Horrible Science

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Horrible Science
Measly medicine.JPG
The front cover of Measly Medicine.
Author Nick Arnold; Phil Gates
Illustrator Tony De Saulles
Cover artist Tony De Saulles
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Subject Science
Genre Children's; Science
Publisher Scholastic
Publication date
1996

Horrible Science is a spin-off series of books of Horrible Histories, written by Nick Arnold (with the exception of Evolve or Die, which is written by Phil Gates), illustrated by Tony de Saulles and published in the UK and India by Scholastic. They are designed to get children interested in science by concentrating on the trivial, unusual, gory, or unpleasant. Amazon.com reviews of books in the series sometimes attribute their children's interested in science to the series. The books are in circulation in 24 countries, and over 4 million books have been sold in the UK alone.[1]

Nick Arnold released a paper entitled "Teaching Science the Horrible Way",[2] in which he demonstrates the reasons why the Horrible Science series has a positive contribution to learning. According to Arnold, Horrible Science books are based on everyday topics and key areas of the curriculum. The range of approaches used in Horrible Science books are intended to emphasise the drama and excitement and wonder of science. Science words and concepts are introduced gradually often using humour or fact files. Although mathematics is not needed at the level of science covered in the books, some activities require calculators. The books contain experiments under the heading Dare you discover… The experiments do not require expensive or elaborate equipment. Several of the books end with thoughts on how science will shape our future. On his website, Nick Arnold also has downloadable experiments for teachers to use in the classroom as an aid to his books (e.g. the Horrible Hydrogen experiment at [3]).

History[edit]

Before writing the series, Nick Arnold was at the University of North London working on an educational project. He explained to The Birmingham Post: "It was actually a lucky break or a well-placed letter – whichever you want to believe - Because I wrote this really cheeky letter to the publishers Scholastic saying that if they were looking for someone to write a horrible science book I was the one. And would you believe they actually let me write a science book and put lots of horrible bits in it – and then it was hugely successful”.[4]

During the mid-2010s, Horrible Science decided to have a book makeover, altering the covers of some of their old books, and all of the new books being published to have a new, more colourful background.

A Horrible Science theatre show produced by the Birmingham Stage Company - which also brought Horrible Histories to the stage - was created in 2013.[5]

Approach[edit]

Nick Arnold explained his approach towards writing the series in an interview with The Birmingham Post: "My approach to a subject is to vastly over-research it. I have become quite good at science by writing these books so have got quite a lot of knowledge already but then I really like finding out more information. If I over-research then I don’t just have all the facts I need, I have a lot more – and that means I can really choose what I want to include. The thing about a Horrible Science book is that actually it is all about imagination. The more you know the more you want to know and the more you want to develop that."[6]

Critical reception[edit]

The response towards the series has been generally positive. Some reviews of the series website [7] included a The Independent review that Really Rotten Experiments is "Perfect for keeping the kids occupied on a rainy day, this is full of useful tips…and fun, naughty experiments". Another review by the Evening Express (Aberdeen) said that the book Horrible Science: Painful Poison is "With fantastic fact files, quirky quizzes, humorous cartoons and easy-to-understand text, it makes science pretty horrible, but great fun". Books For Keeps said of the book Deadly Diseases: "Gruesome gut churning contents, you need a strong stomach to tackle this, and certainly before eating". The Scotsman commented on the series as a whole, "Nick Arnold has a reputation as quite a showman and his Horrible Science series provides him with plenty of opportunity for stunts. Children emerge wide-eyed and inspired". A review at [8] described the series as "These are so much better than some of the dry textbooks that I used to have to read when I was in school...I'm saying that books like this are great for students because they show students that science is truly interesting and amazing!". A review by Roberta of the Growing with Science blog said of the book Chemical Chaos: "It is every bit as humorous (downright silly in spots) and as comprehensive as the history series was". She adds that the "[series as a whole] go a long way to fill that gap [between middle and high school students". As said of Evil Inventions in a review by Jennifer Cameron-Smith at:[9] "This is a delightful book and would make a wonderful present for any budding young scientist as well as a worthwhile addition to a school library. Making science fun can sometimes be a challenge, but books such as this certainly assist."

