Author Mike Adamick has done it again, following up his successful Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects with the newly released Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an advance copy of his book a few weeks ago. Upon opening the package from Amazon the book was literally yanked from my hands by my children so they could check it out. It was music to my ears to hear them excitedly discussing which experiments they were going to do that afternoon. You see, before I became a Stay At Home Dad I had a short (5 year) career as a 7th grade Science teacher. So, naturally, I try to encourage the natural curiosity in my children through formal and informal experiments. One of the things that I really like about this book is that Mr. Adamick encourages us to “have fun, try, fail, learn and try again” in our experimentation. The 30 experiments are divided into five categories: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Planet Earth and The Human Body. There are colorful pictures and excellent explanations for each experiment. As a bonus, there are several suggestions for extensions or additional challenges. Some of the labs are designed for immediate payoff and others take days or weeks to complete. As a Science teacher it was always fun to gauge an experiment’s success based on the “AAAAH” factor. Several of the experiments my kids tried delivered it in a big way.
The first experiment they decided to try was Volcano Time!, which is pictured above. We happened to have a flask in the basement so I used that to make it look more scientific. For fun I also let the kids use a tall
shot glass “graduated cylinder”. The results were similarly fantastic. While I could have done a more professional job I found it pretty nice that my kids, ages 12, 9 and 3, were able to set this up with minimal help from me. While it still worked out, I observed that using two-ply TP like we did made the experiment take a little longer. (Video of Volcano Time!) If I did it again I would simply separate the TP into one-ply thickness. And adding food coloring made it just a little bit more fun for the kids.
The second experiment we tried was the Floating Grape. Using three glasses of water we were able to successfully float a red grape at three different levels by adding varying amounts of sugar to the water, changing the density and causing the grape to float. This didn’t have the “aahh” factor but it was fun to see my 3 year old’s reaction when the grape finally floated. It took a surprising amount of sugar and she was getting a little discouraged that it wouldn’t work. But she kept going with it and, fueled by a spoonful or two of sugar in her own mouth, she achieved success! Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of the floating grapes so you’ll have to trust me that it worked.
The final experiment my kids tried for this review is another classic: Mentos and (Diet) Coke Rocket. While we had the materials at home to make the rocket, my kids lacked the motivation to actually create one. So it ended up being a Diet Coke geyser in the back yard, which was still pretty cool. (Video: Mentos and Diet Coke) The only drawback was that the person putting the Mentos into the bottle had to move away pretty quickly or get a Diet Coke shower.
In summation, I would highly recommend getting a copy of Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments for your child(ren). You can order it on Amazon starting on April 18, 2014. But be warned: If you get this book and your kids see it they’re probably not going to leave you alone until you make a lot of fun (and possibly messy!) memories while you experiment together.
I, Carl Wilke, am not being paid to endorse this book in any way, although I wish I were! The thoughts expressed are my own and were in no way coerced. The only “compensation” I received was a complimentary advance copy to review.