Hands-on learning is the best kind, so you’ve got to love a series of books dedicated to teaching science concepts through fun, hands-on projects using items you’ve probably got lying around your house.
Hands-on projects for science
The Tabletop Scientist series from Dover Publications introduces kids ages 10 and up to basic scientific concepts through simple experiments that are fun to do and use basic household items. The series includes:
- The Science of Sound
- The Science of Light
- The Science of Water
- The Science of Air
The series would be effective as a stand-alone science unit for younger students, for supplementing with older kids, or as the basis for sneaking in educational fun for a variety of ages during school breaks.
In The Science of Sound, kids can make their own musical instruments, a model of the ear, or a string telephone with 3-way calling. Yeah, I thought that one was pretty cool. There are also instructions for a sound-proof box. I thought about maybe using the principles to make myself a sound-proof room.
The Science of Air includes directions for making a wind tunnel, a hovercraft, and a wind speed meter. It also discusses air flow and lift, something else Josh studied recently. I wish we’d had this series then.
In The Science of Water, kids will explore the power of water as they make a model water wheel, a deep diver (which demonstrates the concepts that make a submarine work), and water walkers – nifty little aluminum foil creations that walk on water.
The Science of Light features a pinhole camera project, along with a kaleidoscope, a sundial, and the no-rain rainbow with which we experimented.
As you can see, all of these are basic scientific principles that really know no age limit. Either that or I’m just a kid at heart because I find them fascinating – and so much better at cementing concepts than just reading about them in a book.
The Tabletop Scientist for older students
The Tabletop Scientist series makes it easy to learn through hands-on experiments. Because the series is designed for ages 10 and up, I had thought that Megan, my middle school student, and I might do some of the projects. However, when Josh got to the unit on light in his physical science course, I quickly discovered that most of the experiments in his text were similarly covered in The Science of Light – in a much more colorful, easy-to-understand format with additional explanations and facts.
I have often said that books designed for younger kids can be an excellent resource for older students because they break down the information to the most important facts. Not only that, but the larger font and colorful, concise diagrams are excellent for dyslexic and visual learners.
Josh’s science text went into a lengthy description of convex and concave lenses and how they affect light. There was also a section about telescopes and microscopes and how each works. All of these topics are also covered in The Science of Light in easy-to-understand terms with beautiful images and related experiments for each.
When he got to the experiment using mirrors to refract light and create a rainbow, guess what was in The Science of Light? And the directions were much more clear, too.
Now, Josh is starting a chapter on sound. I’ll be happy to pull out The Science of Sound for supplemental text and activities.
I’m not saying that the Tabletop Scientist series could replace a high school level science text, but it can certainly supplement it. The Science of Light even contains directions for building a pinhole camera – an activity that we did in my high school photography course.
Dover Publications is giving away a complete Tabletop Scientist set to one WUHS reader. Follow the directions on the RaffleCopter widget below to enter. You can also save 25% on all orders from Dover Publications using coupon code WHBE. Offer expires 11/01/15.
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