A Library Full of Wonder Thanks to Science Mentors

With a trained scientist from Mad Science of Chicago, children and familes explored the hows and whys of solar energy, flight, electricity and other key science concepts with paper airplanes, solar powered bugs and slime.

My favorite activity was all about the power of the sun. Armed with flashlights, solar-powered critters and UV sensitive beads, our mad scientist showed how energy can be converted.  She talked about how solar energy is stored, and the group brainstormed different ways we use energy from the sun in our own lives. Lastly, everybody made a UV bracelet to take home.

Look for more of these programs in a library near you. Or if you can't wait, try one of these great project books to inject a little wonder into your life.

Older scientists can experiment with:

The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science: Doesn't the title just say it all! Catastrophic and how! Learn all about the invention of gunpowder and  try out experiment No. 9, slow motion fireworks (with the help of a grownup, of course). Go ahead. I dare you.

The Motorboat Book: The whole reason I picked up this book is the project on page 163—the Sub Duck! It does require you to build a waterproof motor, but the directions are provided in a previous project. There is only one thing cooler than a Sub Duck you built and launched yourself, and that is maybe the giant rubber ducky built by Dutch artist Florentjin Hofman, which paddled around Hong Kong Harbor in March 2013.

Younger scientists can try:

Forces and Motion: Ever wonder why changing gears on a bicycle makes it easier to pedal uphill? You can learn a lot about force and force magnifiers using simple materials. There are even a few secret tricks you can use to amaze your friends.

Matter Matters!: Sometimes the explanation of why something happens or how something works rocks too. That is definitely the case with this book, where there are lots of pop-ups and pull-outs to really make the boring learning bits come alive. Check out the sticky molecules demo in the "Wonderful Water" section and you'll see what I mean.