From the Junk Drawer Science series

Hours of fun for STEM-inclined kids, parents, caregivers, and teachers

Step-by-step suggestions for possible solutions to 25 engineering challenges use readily available materials.

A high school physics teacher complements his Junk Drawer Physics (2014) and Junk Drawer Chemistry (2015) with this collection of engineering problems involving energy, structures, and waves. The materials he uses often come from the recycling bin or can be purchased inexpensively. He suggests appropriate modifications for different age levels. For most of his examples, simply constructing the gizmo—a windmill, a roller coaster, a bridge, a mechanical sound amplifier—is enough in early grades. Middle schoolers can add some math and further complications; high schoolers will use more-complex math to explain their results and more-challenging tools, such as hot glue guns. Step-by-step instructions are illustrated with his own black-and-white photographs. These pictures also demonstrate some useful techniques, such as the use of a protractor. Mercer stresses imaginative use and reuse of materials, experimentation, and finding alternate solutions, and he explains the science behind the solution he illustrates. The problems are not surprising: they can be found on many websites, in science magazines, and even in textbooks. But the compilation and suggested modifications for youngsters with different backgrounds and skill sets make this particularly welcome for science teachers as well as young learners who won’t mind the crowded design.

Hours of fun for STEM-inclined kids, parents, caregivers, and teachers . (Nonfiction. 8-16)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61373-716-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021


Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge.

With an amped-up sense of wonder, the Science Guy surveys the natural universe.

Starting from first principles like the scientific method, Nye and his co-author marvel at the “Amazing Machine” that is the human body then go on to talk up animals, plants, evolution, physics and chemistry, the quantum realm, geophysics, and climate change. They next venture out into the solar system and beyond. Along with tallying select aspects and discoveries in each chapter, the authors gather up “Massively Important” central concepts, send shoutouts to underrecognized women scientists like oceanographer Marie Tharp, and slip in directions for homespun experiments and demonstrations. They also challenge readers to ponder still-unsolved scientific posers and intersperse rousing quotes from working scientists about how exciting and wide open their respective fields are. If a few of those fields, like the fungal kingdom, get short shrift (one spare paragraph notwithstanding), readers are urged often enough to go look things up for themselves to kindle a compensatory habit. Aside from posed photos of Nye and a few more of children (mostly presenting as White) doing science-y things, the full-color graphic and photographic images not only reflect the overall “get this!” tone but consistently enrich the flow of facts and reflections. “Our universe is a strange and surprising place,” Nye writes. “Stay curious.” Words to live by.

Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge. (contributors, art credits, selected bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4676-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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