CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2006
When my children were very young, they could hardly wait for issues of Chickadee Magazine to be put in our mailbox and then, after a few birthdays, for issues of Owl Magazine to arrive. I still see Chickadee and Owl in libraries and classrooms, often placed between copies of National Geographic Kids, Appleseeds, Zoobooks, Ranger Rick, Nickelodeon, Ask, Dig, Spider, and other periodicals with a science, nature, or exploration focus. Because of the number of magazines of this type written for children between the ages of 6 and 10, I was surprised to be asked to review KNOW: The Science Magazine for Curious Kids. The inaugural issue of KNOW was unveiled in January/February of 2006 . Those familiar with YES Mag: The Science Magazine for Adventurous Minds, marketed in 1996 for nine to fourteen-year-olds, would have recognized KNOW as its “younger sibling.” Both focus on science, technology, and engineering, and both are published six times a year by Peter Piper Publications in partnership with Actua, a not-for-profit organization that supports the development and delivery of “hands-on” science, engineering, and technology programs.
Like YES Mag, KNOW: The Science Magazine for Curious Kids begins with several pages of science in the news. Three pages with the headings, “Know It”, “Know You”, and “Know Them” follow the news items. In Issue 1, children were given the opportunity to read about hockey pucks and hockey sticks (the “It”), taste buds on the human tongue (the “You”) , and chinchillas from Chile (the “Them”). Each issue focuses on a particular theme that is well illustrated and labeled on the cover and presented to children in a variety of contexts within the magazine's thirty-two pages. For the first issue, this was “the science of ice and snow”; for the second, “exploring the solar system”; and for the current May-June issue, “the science of balloons.” Rather than simply reading factual information, questions are posed, and children are encouraged to carry out first-hand investigations and to think scientifically. The pages contain drawn and photographic illustrations that help to make clear many of the ideas that are presented. When learning about ice and snow, for example, there is a wonderful micro-photograph of a snowflake, drawings of snow crystals shaped like needles, disks, columns, triangles, and pyramids, and photographs of hailstones the size of baseballs, of the layers of a hailstone cut in half, and of the muskox, collared lemming, polar bear, caribou, walrus, and ringed seal – six Arctic animals. Standard columns appearing in each issue, such as “Poetry Place”, Know It Alls”, “Great Moments in Science”, “Science in Action”, “Know How”, and “Know Fun” are also linked to the issue's theme. In Issue 1, children could read about goose bumps and why they form on the skin of their arms and legs and why cold drinks and foods cause “ice cream headaches”. They learn about Wilson Bentley, better known as “Snowflake Bentley”, the first man to photograph snow crystals and read about Brian Luckman who studies glaciers all around the world and has been studying those in Jasper and Banff National Parks for 35 years. There are directions for making ice cream in sealable plastic bags and other directions for making crystals using Borax laundry detergent, string, pipe cleaners, and water. The final eight pages include puzzles and games, a constellation of stars to look for in the night sky, information on a dinosaur uncovered by paleontologists in Alberta, and book reviews, artworks, poems, letters, and photos sent by readers of KNOW.
Without question, there is something of interest for every young reader who picks up an issue of KNOW. This really should not be surprising given that Adrienne Mason is the managing editor. Mason is the author of numerous and wonderful science books for children, a number of which have been reviewed in previous issues of CM [see for example: Move It! Motion, Forces and You (Primary Physical Science); Mealworms: Raise Them, Watch Them, See Them Change; and Bats (The Kids Can Press Wildlife Series)]. She has also gathered around her a group of contributors known for their science and/or their science writing. Rather than being just another magazine for children, KNOW: The Science Magazine for Curious Kids comes as close as it may be possible to its mandate to “explain the scientific wonder of the world around us to curious kids (and curious adults, too)”. I suspect there will be many six to nine year olds waiting with enthusiasm for the next issue of KNOW to arrive in their mailbox. Then, when they have celebrated their 10 th birthday, there is YES Mag to take its place with more sophisticated, albeit age-appropriate, content in a very familiar format.
Barbara McMillan is a professor of early and middle years science education in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.