Reviewed by Marilyn Cook
Want to make physical work easier? Could you push a wheel barrow up a hill? Could it be that the design of the wheel barrow makes pushing easier? How about using a wedge or a pulley? From the front cover, this book invites the reader to explore simple machines.
Ever thought you could have fun with straws, milk cartons, paper, string, and glue? You've come to the right place if so. This book has 25 great projects and 8 chapters to describe the use of simple machines—from levers to pulleys and lots more. The book layout is in black, white, and gray with simple illustrations to which students can relate. For instance, a school playground is depicted, with a pail being pulled up a slide.
"What game needs a rock, paper, and a lever?" Read to find out. Chapters have a short section to compare and contrast such simple machines as a screw. "What looks like a winding road but you cannot drive on it?" You could have fun with this topic simply using the jokes in the book to get students engaged and working on each simple machines. There is supply list in each chapter with instructions for students to make the simple machine as well as information and words to know. The vocabulary includes names of scientists throughout history who wrote about and/or discovered the instruments.
This is not your usual activity book. Written for the student, with inquiry in mind, the explanations are simple and easy to follow, and there is an explanation of what is happening and questions to extend the learning. I would use this book with young scientists in my class, and I would also put the materials in a center for young children to explore, make, and do. There is a glossary, list of books, list of museum and science centers, and list of websites. I honestly didn't think simple machines were fun or easy to understand. This book changed that for me and for my students.
Review posted on 12/2/2011