Disaster Science
(Klutz, 1998)

Kids don't usually like science because it sounds like something they'd learn in school. But kids do tend to enjoy things that go BANG, SMASH and BOOM. That's where Disaster Science comes into play.

At first glance, this squat little volume with the thick pages looks like a picture book. The photos are of things that have been battered, destroyed or blown up in a variety of ways, often having to do with destructive forces of nature such as volcanoes, tornadoes, avalanches and floods. But, while kids are eagerly paging through the book to see those pictures, they may fail to notice that, along the way, they're learning.

Deucedly clever, those writers and editors over at Klutz. Disaster Science is a cunningly disguised textbook of sorts, a guide for learning the science behind destruction. By the end, readers will know what the causes are, the common effects and safety procedures for surviving the experience. The text is fun and easy to read despite the education buried within. There are even some enjoyable (and sometimes messy) activities to help drive the lessons home.

Before and after photographs give a vivid perspective on the violence wrought by these natural events. The fact that some of the before photos were recreated on a computer does little to diminish the fact; after all, it's the after pictures that tell the story.

All in all, Disaster Science is a valuable tool for teaching children (or anyone, really, with an interest in things that go BANG, SMASH or BOOM) without making the lesson a chore. I'd love to see a few more books in the Klutz series.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 15 February 2002

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