The Book of
Ingeniously Daring Chemistry
by Sean Connolly
c.2018, Workman Publishing
$14.95 / $22.95 Canada
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor
Safety goggles on.
Let the mixing commence. You’ve got pennies, salt, magnets,
vinegar, and all kinds of things from your kitchen pantry.
You’ve got tubes and bowls and wire and towels. You’re ready
to experiment with The Book of Ingeniously Daring
Chemistry by Sean Connolly. As for what you’ll make
– does it matter?
Yes! says Connolly. Every single thing “is matter”
and more, and learning why is “a whole lot of fun.” It
involves elements, which are “basic building blocks of
matter” that are arranged into what makes a cat a cat, and
so on. Elements are also atoms and they’re similar but
different, in that they have different numbers of “tiny
particles that all atoms have, but in different numbers and
arrangements.” What’s more, some have no charge and others
are negatively charged.
If this sounds complicated, it’s not so bad if you
understand how to read the periodic table. Says Connolly,
the periodic table is like a “road map of all the matter in
the universe.” It will help you to tell how many protons an
element has, which elements it’s related to, and other cool
Start easy with the first element, hydrogen. It’s first
because it’s the lightest, and one of the three oldest
elements. Along with helium and lithium, hydrogen was
created almost 14 billion years ago!
Boron, used to make ceramics, is not boring. Carbon can be
soft as pencil lead or hard as diamonds (because both are,
literally, made of carbon). That window in your bedroom was
once a pile of sand. Nitrogen is essential to plants and
explosives, while fluorine goes into rocket fuel and
toothpaste. There’s less than a five-degree F temperature
range between boiling neon and freezing it. Your bones and
your sidewalk chalk share a common element, “aluminum can’t
rust because it has already rusted,” and there are twelve
elements that you absolutely, positively do not want
to mess with.
Find out why…
Years out of high school, the periodic table may seem like
either best-forgotten foe or old friend. Whichever way you
remember chemistry class, The Book of Ingeniously Daring
Chemistry is a lot of fun to share with your child.
In the beginning, beware that author Sean Connolly throws a
lot at kids who are new to this subject: the language isn’t
easy, nor are the initial concepts of elements, atoms, and
nuclei. You may need to help, at first, but don’t let that
deter your young scientist; it’ll all make more sense, once
you get to the info-laden chapters on the elements
themselves and the experiments your child can do, with or
without you – activities that are, incidentally, much cooler
than the ones you did back in Freshman Science class. Along
with helpful explanations, they’ll also fuel your child’s
understanding and curiosity.
Pre-read this book, if you must, to brush up on your
chemistry or to learn what’s new before handing this book to
your nine-to-14-year-old. You, The Book of Ingeniously
Daring Chemistry, plus your STEM-minded child: that’s a