Cool Technology

Cool Technology
Jenny Jacoby, illustrated by Jem Venn

The latest addition to the “Cool’ series takes a look at world changing technological inventions through the ages.

As a teacher who has always championed the importance of developing children’s imaginations, I love its opening quote from creator of curious contraptions Keith Newstead: ‘With a little imagination and a lot of patience you can make anything come to life.’ It’s clear from this book, which starts by going right back to stone age times with the invention of stone tools, needles etc, that this statement is spot on.

In addition to presenting bite size chunks of information about a variety of inventions from clockwork, the compass, clothes fastenings to contactless payments, photography to plastics, keyboards of various kinds, X-ray machines, toilets 

to TV and many other things we now take for granted, the author includes concise biographies of key technologists such as Johannes Gutenberg, rocket scientist Annie Easley, Bill Gates and architect Shigeru Ban who is famous for creating buildings including homes from low-tech materials.

Every spread has a clear layout with illustrations by Jem Venn. There are also some projects for readers themselves to try, a look to the future, a contents page and a glossary. And, what better way to finish that with these words from Daniel Bell” ‘Technology, like art is a soaring exercise of the human imagination.’

Primary schools should certainly add this STEM title to their book collections.

Cool Engineering

Cool Engineering
Jenny Jacoby and Jim Venn
Pavilion Books

This latest in the Cool series looks at the various branches of engineering, provides short pertinent biographies of key engineers through the centuries including Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Frank Whittle, Hedy Lamar and Tim Berners-Lee, as well as the history of engineering from the invention of the wheel right up to today’s technology as used in such things as clean energy. 

There’s even a look at some future projects including innovative new building materials – whoever would have thought that encouraging mosses to grow on concrete (bio-receptive concrete) would become a good thing to do.

There are plenty of interesting experiments to try at home or school – the marshmallow tower is a fun example and can include an element of competition.

There’s so much to like about this engaging little book including the clear layout, ‘Cool facts’ boxes, quotes from the engineers featured, a timeline and alluring contents page, glossary and Jem Venn’s slightly quirky illustrations. It’s especially good in a STEM book such as this to see importance given to the sketching of ideas.

If you want children to think like engineers, then include this book in your classroom or family collection – it’s a good place to start.