Though I spent a lot of time thinking about how to properly explain science in a way that is comprehensible to non-scientists, my biggest Achilles heel is my lack of experience in explaining things at a level that kids can understand. Fortunately, there are a growing number of resources out there to help people do kid-friendly science! One that just came out last month is Kitchen Science Lab for Kids, by Liz Heinecke:
Heinecke has been a long-time advocate for kid-friendly science experiments, and runs the very nice blog The Kitchen Pantry Scientist, where she describes experiments that can be done safely at home with ingredients that can be found, of course, in one’s kitchen pantry! She has also produced a mobile app, KidScience, which provides convenient multimedia descriptions of a set of home experiments.
Now we have Kitchen Science Lab for Kids, which provides detailed, quantitative, full-color descriptions of 52 experiments. The “labs” cover chemistry, physics and biology, and are divided into 12 units. One unit, for example, is Rocket Science, which contains the following experiments:
- Film canister rockets
- Easy straw rockets
- Sky-high bottle rockets
- Edible electromagnetic wave experiment
In full disclosure, I’m friends with Liz, having first met her at ScienceOnline, the long-running online science communication conference. I even have a small contribution in the book, having introduced her to the Kaye effect, which I’ve blogged about previously. As is her specialty, Liz made the experiment even easier to do, though she graciously included a description of my technique, as well.
I can personally attest to how fun the experiments are! This Spring, based on Liz’s suggestions, I put together a “Kitchen Pantry” demonstration table at the UNC Charlotte Science and Technology Expo. The table was a hit, and drew consistent crowds for the duration of the event.
Kitchen Science Lab for Kids gives a thorough description of each experiment. It includes a list of materials, a detailed protocol, and an explanation of the science behind the demonstration. The collections of experiments are well-organized and often connect to each other, giving the inquisitive student a path through the book.
It is worth noting that although the experiments are designed to be safe, some of them still require some adult supervision. It is hard to do science without occasionally heating things up or potentially making a mess!
In summary: a really great book! I feel that I’ve gained a lot of insight into making science kid-friendly from reading it, and I imagine a lot of parents will find it a fun and educational resource for their children.