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September 27, 2012 5:15 PM   Subscribe

I'd like science-, scientist-, or engineering-related book recommendations for a 9th grade student reading at a 6th-7th grade level.

I'd like to help foster a budding interest in science (astronauts may be especially interesting to this student), scientists, and/or engineers. Please give me your book recommendations appropriate for a 6th-7th grade reading level that might generate excitement about science, or being a scientist or engineer in a somewhat academically disengaged student. Thank you!
posted by Salvor Hardin to Education (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would suggest "T. Rex and the Crater of Doom".

I think "A Brief History of Time" would work, too.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:42 PM on September 27, 2012

Almost any of the popularizations by Stephen Jay Gould should be fine. For instance, "The Flamingo's Smile".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:45 PM on September 27, 2012

Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything (especially the illustrated edition) would be great. It talks about a ton of different science-y stuff, but very much from a simple lay-person's perspective. It's really, really well written, and the photos might make it more approachable by someone struggling with reading.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 5:57 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Science fiction might be a good way to go: "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Ender's Game", "Dune", etc. There are plenty of "best of sci-fi" lists out there. If you need a book that's more violent/gripping than many R-rated movies, "Gridlinked" by Neal Asher might work. In most sci-fi, the heroes are really smart, well-trained and diligent. The books also tend to show off the power and awesomeness of science and engineering, and are really fun to read.
posted by sninctown at 6:34 PM on September 27, 2012

The ancient engineers by L sprague de camp is really awesome. If they don't have an interest in history it might not be the best choice, but it might generate some interest. It is an overview of the history of technology in the classical world and includes a few of the we don't know how they did this.

Connections and the day the universe changed by james burke are pretty good and have a pbs show that goes with them (although both are about 25 years old or more now).
posted by bartonlong at 6:56 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Chaos" by James Gleick worked for me.
posted by pmb at 7:27 PM on September 27, 2012

Issac Asimov did a bunch of science fact articles back in the day and these got collected into paperbacks every now and again. They're great because they look at big ideas with basic math or tell the story of a famous discovery (hint: they never start out "Eureka!", instead it's more like "What the hell!?!?!").

Some anthology titles: Adding a Dimension; Left Hand of the Electron; Of Time, Space and Other Things; Fact and Fancy; Life and Time; View fro a Height.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:36 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Cosmos" by Carl Sagan, or the accompanying 13-episode series. It uses great narratives to talk about the history of discovery, and doesn't have a lot of depth, but has a bibliography big enough to club a seal pup. It covers a ton of scientific topics related to the Universe, galaxies, stars, the solar system, planets, asteroids, Earth, geology, chemistry, history of discovery, west and east, the space program (back when the Space Shuttle still had that new smell), and is written with near total optimism and hope. This book is one I put down all the time because it gets my mind turning with ease. It's 300 pages of pure inspiration.

Second James Burke. His shows are a little dated,but his connection histories take us well into the modern computer age, if not into the internet age.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:02 PM on September 28, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I'll be looking through these.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:34 PM on September 28, 2012

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