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[techbooks] REVIEW: "Great Canadian Scientists", Barry Shell

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKGRCASC.RVW 990404 Great Canadian Scientists , Barry Shell, 1997, 1-896095-36-4, U$14.95/C$18.95 %A Barry Shell shell@sfu.ca http://www.science.ca %C
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5 7:40 PM
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      BKGRCASC.RVW 990404

      "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
      %D 1997
      %G 1-896095-36-4
      %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
      understandable text.

      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."

      It's great.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKGRCASC.RVW 990404

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