Dec 23, 2014

Power, Power, Power

photo by enrico maria, via RGBstock.com
Who knew engines, power transmission, and diesel could be so fun? Delve into the power side of engineering and technology. Check out:
Car Talk Radio personalities Click and Clack describe the car as a system so you can understand how it works and what's wrong.
Karakuri Japanese paper art form utilizes mechanisms to transform rotary motion into whimsical toys.
Thomas the Tank Engine Although much maligned on the show, the online resource does a good job of explaining how they work and compare to steam engines.

Dec 9, 2014

Book Review: Help Your Kids with Math/Science

The title is enticing: Help Your Kids With Math... and science. I couldn't help take a look.
image by Engineer's Playground

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THESE BOOKS
I love the graphics and how they start with the big picture and drill down. For example, the science book starts with three main branches of science: Biological, Chemical, and Physical. Earth and space are categorized in Physical. These big three are then color coded and big ideas with related pictures (I love pictures) follow.

The math one is similar, starting with the different "maths" as the British call them. Funny thing this term: It reminds us that there are different types of math. There's arithmetic (numbers and their operations), algebra, geometry / trigonometry, etc. They are distinctly different yet related, and some students are better at one type than another (peek at this video on Emma King, a physicist who can't add).

If your child is sees science as discrete, unrelated facts, then Help Your Kids With Science is a must. If your child understands operations but could use a quick reference on procedure (and maybe a bit of insight on how maths is used in other applications), then the Help Your Kids With Math would be a great reference.

WHAT IS PROBLEMATIC
If you need to reacquaint yourself with science and/or math and like infographics, this book will help you help your kids (just like the title promises). However, if you struggled with math and/or science, and you're more of a word person, this may frustrate you. Spatial skills usually help kids in science, and your own struggles may have come from an underdeveloped sense of spatial language. The graphics communicate a lot visually which could be missed if you aren't comfortable gleaning information from pictures.

However, if you can figure out how to use the graphics--and teach your kids how--that will be an invaluable skill itself in STEM in general.

THE BOTTOM LINE
If your child needs some systematic structure to organize thoughts or a thorough-yet-accessible reference resource, these are great. If you're an elementary/middle school teacher, this is a must-have reference. Put it on your Christmas list!

Books:
Vorderman, Carol; Lewis, Barry; Jeffrey, Andrew; Weeks, Marcus; McArdle, Sean. Help Your Kids With Math. NY: DK Publishing, 2014
Jackson, Tom; Goldsmith, Mike; Savard, Stewart; Elia, Allison. Help Your Kids With Science. NY: Doring Kindersley Limited, 2014

Engineer's Playground is routinely asked for advice on useful and accessible STEM resources. Contact us if you have questions, info@engineersplayground.com