Most helpful critical review
70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Simple is right, could be better
on July 19, 2007
I would have given this 2.5 stars if possible. This review applies to all the books in this series, not just this particular one. The book's strengths: (1) Truly simple experiments that make science fun and give it a "Wow" factor for children. Everybody can follow the simple instructions in this book. (2) Seeing science done with ordinary objects takes science out of the elite laboratory and puts it into context of everyday life. (3) Even adults can learn so much about how everyday items and phenomena are related to science.
The book's weaknesses: (1) Explanations of the science behind the experiments are too brief and vague. (2) For too many of the experiments the directions are incomplete at best, and sometimes just not adequate at all. The big majority of the experiments will work, but for the several that don't, the teacher/parent is left saying, 'What went wrong?" You can follow all the directions perfectly, but poor directions don't make an experiment work. Sometimes it's an issue of needing more detail, but sometimes it's an issue of the directions themselves not working, no matter how much detail would have been given. For example, the directions for making Rock Candy (to see the shape of sugar crystal growth) are ludicrous. They wouldn't work no matter how hard you tried. But, the directions for making salt crystals are just fine, and we have some beautiful cubic salt crystals to see now.
Overall, I like these books. I'm very glad to have such easy-to-put-together and fun experiments for us to do at home. But...I'm always prepared for something to backfire, I read with a discriminating eye and the benefit of an extensive science background, and if an experiment promises to deliver something "too cool" with simple instructions, I always search the net first.