Twenty-five simple forays into tabletop science, each presented three ways: through step-by-step print directions, a “chalkboard” schematic and a live-action video clip.
Promising as the instructional model is, the demonstrations themselves are dogged with safety and other issues. Measurements are occasionally imprecise: For instance, a tin-can telephone requires “a fairly long piece of string” (specified in the later instructions as “5 metres” but seemingly not nearly that long in the video). Some items required for the various experiments include lighters, knives, cigarette paper, small (sharp) strips of copper and zinc for a lemon battery, a skewer and other problematic items. Furthermore, several entail setting something afire (in one video, squirting oil from an orange peel into a candle flame produces nifty sparks). Though most are well within the capabilities of younger experimenters and a cautionary notice on the title screen urges adult supervision for each, in the videos, all are performed by a single adult…who, sans any visible safety gear, slices and dices a pear, ignites a teabag and lifts a hard-boiled egg out of a pot with his bare hand. Several videos apparently omit steps or end before the procedures are done. A separate, multiple-choice quiz is evidently mechanically translated: “How moves warm air over cold air”; “What fruit can produce the greatest intensity electric.”
The tabletop isn’t all that will end up scarred by these ill-designed efforts. (Requires iOS 4.3 and above.) (iPad informational app. 7-10)