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A sobering introduction and solid demonstration of science research in action.

Student researchers spend three weeks on a small ship investigating plastic residue and its effect on ocean water and marine life in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Straightforward organization introduces the students—Miriam Goldstein, Chelsea Rochman and Darcy Taniguchi—the problem, the 2009 Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition, daily life on the research vessel and the scientific method: observe, develop hypotheses, design experiments. There are explanations of the North Pacific Central Gyre, the particular patch of the Pacific where plastic accumulates; the students’ individual research interests in rafting organisms, phytoplankton, and the chemistry of both plastics and surrounding water; and the scientific tools they used. Realistically, although Darcy comes home with observational data, her subsequent research follows another path. But the author describes some of Miriam’s and Chelsea’s continued experiments, seeking to answer questions their observations raised. Finally, the author suggests ways to reduce the use of plastics that might end up in ocean waters, oceangoing creatures and  our bodies as well as on our beaches. Sidebars and text boxes add information. Photographs taken on the expedition help tell the story, and the book’s design is appealing and appropriate.

A sobering introduction and solid demonstration of science research in action. (source notes, glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1283-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Millbrook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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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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From the Giants of Science series

Hot on the heels of the well-received Leonardo da Vinci (2005) comes another agreeably chatty entry in the Giants of Science series. Here the pioneering physicist is revealed as undeniably brilliant, but also cantankerous, mean-spirited, paranoid and possibly depressive. Newton’s youth and annus mirabilis receive respectful treatment, the solitude enforced by family estrangement and then the plague seen as critical to the development of his thoughtful, methodical approach. His subsequent squabbles with the rest of the scientific community—he refrained from publishing one treatise until his rival was dead—further support the image of Newton as a scientific lone wolf. Krull’s colloquial treatment sketches Newton’s advances in clearly understandable terms without bogging the text down with detailed explanations. A final chapter on “His Impact” places him squarely in the pantheon of great thinkers, arguing that both his insistence on the scientific method and his theories of physics have informed all subsequent scientific thought. A bibliography, web site and index round out the volume; the lack of detail on the use of sources is regrettable in an otherwise solid offering for middle-grade students. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-670-05921-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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