by Dora Lee

Price at time of review: $18.95
40 pp.
Kids Can Press Ltd.
Tonawanda, NY
ISBN: 9781554534678

Grade Level: 3-5

Reviewed by CBC Reviewer

The science of design is just one of the new fields that our STEM philosophy urges us to explore. Good reading about this field of engineering is scarce, and seldom developmentally appropriate for the elementary reader. So teachers will appreciate this award–winning volume.

Where does an engineer get the inspiration for innovative design? Many times it is in nature. This NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book identifies designs that can be found in plants, animals, and other natural settings and then shows how they might inspire new engineering models.

Suppose an engineer wanted to invent a robot that could use a pencil, or a computer that could run on light rather than electricity. The engineer might begin by examining skeletons to find out how humans hold a pencil, or studying beetles that glow. Today's engineers even look at large ecosystems as models for human–designed systems on a smaller scale.

The text is written at a secondary level, but divided into small chunks with good illustrations and a helpful glossary that stretches the book's usability into the middle elementary range. Teachers will find it an extremely valuable component of a curriculum that includes design or engineering activities; once students read and appreciate its message, they will begin to observe "engineering" all around and be inspired by "nature's way."

Review posted on 2/29/2012

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