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The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science: The Very Best Backyard Science Experiments You Can Do Yourself

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The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science is Neil Downie's biggest and most astounding compendium yet of science experiments you can do in your own kitchen or backyard using common household items. It may be the only book that encourages hands-on science learning through the use of high-velocity, air-driven carrots.

Downie, the undisputed maestro of Saturday science, here reveals important principles in physics, engineering, and chemistry through such marvels as the Helevator—a ...

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The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science: The Very Best Backyard Science Experiments You Can Do Yourself

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Overview

The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science is Neil Downie's biggest and most astounding compendium yet of science experiments you can do in your own kitchen or backyard using common household items. It may be the only book that encourages hands-on science learning through the use of high-velocity, air-driven carrots.

Downie, the undisputed maestro of Saturday science, here reveals important principles in physics, engineering, and chemistry through such marvels as the Helevator—a contraption that's half helicopter, half elevator—and the Rocket Railroad, which pumps propellant up from its own track. The Riddle of the Sands demonstrates why some granular materials form steep cones when poured while others collapse in an avalanche. The Sunbeam Exploder creates a combustible delivery system out of sunlight, while the Red Hot Memory experiment shows you how to store data as heat. Want to learn to tell time using a knife and some butter? There's a whole section devoted to exotic clocks and oscillators that teaches you how.

The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science features more than seventy fun and astonishing experiments that range in difficulty from simple to more challenging. All of them are original, and all are guaranteed to work. Downie provides instructions for each one and explains the underlying science, and also presents experimental variations that readers will want to try.

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  • The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science
    The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science  

Editorial Reviews

School Science Review - Sandra Baggley
This really is the ultimate science project book and could be used as the basis of a great science club or for ideas for some interesting and unexpected physics demonstrations. The projects range from simple to quite challenging and all of them are original and guaranteed to work. There should be a copy of the book in the school and staff library. There is also a video on YouTube featuring the author that is well worth watching.
From the Publisher
"In his book, physicist Neil Downie provides a series of do-it-yourself science experiments that stand apart from your ho-hum Mr. Wizard-fare because, well, they involve a few high-speed projectiles. . . . All you need are a few household items, some good judgment and, possibly, a carrotproof vest."—Aaron Leitko, Washington Post

"To keep the kids entertained this summer, what better than a bit of Saturday science? Neil A. Downie's compendium of experiments—'chosen on the grounds that they are new, that they work, that they are spectacular, and that they are interesting'—includes electric gunpowder, the knife-through-butter clock, the impossible turbine and armour-piercing carrots. Each experiment is accompanied by a straightforward scientific explanation, the occasional hazard warning and 'just a little math.'"Nature Physics

"If you either run a science club or are a teenager who likes getting your hands dirty experimentally, you are going to love this. I certainly would have in my youth."Popular Science blog (U.K)

"[T]his ample resource encourages readers to consider everyday occurrences and enlivens complex ideas with lessons designed to inspire curiosity. . . . Recommended as a follow-up to the author's previous collections in the series, and as a valuable treasury of projects for teachers, coordinators of science clubs, parents of advanced, older homeschoolers, and adult enthusiasts who have experience in the field and are seeking enjoyable activities to practice and share with others."—Karen Rigby, ForeWord Reviews

"Downie's instructions are admirably clear and straightforward; his explanations of the underlying science admirably comprehensive and comprehensible; and his passion and enthusiasm, totally infectious."—Helen Mulley, Teach Secondary

"This book is guaranteed fun."New Scientist

"[T]hose willing to put in the effort will get a real kick out of this book."—Clarissa Ai Ling Lee, Physics World

"The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science is an absolutely fantastic book that contains one of the largest collections of fun-to-do experiments that you will ever come across in a science library. . . . Downie does not just stop at the experiment—each one is backed up with the science behind it, the equipment you need and references for further reading. It truly is a wonderful book to read, and more importantly, a book to bring out the scientist in anyone."—Paul Wolstenholme-Hogg, Education in Chemistry

