Reviews for Snowball Launchers, Giant-pumpkin Growers, And Other Cool Contraptions

Booklist Reviews 2007 January #1
"Does your arm get tired and start hurting right in the middle of a snowball fight?" The solution to these and other conundrums (how to get maximum range out of a water shooter; how to turn a toy car into a rocket) are presented in this accessible selection of projects, many of which have appeared in magazines such as Boys' Quest and Hopscotch for Girls. The open layouts present diagrams and step-by-step instructions for projects that include a giant-pumpkin grower, a stethoscope, and a robot, and the author encourages kids to use recycled materials, such as empty oatmeal canisters and paper-towel tubes. Fox also discusses the scientific principles each project demonstrates, making this an excellent choice for classroom use. Younger kids will need help with both the science facts and the tools (notes indicate the projects requiring adult supervision), but older ones can confidently tackle several simple contraptions on their own. Adults will welcome this selection of high-interest projects that are ready-made for collaborative, educational fun. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews 2007 March

Gr 5-8-- The 20 projects in this collection range from a simple "Heartbeat Monitor" to a fairly complex "Moth-Bot," a wheeled vehicle that moves toward light with the flick of a switch. Most have strong kid appeal, though the "Snowball Launcher" and "Super-Duper Water Shooter" are likely to generate more interest than the "Drinking-Straw Dispenser." Energetic writing makes all of the projects sound intriguing, and the process of creating working gadgets can be as much fun as the end result. Instructions are written in an engaging, conversational tone, with background information about concepts such as gravity and electricity woven into the text. The directions are fairly easy to follow, although the complexity of some of the later "contraptions" will require especially careful attention and possibly adult consultation. Diagrams are also helpful; several steps are often combined in a single illustration, but clear and consistent labeling makes them effective. Most of the projects use household materials, along with basic craft or electronic supplies. The last seven involve electricity; they are more complex and require more purchased items, such as DC motors and transistors. Fifteen of the projects have a clearly highlighted "Adult Supervision Required" note, mainly for use of drills, saws, or other sharp tools. This is a good resource for students looking for out-of-the-ordinary science projects and for curious and creative kids who just want to make something fun and different.--Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR

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