The Surfing Scientist, by Ruben Meerman

The weirdest waves you can surf break in rivers, not at the beach. They come in twice a day and you can ride them for up to 10 kilometres upstream. They’re called tidal bores and are made by the incoming tide.

The Surfing Scientist is non-fiction, a collection of science tricks, explanations and facts. There are tricks that show how to levitate a ball, make cups fly, stand a can on an angle and make a coin jump from the neck of a bottle. Each opening includes step-by-step instructions, photos and a detailed explanation of the scientific principles behind the trick. The explanations detail how the principles demonstrated are relevant to everyone, not just scientists. For example, friction between feet and surfboard is a good thing to prevent slipping, whereas friction between axle and wheels in a skateboard is not good, hence the use of wheel bearings. There are also ocean animal and beach facts, environmental suggestions for the materials used in the tricks and suggestions for safe experimenting.

Ruben Meerman defines himself as surfer first then as scientist – hence the title. The subtitle ‘40 Cool Science Tricks’ gives the reader more idea of the contents. The cover design is appealing – bright and ‘informal’ and will entice many readers. The tricks (experiments) are laid out on double page spreads with instructions in an engaging conversational style. The trick is detailed on the left page, the explanation and other information on the right page. The ingredients/equipment required for the tricks can be found in most households. Where there is an extra element of skill required, parental supervision is suggested. The tricks range from scientific experiments to April Fool’s gags.

The Surfing Scientist will appeal to a wide range of readers, from mid-primary on, although with more supervision younger children would also enjoy the tricks. Older readers will gain from the explanations while reluctant readers may skim the explanation in favour of the tricks and the random facts. Recommended particularly for mid-primary to upper-primary readers, while many younger and older readers will also enjoy this science-based ‘magic’.

The Surfing Scientist, Ruben Meerman
ABC Books 2007
ISBN: 9780733320804