Innovations in Everyday Technologies
by Larry Verstraete

Price at time of review: $8.95
32 pp.
Crabtree Publishing Company
New York, NY
ISBN: 9780778726845

Grade Level: 3-4

Reviewed by Deborah Stevens

Crabtree Publishers have introduced a new series called Innovations, with six titles: Innovations in Everyday Technologies, Innovations in Safety, Innovations in Health, Innovations in Communication, Innovations in Transportation, and Innovations in Entertainment. Each book has a similar format in terms of the design, contents, index, and glossary. At the beginning is a brief introduction describing inventors, innovators, and engineers. At the end is an explanation of the 'Engineering Design Process' with a challenge called 'Thing Big!' Moreover, there is a good balance between historic inventions and 'spot lights' on young inventors and innovators.

Innovations in Everyday Technologies by Larry Verstraete is my favorite in the series because I love gadgets and see loads of inspiration for inventors in ordinary innovations, such as 'selfie sticks'. What's the first invention portrayed? A dishwasher! (Pp4–5) Thank you Josephine Cochran, the inventor! Who can't appreciate a dishwasher? Aren't those pods pretty innovative?  Innovations in Tech includes Edison's light bulbs (pp 12–13) and explains how he tested over 6000 different materials to develop a long lasting filament (p.13). Here's a testimony to perseverance. But Innovations in Tech is accessible; along with Elisha Otis' elevator invention (pp 24–25) is the humble pop top (pp 16–17). Kids will like the 'Young Inventor Spotlight' about Abby Fleck, who invented the 'Makin' Bacon Cooking Dish as an eight year old. (p.11). 

This series belongs in every library, ideally positioned next to a Maker Space. What a great tool for teachers who might read aloud a section or two before issuing a design challenge. I could see a librarian or teacher bringing in a church key and can opener to show how cans were opened before pop tops were introduced after reading the section about pop tops, or other innovations like the safety pin (p26) or the coat hanger (p27). The websites (p30) have more resources. This timely series supports STEM and will be perfect right next to the local library's Maker Space.

Review posted on 3/24/2017

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