Back at the Science Fair a few months ago, one of our friends did a project that focussed on the periodic table. It got me thinking about how we could incorporate this at home. I fully admit that science was not a subject I enjoyed at school. I was much more into the humanities and science was more of a necessity than something that I enjoyed and wanted to learn more about.
Thankfully, the children seem to have a better interest in science than I did, and we recently received a great book called The Element in The Room. This book by Mike Barfield and illustrated by Lauren Humphrey is a truly fantastic book that brings the periodic table quite literally to life.
The book starts with Sherlock Ohms – a super scientific detective who is on the search for the ‘elusive elements’. It’s got a great introduction about atoms which is done in a really good way – little snippets of information in different coloured boxes. It then goes on to cover The Big Bang and then the periodic table in full with some background information about the formation of the periodic table as well as an explanation of how to read the table. I’ll admit that I did actually learn something when I read through this!
The book then takes each of the elements of the periodic table in turn and gives a description of it – ie: whether it is gas or metal. I detail whether it smells or is odourless as well as other facts such as if it is visible, flammable etc. There’s also a checklist that tells you where you can find the elements in everyday items – and I am sure you’ll be surprised with some of them!
The periodic table can seem like a really heavy subject but The Element in The Room really does present this in a super accessible way – it’s easy to pick up and take in the information bit by bit and there’s plenty of funny, quirky illustrations to keep children engaged and prompt them to ask questions.
Chemistry can often feel a bit abstract and I know I often struggled with how to relate some of the stuff I learnt at school to everyday life, this books helps make those connections really well and the addition of Sherlock Ohms the detective and the atomic comics really help bring the subject to life.