Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A new resource for science teachers!

As a science educator, science writer and general science enthusiast I am always looking for new material that will help me explain science. The science writing community, primarily made up of journalists interested in science has been tremendously helpful in this pursuit. Today, I was reading my hardcopy of the Wall Street Journal when I happened upon a book review that rolled off the page the way coins roll out of a slot machine during a jackpot win. I won jackpot today! I have a new resource for my physics classes in the fall.

The review was about a book called "The Wave Watching Companion." The author, Gavin Pretor-Pinney explains the science of waves through analogies, real-world examples and stories. He covers electromagnetic radiation (light waves), sound waves, brain waves, mechanical waves, and ocean waves (to name a few). The book is obviously scientific in nature: it subdivides waves into their scientifically distinct types (tranverse, longitudinal and torsional). Based on the description in the review, it is geared toward the common person. He relates waves to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, When Harry Met Sally (the scene at the ballpark when they do the stadium wave), and the way earthworms move.

I'll be curious to see how well-developed these analogies are in the book. In some cases, these books are geared at a level much higher than the general layperson. However, done effectively, the use of such analogies can make these concepts very accessible and fun for the science newbie to understand.

I was so excited about the book that I went straight to and ordered myself a copy for $12.99. Stay tune for my own review of the book. Will it meet the learning needs of my science students? We will just have to see......