Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Boy Scientist by the Editors of Popular Mechanics

Cover of The Boy Scientist
Popular Mechanics has been providing entertaining and practical information and advice from the worlds of science and engineering since 1902. The current editors at the magazine have gone through the archives and come up with 160 interesting ideas for projects that could lead to "who knows what" in the fertile mind of a curious youth.

Lab Tools and Techniques

The first chapter includes some useful devices that could very well come in handy for making some of the other projects in the book. Anyone with a small workshop who wants to build stuff will love this section. The simple lead screw fabricated from a small rod, some solder, and copper wire, is a great idea--but what would serve as a lead nut for the screw? Make a pushbutton switch, a Bunsen burner, a simple micrometer, a distillation apparatus -- all very cool!

From Measuring to Making

Once you have tried a hand at some of the helpful devices in the first chapter, it's time to get into the more complex, and arguably more interesting, offerings. The remaining chapters are "Measuring Our World," "Electric Education," "Motorized Investigations," "Chemistry" and "The Physical World." As can be seen from the chapter titles, there is something here for just about any interest.

The projects range from the simple and practical to the specialized and highly involved. On the simple side there is the method of using similar triangles to measure the height of a tree by lying on the ground with feet against a yard stick and sighting over the yard stick to the top of the tree. On the more intricate side there is the telescopic range finder in which the builder must use use skills in wood working, optics, and mechanics.

Of particular note are the basic instructions for making a model steam engine using only hacksaw, bench drill, grinder, files, and taps and dies. A machine shop was called for in fabricating the steam cylinder and fly wheel, but ingenuity could probably provide something that would work for these parts as well.

Have you always wanted to make an electric motor from scratch? Need a hydraulic turbine to turn the motor using a local stream or other flowing water source? You'll find instructions for how do those things and much more in this interesting little book.

Are some of the projects potentially dangerous (like the laboratory gas generator)? Sure! Never mind the danger, think of the fun! But seriously, adult supervision is highly recommended.

A Treasury of Quaint and Ingenious Devices

Anyone in need of some ideas for science projects, or information on how to make useful machine parts and electrical component on the cheap, will find much of interest in The Boy Scientist.
DIY crowd take note--anyone with a penchant for making things or performing experiments will love this book. Like the blurb on the book says "So Much Fun, Not Enough Time!" But who says it has to be limited to the Boy scientist?


The Boy Scientist; The Editors of Popular Mechanics; Hearst Books; New York, NY: 2009

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