I am a huge fan of children’s books about science, particularly those that showcase just how interesting and exciting Science is (read our reviews of Rebel Science and The Awesome Body Book). The Professor Astro Cat series published by Flying Eye Books is a fantastic example of just that. These books feature an alley cat with a difference, this one’s a professor who is here to answer everything you want to know about space and physics.
The latest book is Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book by Zelda Turner and Ben Newman.
Packed full of activities and experiments, this book is sure to keep children of all ages busy and, most importantly, excited about Science. There is such a wide range of things to do that will be sure to appeal to children of all ages; designing robots and inventions, learning coded languages and writing secret messages, hands on experiments and quizzes to test your knowledge.
My eldest is three and likes to be hands on with things so we decided to try out the balloon rocket activity. Here’s all you need (plus two chairs, not pictured)…
This is a brilliantly simple activity – tie some string between two chairs, thread the string through a straw, then tape the straw to an inflated balloon (hold on to the end of this, don’t tie it). Once you have counted down and shouted “BLAST OFF!” let go of the balloon and watch it fly!
We set this up in our garden and after a few launches we added a second string so we could have a rocket race..
The book encourages you to think about the materials you used so we talked about what made one balloon win the race over the other. My three year old was convinced it was the colour so we thought we would test them again and use different colours (that’s definitely the start of an experimental design there with a hypothesis too!)
For older children, the book contains explanations and extension activities to build on this and develop their knowledge. Throughout the activities you are encouraged to think about your findings, question them and keep looking for answers. This is just perfect and just what you want from a science book, being able to tap in to children’s curiosity is what is so brilliant about this series.
Here’s a quick look at the other books from Professor Astro Cat:
Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space by Dr Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman
The breadth of information covered in this book is staggering but not at all overwhelming as we learn about the stars and our solar system to rockets, satellites and space travel.
There’s an in-depth look at the planets of our solar system with a page dedicated to each one. My three year old loved this and enjoyed looking at each of them in detail. We liked the diagram that shows the scale of Earth compared to the other planets if the Earth was the size of a cherry tomato. So…
We made it up in real life. In case you can’t see from the picture the planets are as follows:
Mercury – peppercorn; Venus – large blueberry; Earth – cherry tomato; Mars – pea; Jupiter – watermelon; Saturn – large grapefruit; Uranus – apple; Neptune – Lime.
We laid them all out on a big roll of white paper and then drew some stars around them. My observant three year old pointed out that Jupiter has stripes on it just like our watermelon, so we made sure to turn it around so the stripes were the right way round. Then we drew the Great Red Spot on the side… which led to drawing a ring around the grapefruit for the rings of Saturn!
Also featured are some of Jupiter’s 60+ moons, we couldn’t fit them all on…
Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure by Dr Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman
In this second book, Professor Astro Cat explores and explains the world of Physics. Covering atoms, forces, energy and so much more this fabulous book explains potentially tricky subjects in an accessible and fun way.
I was really impressed with how complicated topics such as nuclear fusion are explained with ease and without any feeling of being patronised. A tricky balance to find but one that has been done perfectly.
The illustrations in this series are wonderfully unique, Professor Astro Cat is accompanied by a gang of fellow animal explorers, all made up of a combination of bold shapes with large eyes. Slightly muted colours give the illustrations a vintage feel that make them instantly appealing.
I love the facts and interesting snippets of knowledge that are liberally spread throughout the books, especially the “Factoroids” page at the end. But even with as much as we know about the universe, there is still so much that we don’t know. The books touch on the future of scientific discovery and some of the possible answers to the as yet unanswered questions.
A truly fabulous series, sure to spark children’s interests in science and encourage them to keep wondering, to keep asking questions. And as our very knowledgeable feline professor asks at the end of the Atomic Adventure; “Will we ever understand everything there is to know? Is it possible to fully understand the universe? Nobody knows! But there is only one way to find out: keep exploring!”
*Please note, this competition is now closed. The lucky winner was Suzanne M. Thank you to everyone who entered.*
The prizes are as follows:
1 copy of Professor Astro Cat’s Frontier of Space
1 copy of Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure
1 copy of Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book
1 FREE Download for the Professor Astro Cat App
To be in with a chance of winning, enter here:
You have until the 5th of August 2016 to enter, one lucky winner will be picked at random and contacted by email. Good luck!
Many thanks to Flying Eye Books for sending copies of Atomic Adventure and Intergalactic Activity Book for review.
We borrowed Frontiers of Space from our local library.