Review: The Robot Zoo

Robot ZooRobot Zoo by Philip Whitfield

Turner Publishing: GA (1994)

ISBN13: 9781840280821

Perfect for STEM, This is a really amazing book for use as a science informational text, exploring biomechanics. There is animal anatomy and plenty of very detailed illustrations and cut aways to allow children to see both the physical composition of their favorite zoo friends as well as mechanical illustration to show the physical make-up of each. There is also a very precise biomechanical engineering aspect to this book, as the robotic illustrations show readers how mechanisms could be designed to function in the same manner as the animal’s natural structure. This book is great for incorporating STEM concepts in the classroom and allows for the exploration and discussion of various robotic functions and the biomechanics of these living creatures. Similar to The Way Things Work books, this one shows the insides in a whole new light!

The computerized animals are fun and curiously frightening at the same time. Aside from the 3-page fold-out of the mechanized giraffe, which is not to be missed, one of my favorite illustrations was the mechanical rhinoceros. The extra-strong supports, shock-absorbing pads, ball and socket joints and dual food processors keep him running smoothly – and his fly swatter (tail) is perfectly suited for those hot days in Africa! But not all animals are so big – don’t miss the T4 virus on page 42 as well as the Glossary, which explains and compares matching anatomical and mechanical components for students who may not understand exactly how  ear drums or nerves function.

Quantitative: No Lexile Level or ATOS available.

Qualitative: Due to the anatomical and mechanical terms used in the illustrations, this book is best suited for use in grades 3 and up. It could also be used in lower grades with guidance and additional resources.

Content Area: Science – STEM

Common Core Standards: RI.1.1, RI.1.2, RI.1.6, RI.2.7,

Additional/Digital Resources:

Robot Zoo website: http://www.evergreenexhibitions.com/exhibits/robot_zoo/

AAAS Science NetLinks: http://sciencenetlinks.com/tools/the-robot-zoo/

Personal Note: This book is a little bit Magic School Bus and a little bit The Way Things Work and kids love it. The revelation of “what’s underneath” really appeals to kids K-5 and this book shows everything – from the visual receptors (eyes), food processors (stomachs),  to the waste disposal units (yes, that too)- nothing is left out!

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