Professor Astro Cat's Atomic Adventure

Longlisted for the Information Category of the North Somerset Teachers' Book Award

If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.”

Albert Einstein

Physics is all around us, all the time, but it does have the reputation of being rather a challenging subject to master. Atomic Adventure takes us on a whirlwind tour of the world of physics: the laws of the universe and the fundamental laws that describe the nature of our world.

Why is the sky blue?

How do planes stay in the air?

We can feel the wind, but why can’t we see the it?

Now, I kind of know the answer to these questions, but, despite having an A Level in physics, I am absolutely certain I couldn’t explain it in a way that another human being could understand (especially a small, curious, 6 year-old human being with the talent of asking tricky questions like this). Luckily for me, Professor Astro Cat can, and boy, does he do it well…

Perfect for anyone with an enquiring scientific brain, young and old, Atomic Adventure touches upon all of the key aspects of physics found within the primary curriculum (and beyond) explaining them in a clear, fun and concise way. The vibrant illustrations support the details within the text adding further clarity as well as a sprinkling of humour to the explanations. There are even sections on quantum physics, particle physics and nuclear physics! Astro Cat also introduces the main ideas in scientific exploration: the hypothesis, the experiment, the results and finally the theory. Through describing these scientific processes, he clearly explains the role of a scientist and how they question the world around them before setting out to prove their ideas. Prominent scientists and their key work, such a Newton and Einstein, are also touched upon.

Children will be engrossed by the information and layout found within Atomic Adventure. There is no ‘dumbing down’ of content and correct scientific terminology is used throughout, supported by a glossary as well as an explanation when words are first introduced. Dotted throughout the text are things children can try themselves and, wherever possible, examples that are used are ones the children will experience in their everyday world. In addition to this, analogies and comparisons that children will be able to picture are used to help explain abstract concepts such as the size of an atom.

As well as being crammed full of scientific wonder (a staring to point to many aspects of science), it is also full of links to other subjects:

  • There is an entire section on measure: how things are measured; the units of measure; equipment used to measure. This would make a fascinating starting point to looking at measure in maths.

  • When studying Ancient Greece, we often look at prominent Greeks who have influenced our world today: Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato. How about Democritus? The man with the cheese! Children would have great fun having a go at splitting the cheese, just as Democritus did, and it would be sure to raise much discussion and questioning, as well as linking the Ancient World to our knowledge of atoms.

  • Volcanoes make up part of the new geography curriculum. There is a section that looks at changing properties using the example of rock within a volcano becoming a liquid as well as why lava flows start quickly and then slow down.

Professor Astro Cat tells us that there is still much we don’t know about physics. Scientists continue to be mystified by why some things happen and what some things are – especially when looking beyond our own world. But, one thing is for certain, with the help of Professor Astro Cat, I am definitely more knowledgeable than I was this morning. Physics? Bring it on!

Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure – A Journey Through Physics

Dr Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman (authors)  Ben Newman (illustrator)

Flying Eye (publisher)  ISBN: 978-1909263604