Sneaky Fun, Sneaky Science

sneakyusesbookWhat child doesn’t love being a bit sneaky? From stealthily creeping down the hall way-too-early on Christmas morning to sneaking a peek at a friend’s nervous prom date, I’ve gathered seemingly valuable data that way!

Fortunately, with his Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things, Cy Tymony has raised sneakiness to a new level and proposes “sneaky” activities that have more value than late-night holiday reconnaissance. Would you like to create emergency snow shoes? Make a plastic from milk? Make gadgets activated by your homemade power ring? He’s your man. As technology moves forward at warp speed, few of the projects feel a bit dated, but then, a project that uses that unused audiotape player may be the perfect solution to your reuse-or-recycle dilemma. And if you still have an old Mr. Microphone, you have a gold mine!

Aside from being good fun, the Sneaky Uses books can form the basis of good instruction and exciting student projects. Recommended by the National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA), the books are full of options for demonstrations ranging from a simulated hybrid car to a speaker made from a Styrofoam cup. But perhaps the most exciting part of the Sneaky books is their appeal to the junior makers around us. Not only are the books full of projects, but they can easily spark additions. If the books suggest 20 things to be made from a magazine, how about 25? If a battery can be made from lemons, what other foods might work? Which don’t? Think about the projects that could be spurred by this video, linked to the Sneaky Uses website. Wouldn’t it be fun to “levitate” something else?

In fact, even without the book, the website is a fine place to begin sneaky adventures. You can explore video links, experiment with online projects (be sure to scroll down to see them all), and read about famous and not-so-famous sneaky innovators, ranging from heroes helping others escape from the collapsing World Trade Center to prison escapees. All in all, the website is a fine place for an afternoon’s sneaky adventuring–and more. I’d love to hear what you find useful there.

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