Simple Machines

by Adrienne Mason, Deborah Hodge, Ray Boudreau,
32 pages,
ISBN: 1550743112

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Children`s Books
by Kevin Pitt

Deborah Hodge's series on "Starting With Science" is a worthwhile classroom supplement for science programs from grades one through five. Younger students would be better served by direction from their own teachers, but the series will do well as a source for independent activities. It will also appeal to families with children who are keen about learning beyond the classroom, especially those looking for home science projects.

This book presents a series of simple investigations that can be done at home with everyday materials, some imagination, and parental supervision. The investigations are meant to teach students about the concepts and principles involved in simple machines (such as forces and effort). Hodge takes a fresh approach to learning what some students find to be difficult concepts.

The investigations following a simplified, but standard experimental format: an introduction, materials that will be needed, procedures to follow, and ideas for observation. They finish nicely with clear and concise explanations of what has happened. Some of them draw links between the content of the investigation and the concept or principle of a particular simple machine.

The layout of the book is attractive and well-planned. It seems that the trend with classroom materials, especially textbooks, is towards colour. This will be especially appealing to younger students. The colourful photographs enhance the investigations, giving a better idea of what the children will be involved with. The ideas provided at the end of the book as extensions will further enhance the activities.

Hodge makes excellent points on matters of safety, for example in one activity, having an adult make the hole in a paper for the child. But one note of caution is not given. In the first investigation, the students use a broomstick to lift each other on a table, with a chair as a fulcrum. This could be dangerous, since the rounded broom-handle is prone to roll if not enough strength is not used, and the table could even roll off the broomstick.

This book would definitely make a wonderful addition to a classroom, library, or home library. l

Kevin Pitt has worked in education for seven years, and is a science teacher for The York School in Toronto.


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