The story started off great, but with boring looking projects. Then later the story started to drag, and the projects got more exciting and better. The best projects in the book were towards the end, and they also had the best story integration and explanations.
The vocabulary is great. There's lots of scientific words sprinkled throughout the book, along with Nick and Tesla, who tend to think rather logically, which make them good science role models.
The projects are generally made with easy to find or cheap to buy household materials. My two favorite ones were the intruder detector, which is made from a 9 volt battery, a LED or Christmas light, some wire, and 2 quarters. The project is great, but the book just sort of throws the science out there, without a very clear explanation of what a circuit is, and it discusses a short circuit as being an explanation why a detector like that wouldn't work well, but it never really explains what a short circuit is. That maybe best- it can lead to further discussion if the child asks alone.
One really good missed opportunity that I felt was really tragic was when the kids were searching Google. It would have been such a great opportunity for them to have a little discussion about formulating search strings and adding in some operators. Kids get that. They would go right to a computer and try it, and have an advantage in research forever after playing with it a few times.
There's going to be more of these books it seems, and I like these characters. It reminded me a bit of how Carol Marsh does her kid's history/geography books, which is just brillian. (The Real Kids, Real Places Books) I just took off a star because I feel the science is a bit dated. Yes, mentos and coke, that's something kids have seen in recent years, and it's a cool science experiment, but I tend to like the really useful things...things that kids won't just go COOL over, but they will incorporate into their lives. I also felt the book was pulling punches a bit. Not with the vocabulary, or the storyline, or with the projects or project construction, but with the actual science.
There was a kid with a skinned knee. How about talking a very quick bit about cleaning it up and caring for it, even if it was just a 'We need to get that cleaned' in the story? It floors me how many kids these days do not know basic self care for minor wounds! That's the kinds of missed opportunities I see in these books.
The storyline drug a bit in the middle too. It seemed like extra story was put in to work in the fun and easy black light experiment.