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SB&F's Throwback Thursday: To the Young Scientist

A look back through our archives for classic books still worth reading.

Recently we were asked to recommend a book for upper elementary aged-kids that could be used to give them a good picture of what a scientist does. It was very hard to find a highly recommended book that conveyed the breadth of possibilities and the commonality at the heart of scientific working and thinking. We had to go back to 1997 to find this one. We are hoping that some smart publisher is considering an update!

Bortz, Alfred B. (Fred)To the Young Scientist: Reflections on Doing and Living Science. (Illus.) Danbury, CT Franklin Watts 1997. 128pp.

Rating: Highly Recommended
Level: Middle School, Junior High

If any book can convince a young person that a scientist's life can be both exciting and fulfilling, this little volume can. What Dr. Bortz, a physicist and science writer, has done is to illustrate the point by reporting the personal lives and discoveries of scientists in a number of different fields: a famous comet hunter and her astronomer husband; two chemists whose work led to the best understanding of why past extinctions of living species have occurred on Earth; the chemist who discovered the complex carbon molecules named "buckyballs," after R. Buckminster Fuller; mappers of the human genome; an archaeologist trying to piece together an ancient civilization from scraps of evidence; and a bioengineer working on the effects of electromagnetic fields on the human body. To Dr. Bortz's credit, he includes women scientists in his selection. The accounts make for lively reading, with comments by the scientists themselves about their work. A fun limerick precedes each chapter. The book has a glossary and an index, as well as a section with additional information that tells the interested reader how to find out more.—Sidney Rosen, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL


Check out our Throwback Thursday Archives for more great classic reviews.