Some simple activities to get kids exploring the great outdoors in their own backyards.
Ahrens explains hacking your backyard as “Learn[ing] about nature’s processes by going outside and exploring the world around you. Find out how the natural world works with hands-on experiments.” An early spread gives some tips and safety info before any investigations begin. Then comes the fun: Eight activities have kids making a sewing-needle compass, telling the temperature by counting cricket chirps, exploring capillary action with carnations, testing ant deterrents, doing paper chromatography with fall leaves, discovering what habitats pill bugs like best, exploring the effect of light pollution on the night sky, and observing worms’ tunnels and behavior. Though Ahrens uses the term “experiments,” these are rather activities, as the scientific method is not explained or followed. At most, readers are asked to consider what they’ve observed, and the “Science Takeaway” boxes following each activity make this irrelevant, as they describe both what readers should have noticed (often with a photo) and the science behind the phenomenon. A couple of group photos show a diverse bunch of kids, though most of the activity pages show white children and white hands investigating. Up-close pics of insects are a big draw.
These activities will get kids out and interacting with nature, but the science is disappointingly shallow. (glossary, further information, index) (Nonfiction. 7-11)