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Explore ... Simple Machines!    by Anita Yasuda & Bryan Stone order for
Explore ... Simple Machines!
by Anita Yasuda
Order:  USA  Can
Nomad, 2011 (2011)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

If you have a child who is curious about how things work, this book contains 25 projects that encourage the youngster to create simple machines that have few or even no moving parts but still manage to perform important functions.

The author explains that these machines 'help us to pull, push, lift, and divide' and muscle power rather than electricity or gasoline makes them work.

The chapters of the book include information on levers, inclined planes, wheels and axles, screws, wedges, and pulleys. In each section you'll discover examples of machines that utilize these objects plus some hands-on projects.

For example, in the wheel and axle chapter the reader will learn that use of the wheel dates back to 3500 BCE in Mesopotamia. Heavy loads were moved using makeshift wheels or a system of rollers. The wheel today is an important element in everything from tires and pottery wheels to mills situated along waterways and the astrolabe used for centuries in navigation.

The projects the author suggests using a wheel and axle vary from making large and small gears out of raw potatoes to fashioning a toy car out of a grapefruit, toothpicks, string and a straw.

You'll notice that all these activities can be done with items found around the house. Most of them are very simple and will be easy to execute, which may be a problem for the more technically savvy youngster. The project may be too easy!

Teachers with students in the lower grades and parents home schooling their children will want to check out this book. It does offer some good, basic information about simple machines and very manageable activities. Each activity is well defined with easy to follow, illustrated directions.

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