Thursday, March 1, 2012

11 Experiments That Failed

 Title: 11 Experiments That Failed 
Author: Jenny Offill
Illustrator: Nancy Carpenter  
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: September 2011 
Genre/Format: Fiction-Science/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Is it possible to eat snowballs doused in ketchup—and nothing else—all winter? Can a washing machine wash dishes? By reading the step-by-step instructions, kids can discover the answers to such all-important questions along with the book's curious narrator. Here are 12 "hypotheses," as well as lists of "what you need," "what to do," and "what happened" that are sure to make young readers laugh out loud as they learn how to conduct science experiments (really!). 
What I Think: After reading M is for Mischief by Linda Ashman with artwork by Nancy Carpenter, I was completely in love. I love when artists use mixed media for illustrations like they do in Melissa Sweet’s Balloons Over Broadway or Laura Purdie Salas’s BookSpeak but Nancy Carpenter takes it to the next level with a retro-feel. The artwork is so much fun.

I love how curious kids can be. Sometimes, as an adult, it’s easy to lose sight of that innate desire to understand how things work and what will happen if you do this or that. I have noticed it in my own kids. It can be frustrating when my son tries something that ends up breaking something or hurting someone, but when I stop and really think about what he was doing in the first place, usually he’s just really curious and trying out an idea in his head to see what would happen. It can be hard to decipher kids who are kids from kids who are mischievous. This book celebrates that fine line.

I would definitely read this with upper elementary students because of some of the borderline-naughty "experiments." You have to have a sense of humor for some of them but I do think this book is a great talking point. I would hope kids would decide not to try some of these experiments themselves but it's really fun to read about them in a book! What I love the most is that it's a spectacularly fun way to introduce the scientific method. The experiments are simple but they are specific and kids will be able to see how scientists work through an experiment.

On a side note, this book reminds me a bit of Pippi Longstocking and her antics. When I was a kid, my dad refused to let us watch the movie because we would get ideas from her but I always thought she was such a free spirit and fun. If you tend to lean towards thinking the same way my dad feels...then you might not enjoy this book. BUT I think if this book is read with kids and talked about with kids, then it's a great book they can learn from.
Read Together: Grades 4 - 6 
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 6 
Read With: M is for Mischief by Linda Ashman, Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet, BookSpeak by Laura Purdie Salas, Junie B. Jones (series) by Barbara Park, Fudge (series) by Judy Blume, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Snatch of Text: 
"Question:
Will a piece of bologna fly like a Frisbee?
Hypothesis:
A piece of bologna will fly like a Frisbee.
What You Need: 
Bologna
What to Do:
1. Take bologna off your sandwich.
2. Aim at friend.
3. Shout 'Catch!' 
4. Hurl bologna through air.
What Happened:
Teacher caught bologna with his head.
No recess."
Reading Strategies to Practice: Asking Questions, Making Predictions 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository 
Writing Prompts: Develop your own curious science experiment - that will not hurt or disrespect anyone - and write a paragraph about your observations of what happened. 
Topics Covered: Integration - Science - Experiments, Scientific Method, Curiosity

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