Feel the G’s: The Science of Gravity and G-Forces by Suzanne Slade is not for the faint of heart. G-forces are the stuff of roller-coasters, fighter jets and shuttle launches. If the ideas of “eyeballs in” versus “eyeballs out” makes you queasy, you might want to avoid this topic. For those of you with the courage to read more, hold on because this book will take you for a wild journey.
Suzanne Slade starts with a description of a roller coaster ride, one place where children may have actually experienced significant g-forces. After getting our pulses racing, she defines the term “g-force.” G-force has to do with the acceleration of objects. particularly the human body. A “g” is a unit of measurement, just like a yard or a liter. It turns out that too much acceleration can have some nasty consequences to human health, such as fainting, loss of vision, loss of hearing or worse. Yikes.
The author takes us on a tour of exciting activities where g-forces come into play, while gently introducing key concepts. For example, to illustrate how changing direction is a form of acceleration, she brings up race car drivers racing around a race track. Did you know getting tackled in football can create short term impacts of over 100 g? The real world examples keep interest up and make complicated physics more concrete and understandable.
Slade finishes up with a chapter about death-defying research performed by Colonel John Stapp in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Colonel Stapp was a pioneer in the study of g-forces, and he put his own life on the line as a living “crash-dummy” to test his theories. His insights led to many safety improvements in both planes and automobiles, and have saved countless lives.
Towards the front of the book is a sidebar titled “Keeping Current.” It is a list of terms to type into search engines. At first I wasn’t sure what to think of this. Why put this list in the front instead of as an appendix? As my imagination careened wildly, I envisioned nonfiction books of the future would simply be lists of relevant search engine terms and links to websites. After searching for the term g-force, however, I finally got it. If you aren’t careful searching this particular topic, you can quickly stray into some websites that are not appropriate for children. Good idea to point them to safe search terms right away.
Given the popularity of a recent movie about guinea pigs, children may be looking for more information about g-forces. This book is a good introduction to a complex topic.
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Compass Point Books (March 30, 2009)
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7 x 0.3 inches
This review copy was provided by Capstone Press.