The Physics of Fun by Carla Mooney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Out: September 15, 2021
This book uses skateboarding, snowboarding, trampolining, music concerts, and video games as a vehicle to teach (middle school-aged) kids some basic physics concepts. I’m not sure why this isn’t the usual textbook approach, teaching lessons via what is of greatest interest to students, but it certainly wasn’t the mode when I was a kid.
While I’m no expert on middle school science curricula, I suspect this book wouldn’t work as a primary classroom text because it doesn’t systematically cover the subject. The chapters on skateboarding, snowboarding, and trampolining explain many terms and concepts of mechanics, but not necessarily everything taught in science class. The penultimate chapter is about waves, both sound and light, and uses the idea of music and laser light shows to elaborate on the topic. The final chapter uses video games as a way to introduce the fundamentals of electricity and circuits.
I think this book is at its best when it is breaking down the physics of tricks in the first few chapters. That’s where it separates itself from the usual dry textbook approach, and any improvement in the book would be seen following that line. Granted, some topics are more amenable than others.
The book has a glossary and each chapter ends with hands on exercises students can do to improve their understanding of the material considered. The graphics are widespread and include cartoons, diagrams, and photos.
If you’re looking for a book to get a child excited about science, give this one a look – particularly if the child is interested in extreme sports.
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