You might know them better as Eepybird or maybe the Coke and Mentos Guys, but when the sticky, sweet spray has stopped, they simply go by Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe. Thankfully, the spray stopped long enough for the duo to write a book, How to Build a Hovercraft.
The book is a collection of their 25 favorite DIY projects, each with a complete parts list, necessary tools, detailed instructions, and lots of photographs to show you how to complete the project. Plus, the best part is that each project has an explanation of the science behind the project and the lesson to learn. (Here’s a sample project from the book.)
There are some projects that focus on illusions, like the sample above, and some that are squarely in science’s spotlight, like a self-crushing can and putting a needle through a balloon. Some projects are more involved than others and some are definitely messier than others (yes, there are a couple of projects dedicated to Coke and Mentos), but every single one of them puts a heavy emphasis on fun and learning. I am especially looking forward to showing off the steel wool fireworks next Independence Day when I replicate their version of the Fire Wire experiment.
What I appreciate most about How to Build a Hovercraft is that, unlike most DIY experiment books that concentrate on simple and easy experiments, Voltz and Grobe have opted to go big. Like the book’s namesake, most of the experiments found in the book’s 190 pages are impressive.
Building a hovercraft, constructing a paper airplane squadron launcher, or creating a mechanical water xylophone are not projects you do when you have 20 minutes to spare. They are a bit involved, but the payoffs are huge and will attract attention. As the book cover says, “you’re never too old to be the coolest kid on the block.” But don’t be scared, you don’t need to budget to build the experiments in the book. Yes, some of them have a bit of a cost, but many can be built with scraps from your workshop and items from your junk drawer.
The emphasis on science doesn’t get lost in the presentation, either. The explanations that follow experiments are serious stuff — multiple page explanations with lots of illustrations to help make the point about how and why you saw the results you created. If that’s not enough, each project is concluded with a QR code that takes you to the Eepybird Web site to give you more ideas, videos and variations that you can try with each project.
There are lots of science project books these days, but How to Build a Hovercraft sets itself apart by concentrating on projects with impressive results and emphasizing the science that makes the results possible. The book is available now from Chronicle Books.
Note: Parents should be aware that some of the experiments require adult supervision, while others are potentially dangerous and shouldn’t be performed by kids at all.
Disclosure: GeekDad was sent a sample of this book for review.