Junk Drawer Ecology: 50 Awesome Experiments That Don’t Cost a Thing

Chicago Review. (Junk Drawer Science: Bk. 7). Dec. 2021. 272p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781641605496.
Gr 5 Up–This collection of 50 low-cost, hands-on educational activities covers a broad range of ecological concepts, such as food chains and food webs, landfill design, air and water pollution, and the mechanics of ocean currents. Each activity includes a supply list, step-by-step instructions accompanied by photos, an explanation of the scientific concepts being demonstrated, and a description of how the activity could be modified for students of different ages. The book is divided into four sections: “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” covers solar energy and alternatives to plastic; “Animals and Plants” explores biodiversity, food chains, and pollination; “Water and Land” covers sink holes, melting polar ice caps, acid rain, and wildfires; and “Air” examines smog, carbon capture, and air pollution. Activities range from engineering challenges, like creating a miniature greenhouse from a plastic salad container, to different methods of modeling food chains on paper. One major strength of the book is that it relies on inexpensive and repurposed supplies, like plastic water bottles and paper clips. The activities are informative and filled with kid appeal, such as using goldfish crackers to model ways to design more sustainable fishing practices, or asking students to “mine” the chocolate chips in a muffin to model strip-mining. A glossary is included at the end.
VERDICT This clever, hands-on guide to ecological science is an excellent resource for classroom teachers, homeschoolers, and community groups.

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