Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Story About Curiosity

“When confronted with an observation, you should immediately generate at least five questions that challenge said observation.” So said my graduate school Oceanography professor as part of scientist training 101, but it might as well have been Ada Twist, the naturally curious investigator from Ada Twist, Scientist (Abrams Books for Young Readers, ISBN 1419721372)

The picture book written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, the team that brought us Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer, is about a little girl born with an enquiring mind. Ada doesn’t say a word for her first three years. She observes, she explores, but she doesn’t speak. When she finally says what is on her mind, her family discovers that her mind is full of questions.  She starts with Why? and then moves on to What? How? and When? But Ada doesn’t settle for just asking, she experiments and leaves chaos in her wake. A stinky mystery finally focuses her labors on one goal, but her unorthodox methods frustrate her parents who put a stop to her experiments. Watch the book trailer here:

Ada Twist, Scientist is about perseverance. Ada is determined to find answers to her questions, especially the source of the stink she comes across. The main message, however, is about curiosity and about having a passion for observing and learning about the world around us. It is a scientist’s imperative to ask questions, but you don’t have to have a science degree to wonder and research and learn.

The illustrations add to the humor of the story. Ada looks surprised that her parents don’t want her climbing the clock. Her brow is always raised in a questioning expression and her parents look like they are at their wits' end. Her classmates do exactly what my students would do if someone dropped a Mentos in a bottle of soda in the classroom.

I love the solution that Ada and her parents find and I love that science is depicted as a passion and a journey that is constantly renewed by the simple act of being curious and asking questions.

This book could definitely spark a discussion about the scientific method and which parts Ada used, as well as a discussion on how the process of inquiry can help solve problems in any area of life.

Check back on Friday for more books about curiosity.

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