Steve Spangler’s Science Effect

I love Steve Spangler‘s science shows. More importantly, my five-year-old loves them. Recently I had a chance to talk with Spangler about his work, his views on science education, and his professional response to the pandemic. (My child joined for a few minutes!)

See also Spangler’s DIY Sci show (broadcast or streaming) as well as the Spangler Effect, and Sick Science on YouTube.

For more details, see the podcast show page for the episode.

The Heinemann Science Series

I really love the Heinemann “InfoSearch” science series; unfortunately, the books are no longer in print. You might be able to pick up some of them used, though, as through Amazon or eBay.

Each book is 32 pages and filled with solid information, simple experiments, and historical context. The pages are laid out nicely in full color.

If I find another in-print series I like as well I’ll write about it; for now I feel fortunate that I was able to collect ten books from this series. My five-year-old loves them.

The Boyhood Adventure of Stone Fox

Ten-year-old Willie has a heap of problems. His grandfather and caregiver, distraught over the likelihood of losing his Wyoming potato farm, is bedridden. Willie’s doctor friend urges Willie to leave his grandfather to the care of others and abandon the farm. The local banker sees selling the farm as Willie’s only way out.

But Willie is not ready to give up hope. Can he work the farm himself? And can he raise the funds necessary to save the farm? That is the adventure that John Reynolds Gardiner takes us on in his 1980 short novel Stone Fox (paid link).

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Fun Halloween Stories

It’s nearly Halloween! My five-year-old loves hearing spooky stories—just not too spooky. I thought I’d share some of our favorites.

For the youngest readers, Here Comes Halloween (paid link) is not scary at all; it’s about dressing up in costumes.

Two of my five-year-old’s favorites are Five Little Pumpkins and Five Black Cats (paid links). The stories are fun to chant in rhyme. “The second one said, ‘There are witches in the air!'”

Goodnight Goon (paid link) is a funny spoof of Goodnight Moon. “Goodnight claws and goodnight jaws. . .”

Although it’s only superficially about Halloween, Room on the Broom (paid link) is a standout. Julia Donaldson is a gifted author of children’s books, and Axel Scheffler adds colorful and fun illustrations. The story begins, “The witch had a cat and a hat that was black, and long ginger hair in a braid down her back.” The story is about making friends and coming to your friends’ aid. The short film at Amazon based on the story also is excellent.

When I was a child I loved listening to the Disney recording of Haunted Mansion (paid link). Featuring the voice of Ron Howard, the story follows a couple who enter a spooky mansion during a rain storm only to find themselves on a ghostly tour. It’s a little scary, but the ghosts expressly don’t hurt people. You can listen to the recording through Amazon prime or purchase the mp3 or CD (if you get the disk check around for the best price). Listening to the story with my child brought back many of my own childhood holiday memories.

Why Interest Matters

Children and adults tend to learn about things that interest them. How does interest work? What can parents and teachers do to foster a child’s interest in a given subject? Should adults seek to foster such interest, and, if so, how and when should they do so? These are some of the important questions addressed in a recent podcast discussion between “Schooled” host and education professor Kevin Currie-Knight (whom I’ve interviewed) and and psychologist K. Ann Renninger.

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