Investigating the Chemical World
Douglas Hayward and Gordon S. Bates. Illustrated by Nyla Sunga.
Vancouver: Pacific Educational Press, 1994. 91pp, paper, $10.95.
Grades 4 - 8 / Ages 9 - 13.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
Over 200 years ago, a French chemist named Antoine Lavoisier was the
first to measure the percentage of oxygen in air. You can repeat his
experiment using simple materials from the kitchen.
Use a knife and a fork to pack a pad of steel wool into the bottom of a
clear jar or glass. Avoid touching the sharp steel wool with your bare
fingers. Rinse the steel wool thoroughly with tap water and then invert
the jar in a pan or bowl full of water. If the jar will not stand up or
starts to float, remove some of the water.
It's Elementary! is the kind of book teachers, parents
and kids love. It is educational, well written, and interestingly
illustrated. It introduces young enquiring minds to basic scientific
principles through a large number of experiments. The experiments are
conducted with materials that really are available in most homes, or are
easily attainable. The instructions are clear and stress safety, although
none of the included experiments really have potential for accidents.
The text explains difficult scientific principles in a
reader-friendly way. It is clear and concise and relates the principle to
real life. The history of the scientific discovery of the elements and
their use is also included. By conducting these experiments children
should come to realize that chemistry is part of daily life and that
science is something everyone can discover
It's Elementary! is divided into eight chapters. They
include information about stars, elements, water, bubbles and soap,
chemical changes, plants and people, food chemistry, and body basics.
Within each chapter are separate pages on different aspects of the
chapter's topic. Each page has an appropriate humorous black and white
cartoon drawing (a girl mining rock candy; an egg sobbing on a beach).
The appendices at the back are very valuable, and will be useful to any
child long after they have outgrown the experiments (but because the
experiments are so much fun, kids may not outgrow them). They include a
blank Periodic Table, a list of the discovery of the elements, a list of
the Nobel Prizes for Chemistry, and an extensive index.
This book will appeal to parents who want to teach their kids about
science without spending a lot of money on equipment and materials. It
will appeal to teachers who want kids to discover that the world around
them is full of wonder, history, and scientific discovery. It will provide
lots of ideas for classes that participate in science fairs. And it will
appeal to kids because the experiments demonstrate scientific truths quickly,
in an interesting, humorous, and readable way. The beauty of the text is
that it appeals to a wide range of ages while not talking down to anyone;
it is conversational in tone. The text requires careful reading when it
discusses scientific principles, but will be comprehensible to the
The cover of It's Elementary! has a sleuth with a
magnifying glass investigating the periodic table. Reading this book
makes one confident that a students will uncover a lot of truths over and
over again in their lives, which will make the knowledge stick.
Harriet Zaidman is a Winnipeg teacher/librarian.
To comment on this title or this review, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 1995 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
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