Category: Children’s Book
Reviewed by: Allen G. Taylor
Title: Janice Van Cleave’s Engineering for Every Kid
Author: Janice Van Cleave
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
NSS Amazon link for this book
Format: Paperback
Pages: 205
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
Date: March, 2007
Retail Price: $14.95
ISBN: 0471471828

Engineering for Every Kid is the latest in Janice Van Cleave’s series of books that provide a fun introduction to a variety of science topics to children. This particular book is particularly relevant now, as engineering is vital to the continuing prosperity of our technology-based society as well as to the maintenance of the infrastructure that we all depend upon.

On October 4, 1957 I, along with millions of other kids was inspired by the launch of the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, by the Soviet Union. It seemed miraculous to see that tiny dot of light passing overhead, and realize that it was a machine that engineers had built. I wanted to be a part of that kind of achievement. Now the generation that was energized by Sputnik is approaching retirement age. Who will take the place of those engineers who designed the Apollo moon ships, the Viking Mars landers, the Cassini Saturn orbiter, and all the other machines that have taught us so much about the world we live in and the greater world we hope to live in, in the future? Who will design the bridges, the highways, the power plants, and the energy efficient cars that will be needed to replace the aging infrastructure we have today? We need young people with a passion for learning about the world and for using that knowledge to make the world better.

Engineering for Every Kid should be a required textbook at every elementary school in the country. Each chapter describes one of twenty-five different engineering disciplines, many of which did not exist when Sputnik was launched. For each discipline there is a set of exercises and a hands-on activity that the kids can do to drive the lesson home. Each chapter is illustrated with excellent drawings by Laurie Hamilton. The drawings help to focus the reader’s attention and also make the book more friendly and approachable. Throughout the text, new terms are rendered in bold type and are defined in a glossary at the back of the book.

Bottom line: Janice Van Cleave’s Engineering for Every Kid is a great way to get a young person interested in engineering. I would have loved it if it had been available when I was a kid. As it turns out, I went into engineering anyway, but not everyone is so lucky.

© 2007 Allen G. Taylor

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