Scholars of Science
Scholars of Science
The Genetic Code for Life
In the early 1900s, scientists discovered that genes inside the cells of living things are contained in molecules called chromosomes. Made of strands of a substance called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), chromosomes form the genetic code for life. By the 1950s, the race was on to discover how DNA molecules were made.
English biophysicist Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) made the first breakthrough in the discovery of the structure of DNA. She died very young, and her contribution to science was only fully recognized after her death.
STEM has become a buzz acronym for the importance of studying in those areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) throughout school. This series seems to want to capitalize on this to try to entice readers into these studies using the historical and biographical background and the scientific benefits of the topics. Rob Colson has combined all of these on almost every page of every book in the series in an interesting and compelling way. The tone of each book is different in a manner that emphasizes the topic in a completely appropriate way. Although the point is not to teach the subject, each book tries to present the topic in an appealing fashion so that readers can see that there are benefits to pursuing the subjects that will lead to an interesting career in a science field of some kind.
Each book is laid out in two-page spreads with each on a different colour background. The information is presented in small pieces with many illustrations, some photographs and other types to show historical figures, demonstrate a scientific principle or add to the allure of the subject. There is enough similarity to make the books easy to read and enough variation to keep them interesting. Even the covers are designed to draw readers into the books. The titles are all alliterative, the front covers are in bright colours with illustrations of two or more typical scientific topics, and the back cover includes three of the people who are included in the text. There is, by necessity, some overlap in the topics between and among the books, a benefit as the repetition reinforces the material.
As you would expect to find in a nonfiction book, there is a glossary and an index. In addition, there are several suggested problems throughout the text with answers at the back. Although there are no specific references, the information included can certainly lead readers to search for further details from other sources on any topic that interests them.
In many ways, Scholars of Science is the book that should be read first in the series: it defines the scientific method and covers some of the history of science through many discoveries including light and gravity, evolution and genes, radiation and relativity. There are 13 topics in total and 13 biographical references mostly to very famous scientific researchers like Charles Darwin, Marie Curie and Albert Einstein and 12 projects both experiments and online projects. This title also covers a broad range of topics including biology, chemistry, astronomy and physics.
Perhaps it is just the science geek in me talking, but this seems like a walk through the highlights of science, and this is a good approach for a book intended to introduce readers to the broad topic and get them interested in pursuing these studies. The projects suggested are fascinating, including growing your own household microbes with simple supplies, a camera obscura and a look at genetic similarities among species.
The “STEM-gineers” series can certainly be used to define and expand on the meaning of STEM. All of the books could aid in introducing students to some of the ideas that might attract them to continue to study the important topics in school. Perhaps the best part of the approach taken by Rob Colson is that all the biographical information may tend to indicate that the reader can actually make a difference in the fields of STEM. At this age, children do not need to know what they want to do when they grow up, but continuing with these subjects at least keeps their options open. That is why there is such an emphasis on STEM and why these books would be an important addition to a classroom or school library. Once the subject is broached in school, children need more information.
Living in Toronto, Ontario, Willow Moonbeam is a librarian, former engineer and lover of mathematics and science of all kinds. She even does logic puzzles for fun.