The Greatest Science Stories Never Told: 100 tales of Invention and Discovery to Astonish, Bewilder, & Stupify

The Greatest Science Stories Never Told: 100 tales of Invention and Discovery to Astonish, Bewilder, & Stupify

By Rick Beyer


Beyer, R. 2009. The greatest science stories never told: 100 tales of invention and discovery to astonish, bewilder, and stupefy. NY: HarperCollins.


Brought to us by the network that continually surprises us with history facts comes a book that reveals many facts about science (invention, anatomy, space, electricity, etc.) that are surprising. The book is organized by year, from 265 BC to 2004, with each fact written as a small narrative illustrated by related photographs and drawings.

Quantitative Summary:

Readability Formula        Grade

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level          5.2

Gunning-Fog Score         8.8

Coleman-Liau Index        11.1

SMOG Index      6.4

Automated Readability Index     4.6

Average Grade Level      7.2


Qualitative Summary:

This is one of those books that inspires further research through brief encounters with very interesting non-fictional narratives. It spans the STEM discipline, with stories focusing heavily on inventors and inventing (Motorola music, telephones, vacuums to name a few), naturalists, anatomy, and outer space.  It gives just enough information on each fact to inspire interest, but not enough to serve as a definitive reference source. The chronology is straightforward, with years written at the tops of the pages and going forward in time. There is no singular character to this book to follow, and the knowledge requirement is rather

Curriculum Ties

Great jump off points for high school papers on inventors and inventions.



State Curriculum

Technology Ed 9-12

Indicator Statement:

Develop an understanding of the role of society in the development and use of technology. (ITEA, STL 6)



Explain that throughout history, new technologies have resulted from the demands, values, and interests of individuals, businesses, and societies. (ITEA, STL 6-D)

Explain that the use of inventions and innovations has led to changes in society and the creation of new needs and wants. (ITEA, STL 6-E)

Explain that social and cultural priorities and values are reflected in technological devices. (ITEA, STL 6-F)

Explain that meeting societal expectations is the driving fore behind the acceptance and use of products and systems. (ITEA, STL 6-G)

Explain that social and cultural priorities and values are reflected in technological devices.

Identify historical examples of human innovation in the areas of food production, clothing, and self-defense.



Julius Lester

Lester, J. 2008. Guardian. NY: HarperCollins.



It is 1946 in Davis, Georgia, and it is a time of hatred. Rampant is the racism that is known of the old South, where “negroes” are treated as third-class citizens. 14-year old Ansel witnesses a murder, but the perpetrator is the white son of the richest man in town, Zeph Davis. Zeph blames Ansel’s best friend’s father, a negro, Big Willie, and Ansel doesn’t defend him. This haunts Ansel, and changes everything in his town, from his family to his friends. After the lynching of Big Willie, nothing will ever be the same.

Quantitative Summary:

Lexile: 870L

ATOS Book Level: 5.2

Interest Level:   UG (9-12)

Qualitative Summary:

This book is a short read, and very powerful in its portrayal of hatred and racism. I think in terms of narrative complexity it is a middle-high because the point of view can change between first person and third-omniscient, and studies many characters. The meaning seemed to be middle low – a single level of complex meaning ( a historical look at racism). The language was brutal at times and meant for a high school audience and above.

Curriculum Ties

This book would be great in a US History class when dealing with Civil Rights and historical accounts of racism. I think it would be a good contemporary companion to a book like To Kill a Mockingbird, especially as the main character could be more relatable to a teenager.



US History 9-12


  • 4. Analyze the major developments, controversies and consequences of the civil rights movements from 1968 to 1980 (5.5.4).

English 9-12

Objective 1.2.1: The student will determine the contributions of literary elements in classical and contemporary literary texts. ECLG 1.2.1, ADP H
Grades 9 and 10
The student will
 Determine the significance of the following as each contributes to the meaning of a text: 
o plot sequence of events (including foreshadowing and flashback), cause-and-effect relationships, and events 
that are exposition, climax or turning point, resolution* ECLG 1.2.1, ADP H4
o characters’ defining traits, motivations, and developments throughout the text* ECLG 1.2.1, ADP H4
o details that provide clues to the setting, the mood created by the setting, and the role the setting plays in the text* ECLG 1.2.1
o conflicts that motivate characters and those that serve to advance the plot* ECLG 1.2.1
o the perspective of the author or speaker as well as the effects of first or third person narration and multiple narrators within and across text(s)* ECLG 1.2.1
o narration, dialogue, dramatic monologue, asides, soliloquies, and character foils ADP H4 o various literary devices, including figurative language, imagery, allegory, and symbolism
 Identify the specific structural elements of particular literary forms (e.g., short story, novel, drama, poetry, essay, biography, autobiography, journalistic writing, film) ECLG 1.1.5, ADP H3 
Grades 11 and 12
The student will
 Analyze characters’ motivations, actions, and development as they relate to the experiences, emotions, moral dilemmas and ambiguities in a work of literature ADP H8 
 Analyze how voice, persona, and the choice of narrator affect the characterization, mood, tone, plot and credibility of a text 
 Analyze the contribution of dramatic monologue, chorus, asides, soliloquies, and character foils to the development of character, plot, and theme ADP H6 

 Analyze the characteristics of particular literary subgenres (e.g., satire, farce, parody, allegory, pastoral, epic, elegy, ode) as they relate to theme and purpose ADP H3

Author website:

Notable distinctions:

  • National Book Award Finalist
  • Coretta Scott King Award
  • Newbery Honor Author

PBS/NOVA – Galileo: Sun-Centered System Video

PBS/NOVA – Galileo: Sun-Centered System Video


4.8 The student will investigate and understand the relationships among Earth, the moon, and the sun. Key
concepts include
a) the motions of Earth, the moon, and the sun;
c) the causes for the phases of the moon;
d) the relative size, position, age, and makeup of Earth, the moon, and the sun; and
e) historical contributions in understanding the Earth-moon-sun system.


This video talks about Galileo, Copernicus, and Ptolemy, and how their insights and contributions helped to shape our understanding of the movements and orbits of our solar system. It shows the Ptolemaic and Copernican systems worked, and how Galileo used his telescopes to see phases of Venus in order to confirm his belief of a sun centered universe.

Why this is a quality resource

PBS/NOVA productions are always really quality educational videos. This one is a rather simple look at the contributions of Galileo, Copernicus, and Ptolemy, towards discovering the sun-centered universe, without getting too much into the heavy science of their discoveries. This video may be slightly above 4th grade level, but I thought the images and the narration were really good.