Controversy[edit]

There has been a negative response to Issue 6 - Hidden Horrors in the Home in the magazine adaption of the book series. The article named "Loony Lab" in this Horrible Science Collection had a section called "Grow your own manky microbes". A complainant, a biology teacher and parent, described it as "irresponsible in the extreme". A plastic petri dish and sachet of agar powder are provided as a ’free gifts’, and children are encouraged to sample areas which may harbour disease-causing organisms (pathogens), such as a toilet handle, a dog's ear, or a "bogey". Under certain circumstances, contact with these substances is potentially life-threatening. The complainant added "The potential for real harm is jaw-dropping. Even in school, under supervision of trained staff, we would not be allowed to do much of what the article suggests, namely for health and safety reasons. How can they be sure that every child will follow even the meagre and woefully inadequate safety advice given?".[10]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The Horrible Science series has received the following awards [1]:

Book categories[edit]

Original books[edit]

These are the original books in the core series:

Two/Three/Ten/Twenty in One[edit]

Two in One[edit]

There are also the 'Two in One' versions:

  • Ugly Bugs and Nasty Nature
  • Blood, Bones and Body Bits and Chemical Chaos
  • Frightening Light and Sounds Dreadful
  • Bulging Brains and Disgusting Digestion
  • Microscopic Monsters and Deadly Diseases
  • Killer Energy and Shocking Electricity
  • Fatal Forces and The Fight for Flight

Three in One[edit]

There have even been 'Three in One' books:

  • Ugly Bugs, Nasty Nature and Vicious Veg

Ten in One[edit]

There is also a set containing ten books, comprising

  • The Fearsome Fight for Flight, Painful Poison, Space Stars and Slimy Aliens, Frightening Light, Deadly Diseases, Chemical Chaos, Killer Energy, Microscopic Monsters, Blood Bones and Body Bits and Disgusting Digestion.

Twenty in One[edit]

There is also a box set of 20 titles in the series named Bulging Box of Books. These range from Blood, Bones and Body Bits to Ugly Bugs.

Activity Books[edit]

Shuffle Puzzle Books[edit]

  • Angry Animals Shuffle Puzzle Book (2008)
  • The Blood, Bones and Body Bits Shuffle Puzzle Book

Jigsaw Books[edit]

  • Dangerous Dinosaurs Jigsaw Book (2006) (Dinosaurs)
  • The Seriously Squishy Jigsaw Book
  • Ugly Bugs Jigsaw Book (2008)

Sticker-Activity Books[edit]

  • Disgusting Digestion Sticker-Activity Book
  • Ugly Bugs Sticker-Activity Book

Others[edit]

  • The Seriously Squishy Quiz Book Pack
  • The Awfully Big Quiz Book

It may be noted that the Sticker-Activity books have be renamed, along with their new design, by dropping the "Sticker" aspect and leaving "Activity".

Annuals[edit]

  • Annual 2008
  • Annual 2009
  • Annual 2010
  • Annual 2011
  • Annual 2012 [12]
  • Annual 2013

Specials[edit]

There are a few books in the Horrible Science series that have a special sign on the front cover that indicate their inclusion in the Special sub-series of Horrible Science. They are:

Handbooks[edit]

Following suit with the other main Horrible series', Horrible Science has recently introduced a new range of books, known as Handbooks.

  • Beastly Body Experiments
  • Bulging Brain Experiment
  • Freaky Food Experiments
  • Famously Foul Experiments
  • Sharks

Teachers Resources[edit]

The Horrible Science Teachers Resources subseries is, as described by Nick Arnold: "a whole series of books full of expert tips and photocopiable resources designed for pupils aged 7-11". They are intended for use by teachers in classrooms [2].

  • Electricity
  • The Human Body
  • Forces
  • Animals
  • Sound
  • Light
  • Minibeasts
  • Plants
  • Micro-organisms
  • Earth and Beyond

Others[edit]

These are the books that do not fit into the other categories. They are:

  • The Awfully Big Quiz Book (2000) (Science)
  • The Horrible Science of Everything (2005) (Science)
  • Really Rotten Experiments (2003) (Science Experiments)
  • The Seriously Squishy Science Book (2007 World Book Day Special)
  • Smelly Science (Science)
  • The Stunning Science of Everything (2005)
  • How to Draw Horrible Science (2011) [13]

Magazines[edit]

The front cover of the issue Super Sleuth

There is also a magazine collection to this series, which is collectively known as the Horrible Science Collection. This series was originally planned to encompass 60 issues, but due to their popularity, another 20 were added to the series. The titles are as follows:

