STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

What in the World? Look Again

What in the World NGKWhat in the World? Look Again: Fun-tastic Photo Puzzles for Curious Minds
by National Geographic Kids
48 pages; ages 8 – 12
National Geographic Kids, 2015

This is not your average book. For one thing, it’s good for your brain. For another, the format is completely different: it’s a 10-inch (plus a smidgen more) square. And that makes it interesting.

There are pages of amazing photos: birds, frogs, ocean creatures, unusual architecture, feathers, scales, stones and bones…. and more. Some close-up; some from a distance; some not even real. And all of them are pieces of puzzles – that’s where the “good for your brain” part comes in.

Your brain, it turns out, is a muscle just like your heart and your biceps. You exercise your arms to get strong, and your heart to stay fit. So why not exercise your brain, too? Picture puzzles help strengthen your visual perception. They also strengthen cognitive skills – that’s the ability to think and process new information.

This book has different kinds of puzzles. “What in the World?” pictures challenge you to think about what you’re looking at. It might be a piece of a photo, like an animal’s nose or a snake eye. Each puzzle has an anagram clue, in which the letters of the word(s) are all mixed up.

“Real or Fake” asks puzzlers to determine which photos are real and which are faked. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially in this age of digital photography. So be skeptical about what you see. “Take a Look” puzzles require time: you have to search for things in a large picture. Think: “I Spy” or “Where’s Waldo”.

“Up Close” puzzles are photos taken with microscopes. A scanning electron microscope can magnify something 50,000 times – so it may look a lot different than the way you see it in the real world. The challenge is to match a photo (like magnified pollen grains) with a flower.

“Hidden animal” puzzles challenge you to find spiders, butterflies, and other critters that blend in with their background – and that calls for attention to detail. “Optical Illusions” trick your brain, while “Double Takes” make you take second – and third – looks to determine what the differences are between two photos.

What makes this a STEM pick? Well, if you want to be a spy (or a biologist or an explorer or an engineer, astronomer, geologist…) you have to be really good at observing and remembering details. And a good scientist doesn’t believe everything he – or she- sees.

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

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Author: Sue Heavenrich

I write about science and environmental issues for children and their families.

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