The Scientists Behind Space
by Eve Hartman, Wendy Meshbesher

Price at time of review: $32.00
48 pp.
Heinemann Library
Chicago, IL
ISBN: 9781410940490

Grade Level: 4-8

Reviewed by Adah Stock
Master Teacher and a Science Education Consultant

This series of nonfiction books for young adults focuses on scientists both past and present, whose work furthered knowledge in a particular area of science. The biographical information highlights their contributions in the context of their cultural and historical background. All six volumes contain 48 pages. The layout of each page is designed to capture the interest of students in upper elementary to middle school grades. Each volume ends with one page sections that include a timeline, short quiz, glossary, index, and a reference section that includes books, websites and places to visit. Each page layout is bright and colorful without being too distracting. Quotes that add interest to the text are strategically placed. Bold print indicates words in the glossary and underlined material represents important information and definitions. There are interesting graphics that are appealing to the eye and include photos, charts and diagrams that supplement the text. More importantly, scientists are equally represented by gender, ethnic backgrounds, and countries of birth.

Have you ever wondered what is out there beyond the Earth in that vast black maze composed of twinkling lights? Humans have done this for centuries of time. I owe my interest in science to the fierce rivalry between Russia and the United States to launch the first man in space and to land on the moon, but that is only briefly mentioned in this volume. From Copernicus to Galileo to Newton and Kepler we learn about the laws of motion and gravity that govern the movement of heavenly bodies. We are introduced to Neil deGrasse Tyson who has made a life of presenting astronomy to the public and Carolyn Shoemaker who discovered a comet. From the Earth to our solar system to stars and galaxies, astronomers are constantly looking to understand what is out there and how it impacts us. The theory of the Big Bang will help readers understand the formation of our universe. We are told that we are still interested in space and in possibly putting humans on Mars. We are constantly searching for other life in our universe because we believe that we are not alone. Where this volume falls short, is the lack of emphasis that has been placed on the experiments performed by our astronauts which have served to create new technology and medical advancements—a subject not even mentioned in the section called "Lessons from Space."

Review posted on 4/19/2011

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