Chemistry

Chemistry 001

Introducing the Periodic Kingdom to its Heirs
Author(s): 
Mary Daly
Illustrator(s): 
Ana Braga-Henebry
Copyright: 
2006
Publisher: 
Ye Hedge School
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
66 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Written in Mary Daly's characteristic style, this is a pleasant introduction into a subject that some might otherwise view with trepidation. "Chemistry 001" introduces the student to the periodic table, here called the "Periodic Kingdom," and the elements of which it is composed.

The Periodic Table (or Kingdom) is presented in its major divisions, here called "latitudes" (rows or periods) and "longitudes" (columns or groups). The elements are introduced by latitudes, beginning with the atomic structure of the elements in that latitude. Diagrams of the appropriate
electron shells are given in these introductory sections.

Each element has its atomic number and symbol listed, followed by a brief description, often with amusing or entertaining anecdotes. A colorful illustration ties in with the description. While the illustrations are not "scientific," they did serve to remind my student of what he had just read. He enjoyed finding the symbols hidden in each picture.

A few additional basic concepts are included, such as molecules, minerals, isotopes, and radioactivity. One particularly helpful feature was that the text on several occasions points out similar properties in materials that are near each other in the Periodic Table. This is a good first step toward understanding that electronic structure affects material properties.

The family purchasing this book is permitted to copy the pictures in order to construct its own Periodic Kingdom chart. It is sold with a laminated, smaller-scale version. This can be written on with wet-erase
markers.

Suggestions for an even better book:

  • Address the difference between molecules and ionic compounds. (For example table salt, NaCl is an ionic compound. Technically, it is not a molecule as it is not bonded in the right sort of way for that.) This discussion should make the concept of minerals easier to understand.
  • Add pronunciation info for each element.
  • Give a bit more information on how to use the book.

I did find some minor errors, but Mary has already promised to fix them for the next edition (soon!) so I will not list them here.

My son and I both enjoyed reading this book so much that we each sat down and read it straight through. He will be doing chemistry again in the spring, so we will revisit this material then and perhaps have some
updates.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
12-16-06
Reviewed by: 

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry

Author(s): 
Ridlon
Number of pages: 
384 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This book, written for fourth-eighth grade, provides an introduction to the different topics in Chemistry. Written from a general Christian perspective, there is nothing in the book that would pose a problem for Catholic readers. While the book appears hefty at 384 pages, the extra wide 3 inch margins, space devoted to clip art and blank pages that run throughout the book result in a light weight approach to chemistry. Each topic is briefly explained in three-five paragraphs (250- 500 words on average) and is followed by a short “Review It” section made up of fill in the blank questions. A very simple hands-on activity is included with each topic and is followed by a “Think about it” page including two to four short questions for reflection. The “Think about it” questions stand alone on the 8 ½ by 11 page. This book, which could easily be completed over an eight week period of time, would be most suitable as a read aloud to introduce a fifth or sixth grader to the study of Chemistry. While some of the topics in the book are included in high school texts, the information in this book is brief and lacks the depth that would make it a complete elementary science program.

Available from Bright Ideas Press www.brightideaspress.com

Perspective: 
Judeo-Christian
Review Date: 
1-09-2006
Reviewed by: 

The Mystery of the Periodic Table

Book cover: 'The Mystery of the Periodic Table'
Author(s): 
Benjamin Wiker
Copyright: 
2003
Publisher: 
Bethlehem Books
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
166 pages
Review: 

This new title from Bethlehem Books follows the tradition of Jeanne Bendick with her books on Archimedes and Galen by making scientific concepts accessible to ordinary people.

Dr. Wiker is a prolific author of articles on matters relating to science and the faith. He has taught at Thomas Aquinas College and Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Wiker takes us all the way back to the Neolithic era to begin his story of mankind's fascination with metals that started the development of the science of Chemistry. The various scientific characters that play a role in this story - from ancient Greek atomists to brilliant modern scholars - are interesting in and of themselves. We learn of the diligent John Dalton (1766-1844) who kept a daily journal called "Observations on the Weather" for 57 years; the daring and foolhardy Humphry Davy (1778-1829), who discovered laughing gas and a whole slew of elements, and Dimitrii Mendeleev (d. 1907) who discovered the order of the elements by 'playing cards.' A great deal of scientific content that led to the development of the Periodic Table is presented in these middle chapters. The content is made particularly accessible through Wiker's humorous, engaging style and the connections he makes between each scientist's interest in a particular subject and what that meant to scientific progress. He also has fun pointing out the errors scientists made that ironically caused some of the very greatest leaps in scientific knowledge.

The last three chapters can be a little harder to follow and students will benefit from working through them slowly and carefully studying the numerous diagrams. The publisher recommends that, although the book is generally accessible to ages 10 and up, these later chapters might be more understandable to slightly older children. I found that drawing up additional diagrams of my own helped me to follow the text better (particularly diagrams of the structures of the electron "shells"). Diligence in studying these last few chapters really pays off, though, as the final discoveries about the Periodic Table and the well-ordered nature of the relationships between the elements are absolutely fascinating.

Now, you might be asking yourself "Why would someone who teaches at Catholic colleges and writes for Catholic publications be so interested in the Periodic Table?" The answer is simple: The Periodic Table shows the relationships between the most basic elements that comprise everything on earth. It is phenomenal and mind-boggling how mathematically-ordered these elements are. This kind of order seen in nature is a powerful argument against random and chaotic theories of the origins of the world. I should also note that, although Dr. Wiker's interest in this topic is likely related to his faith, he never directly brings up the topic in his book. I'm really glad that he didn't. There's a time for laying it all on the table and a time for a little more subtlety. This sort of book allows readers to discover some of the "Wow!" of Science and later, gradually make the connection between the order of the elements and the awesomeness of the Creator who designed it all.

Highly and enthusiastically recommended! Probably the most fun I've ever had reading a science book. :)

Click here for Study Questions

Review Date: 
7-24-03
Reviewed by: