Thursday, May 16, 2013

Top 5 books for dads who are geeks

“But raising geeks goes beyond teaching them the difference between Darths Vader and Maul. It means teaching them an empowering worldview.”
- Ken Denmead

Having posted 5 parenting books for real people I thought it time to even up the gender balance… and post something for my soon-to-be-a-father nephew-in-law (sheesh, that was longwinded!).

The adults surrounding this future baby fully expect her (we’re 99% sure it’s a her) to be a geek and proud of it. She’ll be absorbing science-fiction movies at an early age; will be gaming – board and computer – young; and will be making stuff (probably more with her mum – including the woodworking & soldering bits). These titles will surely inspire her future-dad to learn new skills along with his baby girl. We’ve all got to start somewhere, right?

~ Annie




5. The art of the catapult: build Greek ballistae, Roman onagers, English trebuchets, and more ancient artillery by William Gurstelle
Whether playing at defending their own castle or simply chucking pumpkins over a fence, wannabe marauders and tinkerers will become fast acquainted with Ludgar, the War Wolf, Ill Neighbor, Cabulus, and the Wild Donkey—ancient artillery devices known commonly as catapults. Building these simple yet sophisticated machines introduces fundamentals of math and physics using levers, force, torsion, tension, and traction. Instructions and diagrams illustrate how to build seven authentic working model catapults, including an early Greek ballista, a Roman onager, and the apex of catapult technology, the English trebuchet. Additional projects include learning how to lash and make rope and how to construct and use a hand sling and a staff sling. The colourful history of siege warfare is explored through the stories of Alexander the Great and his battle of Tyre; Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Third Crusade; pirate-turned-soldier John Crabbe and his ship-mounted catapults; and Edward I of England and his battle against the Scots at Stirling Castle.

Come on! Doesn’t EVERY one want to make a catapult?!

 4. Snip, burn, solder, shred: seriously geeky stuff to make with your kids by David Erik Nelson
Instructions for making 24 toys and musical instruments. Projects introduce the beginner to fundamental sewing and carpentry skills; how to use tools like an electronic drill, a soldering iron, and a blowtorch; and the basics of circuit-building.

Three words: Marshmallow Muzzle Loaders!



 3. Mythbusters: don’t try this at home! by Mary Packard
Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are the Mythbusters starring in the eponymous Discovery Channel show and their images embellish the cover of this colorful paperback authored by popular science writer Packard. Fifteen intriguing episodes that challenge commonly held myths and urban legends have been excerpted from the broadcasts and incorporated here. Does running in the rain keep you drier than walking? Does a sinking ship pull swimmers down with it? Along with careful scientific scrutiny of these questions, lots of good-natured humor, witty props, and gadgets are employed to enthrall youthful readers. Each chapter includes a guide for safe "at home" experiments along with a brainbuster quiz challenging commonly held notions about the subject. Of course, answers are provided at the back, along with a glossary, an index, and a listing of web sites.

As a Mythbusters fan, this is a no-brainer! Adam Savage, one of the hosts, features in the Wired article mentioned in #1… Perfect for any parent wanting their child to explore science in a fun way.

 2. Handy dad: 25 awesome projects for dads and kids by Todd Davis; photographs by Juli Stewart and Todd Davis; illustrations by Nik Schulz
Skate ramps, zip lines, go-carts, and more! In this super-fun book, Todd Davisextreme sports athlete and host of HGTV's Over Your Head presents 25 awesome projects for dads to build with their kids. Busy dads can choose projects that range from simple to challenging and take anywhere from five minutes to a full weekend. Readers are given all the directions they need to grab materials that can be found around the house or at the local hardware store and get to work banging up a sweet BMX ramp or half-pipe, building a tree house or tire swing, or throwing together a slip-and-slide or tie-dye station for an afternoon of fun. With plenty of color photographs, easy-to-follow instructions, and detailed illustrations, Handy Dad is chock-full of creative and inexpensive ways to keep kids (and dads) entertained for hours.

Surely EVERY child needs a stunt dummy! Yes, that is one of the projects in Handy dad.
Follow it up with Handy dad in the great outdoor: more than 30 super-cool projects and activities for dads and kids.

 1. The geek dad’s guide to weekend fun: cool hacks, cutting-edge games, and more awesome projects for the whole family by Ken Denmead
The wildly popular DIY dad follows up his instant "New York Times" bestseller "Geek Dad"with a fresh batch of geeky weekend science projects for the whole family to enjoy, from building homemade robots from scratch to making stop-motion movies.

Who doesn’t want to know how to make a Nerf dart blow-gun?

One of series by the author of Wired magazine’s GeekDad column. PS the June 2012 issue of Wired had an article on How to be a GeekDad, with experiments by Adam Savage (Mythbusters). My nephew-in-law is prepared to make electric playdough, when the time comes! Oh, and it lead to an intense discussion about the right order to watch the Star Wars movies.

PS the library subscribes to Wired – and you can take issues out for a couple of weeks.

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