Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Science Fair Season . . .

Science Fair Season: Twelve Kids, a Robot Named Scorch . . And What it Takes to Win
by Judy Dutton
Hyperion, 2011. 271 pgs. Non-fiction.

You would think that "what it takes to win" in the science fair world is a supportive and at least moderately well-off family, a better-than-decent education, a stable home life, and plenty of money for supplies. Some of the kids we meet in these pages had those things, but most do well in spite of their circumstances. Garrett Yazzie built a solar-heating unit from soda cans, an ancient car radiator, and a sheet of plexiglass so his younger sister wouldn't wheeze her life away in their drafty, coal-stove-heated trailer on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. Sarah Niitsuma, a Salt Lake teen, survived her parents' divorce, living and sleeping in her mother's office at a care center, and sexual abuse from her sister's boyfriend to reach science fair success with a team project about bacteria on changing tables in public restrooms. The only thing as remarkable as the stories of the brilliant and determined kids in these pages are the stories of mentors, teachers, and other caring adults who showed up at just the right moment to help these kids build their fusion reactors, develop soluble carbon nanotubes, and take on Colony Collapse Disorder in a pair of red stilettos. What a terrific and heartening book! Gives one great hope for the future of the Republic.


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