Sci Friday NF The Fun Way

Academy of Natural Science
celebrates bicentennial
While visiting the Academy of Natural Sciences this past weekend, several brightly colored science books caught my eye. I've had reading the Basher science books on my " to do" list for a long time now, ever since several students started carrying them around in my classroom, so I decided to bump them right up the list.

One of my fifth graders (and his mom) graciously sent in his four books for me to borrow. As of this moment, I have finished the Biology and Physics books, and I'm halfway through Chemistry. My son snagged that one before I could get to it and declared it "amazing".

Overview of the "Basher" style -
Untitled     Each book is chunked into chapters, which have color coded squares on the right side of the page. These squares are visible on the side of the book, making it easy to navigate directly to any particular section of the book.

This friend is from "Physics"
     Each individual concept has a fun drawing that helps encapsulate the main idea. These kinds of images are both entertaining and educationally useful. Having a silly image to look onto is a fabulous memory aid for many types of children.

Each page also includes main facts at the top, a funny write-up written  in first person, and cool trivia facts at the bottom. The personification makes this an entertaining and humorous way to learn scientific information.

Each book also has an index and glossary, of course!

Goodreads summary - Nature’s building blocks have never been more sociable than in this newest offering from the creators of The Periodic Table and Physics. From cells to DNA, from viruses to mammals, from chlorophyll to flowers and fruit, and including the human body’s parts and systems, Biology is a single volume BIO101 course. Distinctive characters, a creative pallette, and straight- forward text make it all clear—and fun!

Biology includes sections on building blocks, types of life, body parts, and plant parts. The descriptions were entertaining and clear, and conveyed the important features of each concept.

I loved the image of the virus, which was shown as a spiky glob dressed up as a vampire with horns and a drippy nose. Here's a snippet of that write-up, "I'm 'an itty-bitty stalker who doles out large helpings of doom." Love it!

My only complaint about this one was that the "types of life" section didn't make it clear when they were discussing a sub group. For example, there was a page about Invertebrates, followed by individual pages on each of the types of invertebrates. The sub types weren't clearly labeled as being part of the invertebrates group, though. It seems like with the organizational and color structure in the book, this could have been clearer.

Goodreads summary: Imagine physics as a community full of wacky characters--the building blocks of the universe each with a unique personality. This book throws open the doors and welcomes you into their amazing world. From gravity to the theory of relativity, this unique book provides visual interpretations of complex concepts, designed to make learning physics easier and a whole lot more fun!
Physics is one of my favorite science topics, probably because it is so easy to help kids understand the vital role math plays in understanding our world. The Physics Basher book didn't let me down.

The first chapter explains the "Old School" concepts like mass, density, weight, gravity and force. The relationships between these concepts was clearly explained - perfect for beginner physics students or those who need a quick review.

The "Hot Stuff" chapter covered types of energy, vacuum, and blackbody radiation. There were chapters on waves, light, atoms, nuclear "heavies" and electricity. All were well explained and still entertaining to read.

There are a lot of books in this series, and I'm looking forward to reading the others. Chemistry is on my "currently reading" shelf, with Planet Earth right behind it in line. The books have a dedicated website that includes games, activities, downloads, and brief blurbs on each concept covered in the books.
Have you or your students read these books? Are you an expert in one of the topics covered by the series? What do you think?


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