Science fair season is upon us and two new books from the Science Fair Winners series have arrived just in time. Science Fair Winners: Junkyard Science by Karen Romano Young and illustrated by David Goldin contains 20 projects and experiments about junk, garbage, waste, things we don’t need any more, and ways to recycle or reuse it-or lose it. The subtitle says it all.
Junkyard Science has “workshops” ranging from comparing batteries, to investigating the ingredients in a diaper, to looking at trash in space. Each experiment/activity has the potential to be helpful for the environment, as well as a nifty science fair project.
The second book, Science Fair Winners: Experiments to Do On Your Family: 20 Projects and Experiments About Sisters, Brothers, Parents, Pets and the Rest of the Gang, is also by Karen Romano Young and illustrated by David Goldin.
The workshops in this book range from examining the effects of birth order, to finding out what babies like, to testing whether humans can identify each other by smell.
Using your own family for human projects is a clever idea. Having dealt with preparing students for our state science fair, I know that experiments with humans (all vertebrates, for that matter) as subjects are difficult because of all the special permission and paperwork required. Depending on the rules of your state organization, using members of your own family may make it easier to get proper permission, and at the very least reduces the chance of legal repercussions. Check the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) rules as well.
What I like about both of these books is that they offer some fresh ideas, not the same old lemon batteries or erupting volcanoes, The instructions are good to get you started, and have website links and extension ideas to take you further than the book. The author also collected ideas that build on one another. Too many science fair books are just random collections of experiments thrown together, with no theme or way to organize your ideas systematically.
The best thing about these two Science Fair Winners is that they are also very useful for science teachers and club leaders looking for project ideas.
Edit: I just found out that there is a White House Science Fair today. Cool!
Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by Anastasia Suen’s Nonfiction Monday page. This week’s post is at Mother Reader.