________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 39. . . .June 16, 2017

cover

A Bridge Goes Over. (Be an Engineer! Designing to Solve Problems).

Kylie Burns.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2017.
24 pp., pbk., hc., & html, $8.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (List RLB), $18.36 (School RLB).
ISBN 978-0-7787-2942-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-2907-5 (RLB), ISBN 978-1-4271-1854-7 (html).

Subject Headings:
Bridges-Juvenile literature.
Bridges-Design and construction-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.

Review by Willow Moonbeam.

***˝ /4

   
cover

A Dam Holds Back. (Be an Engineer! Designing to Solve Problems).

Crystal Sikkens.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2017.
24 pp., pbk., hc., & html, $8.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (List RLB), $18.36 (School RLB).
ISBN 978-0-7787-2940-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-2905-1 (RLB), ISBN 978-1-4271-1853-0 (html).

Subject Headings:
Dams-Juvenile literature.
Dams-Design and construction-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.

Review by Willow Moonbeam.

***˝ /4

   
cover

A Tunnel Runs Through. (Be an Engineer! Designing to Solve Problems).

Crystal Sikkens.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2017.
24 pp., pbk., hc., & html, $8.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (List RLB), $18.36 (School RLB).
ISBN 978-0-7787-2938-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-2903-7 (RLB), ISBN 978-1-4271-1851-6 (html).

Subject Headings:
Tunnels-Juvenile literature.
Tunnels-Design and construction-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.

Review by Willow Moonbeam.

***˝ /4

   
cover

A Skyscraper Reaches Up. (Be an Engineer! Designing to Solve Problems).

Kylie Burns.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2017.
24 pp., pbk., hc., & html, $8.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (List RLB), $18.36 (School RLB).
ISBN 978-0-7787-2939-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-2904-4 (RLB), ISBN 978-1-4271-1852-3 (html).

Subject Headings:
Skyscrapers-Juvenile literature.
Skyscrapers-Design and construction-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.

Review by Willow Moonbeam.

***˝ /4

   

excerpts:

Planning
If engineers decide a bridge is the best solution to their problem, they must decide what kind of bridge to build. There are many types of bridges to choose from, including suspension, arch, cantilever, and beam. Engineers make their choice based on things such as the span, or distance, the bridge will need to cross, how heavy the load on the bridge will be, and what kind of weather is normal in the area. (From
A Bridge Goes Over.)

What is an Engineer?
Are you a problem solver like Chelsea? Do you enjoy finding solutions that can help others? If you said yes, you sound like an engineer! An engineer is a person who uses math, science, and creative thinking to design things that solve problems and meet needs. (From
A Dam Holds Back.)

Creating a Model
Before any construction begins, engineers create a model of the skyscraper. A model is a representation of a real object. Engineers may design a model with computer software or build a small 3-D model of the skyscraper. A model allows engineers to test their design and make improvements. (From
A Skyscraper Reaches Up.)

 

Engineering, as much as science and technology, is responsible for the structures around us and for many of the things we use every day. As adults, we may be aware of this, but how do we impress this upon children? Crabtree Publishing has taken on this challenge by producing a number of series for the early school years that cover this area. Engineers participate in the designing, building and use of structures, machines and public works everywhere. There could be many approaches to presenting these concepts, and the “Be an Engineer! Designing to Solve Problems” series is appealing, instructional and enticing. Each of the four books in the “Be an Engineer!” series starts with a child noticing a problem in her/his own environment and wondering how it could be solved. Next, there is a section on what an engineer is and an overview of how the design process works before the text goes into more detail on each of the steps. There is also an example of a real failure of some type and how this is part of the learning process, changing the way that engineering is done. Each book also has a model activity related to the topic using simple materials to illustrate the importance of testing out ideas in the real world. The final page contains an index and glossary. The words shown in bold throughout the text are defined here.

      The pictures and illustrations are both numerous and appropriate. A wide variety of people are shown in various contexts: participating in the design process, wondering how to accomplish their goals, using tools and simply living. There are usually two pages dedicated to interesting images of the structures central to the book and a number of related design images. The cartoon guides, Ava and Finn, appear at the beginning and end of each book and are further used in the online materials. Extra facts are scattered through the books in dedicated sidebars.

      As with most reference works, there are references in each book as well which, in this case includes some books and websites. The books are mostly about the design process while the websites extend the information about the structures dealt with in the text:, bridges, skyscrapers, dams and tunnels. This seems very important as bridges, skyscrapers, dams and tunnels are only briefly discussed in the books, and readers, who may have been drawn to a book by its specific topic, are likely to want to find out more. Crabtree has created its own online content as well. A simple code on the reference page opens a series specific website with YouTube videos providing further details on the design process, games and other value added content. There are also teachers’ guides.

      Of the four books, A Bridge Goes Over perhaps works the best as bridges are such dramatic structures, structures that most children will see in their own environments regardless of where they live. In addition, the failure that is included is the Tacoma Narrows bridge about which much information is available, including the 1940 film of the standing wave and collapse.

      A Dam Holds Back includes very exciting images of high dams which add to the book’s drama and appeal. The model activity is especially interesting.

      The idea of running tunnels under the ground, rivers or even the English Channel is exciting, and A Tunnel Runs Through should interest many children and draw them into the design process described in this book. One of the pictures is that of a large tunnelling machine.

      Tall buildings are now ubiquitous, appearing in most cities and towns, and that fact alone should be enough to make A Skyscraper Reaches Up appealing to many audiences.

      All of the books in the “Be an Engineer!” series are action-packed and develop the engineering design process well and thoroughly for a first or second grade audience. Since much of the material is repeated in each of the books, potential buyers probably would not want to purchase the entire series for a home library, acquiring instead the one that is the most interesting to their budding science geek. However, all four would be useful in a school library as this would make it more likely that all the students would find something attractive in at least one of them. In addition, the topics that are the main focus of this series are also covered in different form in the “Engineering Close-Up” series, including Engineers Build Models, Engineers Solve Problems, How Engineers Find Solutions and Engineering in Our Everyday Lives. On the one hand, the “Engineering Close-Up” books may provide a place to get further information while, on the other, is may seem excessive to purchase books from both series. Because science is so important to modern life, more is better in my opinion.

Recommended.

Willow Moonbeam is a librarian and former engineer in the testing of gas turbine engines. A proud science geek, Willow lives in Toronto, ON, with too much yarn and not enough time to read all the good books.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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