The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science

The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science:  50 Experiments for Daring Young Scientists by Sean Connolly recently won the 2011 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books in the hands on science category.

What sets this book apart from others in the hands on science category is that Connolly has given a coherent history and context to each of the activities. In 34 chapters he covers breakthroughs and advances from stone age tools to the Hadron Collider. Many involve the stories of the scientists who actually performed the original experiments or made the advancements. He has done in depth research, too. For example, instead of merely recounting the tale of Ben Franklin flying the kite in the electrical storm, Connolly also discusses why some doubt the story and challenges the reader to figure out more through their own reading.

As for layout, the book is 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches with thick soft paper pages, which means you will probably need to set something on it to keep it open to the activity you are working on. The pages do not lay flat easily, a minor inconvenience.

Although the reading level assigned at Amazon is young adult, the “experiments” in this books are actually activities more appropriate for the middle grade level. That said, a middle school student who is interested in science is going to adore this book. There is enough material here for hours of engaging fun.

Reading level: Young Adult (Amazon)
Hardcover: 306 pages
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (May 5, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0761156879
ISBN-13: 978-0761156871


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 the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s post is at Picture Book of the Day.