Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Doing & Learning
Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects

Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects

Spring 2017 Doing & Learning
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Jack Challoner
Publisher: DK Publishing
ISBN: 9781465451354
Hardcover Price: $19.99

If building a "jungle in a bottle" or making a "balloon rocket car" might excite your science-curious kid who enjoys tinkering, then check out this book. Published in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, "Maker Lab" features 28 age-appropriate, hands-on projects designed to bring out the "inner inventor" in young readers.

Divided into categories relating to food, household items, water and the outdoors, these experiments are labelled for difficulty (easy, medium and hard) and estimated time to complete (longest is 90 minutes but most are15-30 minutes).

Whatever's needed for each is mostly things you probably have around the house—spoons, spatulas, bowls, rubber bands, string, dishwashing liquid, food coloring, masking tape, pistachio shells, etc. Each project includes a brief introduction and step-by-step instructions accompanied with full-color photographs illustrating how to do it. The projects also include short and insightful "How It Works" explanations as well as "Real World Science" lessons linking it to the larger reality.

We went directly to the How to Make Paper Planes section, which even for casual paper plane makers has some great info—not to mention three different designs, and all of them fly! In the Water World section, the Density Tower proves to be immediately fascinating. In a straight tall glass, experimenters layer multiple levels of six liquids of different densities, then watch what happens to differently weighted and shaped objects, such as a cherry tomato and a bolt, when dropped into the glass. The Real World Science lesson? Why oil in oil spills floats on water.

Other projects range from making sugar-crystal lollipops and a simple kaleidoscope to building a soap-powered boat and an erupting volcano. Sound like simple science projects? Perhaps. But all of the projects are fun, doable enough to guarantee success, and provide the science behind what happens.

Don Oldenburg   ©2017 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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