"This really is the ultimate science project book and could be used as the basis of a great science club or for ideas for some interesting and unexpected physics demonstrations. The projects range from simple to quite challenging and all of them are original and guaranteed to work. There should be a copy of the book in the school and staff library. There is also a video on YouTube featuring the author that is well worth watching."—Sandra Baggley, School Science Review

Washington Post
In his book, physicist Neil Downie provides a series of do-it-yourself science experiments that stand apart from your ho-hum Mr. Wizard-fare because, well, they involve a few high-speed projectiles. . . . All you need are a few household items, some good judgment and, possibly, a carrotproof vest.
— Aaron Leitko
Nature Physics
To keep the kids entertained this summer, what better than a bit of Saturday science? Neil A. Downie's compendium of experiments—'chosen on the grounds that they are new, that they work, that they are spectacular, and that they are interesting'—includes electric gunpowder, the knife-through-butter clock, the impossible turbine and armour-piercing carrots. Each experiment is accompanied by a straightforward scientific explanation, the occasional hazard warning and 'just a little math.'
Popular Science blog
If you either run a science club or are a teenager who likes getting your hands dirty experimentally, you are going to love this. I certainly would have in my youth.
ForeWord Reviews
[T]his ample resource encourages readers to consider everyday occurrences and enlivens complex ideas with lessons designed to inspire curiosity. . . . Recommended as a follow-up to the author's previous collections in the series, and as a valuable treasury of projects for teachers, coordinators of science clubs, parents of advanced, older homeschoolers, and adult enthusiasts who have experience in the field and are seeking enjoyable activities to practice and share with others.
— Karen Rigby
Teach Secondary
Downie's instructions are admirably clear and straightforward; his explanations of the underlying science admirably comprehensive and comprehensible; and his passion and enthusiasm, totally infectious.
— Helen Mulley
New Scientist
This book is guaranteed fun.
Washington Post - Aaron Leitko
In his book, physicist Neil Downie provides a series of do-it-yourself science experiments that stand apart from your ho-hum Mr. Wizard-fare because, well, they involve a few high-speed projectiles. . . . All you need are a few household items, some good judgment and, possibly, a carrotproof vest.
ForeWord Reviews - Karen Rigby
[T]his ample resource encourages readers to consider everyday occurrences and enlivens complex ideas with lessons designed to inspire curiosity. . . . Recommended as a follow-up to the author's previous collections in the series, and as a valuable treasury of projects for teachers, coordinators of science clubs, parents of advanced, older homeschoolers, and adult enthusiasts who have experience in the field and are seeking enjoyable activities to practice and share with others.
Teach Secondary - Helen Mulley
Downie's instructions are admirably clear and straightforward; his explanations of the underlying science admirably comprehensive and comprehensible; and his passion and enthusiasm, totally infectious.
Physics World - Clarissa Ai Ling Lee
[T]hose willing to put in the effort will get a real kick out of this book.
Education in Chemistry - Paul Wolstenholme-Hogg
The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science is an absolutely fantastic book that contains one of the largest collections of fun-to-do experiments that you will ever come across in a science library. . . . Downie does not just stop at the experiment—each one is backed up with the science behind it, the equipment you need and references for further reading. It truly is a wonderful book to read, and more importantly, a book to bring out the scientist in anyone.
Children's Literature - Amy S. Hansen
Projectile carrots, shifting sand, and exploding gunpowder—this is not the standard hands-on science book for kids. The key is indeed hands-on, that kids need to be ready to build and experiment; most of the projects require more set-up than baking soda and vinegar volcanoes. And I'll admit, I was originally put off by the idea of building but as I kept reading, I realized he was getting at more complex science than most kids address in middle school. Downie is not aiming for the baking soda volcano crowd, but for the kids who are ready to explore more. Saturday science refers to a science club, where one would be able to use a hammer and spend the time exploring outside the curriculum. The explanations are detailed, with the chemical and physics equations provided. They may take some work for kids (and adults) to understand. The illustrations are mostly solid, though it would be nice to have more. The book is divided into sections, though it was not clear how each group was differentiated. Lists of more resources are available at the end of each experiment. These experiments are not set up for science fairs, however, any kid who is ready to work through one of these projects would be able to modify the experiment enough to pose a basic science fair project question. Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691149660
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 5/13/2012
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil A. Downie is a lead scientist with Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., and visiting professor of multidisciplinary engineering at the University of Surrey. His books include "Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly", and "27 Other Saturday Science Projects" (Princeton).

