________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 7 . . . . November 29, 2002


The Technology Book for Girls and Other Advanced Beings.

Trudee Romanek. Illustrated by Pat Cupples.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2001.
56 pp., pbk. & cl., $10.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55074-619-7 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55074-936-6 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Technology-Juvenile literature.
Technology-Experiments-Juvenile literature.
Women in technology-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Cheryl Archer.

**** /4


Gina takes a deep breath and reaches into the bowl. She unfolds her slip of paper and silently reads the words written there. In disbelief, she reads them again. "Your topic, Gina?" Ms. Koffler asks. "Advanced Technology in Our Everyday Lives," Gina replies, sounding more than a little worried.

The bell rings and Gina's classmates start packing up their books. "All right, class," Ms. Koffler announces, "your projects are due in four weeks." Gina turns to Kirsten. "Advanced technology? What does that mean? I don't even know what regular technology is!" she groans. Ms. Koffler comes over.

"Concerned about your project, Gina?"

"Kind of. What exactly do you mean by advanced technology. Like, space shuttles?"

"That is advanced technology, but people don't use it every day," replies the teacher. "Technology is using the science you know to get something done. You know that magnets attract metal objects, right? Well, if you use a magnet to remove paper clips from a bucket of sand that would be technology. Any tool is an example of technology."

"So, you want me to do my project on tools?"

"Not just any tools. 'Advanced technology' means the complex tools and machines that have been invented recently," explains Ms. Koffler. "They probably use electricity and many of them may seem almost like magic if you don't know how they work."

“Most people don't realize that they use many very advanced tools all the time," Ms. Koffler continues. "I'd like you to find out about some of those for your project."

"But...how will I find these things?" questions Gina, panic creeping into her voice.

"Look around you carefully, at home and in places you visit. Ask yourself how each thing you see works. If you're not sure, check with someone who might know." She pauses, seeing the worried expression on Gina's face. "Come and talk to me if you're having trouble," she adds, "but I know you can handle this topic."

As the two girls reach the hallway, Gina heaves a sigh and turns to Kirsten. "I think it's going to be a long four weeks."

The Technology Book for Girls and Other Advanced Beings is a unique and exciting book that successfully introduces girls (and boys, too!) to the advanced technology that surrounds them. Following in the footsteps of the popular The Science Book for Girls and Other Intelligent Beings as well as The Math Book for Girls and Other Beings Who Count from Kids Can Press, this book is a must read for youth and adults alike.

internal art

     So many of the gadgets used everyday appear to work by magic. But it's technology making it happen. Author Trudee Romanek, a children's book editor and author who has tackled topics such as robotic pets and solar-powered homes, does an exceptional job explaining these technological mysteries. Concepts are clearly explained; fun, safe activities are included to get readers more involved in the learning process. In addition, Romanek has included a fictional component that will appeal to young readers (especially girls who often prefer fiction over a science book). The protagonist, Gina, is introduced at the book's beginning. She has been assigned the science project: Advanced Technology in Our Everyday Lives, and she has four weeks to find examples of how advanced tools are used in her home and the places she visits. When Gina says, "I think it's going to be a long four weeks," she wins the reader over. Gina is no science whiz, no techno maniac; she's a regular kid, mystified by science like everyone else. The reader then willingly follows Gina on her "technology" journey. An annoying little sister and a pet dog who loves to chew things add to the interest and humour.

     Colourful illustrations by Pat Cupples, who has illustrated many children's books including The Science Book for Girls and Other Intelligent Beings, are placed throughout the book. Her artwork enhances the text, adds to the story, provides further information that helps clarify difficult concepts, illustrates activities, and injects humour and warmth into the book. Youth will particularly enjoy that Cupples has used a comic-book style to illustrate the section on touchscreens.

     As readers devour this amazing book, they will discover how infrared light opens automatic doors, switches TV channels, operates smoke detectors, and controls auto hand dryers. They will learn how lasers are used to scan bar codes, improve people's eyesight, and make music CD's and holograms. In the future, lasers might even be able to scan all the items in a grocery cart at once or, better yet, clean out cavities in decayed teeth so drilling won't be needed. Anyone fortunate enough to read this book will also discover how light travels through fibre-optic cables, how cell phones and microwave ovens work, and how satellites, as well as the Global Positioning System (GPS), operate. Scientists think people may one day use satellites to collect solar energy, convert it to pollution-free electricity and send it back to earth. Incredible! Most delightful of all is that, once readers realize modern gadgets work using scientific concepts they can easily understand, they just might see technology and science as something fascinating to learn more about. And, hopefully, they will continue to ask their own questions about the technological mysteries around them.

     The only downside to this book is the title might detract those "other advanced beings," namely boys, from ever picking up a copy. But a note at the book's end explains why it is so very important that this book be aimed at girls. Technology is advancing faster today than at any other time in history. With so much change, specialists estimate by the time today's kindergarten students enter the workforce, 90 percent of the available jobs will be jobs that don't currently exist. Because girls traditionally have been less likely to enter fields of science or technology, science needs to be made more relevant to them or they will be left behind their male peers as technology rushes forward. Profiles of eight women who work in exciting technological careers, including an astronomer, a radio-frequency inspector, a plant physiologist and a GPS specialist, have been included in the book's sidebars to help girls realize they, too, can consider careers in technology.

     Readers will appreciate the handy table of contents and index as well as a section on science fair project ideas that involve or further explain some of the technologies in the book. In addition, there is a concluding note to parents, teachers, and group leaders that discusses the book's goals and objectives.

     The Technology Book for Girls and Other Advanced Beings is an important book for any school, public or home library. Brains will be exercised. Exciting new technologies will be discovered. Different career paths in technology or science or engineering just might be explored whether the reader is female, male, young or not-so-young!

Highly Recommended.

Cheryl Archer, who has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Manitoba and is author of the children's science book, Snow Watch, currently lives in Cochrane, AB. Cheryl's father is a professional engineer who still believes a career in science or engineering is second to none for girls and boys alike!

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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