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Exploratopia    by The Exploratorium order for
by The Exploratorium
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2006 (2006)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The San Francisco Exploratorium brings budding scientists this 'interactive book filled with astounding ideas, hands-on experiments, fascinating facts, detailed diagrams, and eye-popping photos.' The Introduction tells us that the interactive museum's exhibits all 'run on curiosity' and this large hardcover takes the same approach. The authors want to help us 'see the world as a place to explore and experiment', and offer many thinking tools to assist the process - from paying attention, comparing, and asking questions, to experimenting, making predictions, measuring, and explaining what you see.

This engaging material is organized into three sections in Exploratopia: Exploring Yourself (eyes, ears, nose & tongue, hand, and brain); Exploring Interesting Places (kitchen, bathroom, backyard, playground, amusement park, and beach); and Exploring Interesting Stuff (language, music, math, money, paper, optical illusions, light, color, electricity & magnetism, and sound). At the back are handy Hints, Tips, & Answers, to verify insights and results. Interspersed through the colorful presentations and experiments are Dear Professor questions, with detailed answers.

Techniques to improve memory are useful for all ages and there's a great analysis of sound effect words in comic books. Mummifying a hot dog looks like fun, and Sherlock Holmes wannabes will want to do a DNA extraction. Knowing how to change saltwater to freshwater would be very useful if lost at sea. Learm how to taste with your nose, launch a rocket and measure its flight with a hypsometer, make music with a Brazilian Cuica, design ciphers, recognize counterfeit bills, make jello lenses, and much more. The diagrams and illustrations are impressive - don't miss the (rather pretty) pictures of fossil termite farts.

We're told that this eye-opening 'book is just the beginning' and encouraged to experiment further and make new discoveries. If you don't live close enough to take the family to the San Francisco Exploratorium, then do the next best thing - get hold of Exploratopia, and start examining what's all around you together with friends, family and schoolmates.

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