Accessible High School Science
I have to admit that science isn’t my favorite subject and it definitely wasn’t when I was in high school either. But, I do enjoy learning more about what makes the world work when it is presented in a highly accessible way, either with pictures or if the text is written in an uncomplicated, even humorous way. It is definitely more interesting to learn from something that presents the information in a unique way than from a dull textbook. I have found a few titles that I think fit this criteria and would find their place within a high school science unit.
Randall Munroe is the author of a popular web comic, which has a side blog called What If? These hypothetical questions have been submitted by fans to see if Munroe will test to find an answer. He uses declassified military documents, runs simulations, and calls his mom to create the hilarious answers to some weird questions, such as, “How long could a nuclear submarine last in orbit?” The result involves cartoons, accessible explanations of how Munroe came to his solution, and probably some laughter.
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. 9780544272996. Gr 9-Adult.
Freediving can be seen as to some as an extreme sport, but for Nestor is it a unique way to learn more about the life that lives under the water. Nestor approaches each chapter using a depth into the water, from the surface of the ocean to a depth of 28,700 ft, and then explores the life and the abilities of those animals that allow them to dive so deep below the ocean’s surface. He also discusses man made tools that have gone to depths that no human ever could. This is less an explanation of free diving and more an exploration of the wonders surviving within the depths of the ocean.
Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves by James Nestor. 9780547985527. Gr 9-Adult.
Mark Miodownik brings the material world to life with his exploration of the “stuff” that makes up our “stuff”. His examination of steel, plastic, glass, and chocolate, among others suddenly make learning the atomic structures of these objects interesting and a little fun. Miodownik includes some personal stories and photos in which he examines the different materials within the picture. This is a fun and quirky take on a subject that can, at times, be dry.
Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik. 9780544236042. Gr 10-Adult.
This photographic collection by Ingo Arndt offers a gorgeous exploration of the dwellings that animals have built. A person could spend hours within this book pouring over the details that male bowerbird puts into his nest to attract a female or the artful details of wasp and honeybee nests among many other animals. However, not only is this book a wonder to look at, but Professor Jurgen Tautz offers informative descriptions of how and why these animals build what they do.
Animal Architecture by Ingo Arndt. 9781419711657. Gr 10-Adult.
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