Literature Connections to
Paper Towel Testing

Teacher's Guides > Paper Towel Testing

The books listed relate to the ideas of controlling variables, definition of terms, advertising, and issues of the “best buy” all in the context of fun and imaginative stories. We found more books than we initially expected, which is probably an indication that there are many more strong connections out there. Let us hear from you!

Better Mousetraps: Product Improvements That Led to Success
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Einstein Anderson Sees Through the Invisible Man
Einstein Anderson Tells a Comet’s Tale
June 29, 1999
The Search for Delicious
The Toothpaste Millionaire

 

Better Mousetraps:
Product Improvements That Led to Success
by Nathan Aaseng
Lerner Publications, Minneapolis. 1990
Grades: 5–10
The book’s focus is on “improvers, refiners, and polishers” and not on pioneers or trailblazers. To dramatize the results of safety testing, Elisha Otis set up an elevator at a big exposition in New York and had an assistant intentionally cut the cable with Otis aboard! The safety device brought the elevator to a halt in midfall. Getting heavy machinery to travel over muddy ground was the challenge faced by Caterpillar Tractor Company—what was learned in product development was applied to tank technology in World War I. The chapter on Eastman Kodak introduces the concept of a brand name, showing how Eastman promoted the names “Kodak” and “Brownie.”
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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl; illustrated by Joseph Schindelman
Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 1964
Penguin Books, New York. 1988
Grades: 4–8
Five lucky children find golden tickets wrapped in their candy bars that allows them into the chocolate factory where the candy made is the “best in the world.” Television commercials could be discussed as part of the hypnotizing potential of TV described in the song of the Oompa-Loompas. Advertising, consumer appeal, and technology are merged in wonky ideas such as lickable wallpaper for nurseries, cows that give chocolate milk, and stickjaw candy for talkative parents. Mention is also made of Vitamin C (Supervitamin Candy) and color (rainbow drop candies that allow you to spit in six different colors).
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Einstein Anderson Sees Through the Invisible Man
by Seymour Simon; illustrated by Fred Winkowski
Viking Press, New York. 1983
Grades: 4–7
In “The Huck Finn Raft Race” a class competition to build a raft involves taking into account controlling variables such as the weight of the passengers. This book also contains strong connections to other subjects, such as “The Allergic Monster” (GEMS guide: Convection: A Current Event), “Thinking Power” (Science Themes: Matter and Energy), and “A Cold Night” about fireflies and luminescence (Science Theme: Energy).
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Einstein Anderson Tells a Comet’s Tale
by Seymour Simon; illustrated by Fred Winkowski
Viking Press, New York. 1981
Grades: 4–7
Chapter 10 describes a soapbox derby race in which both teams have to build soapbox racing cars that weigh the same amount and are started in the same way. Our hero identifies the one test variable that allows his team to win the race. Just as students create a ”fair test” of the paper towel brands, Einstein Anderson explains how the rules of the soapbox derby create a fair test of the student racers. They must be the same weight and have the same push. You could discuss with your students questions like: “How could you change the rules to be an even fairer test of the wheel size—of the streamlined shape—of the kids’ driving abilities?”
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June 29, 1999
by David Wiesner
Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin, New York. 1992
Grades: 3–6
The science project of Holly Evans takes an extraordinary turn—or does it? This highly imaginative and humorous book has a central experimental component, and conveys the sense of unexpected results.
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The Search for Delicious
by Natalie Babbitt
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York. 1969
Grades: 3–7
After an argument between the king and queen over the meaning of the word “delicious,” the quest for its meaning begins. Everyone has a different personal definition of delicious and war looms. In the paper towel tests, students grapple with the meaning of such words as “absorbency” and “wet strength.”
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The Toothpaste Millionaire
by Jean Merrill; illustrated by Jan Palmer
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1972
Grades: 5–8
Incensed by the price of a tube of toothpaste, twelve-year-old Rufus tries making his own from bicarbonate of soda with peppermint or vanilla flavoring. Assisted by his friend Kate and his math class (which becomes known as Toothpaste 1), his company grows from a laundry room operation to a corporation with stocks and bank loans. Many opportunities for estimations and calculations are presented including cubic inches, a gross of toothpaste tubes bought at auction, manufacturing expenses, and profits. Your students may have trouble believing that 79 cents could be considered an outrageous price for toothpaste, and maybe that could lead to a discussion of inflation. A price war erupts between “Sparkle,” “Dazzle,” “Brite,” and Rufus’s noncommercial “Toothpaste.” This ties in nicely with Session 4 of the GEMS guide in which students calculate which brand of paper towel is the best buy.
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— Sophocles
Trachiniae


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Science is organized knowledge.


— Herbert Spencer
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