Special thanks to Jordan D Brown for answering 5 questions about his recently featured book – Crazy Concoctions: A Mad Scientist’s Guide to Messy Mixtures
For more than 18 years, Jordan D. Brown has written numerous high-quality, award-winning books, magazine articles, Web sites, television programs, and educational guides for children, teachers and parents. – From Jordan’s Homepage
#1 – What was the impetus for Crazy Concoctions?
Even since I was a little kid, I’ve loved cooking and messing around in the kitchen. My parents love to tell about the time when my sister and I were about 3 and 5, respectively, and we woke up super early to “bake” in the kitchen. This activity meant getting a big bowl and mixing together all kinds of odd ingredients, including uncooked rice, gobs of salt, and green food coloring. My dad came downstairs, discovered our culinary creation, and actually helped us put the “batter” in muffin tins, and baked them. He then brought these salty, green muffins into a graduate school class he was teaching, and offered them to his students. “They’re delicious, Dr. Brown” the sycophantic students chimed. I’m sorry, what was the question? Oh, my impetus! Well, when my publisher one day emailed me, “I’d like you to write a book called ‘Crazy Concoctions’ with simple kids’ chemistry experiments,” I jumped at the opportunity.
#2 – How much fun did you have in designing the experiments?
I had a blast designing the experiments. Thanks to the wealth of resources out there, including Internet videos, I was able to dig up a variety of classic chemistry experiments, as well as invent my own. Although I’m not a scientist by training, I’m very methodical when it comes to testing out experiments.
#3 – How did you balance the need for explaining the science, having a fun/messy time and making things easy to follow?
Sometimes this balancing act was tricky. First, I selected only experiments that I truly enjoyed doing over and over again. My children, who were 7 and 11 years old when I wrote the book also were terrific sounding boards. Once I had a solid activity, I would do the research to explain the science behind it, then write as many drafts as needed until the explanation was both fun and comprehensible.
#4 – The enigmatic Dr F appears throughout the book, with annotations on various designs and plans. What made you choose to include the mad scientist?
Ah, the mad scientist! Well, I’ve always been a fan of outrageous characters. I knew that I wanted Crazy Concoctions to be funny, and liked the idea of poking fun at myself in the text. The motivation for Dr. Fickleschmutz adding his snide, demented asides evolved during conversations with my superb editor, Kate Hurley. She was careful to make sure Dr. F wasn’t too “silent” on any pages.
#5 – Did you road-test the recipes with kids? How much did you have to change the recipes from the original draft?
Yes, I road-tested every recipe many times to make sure it worked consistently, and was fun. My children became experts in slime, fake vomit, and the like.
#6 – What feedback have you received from kids and adults about the book?
I was delighted to receive such great comments from kids, parents and teachers. They all enjoyed getting in touch with their inner mad scientist, and appreciated all the interesting sidebars I included. Some kids have told me how much they enjoyed the open-ended chemistry challenges I included in the last chapter, such as: create a concoction that looks beautiful but tastes horrible (and Dr. F’s challenge to make a dip that contains refried beans and other flatulence-inducing ingredients.)
#7 – Are you working on any new books/projects you can tell us about?
I recently completed two science books for elementary school kids: The Thrills and Chills of Amusement Parks, which comes out in Feb 2015, and its companion The Innings and Outs of Baseball. I am also working on Science Stunts: Fun Feats of Physics for the publisher of Crazy Concoctions, which will come out in Fall 2015. Finally, I have the pleasure of being the Curriculum Advisor for a new PBS preschool TV series all about the wonders of astronomy. The title hasn’t been announced yet, but the show debuts in February 2016.
[Image Credit: http://www.jordandbrown.com/bio.php; Supplied by Author ]