Junk Drawer Physics : 50 Awesome Experiments That Don't Cost a Thing
by Bobby Mercer

Overview - A children s instructional book on how to use readily available materials to turn the house into a science lab

Physics teacher Bobby Mercer provides readers with more than 50 great hands-on experiments that can be performed for just pennies, or less.

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More About Junk Drawer Physics by Bobby Mercer
A children s instructional book on how to use readily available materials to turn the house into a science lab

Physics teacher Bobby Mercer provides readers with more than 50 great hands-on experiments that can be performed for just pennies, or less. Turn a plastic cup into a pinhole camera using waxed paper, a rubber band, and a thumbtack. Build a swinging wave machine using a series of washers suspended on strings from a yardstick. Or construct your own planetarium from an empty potato chip canister, construction paper, scissors, and a pin. Each project has a materials list, detailed step-by-step instructions with illustrations, and a brief explanation of the scientific principle being demonstrated. Junk Drawer Physics also includes sidebars of fascinating physics facts, such as did you know the Eiffel Tower is six inches taller in summer than in winter because its steel structure expands in the heat? Educators and parents will find this title a handy resource to teach children about physics topics that include magnetism, electricity, force, motion, light, energy, sound, and more, and have fun at the same time."

  • ISBN-13: 9781613749203
  • ISBN-10: 1613749201
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press
  • Publish Date: June 2014
  • Page Count: 208
  • Reading Level: Ages 9-UP
  • Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.7 pounds

Series: Junk Drawer Science

Related Categories

Books > Juvenile Nonfiction > Science & Nature - Physics
Books > Juvenile Nonfiction > Activity Books - General

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-05-19
  • Reviewer: Staff

Mercer, a high school physics teacher, offers a wealth of ideas for how readers can household odds and ends like old CDs, empty toilet paper rolls, and plastic spoons to explore concepts in physics. The book's six chapters are devoted to forces and motion, energy, sound and waves, light and magnetism, and fluids and pressure; each experiment unfolds through straightforward numbered instructions and accompanying photos, followed by a brief explanation of the underlying science (for a "trombone" made from drinking straws, Mercer explains, "the vibrating reed causes the air inside the straw to vibrate"). More than enough to keep scientifically curious kids busy on rainy days. Ages 9–up. (June)

BookPage Reviews

Lifestyles: The science around us

Did you know that your house or apartment is just a big -physics lab waiting for you to get with the nerdy program? In Junk Drawer Physics, high school physics teacher Bobby Mercer gives you 50 Awesome Experiments That Don’t Cost a Thing, and they’re sure to rock your children’s world—sometimes literally, as in the case of the “Ball Blaster” or “Clothespin Catapult.” Mercer’s categorization of types of experiment—force, energy, momentum, light, magnetism and pressure—also describes his educational outlook. There’s no teaching more forceful or energetic—no pedagogical principle more suffused with light or magnetic force—than the one in Junk Drawer Physics. Look around you. Open up any drawer, turn on the closet light, peek under the bed: You’ve got everything you need to construct your own telephone, camera, telescope, spinning top and perpetual motion machine along with a wealth of scientific instruments. Who knew that learning could be just a bunch of junk?

Rachelle Doorley ups the ante in Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors. Where Bobby Mercer finds beauty in how the world around us works (that’s physics), Doorley stresses the artful pleasures of making beautiful things out of what the world offers (that’s aesthetics). Everything about this book is on a grand scale, from the glossy color photos to the interludes of philosophical reflection by various experts, who show us how to help our children “see mistakes as gifts” or “set up a discovery area.” The names of her projects— “Gumdrop Structures” and “Glittery Egg Geodes”—give you a good idea of Doorley’s ambition to transform a child’s environment into a fairyland of unexpected pleasures, all created by the child herself, with the patient help of a generous mom or dad. 

In The Living Landscape, ecology professor Doug Tallamy and photographer Rick Darke present—in clear words and beautiful images—an entire pragmatic philosophy for how to live our lives and build our living environments from day to day, even as the light changes from hour to hour. Wherever you are, whatever sort of dwelling you inhabit, there is already an indigenous there there—especially in New Jersey, where Gertrude Stein famously said there wasn’t any. (The authors use their own mid-Atlantic region as the model for every ecological region of the U.S.) Native plants and animals—insects, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals—that coevolved are at the heart of every functioning bed, garden, yard and larger landscape. This book highlights many of the astonishing (and crucial) interconnections of species in a healthy ecosystem and teaches readers how to accommodate them in multiple layers, such as below ground, herbacious, shrub and vine, “edges” and canopy. The 77 pages of charts show the ecological and landscape functions of plants by region, proving we truly can have it all: a gorgeous garden that helps, not hurts, the Earth.


This article was originally published in the July 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews