Parents’ Choice Gold Award – Save the Crash-test Dummies
June 16, 2020

This book brilliantly combines history, physics, and design. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of car safety—bumpers, brakes, seatbelts, and so forth—and chronicles its design history, explaining early ideas and tracing how various approaches were either developed or abandoned. The result is both funny and compelling. Swanson treats each design idea with respect, considering the logic behind the ideas that readers might otherwise be inclined to laugh off (like the pedestrian net that would scoop unwary walkers to safety); in the process, she emphasizes the importance of learning from failure. Grooms’s illustrations and diagrams add both humor and clarity to the physics concepts. By using the framework of the work performed by crash-test dummies, Swanson and Grooms also smoothly highlight the importance of paying attention to gender, age, and size in experimental science. This excellent STEM book will appeal to a wide range of readers, whether or not they are already interested in engineering.

Naomi Lesley ©2020 Parents’ Choice