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Everything You Need To Ace Science Review by Laurie Gauger

Workman Publishing
Workman Publishing Company
225 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014-4381

Pssst...hey you, yeah, you over there. I hear that your kid is having trouble with science. Now, don’t let it get around, but I may have something that can help you. What if I told you that I have the personal notebook that belongs to the smartest kid in science class?! It is full of all of the main points that need to be covered, including pictures, charts, definitions... you know, basically everything that your teacher is going to expect you to learn. With that information, you can ace your class!

Alright, I would never encourage anyone to cheat, lol, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could borrow the notes of the smartest kid in science class? That is the theme of the Everything You Need To Know To Ace Science In One Big Fat Notebook, which is a book that my seventh, soon to be eighth grade daughter and I have been reading over the past couple of months. The premise is that we, the readers, are taking a science course from the whiz kid’s point of view, complete with highlights, illustrations, and whimsical doodles.

The book itself is a cross between a hardcover and a paperback book, a sort of hybrid. It is a very nice looking, sturdy book. It gets even better when you open it! From the inside cover in the front, to the back cover, this publication is colorful and visually appealing. With lined pages, and a relaxed font that resembles handwriting, the book does remind me of a notebook. The general appearance is similar to the graphic novels that are so popular with many young readers today, although this book has a wealth of text to read. So, let’s talk about the text.

This science book may appear lighthearted, but don’t allow that to dissuade you, because it is loaded with a wealth of science basics. With forty-nine chapters that are divided into eleven units, this book is anything but fluff. These are the main topics:

Unit 1- Scientific Investigation

Unit 2 - Matter, Chemical Reactions, and Solutions

Unit 3 - Motion, Forces, and Work

Unit 4 - Energy

Unit 5 - Outer Space: The Universe and the Solar System

Unit 6 - The Earth, Weather, Atmosphere, and Climate

Unit 7 - Life, Classification, and Cells

Unit 8 - Plants and Animals

Unit 9 - The Human Body and Body Systems

Unit 10 - History of Life: Heredity, Evolution, and Fossils

Unit 11 - Ecology: Habitats, Interdependence, and Resources

Whew, ready to come up for air? I told you it was loaded with information, didn’t I? Within each unit, there are anywhere from three to six topics that will be presented. By the time that you have closed the book, your student will have learned:

- How to think like a scientist

- Units and Measurements

- Matter, Properties, and Phases

- Force and Newton’s Laws of Motion

- Forms of Energy

- The Solar System

- Cell Theory and Cell Structure

- Heredity and Genetics

- Ecology

As you can see, the list is long, and there are many more categories, dozens actually, and it would take too long to name them all. Now then, we’ve been making slow circles as I talked about the general aspects of this book, so let’s zero in on the basic outlines of the chapters. 

There is an Introduction right before the Table of Contents. As you would expect, this tells the reader what the book is all about. It offers a brief orientation of the layout for the chapters and units. 

Each chapter follows the same general pattern. They begin with an overview of the topic. There may be definitions, charts, and other diagrams, and the pages are filled with colorful illustrations and doodles to highlight the material. The end of the chapters include a “Check Your Knowledge” section, which may have fill in the blanks, matching, or simple question and answers. A handy answer key can be found on the page following these chapter reviews. 

The first four to five units stay fairly neutral as to the worldview of the writers of this science resource. When you get to the end of the fifth unit however, the topic of the Origin of the Universe comes up. They present three theories, and while they include The Big Bang Theory, and the Constant State Theory (which basically says that the universe has always existed), nowhere do they mention the possibility of a Master Designer. Along those same lines, Chapter forty-three discusses the topic of Evolution, and while they suggest several possibilities in that way of thinking, again, there is no mention of Creation from a Biblical perspective. That was a definite downside for my daughter, and for me too, but I found that those chapters could be pretty easily separated from the rest of the book. As my daughter is twelve, she was and is able to distinguish a worldly world view from a biblical world view, and it actually brought about good conversation that helped solidify her Christian faith. All of that to say, you don’t need to necessarily avoid those chapters, or even the book as a whole. The chapters work fine unto themselves, but you could take a look and use your discernment. 

A biblical worldview is important to our family, and we’ve spent a long time cultivating that in our children’s lives, and our daughters are now at an age where they are owning their faith. As such, this topic doesn’t scare me off, because I know that my girls are increasing in their discernment. I just pay close attention to the material and use any topic like this one as an opportunity for discussion. Of course, you will use your own judgement based on your personal convictions.

With the exception of those two areas, my daughter and I really enjoyed this book. The colorful illustrations, diagrams, tips and side notes help keep certain topics from feeling stale and stodgy. This book would work well for students to use as an aid or enrichment during the school year, or as a summer read to keep material fresh in their mind. Adults may even find this just as engaging to read, I know that I have enjoyed flipping through the pages. 

-Product review by Laurie Gauger, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2018