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They Do It Again!
on June 17, 2012
Robert Bruce Thompson and his wife Barbara Fritchman Thompson are now focusing on the home school market. After writing primarily about computers and astronomy for years, they are writing science lab books for the home school market. Their first book for that market was Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments, this one is covers building a home lab for biology experiments. This is not a biology text, as the subheading states, "All Lab, No Lecture." They also sell kits to supply materials for the lab experiments for each book in the Home Experiments series.
In spite of the statement "All Lab, No Lecture," there is a great deal of prose in the book, all of it written in clear, insightful style. Few writers can match the clarity and economy of the Thompsons' writing.
The book begins with instructions on setting up a lab, including chapter and verse on microscopes, culture, histology, and general laboratory equipment. There is basic instruction in using a microscope, mounting and staining specimens. Chemist that he is, Robert then spends time in labs exploring acids, bases, buffers, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, enzymes, and vitamins.
In all, there are 33 labs listed, with multiple procedures within each lab. That authors have attempted to cover the main areas of biology intro courses, a partial listing of subjects covered include:
DNA separation by gel electrophoresis
Chlorophyll and photosynthesis
Sampling plant populations
Rhizobia effects on plant growth
Air pollution testing
Soil and water pollution testing
Bacterial antibiotic sensitivity
It's amazing to me that the authors were able to present so many subjects in such detail in this book. And the clarity and depth of writing also amazes me. I'm a physician, and have been studying biology for many years. The writing in this book meets or surpasses that of other books I've read on these subjects.
There is an 11 page index, there are review questions for each lab session, and the illustrations including the photomicrographs are of good quality.
For the aspiring young biologist, the home schooled high school student, and the older person who would like to catch up on current laboratory science, this book is highly recommended. As with all books in this genre, for maximum safety, younger students will need to be closely supervised as they do the experiments.