Family Fun: Pop open science fun with author Lynn Brunelle

A plastic pop bottle makes a great mini laboratory.

That’s what Lynn Brunelle discovered when she was head writer for “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

As she and her colleagues talked at writers meetings, she kept using her water bottle to help demonstrate whatever experiment she was talking about.

She realized, “God, I’m doing this a lot, there’s a book in here.”

And, there was. “Pop Bottle Science” comes in a plastic bottle, along with a few balloons, a cork and a measuring cup and spoons. The kit, plus a few household items – like water, a slice of bread or baking soda and vinegar – are all you need to do dozens of experiments at home.

Brunelle will talk about doing science at home – and lead families through a couple experiments – during a Zoom meeting hosted by Auntie’s Bookstore at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“It’s so relevant right now because of all the remote learning,” she said.

Kids and parents are craving more hands-on opportunities, she said.

“It’s one thing when you watch something on a screen or read about it in a book,” Brunelle said. But doing it yourself, “It’s just more fun. It’s way more fun to actually put vinegar and baking soda together than to talk about it.”

And that physical experience of doing it is going to be wired in the brain differently. “The wonder of it is going to stick,” she said.

In “Pop Bottle Science,” kids can learn how to grow a mold garden, launch a rocket, create the rain cycle or make raisins dance (an activity Brunelle says helped occupy her sons through many a long restaurant wait when they were young).

Before getting hired for Nye’s show, Brunelle worked as a teacher, at a publishing house, with the Muppets and at a museum. It was one of her first jobs, as a teacher for kids with behavior issues, that really formed her as an educator and communicator, she said.

Each of her students learned in their own way, she said. Some connected with movement, others with music. Some by reading, others by listening.

“It was so cool to see that you could reach these kids if you just switched the lens for them.”

And that’s one of the goals of “Pop Bottle Science” and her other books – to give families different ways to investigate the world around them.

“I get a lot of parents that say to me, ‘I’m not a science person,’ ” she said. But she encourages people to realize science is everywhere.

“We’re all science people, we all wonder about things,” she said. “Science is just about asking questions and playing around to see what happens. It’s exploration at its purest.”

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