This worthy sequel makes learning chemistry fun with a quartet of inventive board games.



A workbook teaches readers how to balance chemical equations.

This follow-up to Chemistry Games: Volume 1 (2011) gives readers an enjoyable way to study a complex subject. Providing four board games, the volume focuses on teaching students about stoichiometry and the law of conservation of mass. It also seeks to help them memorize the periodic table. Once again, each board is made up of colored squares on the “Outer Path,” which list the elements that each player needs to collect to balance a series of stipulated chemical reaction equations. Players move their pieces on the blank squares of the “Inner Path” by selecting Step Cards. The cards are marked with an element, such as carbon, along with its chemical symbol, atomic number, and the number of protons it has. These games also include Claim Cards, which provide the answers for how to balance the equations in the “Outer Path.” Each board comes with its own periodic table, broken into four sections by the “valence,” or combining power, of the elements. The games are specifically aimed at students who are taking chemistry either at the high school or college level, but they may also be valuable for readers who wish to brush up on the basic, foundational elements of the subject. To anyone else, the offerings will probably be incomprehensible. Gebhart’s (2 Lives in 3 Acts, 2017, etc.) determination to make chemistry accessible and interesting for students, especially by presenting them with a new challenge to explore, is admirable. Best of all, his games can all be reproduced and distributed by educators looking for an innovative way to keep their chemistry classes engaged with the topic. The imaginative work should be especially useful for students struggling with the material in their chemistry classes, who may not expect the curriculum to be amenable to games. The volume subverts the belief that learning the hard sciences has to be difficult or laborious.

This worthy sequel makes learning chemistry fun with a quartet of inventive board games.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4611-3894-5

Page Count: 54

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...


Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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