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Gonzo Gizmos: Projects & Devices to Channel Your Inner Geek

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1556525209
ISBN-10: 1556525206
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's possible to use optics to roast a hot dog without electricity or a stove; to make a simple radio with just an iron, a few basic circuits and three shiny pennies; and to assemble a simple steam-powered boat with a plastic bottle, a candle, copper tubing and a nail. Of course, only die-hard science nerds would attempt these projects. But information systems specialist Field knows he's a geek, which is part of the charm of his science manual-cum-survival guide. Like Cy Tymony's recent Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things, Field's book does not depend on high-tech equipment. Most of the "shopping lists" he includes for each gizmo consist of items that can be found in hardware stores. His experiments range from the disarming (e.g., a plastic hydrogen bomb which, he admits, "sounds a bit dangerous" but can also function as "a high-tech squirt gun") to the useful (such as a "quicky electric motor"). Throughout, Field shares explanations of each process, with sidebars entitled "Why does it do that?"
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Review

"A fine selection of his best stuff and is great for an introductory gift."  —Kevin Kelly, former editor of Wired magazine


"Excellent."  —Science Books & Films 
 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (December 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556525206
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556525209
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have looked at a number of similar books that provide interesting science activities that are cool enough to hold a childs interest. However, most of them have moderately good things to create that take a lot of hands on time from parents. By the time the fun science project is done, the kids have lost interest. Not so with Simon Field's "Gonzo Gizmos".
The first project I attempted was a simple candle powered steamboat with my 6 y.o. daughter. After purchasing a bit of flexible 1/8 inch copper tubing at the hardware store (the hard part) we created a great working steamboat in about 15 minutes, and my daughter did most of the work. She took several baths with it putting around the tub, brought it to school for her "Show and Tell", and can even tell you how it works. I then went onto the "Gauss Rifle" with my 9 y.o. son. Wow!!!
Most of the projects take only a little time, and if you can't find the materials, he gives you a nice website to purchase them. This is a really fun book that you can dive into and get kids engaged in a few minutes with a project that will teach them real science, and will be cool enough to brag about with their friends. Moreover the layout is great. A description of the project and what it does, including great titles; then a cookbook list of materials, and where to get them; a recipe; and then a darn good description of the science behind the project. Believe me, with project titles like "The Hydrogen Bomb" (A battery powered H2O dialysis machine that after separating the Oxygen and Hydrogen is ignited with a piezo electric sparker, causes a small explosion that squirts water several feet into the air!), how could any kid resist! Moreover, how could a parent resist. Buy this and try it. It is really great.
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I stumbled upon the author's website, scitoys.com, and have since constructed a number of the projects that are also described in this book, not just for my kids and my older son's 3rd grade class, but also for (ahem) myself. I *love* that many are projects I'd never heard of yet rely on *very* ordinary parts and very little effort to get going. Some of these, such as the "Beakman motor," are covered elsewhere on the web, but I prefer his treatment of it. The author's strikes a delightful bemused tone rather than the bombast of the usual science popularizer, and although he sells many of the parts there is no pressure to buy (he frequently simply gives the Radio Shack part # for the ordinary stuff). I have also corresponded with him by email, and will be suggesting some of the projects for a local school outreach program planned by a reputable nearby museum (Washington, DC). His work has influenced me, reviving a childhood interest and sparking a new path. Thanks, this book will make a great gift. :)
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From the cover design, I thought this would be another impractical "How to build a laser" book with advice like "just get a laser-grade ruby and connect it to a 10Kv power supply".

Instead everyhting in this book is simple and practical. I think any 13 year old who put his or her mind to it could build most of the projects in this book.

Even more importantly, the book offers explainations for *why* things work. These explainations are surprisingly good. I've read a lot of science books in the past 30 years and I got some insight from the great expaination for why iron filings line up the way they do in a magnetic field. Think about it- do you REALLY understand why they form lines rather than just all piling up at the poles?

Highly recommended for a science-interested kid. Even recommended for a science-interested adult. Even if you don't build any of the projects you'll probably learn something.
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I bought several books to use with my 10 year old homeschooling son who is interested in science. I purchased the Steve Spangler books as well as the Sean Conelly 'Totally Irresponsible Science'. 'Gonzo Gizmos', Books 1 and 2, both exceed the other three books. The projects make 'real' things....which kids love. All of the projects actually result in a "thing", like a small rocket, a heat engine, or a radio. Some projects require simple parts or a soldering iron, but most of the items are readily available, and the author gives the Radio Shack product numbers so you can purchase them easily. We have referred to these books multiple times already (only purchased two months ago), and we're planning on trying out ALL of the gizmos. Great purchase.
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Full of ideas and experiments the average Joe can do in his home or back yard. If you find one project that trips your trigger it will pay for the book, but chances are even if you do not want to do the experimenting, the education and that proverbial 'food for thought' made it more then worth my time and money.
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By Paul Rainn on September 15, 2009
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The Gonzo Gizmos book has many good points. It is written for an interested reader who may not possess a technical background but is interested in fun DIY projects--especially those involving fire, big bangs, or projectiles. The chapters are short and on track, provide good information on necessary safety precautions (but doesn't try to scare you!) and has clear diagrams/pictures and a specific shopping list of usually easily obtainable items. (No "Unobtanium" materials here! :)
A well written follow up to the popular Backyard Ballistics!
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