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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Physics and Galileo for Kids

PLEASE NOTE: Disclaimer: This blog post is an unofficial review. I was not asked to review the books mentioned, nor was I compensated in any way. I was not even given free product in exchange for my opinions. THIS "REVIEW" IS SOLELY MY OPINION.

I started using a book with my Third Grader called "Christian Kids Explore Physics" by Robert W. Ridlon, Jr. and Elizabeth J. Ridlon from BrightIdeasPress.com.

Not long into the book, there is a list of inventors to explore. We are now sidetracked, starting with Galileo Galilei.  I found a couple books from the library that would be suitable for a child, and I really liked one of them in particular.

It's called, "Galileo's telescope". It's part of the Stories of Great People series.

The book is written by Gerry Bailey and Karen Foster and illustrated by Leighton Noyes and Karen Radford from Crabtree Publishing Company.

The book starts with two children wandering into a modern-day flea market where they find an old telescope, and the man at the booth of the flea market who is selling the telescope, begins to tell the children the story of Galileo. The book continues throughout the story shifting back and forth between current day and history (with text and pictures on blue shaded pages).


Some other stories that I hope to pick up from the library from the same author/publishing company with the same modern day/history storytelling style include:

  • Columbus's chart
  • Leonardo's palette
  • Martin Luther King Jur.'s microphone
  • Mother Teresa's alms bowl
  • Mozart's wig
  • Shakespeare's quill
  • The Wright Brothers' glider
And, there are others (see picture above).

In the children's book about Galileo, I learned more about the man than I ever had from any science class of my own education.

I learned that his dad was a musician. Why is this important? Because my children are being raised by a dad who is a musician. Galileo's dad also taught students an instrument similar to the guitar - a lute. My husband also teaches students, the guitar.  Galileo's dad conducted experiments using math and music, music theory, and worked with how math affects the tension of the lute's chords to form different sounds.

I also learned that Galileo did not receive honor in his lifetime. In fact, it was more than 300 years after his death before the Catholic church admitted they had been wrong about his views.

I learned that the Bible's passage that talks about "And, the truth shall set them free." can be applied to Galileo's search for scientific truth and that even the Bible talks about the skies and the heavens proclaiming the glory of God. His new knowledge about the universe did not defy the Bible but enforce its truths.

I learned that even though something is considered to be acceptable fact - Like Aristotle's ideas of how fast objects of different size travel and how he thought the earth was the center of the universe - doesn't mean it's true. Popularity does not equal reality.

I learned that Galileo did not invent the telescope, but improved upon it, making it 30 times more powerful. And, I also learned that after he was sentenced to house arrest and accused of heresy, he ironically kept inventing - This time, he focused on the microscope (a direct opposite of the experiments that got him into trouble).

Another fascinating fact that I never knew was how he invented the pendullum clock - By watching a chandelier sway back and forth.

Another fascinating fact about Galileo is his observations of the surface of the moon.

I have a new interest in Galileo, and am happy to have stumbled upon this children's book.

Here's some more fun facts and vocabulary words associated with Galileo in the form of a quiz (answers at the end of the blog post):

  1. What year was Galileo born?
  2. In what city was Galileo born?
  3. Whose theories did Galileo prove wrong with his gravity experiment and with his studies of the universe and how it revolves?
  4. What did Galileo invent after watching a chandelier sway back and forth in rhythm?
  5. What did Galileo invent that is an instrument that measures air temperature?
  6. Name three other inventions that are credited to Galileo
  7. What did Galileo's bodies that float on water experiment reveal?
  8. What year did Galileo create his telescope?
  9. What was the name of Galileo's 1632 book?
  10. What church denomination accused Galileo of heresy?



geocentric theory
heliocentric theory
solar system


1503 - Leonardo da Vinci painted Mona Lisa
1508 - Michelangelo began painting the Sistine Chapel
1519 - Ferdinand Magellan set out to sail around the world
1543 - Nicolaus Copernicus published his theory of the sun being the center of the universe
1552 - Books about astronomy were burned in England being said to be associtaed with witchcraft
1564 - Galileo Galilei born, February 15
1564 - Shakespeare born on April 26
1597 - Galileo invented geometric and military compass
1607 - Jamestown, Virginia founded in America
1609 - Galileo improves the telescope
1611 - KJV King James Version of Bible printed
1620 - Pilgrims arrive at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts
1632 - Galileo writes "Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems"
1633 - Galileo charged with heresy by the Catholic church in Rome
1642 - Galileo died on January 8
1642 - Isaac Newton born on December 15
1992 - (That's right, 1992 - 350 years after Galileo died) The Catholic church officially admitted error in condemning Galileo



  1. Feb 15, 1564
  2. Pisa, Italy
  3. Aristotle
  4. The pendulum clock
  5. A thermometer
  6. Hydrostatic scale, pump and irrigation system, geometric and military compass, thermometer, telescope, microscope, pendulum clock (any three are acceptable).
  7. That objects floating on water are suspended because of their lighter weight, not because of their shape, as Aristotle had believed.
  8. 1609
  9. 1632, he published "Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems"
  10. The Catholic church

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