  1. Beastly Body Bits - (Human Body)
  2. Chemical Chaos - (Chemicals)
  3. The Smashing Solar System - (Solar System)
  4. Disgusting Digestion - (Digestive System)
  5. Shocking Electricity - (Electricity)
  6. Hidden Horrors In The Home - (Bacteria and Germs)
  7. Bulging Brains - (Brains)
  8. Savage Spiders & Slippery Slimeballs - (Spiders and Slugs)
  9. Rotten Reactions - (Chemical Reactions)
  10. Beastly Bloody Body Bits - (Human Body)
  11. Awful Earth - (Earth)
  12. Mad as Matter - (Matter)
  13. Painful Poisons - (Poisons)
  14. Bones 'n' Groans - (Bones)
  15. Insect Invaders - (Insects)
  16. Super Sleuth - (Spies Codes)
  17. Nasty Nature - (Nature)
  18. Fearsome Fuels - (Fossil Fuels)
  19. Deadly Diseases - (Diseases)
  20. Gruesome Gravity - (Gravity)
  21. Mean Machines - (Machines)
  22. Universe & Worse.... - (The Universe)
  23. Vicious Veg - (Plants)
  24. Body Owner's Manual - (Body Parts)
  25. Lethal Lightning - (Lightning)
  26. Mean Mammals - (Mammals)
  27. Mighty Magnetism - (Magnetism)
  28. Awesome Ants & Sleazy Bees - (Ants and Bees)
  29. Fatal Forces - (Forces)
  30. Crazy Cures & Revolting Recipes - (Cures)
  31. Barmy Birds - (Birds)
  32. Blast Off! - (Spacecraft)
  33. Evil Evolution - (Evolution)
  34. Horrible Heat - (Heat)
  35. Freaky Fish - (Fish)
  36. Startling Senses - (The 5 Senses: Sight, Smell, Taste, Touch and Hearing)
  37. Sounds Dreadful - (Sound)
  38. Sinister Swamps - Swamps)
  39. Ghastly Genes - (Genes)
  40. Microscopic Monsters - (Microorganisms)
  41. Growing Up Grossly - (Growth)
  42. Foul Frogs & Slimy Toads - (Frogs and Toads)
  43. Terrible Time - (Time)
  44. Frightening Light - (Light)
  45. Dangerous Dinosaurs - (Dinosaurs)
  46. More Painful Poisons - (Poisons)
  47. Fearsome Flight - (Flight)
  48. Foul Food - (Food)
  49. Staying Alive - (Survival)
  50. Fearsome Flying Machines - (Flying Machines)
  51. Revolting Reptiles - (Reptiles)
  52. Dead Freezing - (Cold)
  53. Noisy Nature - (The animal kingdom)
  54. Mad Medicine - (Medicine)
  55. Foul Fungi - (Fungi)
  56. More Dangerous Dinosaurs - (Dinosaurs)
  57. Blinding Light - (Light)
  58. Gruesome Germs - (Germs)
  59. Slimy Sea Monsters - (Sea creatures)
  60. It's About Time - (Time)
  61. Perilous Planes - (Planes)
  62. Big And Bad Beasts - (Dangerous Animals)
  63. Shady Spies - (Spies)
  64. Musical Mayhem - (Sounds and Music)
  65. Prehistoric Pests - (Prehistoric Life)
  66. Baffling Brainboxes - (Human Brain)
  67. Mind Boggling Materials - (Matter)
  68. Pesky Plants - (Plants)
  69. Wicked Weather - (Weather)
  70. Underwater Uglies - (Aquatic animals)
  71. Mean Body Machine - (The Human body)
  72. Rowdy Robots - (Robots)
  73. Gruesome Guzzling - (Eating and Digestion)
  74. Nuclear Nasties - (Nuclear power)
  75. Mind Magic - (Science of magic)
  76. Hairy Humans - (Evolution of humans)
  77. Freaky Future - (Futurology)
  78. Horrid Healthcare - (Health and Medicine)
  79. Awful Inventions - (Inventions, Technology)
  80. How to be a Suffering Scientist - (Scientists)

There have also been three 'special' magazines in the series. They are:

S1. DIY Shocking Science- (Experiments)

S2. Spooky Science- (Hallowe'en and Monsters)

S3. Alien Science- (Aliens)

Flip Charts[edit]

On 03 Mar 2008, there were a number of online flip charts (aka Activlessons) released on Promethean Planet [3][4]. As the site explains, "these ready-made interactive whiteboard resources have instant child-appeal, making the teaching of the QCA Science units fun and effective". The titles included are:

  • Animals and their Habitats
  • The Human Body and Keeping Healthy
  • Minibeasts
  • Sounds
  • Plants

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]