Youngest picked this book up at the library.
The first experiment he fancied trying was the crisp tube catapult, but we didn’t have any crisp tubes. So, I added those to the grocery order and Youngest took another look.
He chose the egg parachute experiment. He needed a bit of help cutting the plastic bag and attaching strings to the cup. But, the instructions were clear, and I think most children would be able to complete it independently. Middly was outside, helping my husband to re-tar a shed roof, so we passed the parachute to him and he threw it off the roof. Youngest was delighted to see his parachute work and his egg survive! After a couple of throws, Youngest decided to try throwing the parachute from the top of the caravan steps instead. It’s only four steps, so the parachute didn’t have time to open and the egg was smashed. Youngest was initially surprised, but quite quickly thought about why that had happened.
Next, Youngest wanted to have a go at making a ‘Crazy Quick Cupcake’. Again, the instructions were very clear and – though he needed some guidance on measuring 1/4 teaspoon – Youngest could complete the experiment himself. We actually make microwave cakes quite a bit, so I would say that this isn’t the best recipe (we’d use twice as much sugar and oil and no water). But, Youngest was perfectly satisfied.
Youngest enjoyed making balloon powered cars. We struggled a bit with the wheels falling off his cardboard version, so I suggested he made a Lego one as well.
Our next experiment was the Crisp Tube Catapult. Youngest struggled a bit with this one. He needed help cutting the crisp tube and poking holes in the sides of a plastic bottle.
Our first launch was a failure. The pencil tore through the side of the bottle.
Admittedly, this was more my fault than Shaha’s. The instructions do call for a ‘fizzy drink bottle’, and actually point out that these bottles are stronger. But, I didn’t have any, so used a water bottle anyway.
I fixed the catapult by cutting the slits further down the side of the crisp tube and taping around the bottle to strengthen it (I didn’t even have a spare bottle on hand to switch – the preparation fault is entirely mine). This meant that the elastic bands weren’t pulled as far, which actually made it easier for Youngest to use. He was happy with the second attempt and played with it for quite a while.
These are pretty basic experiments – many of which we’ve done before – but the cheerful layout and child-friendly instructions encouraged Youngest to give them a go. I think he enjoyed choosing experiments from this book more than he enjoys just doing the same experiment at my suggestion.
If your child struggles with anticipation, you might want to make a few purchases in advance of them reading the book, but none of the required bits and pieces are very expensive, and the book does make some suggestions for alternatives (e.g. for the egg parachute it asks for a yoghurt pot or a plastic cup, rather than insisting you must use a yoghurt pot), which should reassure children who worry about using the ‘right’ things.
I would recommend this book to children aged five to ten, I think. There are some explanations, but an older child might find them rather simplistic. A younger child might find the heavily illustrated pages a bit tricky to follow.
Depending on the age and wrist strength of the child, they may need quite a bit of help with some experiments. Cutting cardboard, poking holes in plastic and even stretching thick elastic bands, are tricky for small children.