Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We brought back science books

The House of Glee visited friends and family in Portland, Oregon, this past weekend. We went to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for the first time, and were impressed that the chemistry lab was an actual lab with chemicals and experiments, and the physics lab had a theremin and static electricity to play with. Bede and Lucia finally got to try freeze-dried ice cream, too.

The science section at Powell's Books now has its own building (along with math and technical books), which is new since we last visited Portland. It used to be that I could park myself in the science section while my daughter browsed the children's books. At Lucia's request, I got for her Jeff Kinney's The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book, which occupied her attention for the rest of the trip. I would never have guessed that Diary of a Wimpy Kid would be the book to turn her from someone interested in stories to an avid reader, but that was the book that first grade boys carried around last year. While I am a little tired of hearing about the "cheese touch," I am getting a kick out of the drawings she's come up with.

I'll admit that I went to town in Building 2 of Powells. I found a used copy of Robert Zubrin's The Case for Mars, plus an out-of date but much enjoyed book both Bede and I pored over when we were children: National Geographic Picture Atlas of Our Universe, by Roy Gallant. I also decided to capitulate to the purchase of a few science and math Basher Books, a series aimed for children and published by Kingfisher. The books provide overviews and explanations of basic science and math concepts as first person anthropomorphized accounts.* The House of Glee currently owns the following:

Chemistry: Getting a Big Reaction
Physics: Why Matter Matters
Math: A Book You Can Count On
Algebra and Geometry

I hovered over The Periodic Table: Elements with Style at Ada's Technical Books today, but made myself practice restraint. Funds aside, we've got plenty to read. Speaking of funding, I always get a little frenetic around the time of Seattle Public Library's annual furlough because of budget cuts. I hope my fellow Seattleites have stocked up.

*August 26 update: The problem with giving objects and concepts personalities (as in the Basher Books) is that one inevitably has to deal with the sex of the anthropomorphized subjects. In Physics: Why Matter Matters, when personal pronouns came up, they were male. My daughter notices. I notice. She can change the text to suit her, i.e. decide that Gamma Ray and Photon representations are female, but she shouldn't have to. Inclusive language would have been so simple.


adrienne said...

Oh my, I had and loved that National Geographic Our Universe atlas when I was a kid, too. I spent hours and hours with that thing.

Lone Star Ma said...

Sounds like a great trip!