Make This!

Make This!Make This! Build­ing, Think­ing, and Tin­ker­ing Projects for the Amaz­ing Mak­er in You 
Ella Schwartz, pho­tographs by Matthew Rakola
Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Kids, 2019

When pre­sent­ed with this book, wheels start turn­ing, ideas begin pop­ping, and your tem­per­a­ture ris­es! This is going to be fun.

And a care­ful­ly thought-through learn­ing expe­ri­ence … but who needs to know that?

By the book’s def­i­n­i­tion, “A mak­er is some­one who tin­kers, fix­es, breaks, rebuilds, and con­structs projects for the world around them.” With great empha­sis, it is evi­dent that “A mak­er is you!”

We are shown mak­er spaces and we learn that mak­ers reuse, recy­cle, and create.

You know these kids. (You prob­a­bly know some who grew up to be adults.) There are some kids who are mak­ers but don’t know it yet. Give them this book if they’re old enough or sit down with them on an oth­er­wise bor­ing after­noon or work these projects into your class­room lessons or library programs.

Sam­ple chap­ters are “Sim­ple Machines,” “Optics,” “Acoustics,” “Forces,” and “Motion.”

The book is col­or­ful­ly and thought­ful­ly designed, allow­ing the mak­er to ful­ly focus on def­i­n­i­tions, facts, step-by-step num­bered instruc­tions, warn­ings, and pho­tos that are excep­tion­al­ly clear in delin­eat­ing the steps in case the ver­bal direc­tions don’t answer all of your ques­tions. You’ll find a dif­fi­cul­ty meter, a box with the num­ber of peo­ple it takes to do the project, and some­times an admo­ni­tion to “grab an adult.”

Make This! Interior page
from Make This!: Build­ing Think­ing, and Tin­ker­ing Projects for the Amaz­ing Mak­er in You, © Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Chil­dren’s Books, 2019, used here with permission

Projects include “Rolling Pin Pul­ley” (using a rolling pin, rope, and two friends to lift a heavy book), after which we’re chal­lenged to keep a list of the pul­leys we see through­out one day.

For “Pen­cil Push­er,” we’re intro­duced to The Mys­tery of Stone­henge. How did ancient mak­ers move those huge stones 160 miles from Wales to near Sal­is­bury, Eng­land? Work­ing with pen­cils and a pile of heavy books offers one pos­si­ble solu­tion (and the cur­rent theory).

We’re asked why any­one would care about the col­or of a roof in “Pow­er Col­ors.” This project requires two small bal­loons, two 2‑liter soda bot­tles, black paint, white paint, and a sun­ny day. Applied knowledge.

On “Clean & Clear,” there’s a warn­ing about fil­ter­ing water “It’s impor­tant to keep in mind that even though the water looks clean, it is not safe for you or your pets to drink. There may be oth­er harm­ful things in the water, like bac­te­ria or microor­gan­isms, which are too small to see.” Even the warn­ings are instructive!

This book teach­es sci­ence with­out mak­ing a big deal out of it.

Sign­ing off. I need to go make a con­vey­or belt, a periscope, a skee-ball game, and a mar­ble maze. Irresistible!

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David LaRochelle
5 years ago

I would have loved a book like that grow­ing up! I still remem­ber check­ing out books such as “101 Things to Make from a Paper Cup” over and over again!

5 years ago

Sounds like a win­ner. My eight-year-old and I will be check­ing our library for it.