Safety goggles on.
Let the mixing commence. You’ve got pennies, salt, magnets, vinegar and all kinds of things from your kitchen pantry. You’ve got tubes and bowls and wire and towels. You’re ready to experiment with “The Book of Ingeniously Daring Chemistry” by Sean Connolly. As for what you’ll make – does it matter?
Yes! says Connolly. Every single thing “is matter” and more, and learning why is “a whole lot of fun.” It involves elements, which are “basic building blocks of matter” that are arranged into what makes a cat a cat, and so on. Elements are also atoms and they’re similar but different, in that they have different numbers of “tiny particles that all atoms have, but in different numbers and arrangements.” What’s more, some have no charge and others are negatively charged.
If this sounds complicated, it’s not so bad if you understand how to read the periodic table. Says Connolly, the periodic table is like a “road map of all the matter in the universe.” It will help you to tell how many protons an element has, which elements it’s related to, and other cool things.
Start easy with the first element, hydrogen. It’s first because it’s the lightest, and one of the three oldest elements. Along with helium and lithium, hydrogen was created almost 14 billion years ago!
Boron, used to make ceramics, is not boring. Carbon can be soft as pencil lead or hard as diamonds (because both are, literally, made of carbon). That window in your bedroom was once a pile of sand. Nitrogen is essential to plants and explosives, while fluorine goes into rocket fuel and toothpaste. There’s less than a five-degree F temperature range between boiling neon and freezing it. Your bones and your sidewalk chalk share a common element, “aluminum can’t rust because it has already rusted,” and there are twelve elements that you absolutely, positively do not want to mess with.
Find out why…
Years out of high school, the periodic table may seem like either best-forgotten foe or old friend. Whichever way you remember chemistry class, “The Book of Ingeniously Daring Chemistry” is a lot of fun to share with your child.
In the beginning, beware that author Sean Connolly throws a lot at kids who are new to this subject: the language isn’t easy, nor are the initial concepts of elements, atoms, and nuclei. You may need to help, at first, but don’t let that deter your young scientist; it’ll all make more sense, once you get to the info-laden chapters on the elements themselves and the experiments your child can do, with or without you – activities that are, incidentally, much cooler than the ones you did back in Freshman Science class. Along with helpful explanations, they’ll also fuel your child’s understanding and curiosity.
Pre-read this book, if you must, to brush up on your chemistry or to learn what’s new before handing this book to your 9-to-14-year-old. You, “The Book of Ingeniously Daring Chemistry, plus your STEM-minded child: that’s a good mix.