"Great Canadian Scientists", Barry Shell, 1997, 1-896095-36-4,
%A Barry Shell shell@... http://www.science.ca
%C 103 - 1014 Homer Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2W9
%I Polestar Book Publishers
%O U$14.95/C$18.95 604-488-0830 fax: 604-669-8250 polestar@...
%P 196 p.
%T "Great Canadian Scientists"
Hey, I mean, was this book written for me, or what? Bring on the
Butter-tart Brain Brigade! Cheers for the Canuck Cranial Crew! Go
the Geniuses (Genii?) of the Great White North!
Fortunately, this book is not a disappointment. Written for students
ten years old and up (enough comments from the back there about this
being a suitable level for old codgers who can no longer remember
enough to do useful scientific work), one might expect a few liberties
to be taken with accuracy, or simplifications down to a "popular"
science style. Not so. Shell has been careful in his choice of
material, so that he presents important concepts in limited depth but
Nineteen scientists are profiled in some depth, and another hundred
get a one paragraph bio. The full profiles are based on interviews,
and have some intriguing features: a section of standard biographical
data (but including favorite music and other interests), a story
(sometimes of the big discovery, sometimes not), some stories of the
scientist as a young person, an explanation of the major field of
study, and some point that the scientist considers a mystery, and
important to know about.
There are activities associated with most of the full profiles,
intended to teach something about the scientific research or methods
of the scientist in question. Not all of these are good (it would be
hard to explain the scientific validity of learning how a clock was
put together by throwing rocks at it), but most are. Generally they
are carefully chosen, requiring only materials that are commonly
In the introduction, Shell goes to some pains to explain his choice of
subjects. Since his selections are generally good, this material will
be of consuming interest only to those who wish to argue. His
reasoning, however, could be used in classrooms to spark further
discussion on his major points: what is "great," what is "Canadian"
(or any nationality), and what is a "scientist."
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKGRCASC.RVW 990404
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