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

SIMPLE BUT SUBTLE . . . SIMPLE BUT NOT ALWAYS EASY TO EXPLAIN 1

  1. Blunderspuds and Carrot Cannons—Artillery and Boyle's Law 3
  2. Mr. Bernoulli's Pop-Up Piston—More Bernoulli Weirdness 9
  3. The Rapid-Fire Vacuum Bazooka—Fire Projectiles or Clean the Floor 15
  4. Single-Blade Propellers—Venetian Gondolas 22
  5. Soda Mint Fountains—Thirst for Knowledge and Water Quenched at Once 29
  6. The Armor-Plated Sandcastle—Gas and Sand Combine 34
  7. The Riddle of the Sands—Weird but Beautiful Patterns Appear, All of Their Own Accord 39
  8. Tricks of Sideways Light—Magic Mondrians and Invisible Watches 47
  9. Sunbeam Exploders—Ray Guns Aren't Sci-Fi Any More 55
  10. The Dead-or-Alive Ball—To Bounce or Not to Bounce, Th at Is the Question 64
  11. Cowboy Coffee—Yee Haw! 68
  12. Electric Glue—The Modern Glue 77
  13. Electric Gunpowder—Explosive Electricity! 84
  14. An Eiffel Brick Tower—Eat Your Heart Out, Monsieur Eiffel! 90
  15. Dominoids—Four-Foot Brobdingnagian Monster Dominoes Will Hit the Floor at the End of a Row of Standard Dominoes 97
  16. Colloons—Civil and Aeronautical Engineering Combined: Neither Column nor Balloon 104
  17. Motor Brushes—The Science of Vibration-Driven Vehicles Is Applied to a Humble Household Brush 112
  18. A Smooth-Wheel Paddle Steamer—Invisible (well, almost) Marine Propulsion 117
  19. A String Amplifier—The Powerful Science of Loops of String 124
  20. The Punkah Pendulum—Air-Conditioning and Timekeeping Combined 130
  21. The Maharaja's Sunshade—Air in Motion Provides Tent and Air-Conditioning Rolled into One 136

SURPRISINGLY SUBTLE . . . SURPRISES GALORE IN THIS MAVERICK COLLECTION 143

  1. An Electric Sundial—Tired of Running to Your Cave Entrance to Get the Time? 145
  2. The Kleenex Clock—Time from Tissue Paper 153
  3. The Torsion Time Pencil—Peeling off Atomic Layers as Time Goes by 160
  4. The Swell-Gel Flowstopper—Stop Water Going up Your Gas Lines 165
  5. The Vortex Pump—Whirling Water Magic 170
  6. Waxaulics—Hydraulics for Candles 175
  7. Telestrings—Remote-Controlled Art 182
  8. Squirting String—Getting String to Flow through Pipes 189
  9. Spider Technology—The Silken Secrets of Spiderman 194

SIMPLE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE . . . FUNDAMENTALS OF THE PHYSICAL WORLD UNCOVERED IN ELEGANTLY SIMPLE DEMONSTRATIONS 203

  1. The Molecule Meter—I Speak Your Molecular Weight! 205
  2. Talking Sparks—Send Messages at 186 Million Miles per Hour: See How Radio Pioneer Marconi First Sent Radio a Thousand Miles 211
  3. Light and Lens Pipes—The Strong Focusing Principle Used in the Microscopes of Fundamental Particle Physics 221
  4. Fire from Water—The Power of Concentration 230
  5. The Heliracket—Waves, Molecules, and Music 239
  6. The Helitower—The Momentum Principle of Rockets and Helicopters 248

