December 16, 2009
by Molly Bang
Blue Sky Press
One of the requirements for the Engineer Badge in Webelos is that the boys understand and be able to explain how electricity is generated. That’s a tough call when many of the leaders don’t have a deep understanding of the topic. If you don’t fully understand it, how do you explain it to the boys?
Fortunately, Molly Bang has solved the problem. Told from the perspective of the Sun, My Light discusses how the starlight is sunlight which is energy. Energy collects in rainfall, in wind and even in plants that became coal and oil. Water and wind can drive turbines which then produce electrical power which is collected and transmitted to towns and cities.
There’s more to Bang’s text than that but that is enough for you to see where she is coming from. Her straightforward illustrations show how a dam holds back water, allowing only a controlled amount through to run the turbines, how leaves look and work at the cellular level and how rivers collect water across vast distances. In short, Bang does an excellent job of making such a complicated topic understandable.
Worried that your slightly older reader might object to the picture book format? Not one of seven boys said a word about it. The word “dam” was another situation altogether.
If you plan to use this book with Scouts or your class or simply want to know a bit more about the topic than is in Bang’s book, check out the expanded write-up on her site.
December 10, 2009
by Douglas E. Richards
Getting scientific principles across to kids is tough but Richards succeeds in doing just that in The Prometheus Project: Trapped. The best part is that it all takes place within a fictional story.
Ryan and Regan may be many things but they are not happy campers. Their family has moved cross-country to an isolated home where they know no one. Their parents work all hours. The kids are bored. Bored. BORED. Is it any surprise when they get into trouble?
The trouble they get into arises when they decide to see what it is their parents are up to, breaking several different codes to bypass a variety of high-tech forms of security. Good thing too because the two interfering children manage to save the day in an alien city.
How does the author pull off the teaching aspect without having it be preachy? Ryan and Regan observe facts, make theories, test them and then revise as needed. They live the science involved and make it work for them. Readers learn about the scientific method without a single lesson being involved.
POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT:
I have to admit — I cringed when it became obvious time travel was involved. Time travel presents a host of difficulties for the author but Richards makes the solution work within the story, setting up the possibilities well in advance so nothing seems jarring.
An excellent choice for science loving kids or those who love daring adventure. Want to know more? Check out the author’s site.