Category: Gift Ideas

Halley Harper Science Girl Extraordinaire; Summer Set In Motion book review

Product Reviewed: Halley Harper; Science Girl Extraordinare: Summer Set In Motion, by Tracy Borgmeyer.

Age Range: 7-10 year olds

Star Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars

The Good: Chapter book featuring an awesome 9 year old science-loving girl protagonist, whilst introducing scientific concepts in a fun age-appropriate way.

The Bad: Predictable storyline. Lack of diversity among the characters. Girls who love science are portrayed as weird and unusual (but still cool).

The Verdict: This is a fun, easy to read, early chapter book that encourages a love of science, and in particular, has a science-loving female main character young girls can relate to. Thumbs up!

Halley Harper Science Girl Extraordinaire; Summer Set In Motion - book review

One of the benefits of having a science-for-girls themed blog is that it tends to put you in touch with people who share a similar passion. That’s how I “met” Tracy Borgmeyer, a fellow blogger at She Loves Science, who is on a mission to “inspire you to bring a love of science to your daughters.” Sound familiar?

Tracy recently wrote a guest post for this blog, Go Science Kids, on how to make a cool glow in the dark Big Dipper Constellation Pillow – thanks Tracy!

Tracy also mentioned she’d recently written the first chapter book in a new series, aimed at 8+ year old science-loving girls. Knowing that my eldest daughter is a keen science girl herself, Tracy offered to send a (no obligation) signed copy for my daughter to read. Umm, thank you!

It took me a couple of days before I could have a good look at it though, because my daughter Jewel wouldn’t put it down! I guess that’s a good sign, right?

When I did manage to wrangle it off her, I could see why Jewel was hooked. Science and mystery and intrigue – oh my! So it’s my delight to share our review of this new chapter book, the first in an exciting new series…

Read More Book Review of Halley Harper; Science Girl Extraordinare: Summer Set In Motion

Book review of Ada Twist, Scientist

Product Reviewed: Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts

Age Range: 3-6 year olds (with an adult reading aloud).

Star Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

The Good: Cleverly written and beautifully illustrated picture book with a female protagonist who has an insatiable desire to find answers to all her questions.

The Bad: This book includes disciplinary methods (being sent to the Thinking Chair) which some families might not be comfortable with.

The Verdict: This is a delightful book that that challenges stereotypes (gender and race) and encourages kids (and parents) to think, question, apply scientific reasoning, and follow their dreams.

Ada Twist, Scientist

I’ve been meaning to write a review of this book for AGES – ever since my daughter Bumble Bee received it as a birthday present when she turned four. It’s a book I’m proud to have on our bookshelf. It challenges the stereotypes of what it is to be a ‘good kid’ and what it looks like to be a ‘good scientist’.

 

Read More Book Review: Ada Twist, Scientist

Geomag Panels - STEM Toy for Imaginative Play for kids

Product Reviewed: Geomag Panels 22 Piece Set
Age Range: 5-10+ year olds
Star Rating: 4 / 5 stars
The Good: Open-ended magnetic construction toy with added panels that work well for creating imaginative play props.
The Bad: Panels are tricky for little hands to insert, which can add to frustration. (Plus choking hazard for babies and toddlers.)
The Verdict: Extra panels in this set add a fun element. A bigger set (or multiple sets) allows for more play. Read More Review: Geomag Panels

a 'go science kids' book review of 11 Experiments That Failed, by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter

Product Reviewed: 11 Experiments That Failed, by Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter

Age Range: 5-8 year olds

Star Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

The Good: A humorous story that introduces kids to the scientific method in a fun and whimsical way.

The Bad: Slightly US-centric. May encourage kids to try a few experiments you wished they wouldn’t!

The Verdict: Would make a lovely gift for 5-7 year old girls.

Learning about the scientific process via a series of increasingly outrageous experiments (that fail)

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11 Experiments That Failed

This delightful story book features a young female protagonist who, armed with safety goggles, a lab coat, and a curious mind, proceeds through a series of 11 increasingly outrageous science experiments, each of which fail spectacularly.

The illustrations and layout are just delightful. They are quirky, with a mixed media feel, and add as much to the storyline as the words.

Each experiment follows the scientific method, listing the question, hypothesis, materials list, step-by-step instructions, and results. Some of the experiments you could try at home (if you dare). Others are perhaps best left to the imagination.

Whilst each experiment fails to confirm the original hypothesis, the results are still documented factually. This method helps kids to understand that, in science, we can learn from all experiments, even those that don’t work out how we’d planned.

As a mother of two science-loving young girls, I love that this book features a young girl who clearly loves dressing up like a scientist, doing science experiments and using scientific materials (beakers, test tubes, pipettes, etc). Whilst her mother may be bewildered by it all, this young girl clearly thinks that science is awesome, leaping from experiment to (failed) experiment with enthusiasm. She’s infectious!

