Saturday, August 14, 2010

Exploring Science

The Big Idea Science Book
DK Publishing, 2010
review copy provided by the publisher

I think this encyclopedia of science has a lot of potential for discussion and browsing in the upper elementary and middle school classroom. The basic premise is that there are 24 key concepts or "Big Ideas" in science ("Based on a revolutionary new approach to learning by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe..." -- of Understanding By Design fame.) There are 8 Big Ideas each for Life, Earth, and Physical Science. Each two-page spread (very DK-ish with eye-catching photography, short article in the top left corner, lots of graphics and smaller pictures with captions) tells which of the Big Ideas relate to that topic.  Cell Division relates to three Big Ideas; Coral Reefs relate to eight Big Ideas. The book has a website with related content -- movies, interactive illustrations, some worksheet-ish kinds of things -- that seems to still be under construction. There are some movies that have "part one" but no "part two."  I really wish these resources were complete because I'd use them in my classroom. I do think I'll post the 24 Big Ideas for our reference as we go through our year of science.


I'm a Scientist: Kitchen
DK Publishing, 2010
review copy provided by the publisher

Here's one that would be great at a science center. The materials for each experiment are common items, and the instructions are easy enough for older elementary kids to read themselves, and illustrated with clear enough pictures for younger kids to figure out.  There is a cool fold-out flap on each right-hand page that gives the scientific reasons behind the experiment, as well as some follow-up activities. Some of the experiments need a grown-up, but lots don't. There are experiments for density, static electricity, physics/structures, chemical reactions, magnets, states of matter, and light.


Nature Explorer
DK Publishing, 2010
review copy provided by the publisher

This activity-filled book is divided into the categories Birdwatcher, Bug Hunter, Star Gazer, Rock & Fossil Hunter, Nature Ranger, and Weather Watcher. Each category gives background information, tells what equipment you might need, and gives lots of activities that demonstrate many concepts in each category. This is a book for upper elementary and middle school classrooms. It's a good book for browsing, and for activities teachers might want to add to their weather or plant units. (um...that'd be me!)

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