Series Review: Disgusting and Dreadful Science

Disgusting and Dreadful Science series:

Ear-Splitting Sounds and Other Vile Noises by Anna Claybourne. 2013. 9780778709251. Gr. 3-6.

Electric Shocks and Other Energy Evils by Anna Claybourne. 2013. 9780778709268. Gr. 3-6.

Glaring Light and Other Eye-Burning Rays by Anna Claybourne. 2013. 9780778709558. Gr. 3-6.

Gut-Wrenching Gravity and Other Fatal Forces by Anna Claybourne. 2013. 9780778709503. Gr. 3-6

We all know that students learn in different ways and at different rates.  Sometimes we need to be tricky in how we get kids interested and invested in learning.  There are a lot of high-interest titles out there for reluctant readers, and here I review one series I have recently come across that is highly interesting and entertaining, and should have kids of all learning styles excited and engaged.

The Disgusting and Dreadful Science series should be especially attractive to boys.  With the popularity of humorous fiction such as Captain Underpants, it is no secret that if you deem any title “disgusting”, boys will want to check it out!

The great thing about this series is that there is a wealth of scientific knowledge “disguised” as fun.  Each two-page layout is on a different area of the main subject.  For example, in Ear-Splitting Sounds, there is the page title of Ear-Splitting Science,  which is an introduction to the decibel scale; the pages below it are filled with fun pictures and fact boxes, as well as an experiment that helps further understanding of the concepts. On this particular topic, there is a decibel meter chart and various comparative sounds.  Would you have guessed that the loudest burp ever (107dB) was almost as loud as a rock concert (115 dB)?  Now you begin to see the creative ways in which science is tied into disgusting fun.  It is not all goofiness, though.  There is also a See for Yourself section that instructs readers to make a paper megaphone and explains how the sound is directionally amplified when the megaphone is used.

The other titles in the series follow a similar formula.  In Electric Shocks a (hopefully Photoshopped) picture of an elephant on a toilet accompanies an infobox about how some zoos collect animal waste in order to recycle it to use its methane gas as fuel to generate electricity.  In Glaring Light, information about the electromagnetic spectrum is presented with factoids about how scorpions glow under ultraviolet light, and how bioluminescence in different animals works. In Gut-Wrenching Gravity, G-force is explained by relating how rollercoasters create them, and show how Air Force experiments in the 1940s and 50s exposed airmen to incredible g-forces that caused broken bones and burst blood vessels!

All of the above examples just scratch the surface; each of the books in the series are filled with hundreds of similar examples, and it is a safe bet that everyone can find something that interests them here.  So, if you are looking for a nonfiction series that kids will be curious about, and will teach them some science along the way, check out Disgusting and Dreadful Science!

Ryan H.

Blogger: Ryan H.