Judy Dutton’s book is a surprisingly quick and engaging read, all while being inspiring and informative. This one may appeal even more to the teachers and parents among your patrons, but there are definitely teens out there who will enjoy it for the personal stories, the suspense of the competition, and insights into how science fairs work.
Another book that should inspire young scientists is The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts (Crown, March 2011). I haven’t read this one yet, but I hear through the librarian grapevine that it is an equally good read. Must add it to the ever-growing TBR pile!
Adult/High School–In a brief introduction, Dutton entices readers with glimpses of high school science-fair contestants whose research has influenced everything from space travel to a cure for cancer. Each ensuing chapter portrays one contestant and his or her path to success. Six chapters follow the contestants on their way to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2009; other chapters intersperse the stories of five 21st century teen science fair legends. They all culminate in Intel ISEF 2009. Which projects will prove worthy Best in Category, and which will win the ultimate prize, the coveted Young Scientist Award? The contestants come from varied educational, geographic, and economic backgrounds. Their projects are equally varied, from a girl who makes the most of contracting leprosy, to the former child actress whose study of honeybees changes her goals entirely, to the boy growing up on a reservation, inspired by his family’s need for heat and hot water. For several, the prize money is their only chance at college and a career doing what they love. Indeed, the money, acclaim, and patents involved are astonishing. Each story communicates the excitement of studying hands-on science. Dutton’s energetic, inspirational, upbeat tone does not gloss over the personal difficulties each student faces along the way. But ultimately, this is a book of success stories, emphasizing the rewards of participating in science fairs. It reads like a collection of engaging short stories about brilliant kids working toward their dreams against all the odds. For teens who want to know what it takes to succeed on a national scale, it will be an eye-opener.–Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City