Part of the "Great Science Fair Ideas" series that also includes chemistry, food science, space science, animal science, human biology, plant sciences, and exercise/nutrition titles, this handsome book is filled with terrific environmental exploration ideas. Each chapter includes starter ideas for science projects for ages ten and up. Many of the projects require adult supervision and/or intervention for safety, which the book highlights by mentioning it first in the list of materials as well as in bold red text in the narrative portion of the chapter. A brief introduction sets a welcome tone implying that all of us are scientists all the time, and an effort has been made to dispel the "mad scientist" image that permeates many science fair books. A short section on scientific method is followed by an explanation of what science fair judges are looking for, how to be a responsible science fair participant, and what safety precautions students should follow. Chapters include "Ecology and Environment" (with nine basic investigations which include photosynthesis, decay, and diversity of biomes); "Organisms and Their Environments" (eight investigations ranging from seeds, soil and plants to air pollution, artificial light sources, and fertilizer effects); "Cycles in the Global Environment" (six sections, covering water cycle, model aquifer, mini-greenhouse, and decomposition); "Population Ecology" (five sections with specifics on gestation/longevity, population and predators, statistical analysis of population, overpopulation's effects, and survival adaptations); and "Humans and the Environment" (six sections, waste in food packaging, acid rain, recycling, alternatives to pesticides aresample experiments). A page of "Further Reading and Internet Addresses" is followed by a short index. Unlike many of the science project books, this one does not tell kids what the outcomes are supposed to be. HOORAY AND HALLELUJIAH! In my world, if you know how an experiment is supposed to turn out, then it is not an experiment but a demonstration or a magic trick. This title guides the reader to design good experiments by narrowing down the variables to one, and encourages them to repeat and vary the experiments to validate their hypotheses. Readers will want to have their own three by five notecards handy to jot down questions that will inspire new science projects, because it is almost guaranteed every page will spawn at least three new possibilities. This book has 112 pages. The illustrations (all by Stephen F. Delisle except one on page sixty-seven) are clear and easily understood and themselves will inspire readers to use charts, graphs, and illustrations of their own in science projects they set up. Altogether one of the best books for science fair we have seen. Colorful pages, attractive headers of various colors, and nicely formatted pages will entice older readers to enjoy science and enable younger readers to reach up and do real science! Reviewer: Gwynne Spencer
Children's Literature - Gwynne Spencer
The books in this series follow a similar layout by opening with a general introduction about science and science fairs and explaining that the best science fair ideas are not taken directly from a book but are original. A brief explanation of the scientific method is given along with hints for choosing a project and safety guidelines. Each chapter contains an overview of the science behind the topic at hand. The basic scientific facts involved in each experiment are explained, but the reader is encouraged to adapt and expand the experiments, creating an original project. Additional books and Web sites are offered to help students go beyond the steps described in the book. In Ace Your Ecology and Environmental Science Project, the reader finds detailed chapters on organisms, cycles, population ecology, and humans and the environment. Each chapter, again, provides an excellent overview and then explains several basic experiments. This series is well organized and precise. The scientific explanations are thorough while still being concise. The directions for each experiment are clear and easy to follow. The strength of this series, however, is perhaps also its weakness. The books explain the fundamentals to readers and then encourage them to discover more. For advanced, self-directed students likely to seek answers themselves, these books are perfect. They offer enough information and direction to get students started on what will ultimately be an original project. By encouraging students to use more than one resource, this series enables the development and growth of fundamental research skills. Less-advanced students without the initiative to do their own research might prefersomething simpler. Other topics covered in this series include animal science, chemistry magic and toys, space, forces and motion, food, human biology, weather, plant, math and measuring, exercise and nutrition, and physical science. This strong series would be an excellent addition to any library, particularly at schools with a heavy focus on science. Reviewer: Heather Pittman
Gr 4-8–These three series offer a wealth of information and differ only in the topics they include. All begin with an introduction that discusses science-fair projects and the scientific method and lists safety tips. The texts consist of five chapters of themed experiments–for example, some of those in Animal Science Project are “Clever Lab and Field Studies” and “Studying Human Behavior.” The chapters introduce the concepts and the experiments that follow demonstrate them. Many entries conclude with ideas for science-fair projects; as in the publisher’s “Score! Sports Science Projects” series, they are indicated by a trophy symbol. Each experiment includes a materials list, steps to follow, questions to consider, and diagrams that clarify the directions. When something potentially dangerous is involved, an adult is listed as the first material in the list and a reminder is included in the experiment. Worthwhile purchases.