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Science After School (SAS) Consumers Guide  

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Family Science

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Review Synopsis: by afterschool program expert Tom Bromage

Family Science is a well-rounded curriculum in which the activities mirror approaches scientists take in forming and testing hypotheses. The experiments deal with various disciplines of science including biology, chemistry, physics and astronomy. Its experiments are sold as "fun, creative, hands-on science activities for parents and children of all ages." Older children may find some activities dull; however, the majority of the activities are hands-on and engaging.
Full Review:
Family Science involves participants in scientific exploration through observation of daily occurrences, interaction with science professionals, and documentation of controlled experiments. The curriculum lets participants explore biology ("Will It Grow?"), chemistry ("Bubble Construction"), physics ("Charge It") and astronomy ("Tube Planetarium"). The book helps participants develop a sense of what science is through a series of group investigations in which they make observations, formulate hypotheses, predict results, and perform experiments to test their guesses.

The inquiry-based learning format of the opener activities, and the book's longer experiments, compel participants to work cooperatively. Some activities also connect students with professionals who use science in their jobs. Panel discussions explore scientific careers, demonstrate the connection between skills and jobs in science, and provide an entertaining way to learn about the large number of well-paying science-based professions that exist. And the book's "Did You Know..." sections illuminate the scientific accomplishments and contributions of women and minorities, which could be an effective recruitment tool for future scientists from diverse backgrounds.

Instructors of different abilities and levels of scientific knowledge can implement Family Science in a wide range of afterschool organizations. The book provides explicit, easy-to-follow instructions, and activities are neatly arranged into sections: "Why" the experiment is being done, "What" it's about, and "How" it should be carried out. All of the activities can be completed indoors, and so aren't limited by time of day or weather constraints.

Handouts from the book can be photocopied so that the experiments may be reproduced many times with minimal preparation. Any required materials not included in the guide are everyday, inexpensive, and readily available-they're useful not only for repeated science experiments but for other purposes. However, the lackluster nature of the materials (marbles, playing cards, buckets, paper clips, and scissors), may not grab the attention of older children.

The Family Science Guide also provides the resources necessary to promote an event, including sample flyers, letters, checklists, safety contracts, agendas, and evaluations.