Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments – Serious science for homeschoolers and biology hobbyists – #bookreview

Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture
Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson
(Make:Books/O’Reilly Media, paperback, list price $34.99; Kindle edition, list price $27.99)

This is serious science in the form of a 359-page workbook devoted to 30+ lab experiments that can be performed at home, with the right equipment and materials.

The book is intended for adults who want to “explore the science of nature as a life-long hobby,” and it’s intended for homeschoolers who need and want challenging biology labs.

The book’s experiments are not cheesy and simple. Some example titles include “Simulated DNA Separation by Gel Electrophoresis”, “Investigating Bacterial Antibiotic Sensitivity”, “Soil and Water Pollution Testing,” and “Observing Specialized Eukaryotic Cells.” The review questions at the end of each lab also are challenging and require thoughtful, written answers rather than simple fill-in-a-blank responses.

Background material is provided before each experiment. But the authors recommend that their book be used in conjunction with a standard biology textbook, such as “the freely downloadable CK-12 Biology.” Meanwhile, the authors’ company, The Home Scientist, LLC, offers “inexpensive custom kits that provide specialized equipment and supplies you’ll need to complete the experiments.” You will also need a microscope and some “common household items” to use this book.

Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments is well-written and well-illustrated. Before it introduces its experiments, it describes how to maintain a properly formatted laboratory notebook, how to set up a good home biology laboratory, how to use a microscope, and how to be careful with the necessary tools and materials. The workbook is part of the “DIY Science” series published by Make:Books, an imprint of Maker Media, which is a division of O’Reilly Media, Inc.

— Si Dunn