Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Physics & Chemistry Booklist

I haven’t had a chance to read every one of these so please preview suitability on Amazon.com or at your library.


For 6 - 10 year olds (approximate)
Physics: Why Matter Matters by Dan Green and Simon Basher
Janice VanCleave's Physics for Every Kid: 101 Easy Experiments in Motion, Heat, Light, Machines, and Sound by Janice VanCleave
Janice VanCleave's Energy for Every Kid: Easy Activities That Make Learning Science Fun by Janice VanCleave
Gizmos & Gadgets: Creating Science Contraptions That Work (& Knowing Why) by Jill Frankel Hauser and Michael Kline
Science Lab in a Supermarket (Physical Science Labs) by Robert Friedhoffer and Joe Hosking (also see Physics Lab in a Hardware Store, Physics Lab in a Housewares Store)
Physics Experiments for Children by Muriel Mandell

For 10+ years up (approximate)
Archimedes and the Door of Science (Living History Library) by Jeanne Bendick
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
The Cartoon Guide to Physics by Larry Gonick
Physics in Everyday Life by Richard Dittman (A little textbooky but nice coverage of concepts and interesting discussion questions. Could be out of print. Check your library)
Touch This! Conceptual Physics for Everyone by Paul G. Hewitt
Conceptual Physics Media Update, 10th Edition by Paul Hewitt

For 6 - 10 year olds (approximate)
Janice VanCleave's Chemistry for Every Kid: 101 Easy Experiments that Really Work by Janice VanCleave
Transformed: How Everyday Things Are Made by Bill Slavin
Fizz, Bubble & Flash!: Element Explorations & Atom Adventures for Hands-On Science Fun! by Anita, Ph.D. Brandolini and Michael P. Kline
Super Science Concoctions: 50 Mysterious Mixtures For Fabulous Fun by Jill Frankel Hauser and Michael Kline
Adventures With Atoms and Molecules: Chemistry Experiments for Young People (Book 1) by Robert C. Mebane and Thomas R. Rybolt (also see Book 2)
Mad Professor by Mark Frauenfelder
Glues Brews and Goos by Diana F. Marks (also see Book 2)
Periodic Table: Critical Thinking and Chemistry by Cindy Blobaum and published by Prufrock Press (workbook-style, looks quite fun)

For 10+ years up (approximate)
The Mystery of the Periodic Table (Living History Library) by Benjamin Wiker
How Did We Find Out About Atoms? by Isaac Asimov (also see other titles in the How Did We Find Out series. Titles are likely to be out of print. Check your library)
A Drop Of Water by Walter Wick
The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry by Larry Gonick and Craig Criddle
The Joy of Chemistry: The Amazing Science of Familiar Things by Cathy Cobb
Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture (DIY Science) by Robert Thompson
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee


This is a suggested course of study for a child very driven to study introductory chemistry. My son took this trail (almost entirely self-driven) during our Years 1 and 2. But it could easily be adjusted to younger or older kids depending on interest and motivation on the part of the parent.


We have been especially enjoying this periodic table poster, purchased from Web Elements.  The poster is a stunning visual reminder that we've placed strategically where we hang out the most...our family room. With poster and a Dad-invented mnemonic chant that uses each element's abbreviated name, he has memorized much of the periodic table.

We also play from time to time, the AtomMate card games. Another game is the hugely popular Elementeo but it currently doesn't appeal to DS for some reason.

For fun, we keep a box of Ein-O's Essential Chemistry: Molecular Models Box Kit by Tedco for DS to play with. This is a very basic kit. If you can afford it, I've heard that the Molymod kits are among the best.


These are very enjoyable when read aloud. Or read independently at about a third to fifth-grade reading level:

Adam’s Atomic Adventures by Alice L Baxter, a very cute, interesting story about a boy who is sent by his mysterious Chemistry teacher to the Periodic School to locate a missing oxygen atom.

It's Elementary! by Robert Winston. Packed with amazing graphics and fun facts, the book offers a very eye-opening, introductory guide through the elemental ingredients of the world.

The Periodic Table: Elements with Style! by Simon Basher and Adrian Dingle. Although he thought the illustrations were cute and the descriptions useful, DS was disappointed that it doesn't cover all the elements.

For older or independent learners, try

Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements by John Emsley, an intriguing, almost encyclopedic account of each element that's actually very easy to read.

For high schoolers, Molecules At An Exhibition: Portraits of Intriguing Materials in Everyday Life, also by Emsley, may be an interesting supplement.


The curriculum that most appealed to us in terms of scope, layout, ease-of-use as well as interesting tidbits and projects was Ellen J McHenry's very well-written The Elements. We are not using it as one traditionally would a curriculum. Instead we thumb through the binder and pick and choose pages and activities as they appeal to us.


Definitely the most engaging among periodic table sites we've visited is the University of Nottingham's The Periodic Table of Videos.

Go back to Living Science Booklists.


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