Mason Jar Science: 40 Slimy, Squishy, Super-Cool Experiments, by Jonathan Adolph (2018)

Mason Jar Science, by Jonathan AdolphWith two visiting grandsons in the house when this arrived, it’s been put to the test! Plus the cover is quite appealing – I liked it right away, and both boys leafed through it without prompting. It’s nicely organized into six sections. The introductory pages cover What’s So Great About Science?, Why Mason Jars?, and Using the Scientific Method to Solve Mysteries. Then the 40+ experiments are divided into five sciences: The Magic of Chemistry, Earth Science for Earthlings, The Root of All Fun – Botany, It’s Alive! Biology, and Understanding Matter in Motion – Physics. Each experiment is explained with lots of photos. You get a list of materials (most of them found around the house), step-by-step instructions, guidance in what to watch for, and an explanation of the science behind the experiment. Most include a “Take it further” section giving ideas of what else you can do in the experiment. The book is American published, so the volumes are in imperial (cups, tablespoons, etc.), but there is a metric conversion chart in the endmatter. I counted 43 experiments in total, all of them with huge kid-appeal and requiring minimal adult help: instructions on making slimes, quicksand, and crystals, creating a cloud, making your own compass by magnetizing a sewing needle, and cool tricks like making a paper towel “unwettable,” and making coloured water move from jar to jar. Some of them are instant gratification, and others are designed to take several days to reach fruition. We had the most fun making unicorn poop – making different coloured goo and mixing them together. Squishing the goo between your hands is lots of fun – “I could do this all day!” our 8-year-old grandson announced. The scientific method is explained through a colourful flow-chart, emphasizing that a “failed” experiment is still useful and gives you a chance to try it again. Which we did when our goo didn’t quite work out the first time. Most of the experiments are feasible with household items, though I’d recommend stocking up on things like borax and food colouring. I didn’t have glycerin on hand, so our bubbles weren’t as strong as the pictures suggested, but the mason jar lids with clothespin handles made perfect bubble-making gear. There are lots of pictures which illustrate the steps but also inspire young scientists to try an experiment. There is diversity in the young faces that occasionally appear. Along with the aforementioned metric conversion chart, the endmatter includes a glossary, a chart for noting barometric pressure, and a five-page index. The type is suitable for a competent reader, which is why I set the age starting at 8, though younger kids will enjoy exploring this with adult help. My thanks to Storey Publishing for the review copy provided in exchange for my honest review.
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