CLOXOTICA— EXOTIC CLOCKS AND OSCILLATORS: A CORNUCOPIA OF UNUSUAL CLOCKS 257

  1. The Paperclip Clock—A Major Leap Forward in Horological Science, the Acme of Simplicity 259
  2. The Micropendulum—The Prestipendulous Tick-Tock Clock 266
  3. The String Thing—Ballet Dancing for Pendulums 274
  4. Eddy the Coniclock—A Spinning Disk Powers a Conical Pendulum 280
  5. The Humming Clock—Recycle Unwanted Mains Hum to Run Your Clock 285
  6. An Hourglass Wallah—The Sands of Time Updated 292
  7. The Knife-through-Butter Clock—Melting Time 300
  8. Creepy Clocks and Time Pencils—The Slow Flow of Solids 307
  9. A Polymerizing Clock—Telling Time with Glue and Chemistry 316
  10. Delay-Line Oscillators—Pass-the-Parcel Oscillators 322
  11. The Fan Flap Flip-Flop Clock—A Huffi ng and Puffing Clock 328
  12. The Faucet Oscillator—Measuring Time with Spurts of Water 333
  13. The Slugulator—Not an Oscillator for the Impatient! 338
  14. The Sloshulator—Time from Waves 344

GEEKONICS—SIMPLER THAN YOU MIGHT EXPECT, AND NOT JUST FOR GEEKS 351

  1. The Telebubblegraph—Sending Bubbly Messages the Electrolytic Way 353
  2. The Touchy-Feely Sensor—Putting a Number to Hotfeelingness and Coldfeelingness 361
  3. Fire Wire—Finding Fire along a Wire 368
  4. Electric Bubble Memory—Minute Electric Cells Keep Your 1s and 0s Safe 375
  5. Red-Hot Memory—Binary Memory: 0s Are Cold and 1s Are (ouch!) Hot 381
  6. Deflation Detection—Ultrasonic Tire Monitoring 390

MAD, BAD, AND DANGEROUS—PROJECTS THAT HAVE HAZARDS, ALTHOUGH THEY CAN BE MINIMIZED 397

  1. Deep Impact—Armor-Piercing Carrots: High-Speed Vegetables 399
  2. The Flying Soda Bottle—A Spectacular Piece of Practical Science Using the Rapid Release of Energy from Compressed Gas 409
  3. Oxygen Fireworks—The Greener, Safer Ground Fireworks System 419

GREAT STUFF—BIGGER PROJECTS THAT NEED SPACE AND LARGER PARTS 431

  1. The Helevator—The Elevator of Oz: Is It a Helicopter or an Elevator? 433
  2. An Airbag Oscillator—Your Body Forms Part of This Ride-On Brobdingnagian Oscillator 441
  3. A Bubble-Tube Oscillator—Trains of Bubbles Chase Each Other Upward 449
  4. The Preposterously Big Party Blowout—The Holiday Party Favorite Scaled up to Span Football Fields 457
  5. Pink-Noise Pipes—Make Music from Noise! 463
  6. Turbo Panjandrums—The Auto-Unicycle 469
  7. The Impossible Turbine—The Backward-Forward-Always-Clockwise Turbine 477
  8. A Rocket Railroad—Th is Rocket Pumps Propellant from the Track as It Goes Along 483
  9. The Hovertrain—A Railroad without Rails 489
  10. A Jet-Wash Rocket—The Superclean Rocket 496
  11. The Single-Helix Pump—You Don't Need a Double Helix to Squirt Water at Surprising Pressure 503
  12. Leonardo's Bridge—No Nails or Screws or String: It's Just a Subtle Stack of Sticks 509
  13. Your Personal Hovercraft—You Have a Personal Computer, Why Not Ride Around on Your Personal Hovercraft? 517

Tips and Tricks 527

Old-Fashioned Units 531

Bibliography 533

Index

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