Saturday, December 16, 2006

Review: Chemistry 001

Chemistry 001: Introducing the Periodic Kingdom to its Heirs
by Mary Daly
illustrated by Ana Braga-Henebry
2006, Ye Hedge School, 66 pages, softcover

Written in Mary Daly's characteristic style, this is a pleasant introduction into a subject that some might otherwise view with trepidation. "Chemistry 001" introduces the student to the periodic table, here called the "Periodic Kingdom," and the elements of which it is composed.

The Periodic Table (or Kingdom) is presented in its major divisions, here called "latitudes" (rows or periods) and "longitudes" (columns or groups). The elements are introduced by latitudes, beginning with the atomic structure of the elements in that latitude. Diagrams of the appropriate
electron shells are given in these introductory sections.

Each element has its atomic number and symbol listed, followed by a brief description, often with amusing or entertaining anecdotes. A colorful illustration ties in with the description. While the illustrations are not "scientific," they did serve to remind my student of what he had just read. He enjoyed finding the symbols hidden in each picture.

A few additional basic concepts are included, such as molecules, minerals, isotopes, and radioactivity. One particularly helpful feature was that the text on several occasions points out similar properties in materials that are near each other in the Periodic Table. This is a good first step toward understanding that electronic structure affects material properties.

The family purchasing this book is permitted to copy the pictures in order to construct its own Periodic Kingdom chart. It is sold with a laminated, smaller-scale version. This can be written on with wet-erase

Suggestions for an even better book:

  • Address the difference between molecules and ionic compounds. (For example table salt, NaCl is an ionic compound. Technically, it is not a molecule as it is not bonded in the right sort of way for that.) This discussion should make the concept of minerals easier to understand.

  • Add pronunciation info for each element.

  • Give a bit more information on how to use the book.

I did find some minor errors, but Mary has already promised to fix them for the next edition (soon!) so I will not list them here.

My son and I both enjoyed reading this book so much that we each sat down and read it straight through. He will be doing chemistry again in the spring, so we will revisit this material then and perhaps have some

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