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

9780061686968

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

Summary

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

(http://readability-score.com)

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.

Standards

MD CCSS

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)

7

Objective(s):

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.

Amazing Space: The Solar System Trading Card Game

Amazing Space: The Solar System Trading Card Game
(http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/resources/explorations/trading/)

Standards:

VA SOL

4.7 The student will investigate and understand the organization of the solar system. Key concepts include
a) the planets in the solar system;
b) the order of the planets in the solar system; and
c) the relative sizes of the planets.

Summary:

Created by the Formal Education Group of the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach, this mini game is a fun way to test your knowledge of planetary/solar system facts. By answering each of twelve trivia questions correctly, the player “collects” the trading card that the question was attached to. When you answer the question correctly, it gives you a host of facts about that planet. When you get a question wrong, it gives you a definition of each of the multiple choice answers so that you have a better understanding of the question. Once you’ve collected a trading card, you can click on it again to be directed to the fact page for review.

Why this is a quality resource

This site would be a great review tool after a lesson on the solar system. It could be used individually, or done as a class via a projector. While some of the “correct answer fact pages” seem to be a bit above the 4th grade level when conveying planetary facts (http://read-able.com says average 7th grade level), it still uses big images and some easy-to-understand vocabulary and headings. Within the correct answer pages, blue linked glossary terms have pop-up definitions which aid in understanding more complex vocabulary.

PBS/NOVA – Galileo: Sun-Centered System Video

PBS/NOVA – Galileo: Sun-Centered System Video
(http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.eiu.galileosys/galileo-sun-centered-system/)

Standards

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.

Summary

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.

Astronomy For Kids

Astronomy For Kids
(http://www.frontiernet.net/~kidpower/astronomy.html)

This page has an average grade level of about 4.
It should be easily understood by 9 to 10 year olds.

Readability Indices
Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease 83.2
Flesch Kincaid Grade Level 3.6
Gunning Fog Score 5.2
SMOG Index 4.1
Coleman Liau Index 6.3
Automated Readability Index 0.2

Text Statistics
No. of sentences 10
No. of words 79
No. of complex words 4
Percent of complex words 5.06%
Average words per sentence 7.90
Average syllables per word 1.37

http://read-able.com


Standards:

4.7 The student will investigate and understand the organization of the solar system. Key concepts include
a) the planets in the solar system;
b) the order of the planets in the solar system; and
c) the relative sizes of the planets.

Summary:

A bare-bones website with valuable factual information about the solar system written at a level that is accessible to 4th graders.

Why this is a quality resource:

This site would be great for “research projects” and fact finding as it breaks down important facts about the solar system, planets, and other celestial objects into simple language. This was another site that I was linked to from the National Science Digital Library and I included it for its age-appropriate writing style and it’s foundational information. There are some visuals, but not a lot. The text is large and easy to read. There is also a dictionary with many glossary terms, which would only be better if the terms were linked between the glossary and the other pages that use them.

ScienceLinks: Planet Size Comparison

Science Links: Planet Size Comparison
(http://sciencenetlinks.com/interactives/messenger/psc/PlanetSize.html)

Standards:

4.7 The student will investigate and understand the organization of the solar system. Key concepts include
a) the planets in the solar system;
c) the relative sizes of the planets.

4.8 The student will investigate and understand the relationships among Earth, the moon, and the sun. Key concepts include
d) the relative size, position, age, and makeup of Earth, the moon, and the sun.

Summary

This is a pretty straight-forward resource. Through drop-downs, students can select any two planets who’s sizes they would like to compare. In between those drop downs, they can click on the word “Compare” to draw up the comparison.

Each planet is displayed visually according to scale so that you can see the size difference between the various planets. Below the images is a display of each planet’s diameter (it defaults to kilometers but you can change it to miles) and the comparison ratio.

The quality of the images is not great and the planets are somewhat pixelated, but the concept of sizes is really what is important and it does a great job of visually representing the disparities.

Why this is a quality resource

I was linked to this resource via The National Science Digital Library, and thought it would be a great way to drive home visual representations of size in the solar system. Though some concepts may be above a 4th grade level in terms of math, the teacher could also tie this into math lessons (displaying ratios, decimals as fractions, etc.).