Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back to School with DK - The Big Idea Science Book by DK Publishing

It's the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas. It's back to school time and DK is celebrating by offering discounts on many of their educational reference books.

Need to know more about English, math, science or history or another subject? DK probably has a book for you. Whether your child is taking his or her first steps to school or entering their final year, these books can start the school year off right. By the way, many of these books aren't just for kids. Even adults can learn a thing or two.

Click here or on the icon to the left to see the list of books in the Back to School Boutique.

Today, I have a review of one of those books.

The authors of The Big Idea Science Book know that learning science can be daunting with lots of stuff to learn about. Therefore, they try to show that science is all connected by presenting 24 big ideas of science and building off those principles. There's also an online portion with material that's related to what's presented in the book.

I really enjoyed this book. It's well organized and has stunning photographs, illustrations, and graphics as well as interesting topics with easy to read font and easily accessible language. It's written for 8-17 year olds, but even adults can get a lot out of this book. It's not the most comprehensive science book around, but it certainly encompasses lots of topics and presents them in a wonderful exciting way. Not at all like a dry old boring textbook.

The book starts off by presenting the 24 key concepts of science or "the big ideas of science." Some examples:
1. Genetic information passes from parents to offspring
13. Earth is a continually changing planet
17. Atoms are the building blocks of matter

These "connect and help explain everything you need to know about science". It shows that everything in science is connected and not just a bunch of random facts.

Even though I think the "big idea" concept is an interesting and novel approach to learning science, I still had a hard time wrapping my head around the whole idea. I could see how some of the ideas could be applied to each of the topics, but that wasn't the case with all of them. I also couldn't see how this made learning science better. Some of the information still felt like random facts that would have to be memorized. Besides, now I had 24 more things to remember. Having said that, I'm sure that once I spent some more time learning about the big ideas, it would probably make a lot more sense.

The book is divided into 3 key areas of science: life, earth and physical. Many different topics are presented within each of these areas. For each topic, the "big ideas" are listed on the upper right hand side of the page.  It's handy to see which topics are connected.  For future editions, it might be useful to include a reverse-lookup, much like an index. That is, a list of "big ideas" with the page numbers where they were referenced. For example, #1 is mentioned on the following pages: 12-13, 14-14, 22-23, 30-31 etc. So if I wanted to learn about genetic information passing from parents to offspring, I could reference those pages.

Most topics, if not all, have "Did You Know?" asides which contain fascinating snippets of information about the subject. For example, on DNA connections "Did You Know? - Humans carry the DNA sequence for a tail! But during early development another sequence overrides it." Another example, On sharks - "Did You Know? - Sharks can grow, lose and replace up to 30,000 teeth during their lifetime." I loved all of these bits of information, but my favourite one was about the Amazon River. "Did You Know? - Although the Amazon cuts all the way across Brazil, not a single bridge crosses the river." I did not know that!!

The table of contents lists the major section as well as all of the individual topics within each of these sections. The index is adequate and should help the reader find the information they are looking for. The book also includes a glossary with definitions various terms, from alloys to wavelengths.

There's also an online component with lots of information that expands upon what's already in the book. There are interesting videos, questions to answer and cool graphics. I didn't go through everything online because it's quite extensive. It looks really good, though, and is definitely a good accompaniment to the book.

Highly recommended.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit DK's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at DK Canada for this review copy.

The Big Idea Science Book by DK Publishing, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2010. ISBN 9780756689025(Softcover), 304p.

1 comment:

  1. Wish this had been around 20 years ago. Our son would have loved it. I'm passing your review along to my sister who has grandkids she loves to entertain.


Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I've been getting lots of spam comments, so I'm turning on word verification to help keep spammers away. I know it's a pain; I don't like it either. Hopefully, in time I'll be able to turn it off again. Thank you!