moon and walks in a counter-clockwise circle, and the observer, who records the appearance of the moon at different locations, related to the light source. Each lab also has a brief explanation of “The Science Behind the Fun” and a paragraph on “Creative Enrichment.” (In this lab, it explains the history of the phrase, “dark side of the moon.”)

Author Michelle Nichols is the master educator at Adler Planetarium in Chicago. She has served on planetarium teams to create new shows and exhibits and has developed, facilitated and evaluated hundreds of astronomy, space exploration and history of astronomy activities for audiences ranging from early elementary school children to adults.

It is published by Quarry Books in a large trade paperback, at $24.99. This publisher also offers “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids,” “Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science” and “Outdoor Science Lab for Kids.” Nice holiday gift suggestions for grandparents.

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