SCIENCE STUNTS: Dr. Dazz, Olivia and More

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Calling all curious kids! My latest book SCIENCE STUNTS explores the magic of science—and the science of magic. Sci-fi writer and inventor Arthur C. Clarke wrote “Magic’s just science that we don’t understand yet.” Some science tricks today would have seemed like witchcraft hundreds of years ago. (Tangent: Check out this amazing, true story of how famous magician Robert Houdin actually stopped a rebellion using the science of electromagnetism.)  As a child, I loved performing magic shows at birthday parties as “The Great Jordini.” Around that time, I also became fascinated with science experiments that had a big razzle-dazzle factor. So, when I was asked to write a kids science book that showcases the fun side of physics, I jumped at the opportunity. I did a bunch of research to find an engaging collection of science explorations that illustrate physical phenomena such as gravity, motion, heat, magnets, sound, light, and electricity. I was thrilled when my CRAZY CONCOCTIONS illustrator Anthony Owsley agreed to create wonderfully wacky illustrations again.

The book is hosted by Dr. Dazzleberry (“Dr. Dazz,” to those in the know), a physicist and magician who wears a rhinestone-studded tuxedo. He was inspired by some of my heroes, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and Penn Jillette. To help Dr. Dazz explain “The Science Behind the Stunt,” I created cartoon versions of Isaac Newton, Galileo, and Albert Einstein. (In the Acknowledgments I had fun telling this talented trio: “If there are any errors between these covers, I blame you guys for not jumping in a time machine and correcting them.”)

My daughter Olivia, to whom this book is dedicated, graciously agreed to demo some of the experiments from the book in a series of YouTube videos. Take it away, Olivia!!!

Wooden Block Tower

Laser Light Bend-o-Rama

Fire and Ice

 

 

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The Fun Side of Physics – 2 New Books!

Exciting news for young scientists! Simon & Schuster just published two children’s books I wrote for their new Science of Fun Stuff series.The Thrills and Chills of Amusement Parks and The Innings and Outs of Baseball. Both books are aimed at kids in Grades 1-4, and are filled with silly illustrations, and loads of fascinating facts.

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The Thrills and Chills of Amusement Parks helps kids understand the basic physics behind roller coasters, bumper cars, and “step-right-up” midway games. This book also presents the sweet, sweet chemistry behind cotton candy. (If you check out this link on Amazon, you can peek at the inside the first chapter.) To help readers grasp “the forces behind the fun,” I explain Isaac Newton’s famous laws of motion and ideas about gravity, and show how they relate to the sciences of “Ahhhhhh!” “Whoooa!” and “I think I’m going to be sick!” The last section features amusement park trivia and a quiz.

 

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The Innings and Outs of Baseball explores the physics of homeruns, curveballs, the “sweet spot” of a bat and more. Readers learn such cool facts as the ball’s stitches rub against the air as they hurl through it—which causes friction and helps it fight the pull of gravity. Why is this important? For one thing, if baseballs didn’t have stitches that cause air resistance, then hitting a homerun wouldn’t be possible! A chapter on baseball experiments describes how scientists study superstar hitters, and even created robots that can pitch and hit. The last section features information about the history of baseball and a quiz.

 

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Rave Review for CRAZY CONCOCTIONS

Happy Holidays! I was delighted to discover that a kids chemistry book I recently wrote, CRAZY CONCOCTIONS, was reviewed in Science magazine. Spread the word to any young mad scientists you know. But please don’t tell Dr. Fickleschmutz.

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Ahhh!!! Invasion of the Bedbugs!

Are you a Micro Maniac? (definition: “someone inspired by my recent book MICRO MANIA to learn more about the many fascinating and gross creatures that share our planet). If so, you’ll be glad to hear that the “Dean of Children’s Science Writers” (New York Times) Seymour Simon just asked me to write a guest blog for his website. The topic? BEDBUGS! If you’re itchin’ to read it, here it is!

(And if THAT didn’t gross you out about bedbugs — then perhaps this short video by National Geographic will.)

And while you probably wish that all bedbugs were deadbugs — keep in mind that if ALL teeny-tiny creatures on Earth were to instantly vanish, our planet’s ecological health would probably go into a tail spin. Make no mistake: It’s a small world, after all.

Hope you all had a great Halloween. Curious to see my last-minute makeshift costume? I went as the would-be Batman villain BUG-FACE BROWN.

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All Creatures Great AND Really, Really Small

The prolific and talented Seymour Simon (“the dean of children’s science writers” – NY Times) invited me to contribute to his blog. My first entry is called “It’s a Small World, After All.” (Hoping I don’t get sued by either Disney or the B.L.C. — Bacteria Litigation Consortium) In honor of Earth Day, I shared some of the dazzling facts I discovered when writing my latest book, MICRO MANIA.

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The Germ-Spangled Banner (it’s the microbes turn to sing!)

Last month, I was asked to be the “visiting author” at a local elementary school, to talk about a new kids science book I wrote — MICRO MANIA: A Really Close-Up Look At Bacteria, Bedbugs & The Zillions Of Other Gross Little Creatures That Live In, On & All Around You!

As part of my talk to the 3rd grade classes, I showed a short music video, featuring a lyric I wrote to the tune of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The song is sung from the point of view of all the invisible critters that surround us, many of which help us survive…May it inspire you to wash your hands regularly — but not turn you into a germaphobe!

So, with apologies to Francis Scott Key, whose remains are probably being devoured by billions of bacteria at this very moment, herewith is my ode to “the little guys.”

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Another Great Review for MICRO MANIA (by someone NOT related to me!)

I hope you (and the trillions of bacteria in your gut) all had a terrific Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to share some fantastic news about a review of my new kids science book MICRO MANIA, published by Imagine Publishing Inc. The following appeared last week on the “NSTA Recommends” Web site (those initials standing for National Science Teachers Association, not Never Skedaddle To Anchorage, as you might have guessed.)

Anyway, here’s the review…

Micro Mania

by Jordan D. Brown

Price at time of review: $19.95
80 pp.
Imagine Publishing, Inc.
Morganville, NJ
2009
ISBN: 9780982306420

Grade Level: 1-8

Reviewed by Daniel Kujawinski
adjunct professor

In his opening acknowledgements, author Jordan D. Brown thanks his editor “for always pushing me to make it ‘grosser.’“ He more than followed her advice. From explaining the nature of bacteria to the flatulence of whales, this extremely readable book will be appreciated by the typical middle school student as well as more mature readers.

Scientific vocabulary is used appropriately and in context. The roles of microbes in real-world environments such as kitchens, bathrooms, playgrounds, and pets are discussed, and practical applications are given. The photography is very good. Hands-on activities for extended, open-ended explorations are suggested with clear directions and safety considerations. I recommend this book for outside reading or as a reference text in a middle school library.

Depending on the student-teacher relationship, this book could also be used in a literacy program for reluctant readers. I would bet that after reading Micro Mania, colorful conversations over dinner, on trips, and at inopportune times would be generated with tidbits like “if a cockroach loses it head, it can survive for a week. Eventually it dies of thirst.”

Review posted on 11/24/2009

If you enjoyed the book, too, please feel free to post your review on Amazon’s web page.

In a couple weeks, I’m doing my first “Author Visit” for this book, at my children’s elementary school. I suspect I’ll be shaking a lot of hands… (to self) “Must not be a germaphobe… must not be a germaphobe…”

Have a great December!

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