Reviewed by Rebecca Bell
Environmental Education Specialist
Don’t read any further. Go buy this book. I’ll wait right here. It is as relevant as it can get. Gifford uses the everyday technology of cell phones, video games, the Internet, 3D movies, and roller coasters to teach kids about the inner workings of these devices and infrastructures. Kids will pore over it.
The book is divided into four chapters: Microchips and Smart Tech (smart phones, the Internet, robots); Fun, Games, and Thrills (computer games, electric guitars, and roller coasters); Force, Speed, and Power (supercars, surface skimmers, space construction); and Technology for Life (sports shoes, tech in the home, mountain bikes, energy use).
Brightly colored pages are attractive and loaded with history and statistics, fact boxes, suggested readings, keyword web searches, and additional resources. Step–by–step sequences show how items are put together and diagrams help explain the principle behind each device. There are also suggested web sites with videos and places to visit related to the topic. A glossary and index are included as well. Then there is the free digital companion book, "Cool Tech Heroes." The ebook is downloaded using a code contained in the print edition and it scrolls using Adobe reader. The text features ten biographies of the tech world, including Shigeru Miyamoto, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerburg, Tim Berners–Lee, the gals that programmed ENIAC in 1945, and others. The biographies presented reflect, to a limited extent, gender and ethnic diversity, but African Americans are missing from the picture, and including Marie Curie in the mix, even though her tie to tech is easy to make, seems like a half–hearted attempt at including another woman.
Mostly this is a "parts" book, with no real explanation of the science behind the devices. But this is a tech book, not a science book, and what is presented is more than enough. The only other complaint I have is that some of the dark text on a dark background is too hard for these old eyes to read easily. Those pages are few and far between and it certainly did not stop me from reading them. The book is attractive and exciting and just the thing to inspire the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Marie Curie.
Review posted on 10/26/2012