Question, hypothesis, ingredients, method, results - learning the scentific process via this charming story book 11 Experiments That Failed

 

Pros and Cons

Positives

  • This book does a great job of making science look cool.
  • More importantly, it does a great job of making science look cool for girls.
  • It encourages girls to invent their own experiments, using items from around the house.
  • It teaches kids how to structure an experiment using the scientific method, and helps to familiarise them scientific words (such as hypothesis), and scientific equipment (lab coats, safety googles, beakers, pipettes, etc).
  • It opens up discussions about how experiments can fail, and may help perfectionist kids to understand that an experiment that doesn’t confirm the original hypothesis can still provide useful results.
  • Humorous for kids and adults alike.

Review of science picture book 11 experiments that failed that introduces kids to the scientific process

 

Negatives

  • As Australians, we found some of the words to be US-centric. In Australia, we say tomato sauce instead of ketchup, for example. And I’d never heard of bologna before (which I think is similar to what we call it devon).
  • Young kids may take the story more literally than it’s intended, so the humour may need some explaining.

 

What does my daughter think?

My almost 6 year old daughter Jewel views this book a bit like slapstick comedy. The experiments that the protagonist undertakes are so outlandish and exaggerated that Jewel finds it hilarious, but I don’t think she could actually tell you why.

Jewel said that she thought she was a lot smarter than the girl, because she already knew these experiments wouldn’t work! I asked Jewel how she knew, if she hadn’t tried them? At which point, with a twinkle in her eye, Jewel suggested attempting to grow mould in one of her sister’s old shoes. Then we started brainstorming good mould growing locations around our house: apparently under the stairs looks promising….

 

Other Key Features {that might be handy to know}

  • Published by Schwartz & Wade books (Random House), 2011.
  • We have the hardcover version, which measures 29cm x 24.5cm x 1cm, with dust jacket.
  • The end papers are quite lovely too.

Eleven Experiments That Failed end papers

 

Where to Buy

We bought our copy of 11 Experiments That Failed online from The Book Depository. You can also find it on Amazon.com (for the US) and Amazon.co.uk (for the UK). It might also (hopefully) be on-shelf at your local book-store. I understand it’s been in high demand, so fingers crossed it’s in stock for you!

 

Check out our other book reviews:

Review of the book 11 Experiments That Failed, which introduces the scientific method and encourages girls to love science

 

Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid for this review. All opinions are my (or my kids’) own. This post does, at my own discretion, contain affiliate links. An affiliate link means I may earn referral / advertising fees if you make a purchase through my link, without any extra cost to you. Referral / advertising fees from various sources help keep this little project afloat. Thank you for your support and understanding, I really appreciate it.

Magnatiles for Christmas present

This post contains affiliate links*. Thanks for your support.

The girls were lucky enough to receive this set of Magna-Tiles from their Grandma for Christmas. They play with them almost every day. There are so many ways to play with Magna-Tiles, and we’re only just scratching the surface. But I thought I would share some of my initial reflections on how they’ve been playing with them so far, and in particular, the rich hands-on geometry that has evolved out of this play.

Usually when the girls play with their Magna-Tiles, they construct some sort of prop for imaginative play. They build trains, rockets, castles, stables, ships, school rooms and dungeons. Because the Magna-Tiles connect together really easily, they can build these structures in a few minutes, and they continue to adapt their structures (by adding or taking away pieces) as they play, so that their building is always evolving. Read More Hands-on Geometry with Magna-Tiles

Does your daughter love dinosaurs. Check out this inspirational book. (Review by Go Science Kids)

Product Reviewed: Ivy and Bean Break The Fossil Record, by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall.

Age Range: 5-10 year olds.

Star Rating: 4 / 5 stars

The Good: Fun chapter book that introduces palaeontology, Mary Anning (pioneering female palaeontologist), and perseverance in science in a really positive light.

The Bad: The backyard palaeontological efforts of Ivy and Bean towards the end of the book aren’t really taken seriously. There is also some sibling disrespect.

The Verdict: This book, which can be read on it’s own or as part of the series, introduces a love of reading, Mary Anning as a positive female scientist role model, palaeontology and the importance of patience and perseverance in science in a positive way. It’s a great one for inspiring science-loving girls!

Go Science Kids review of Ivy and Bean Break the Fossil Record (with positive female science role models)

(This post contains affiliate links*.)

Earlier this year, we struck gold. A friend of Jewel and Bumble’s grandma was clearing out her teenage daughter’s bookshelf, and gave us all the books her daughter had collected from her younger primary school years.

Shelves and shelves of awesome books. What a score! We’re so very, very, grateful.

In amongst the haul, was a little unassuming chapter book called Ivy & Bean Break The Fossil Record. We didn’t even see it at first. But then, one day, Jewel picked it up and asked if I would read her a story… Read More Book Review: Ivy and Bean Break the Fossil Record