Paint Your Tongue Blue (In the Name of Science)
Stuck at home over winter break and looking for family diversions beyond (or, um, from) computer games? Curious minds need look no further than Exploratopia, an engaging collection of do-it-yourself, kid-friendly science experiments that are too much darn fun to be burdened with that old-fogey label "educational."
Whatever age you are, you'll learn tons not just about how the world works, but about how to think -- and explore -- like a scientist, seeking and following the clues to everyday natural puzzles, according to the basic principles of the scientific method. If that sounds stuffy, try painting the tip of your tongue blue with food coloring to find out if you're a sensitive supertaster (the more pink bumps you see, the more sensitive a taster you are). Learn how to make a wineglass sing with the water-and-finger method. (Little known historical fact: Benjamin Franklin was doing something similar when he invented a musical instrument he dubbed the glass harmonica.) Amaze your friends with a host of optical illusions (for basic ingredients, look no further than the kitchen sink, some plastic bottles and a straw).
The 400-or-so experiments in this amply illustrated and highly readable compendium are based on the imaginative, hands-on exhibits at San Francisco's popular science museum, the Exploratorium. The single message they all share is to stop, look and notice all the interesting stuff going on around you.
Diane Cole is a contributing editor of U.S. News & World Report and author of the memoir, After Great Pain: A New Life Emerges.
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