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Mason Jar Science: 40 Slimy, Squishy, Super-Cool Experiments Review by Tracey Masters

Jonathan Adolph
Storey Publishing
413-346-2100
210 MASS MoCA Way
North Adams, MA, 01247
http://www.storey.com

Does your child enjoy experimenting? My daughter was thrilled when she found out we’d be reviewing the book titled, Mason Jar Science: 40 Slimy, Squishy, Super-Cool Experiments. This hardcover book was written by former editor of FamilyFun magazine, Jonathan Adolph. I believe the book is complete for its purposes. The book is considered a juvenile non-fiction science book consisting of 136 pages adorned with up-close, full-color photographs and illustrations of the experiments. This is an awesome collection of fun science experiments! 

The book begins with their Acknowledgements and a Table of Contents. The forty experiments are organized into five main categories: The Magic of Chemistry, Earth Science for Earthlings, The Root of All Fun Botany, It’s Alive Biology, and Understanding Matter in Motion Physics. The first couple pages consist of an explanation for the use of mason jars, a double-page spread of the scientific method to solve mysteries, and a summary about the importance of Science. A variety of experiments covering a vast number of core science principles are weaved throughout the book. Each section contains several self-contained mason jar experiments for children to explore and discover.  

There is a two-page Glossary at the back of the book to help your child understand unfamiliar science terminology utilized in the book. The Glossary is followed by a Metric Conversion Chart and a Barometric Pressure Chart. The Metric Conversion Chart shows both metric and US conversions for weight, volume, length, and temperature. A five-page alphabetized Index is at the back of the book. Quotes stated by inventors and scientists such as Edwin Powell Hubble and Stephanie Kwolek are sprinkled throughout the book.

Each experiment provides the user with a materials list and numbered step-by-step directions. Many of the experiments have a brief introduction. The experiments also provided sections that described What to Watch For and What’s Going On so that your child can learn the science behind the project. The scientific explanations were clearly written and easy-to-understand. My 10-year old daughter could easily read the book independently if desired. Several experiments included a Take It Further or Tell Me More section which inspired my daughter to expand on the experiments to extend her learning even more while teaching interesting facts. Blurbs titled, Speak Like a Scientist, were occasionally added to help child remember and retain information better. For example, a handy way to tell stalactites from stalagmites is that stalaCtites hang down from the C-ling while stalaGmites rise up from the G-round. The book also provided the budding scientist with boxed Science in Real Life captioned photographs. Real images with short explanations were revealed. For instance, after reading about the jar-rarium experiment a photograph of a “jar-rarium” for people called Biosphere 2 located in Oracle, Arizona was shown. This isn’t your average science experiment book. The book takes science to the next level with its special informative features.     

The book can be purchased for $14.95. You will need to purchase supplies for the experiments many of which can be found in your home. Materials needed will vary depending on the experiment chosen. The most common size mason jars utilized for the experiments in this book are the pint, half-pint, and quart jars. The author compares the use of mason jars to other tools like a beaker, graduated cylinder, and a flask.  

The experiments found in this book should be utilized with adult supervision. You can select experiments in any order. We used the book as a science supplement over the summer. The book is not intended just for homeschool families. Any family with a child who loves Science can utilize this book. Classroom teachers and after school care workers will find this resource useful and appealing as well. It’s a wonderful resource to teach children about the scientific method and to develop critical thinking and observational skills. My daughter practiced forming hypotheses and writing her conclusions for the experiments in this book. Mason Jar Science is intended for children ages 8-12. My ten-year-old daughter falls right in the middle range of this suggested age group. 

We really enjoyed the experiments in this book and appreciated the fact that they actually worked. As soon as the book arrived she gathered the necessary supplies for her first experiment. My daughter’s favorite activities were mostly found under the Magic of Chemistry section including but not limited to the Lava Lamp 2.0, Slime, Goo, Microwave Play Clay, and the Water Fireworks. Other experiments that caught her attention were the Tiny Tornado, Super Sweet Potato, Awesome Avocado Tree, and the Grass Heads.  

One experiment that stood out from the rest even though we did it when she was much younger was the Incredible Inedible Egg. She was ecstatic when sharing the results with her step sister and step mom and wanted them to hold the egg. She noticed the carbon dioxide bubbles forming and watched the shell quickly dissolve. My daughter learned that vinegar was an acetic acid and that the eggshell dissolved because it was made of calcium carbonate. The semi-permeable membrane enabled the egg to expand when water seeped through the inner skin. This experiment reminded her of our jello animal cell experiment, because the cell membrane allows some things to pass but not everything can. 

She will make predictions and observations about what will happen when the egg is later placed in water verses corn syrup. It’ll be interesting to see the egg shrink and expand depending on the type of liquid it is placed soaking in. She also can’t wait to come home and create the Worm Composter before school starts up again. I’m sure the soil effects will intrigue her mind. Personally, I want to do the Pickle Factory because I have a craving for pickles and garlic. 

This book will capture your child’s attention and develop a love of Science. The experiments sparked my daughter’s curiosity. They encouraged her to think at a deeper level. She was eager to explore the concepts using these fun experiments and was fascinated by the results of many of them. There were a handful of well-known experiments seen in many other resources, but it is always interesting to see how the same experiments work when utilizing a different approach or material. Most of the materials were inexpensive and usually found at home. I wish that the book contained more “out-of-the-box thinking” experiments.

I highly recommend this Mason Jar Science book for your budding scientists. If you have budding scientists in your family, you may want to consider purchasing this book as a gift. Many of the experiments can easily be completed without supervision if you desire your child to have more freedom with exploration. However, safety is the key when exploring scientific concepts.

-Product review by Tracey Masters, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August, 2018

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