The Kitchen Science Cookbook by Dr Michelle Dickinson
This stunning book is a recipe book with a difference: every recipe is a science experiment that can be done at home. Using ingredients most of us already have in our cupboard, Dr Michelle Dickinson, aka Nanogirl, guides us through 50 different experiments designed to delight and inspire. It is a gorgeous book. Hardcover, with wipe clean pages, bright colours and a funky layout, it's wonderful just to flip through.
But, the real fun comes out when you sit down and follow the recipes. With nine different categories, scientists of all ages can explore physics, chemistry, and biology, while also using the construction and building skills vital for budding engineers.
The book starts by highlighting some important safety tips, conversions and science protocols like taking notes. Allergies and sensitivities are also highlighted and explained for each recipe.
As well as being a simple recipe to follow, each experiment clearly details the science behind it and offers ideas on how to extend yourself further.
Generally, each section starts with the easiest experiment, working up to becoming progressively more difficult. However, each and every experiment is easily achievable - curiosity and a willingness to try things out are key scientist traits!
We took The Kitchen Science Cookbook to our Playcentre -- full of newborn to five-year-olds -- to give the book a full workout and trial. While possibly a little younger than the target audience, all ten experiments we trialled were a hit, especially Unicorn Noodles and the Fireproof Balloon.
Easy to follow instructions meant it was simple to run in a room full of preschoolers, while the experiments garnered wonderful questions and answers. While they may not have understood the exact reasoning behind the experiment, they were little scientists themselves -- learning simple concepts and protocols as they made discoveries. The explanations alongside each recipe made the science obvious for the adults, allowing us to adapt it to the age level easily.
As a social enterprise, Nanogirl Labs is on a mission to make science accessible to everyone. For each book bought through its website, a copy will be donated to a community, school or family that would otherwise miss out.
As Dr Dickinson says herself, scientists and engineers are the "problem solvers of our world".
This book will definitely inspire and delight the next generation. You don't need qualifications to be a scientist, and this book makes science easy and fun to explore at home as a family. Every home should have a copy.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Nanogirl Labs Ltd, RRP $50