Review: Science Naturally
We love one-minute mystery books around here, so when we got the chance to read the latest book in a new-to-us series from Science Naturally, of course we were excited! (And promptly requested the first two books from the library, but more on them in a moment…)
Written by father-daughter team Eric and Natalie Yoder, One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! Their one-minute mystery science and math books are recommended by the National Science Teachers Association, and have won numerous awards. (See lists here: Science and Math)
There are a total of 70 mysteries in One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science!: 15 each from from the topics life science, earth and space science, physical and chemical science, and general science, plusf ive bonus science mysteries aren’t categorized, and five more are solved with math, rather than science.
Our preference for books like this is to read them aloud, and see who can figure out the answer. They’re perfect for those few minutes waiting for dinner to be done, or when we arrive too early to an activity, or have to wait to pick someone up – in other words, we’ve been toting these three books everywhere we go these last few weeks!
The stories are laid out perfectly for read-alouds. The mystery is on a right-hand page, ending with a question indicating the “unknown info”, while the answer – and a relevant photo – are on the reverse, so even the reader won’t know the solution until they flip the page. One thing the kids and I noticed was different than a typical mystery: instead of just giving the solution in factual terms, it’s written as a continuation of the story, making for a much more fluid feel.
Frequently, the details needed to find the solution are in the early part of the story, which makes it all the more challenging as a read-aloud; I found that my kids were often distracted by non-essential parts of the story, which resulted in a lot of questions at the end. Still, I appreciated that – it led to more interaction between the kids as they discussed exactly what info they needed to know, and then at times, disagreed on the answer.
I was surprised to find that my perception of whether or not my younger kids would know the answer often turned out to be wrong; only rarely were they completely stumped, but there were times when they knew the solution, they just couldn’t articulate “why” they knew the answer at first. My high school junior, on the other hand, has only been completely clueless once so far.
As far as that recommended age of 8-12 given for the book? In general, I’d just call it upper elementary and middle school. An 8-year-old, unless they’re a science whiz, will learn a lot from One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science!, but may feel a bit overwhelmed – some of these would be tough for an 8-year-old. If a child isn’t yet reading fluently, read-alouds become absolutely necessary, because so many of the solutions are in the minor details.
If you’d like to read a few mysteries, try these One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! samples.
As I mentioned above, when we found out that we’d be receiving One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! to review, we promptly searched our library for the first two One Minute Mystery titles from Science Naturally. We’ve been just as pleased with these other books, and so I’ve included info about them here, too.
One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! is the first book in the science series, and it’s just like More, but chock full of more mysteries for your solving pleasure. So if you didn’t get enough with one book… make sure this one finds its way home, too. Sample mysteries are available.
One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Math! is just a little bit different, unsurprisingly, since one is science and one is math. These mysteries often come across as readable, high-interest word problems. We quickly discovered that the kids prefer to have pencil and paper on hand when I’m reading one of these, making them a bit more of a challenge in the car. The math needed raises the recommended age a bit, to 11-15, and I’d have to agree. Upper elementary students that are good at math will find that with some thought, they can solve many of these mysteries, but in general, the target age for these is just a bit older. To preview a few math mysteries, you can read a few samples.
One Minute Mysteries: 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! – and the other two titles – are individually priced at $9.95, but there are various combination sets available from Science Naturally’s product page that offer a discount if purchasing a bundle. Strong, sturdy paperbacks with thick pages, these books are made to last through heavy use, and well worth the cost.