Designed to meet the basic science information needs of students in grades three through nine as well as ESL students, this work has more than 2,100 short entries (generally two to four paragraphs) in a single alphabetical arrangement. There are entries for kinds of science, from Agriculture to Zoology, as well as for tools, concepts, discoveries, and people. Each entry has at least one labeled, large color illustration (photograph, drawing or diagram). Photographs present a diverse range of people.
The work has many standard reference features that are generally found in works for older students. There are guidewords, see also references, and cross-references, and unfamiliar or unusual words have phonetic spellings included in the text. Captions are displayed against special color bands that call attention to them. There are also "Did you know?" boxes with sidebar information. Two other features deserve special mention. Spread throughout the 13 volumes are more than 60 simple science experiments that could (depending on the age and capability of the student) be performed with or without the help of adults. These experiments might also be used as the basis for science-fair projects. There are also a number of interspersed pages with activities that demonstrate concepts like composting and continental drift.
Volume 13 is much more than an index volume. Designed to help students carry out the experiments in the set, it presents information on using the scientific method, measuring, conducting science projects and participating in science fairs, using equipment, and more. This section is followed by a list of resources, mainly DK and World Book imprints. There is also an annotated list of useful Web sites. The index is well structured.
Overall, this would be a useful source for students with limited facility with English or science--either young patrons, ESL students, or those patrons wanting more than a dictionary definition but not the complicated explanation found in an adult-level work. The inclusion of activities and experiments as well as the information on how to plan and present a science-fair project make this a good backup to a library's collection of science-fair project books. School and public libraries will find this a useful addition to their reference collections. Dona Helmer
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