Archives: MG books

Fact or Fiction? Archimedes’ Death Ray

TheLitClubProject 3X3In my short story THE LITERATURE CLUB PROJECT, Catherine Mason, the main character, sets fire to toy boats using a heat lamp and mirror. She designs her project based on what she has read about the Greek scientist, Archimedes, who destroyed enemy ships using reflective metals and the sun.

This weapon – sometimes called Archimedes’ death ray – has long been debated.

Some, like Mythbusters, say nope. It’s a myth. They’ve performed the experiment twice, and believe there would have been too many complications from the weather and local geography.

Others, like MIT 2.009 Engineers, say yep, Archimedes could have created and used such a weapon, as long as there was little or no cloud coverage.

Although Catherine’s experiment in THE LITERATURE CLUB PROJECT does take some, or maybe a lot of, literary license, her project is not complete fiction.

And, if you still wonder how much fact I had in the story, check out the video above from GreenPower Science, which shows them burning a pirate ship with their own version of the Archimedes death ray.

5 MG Olympic Books & btw, do you speak English?

5 MG Olympic Books & btw, do you speak English?

This July, 1 in 3 people – world-wide – are expected to watch the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

Isn’t that fascinating?

The Olympic Games give us a common ground that few other events do. It’s fun to watch obscure (obscure to our household at least) sports and learn the stories of the not-so-famous athletes.

So, to encourage our kids to join in this world-wide event, I hunted down a few children’s books about the games.

Bu, but, but. . . . before you check out the books, take 2:41 minutes to check out the video below. In it, two guys poke fun at American tourists who visit England, but aren’t sure what language the locals are speaking. It’s funny, because, well, we all now it’s true.

Watching that video reminds me of a prank played on late night host and comedian Johnny Carson. While at a London cocktail party, Carson was approached by a British man who attempted to have a conversation with him. However, the British man’s accent was so heavy that Carson was unable to answer his questions. Ever polite, Carson nods, smiles, and searches for an escape. When no one comes to his rescue, Carson waits for the man to pause to ask, “Do you know anyone who speaks English?”

Now on to the books. . .

If you have a kid who likes to the facts,  he may enjoy this behind-the-scene look at the Olympics. The books has details from how a location is chosen, how the Olympic venues are built, and what happens to them after the Olympics is over. There is even a chapter on the Paralympic Games.

The Olympics: Behind the Scenes at the Olympics by Nick Hunter (Kindle edition)

If you have a kid who likes mysteries and a glimpse of what goes on for Olympic swimmers, then he may enjoy Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics by Joel Feinstein.

Or if you have a kid who likes reading about what it takes to make it on to the Olympics as a gymnast, then she may enjoy one of these three books:



Gold Medal Summer by Donna Freitas, Winning Team by Dominique Moceanu & Alicia Thompson, and Balancing Act by Dominique Moceanu & Alicia Thompson (Hat tip: NY Times review )

Anyone ever have a hard time understanding  your English? (Uh, that would be a yes for me.)