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25 Construction Challenges That Don't Cost a Thing

From the Junk Drawer Science series

author-photographer Bobby Mercer

Pub Date: May 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-61373-716-3
Publisher: Chicago Review Press

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)