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We still have a subscription to National Geographic Kids - but we have been looking for magazines better suited to my son's personal interests. he loves science, so when we got a card in our last NG Kids magazine to try an exciting new science magazine for children at a special price of only £1 for 3 issues I decided to give it a try. The magazine is meant to be for ages 8 and up, but my son will be 8 in a few months and he usually reads material aimed at older children.
Like most magazines nowadays, this one is expensive. The 3 months for £1 offer is still going and all you need to do is click on their website to use it. After that though, six month subscription will set you back £17.95 or roughly £2.99 per issue. A 13 month subscription is available for £41 which works out to £3.15 per issue, which I found odd. I would expected them to give you a better deal on a longer subscription. Single issues can be found in news agents at £3.95 each.
So my first question is - Is this magazine good value for money? I believe it is. I have to admit this magazine has really impressed me - but I am not at all certain it is for children. It will appeal to some children without a doubt, and my sons have enjoyed this, but I believe it will appeal just as much to adults. Having searched the website carefully, I cannot find any reference to the age of the target audience. I would assume by the website that this magazine was intended for adults. I would recommend this magazine to anyone who still loves science and learning new things regardless of their age. I certainly do want to continue our subscription, but I will freely admit this will be every bit as much for me as for the children.
In trying to determine the age level this is meant to be for - first I looked at the articles. There are some that seem to be there more to appeal to children, some for adults and more that could be for either children or adults. I felt that the in depth information on the workings of an Apple I-phone, the software of the Internet, hand writing recognition technology, How the acoustics work in the Sidney Opera House, Inside the Forbidden City and state of the arts human machine interface in new cars would appeal more to adults, but I can see some children would enjoy this as well.
On the other hand, articles like the one on Stegosaurus, How refrigerators work, Galileo, The Life of Frogs, White Blood Cells and fresh water sharks seem to be placed there more for the benefit of children - but I have to admit I enjoyed them as well. My sons favourite section was extreme weather which shows, among many other things a fire tornado. This will certainly appeal to children, but before reading this I would not have been able to tell you what the difference is between a cyclone a hurricane and a typhoon, and I certainly did not know what a haboob was.
The articles on space seem to be written from a very advanced perspective, but appealed to the children as well. The pictures are beautiful and there is really a wealth of information. Questions like "If we poured a giant bucket of water on a star could we extinguish it" are clearly for children, but the physics involved in terrestrial orbits is aimed at adults - I hope. I sincerely hope the average child does not have a better grasp on these things than I do. Does everyone else know what a perigree and an apogee are? I certainly did not and even after reading the article statements like this are take a minute for me to grasp:
"An equilibrium is achieved because the Moon isn't going fast enough at its apogee or slow enough at its perigree to maintain an equidistant orbit". Once I think about this I can grasp it - but if this is average reading for an 8 year old - I must be a complete imbecile.
The article on Soviet Migs was likely included more to interest children, but I loved it as well. What I wouldn't give to fly in one of those machines! As to how exactly the Internet works - that has to appeal to all ages. The world's lightest material is another one I expect is aimed at adults - again I hope so. I don't want to think I am that thick. I'm afraid I didn't understand this caption on a picture at all before reading the whole article: "The aerographite is created by coating the tetrapod skeleton with a graphite only a few atoms thick in a chemical vapour deposition reactor." Please don't laugh but my first thought was they had some type of microscopic 4 legged creature's skeletons.
But the remarkable thing is - after reading the articles - I honestly can understand what the author is talking about - and it all makes perfect sense. This is complex science explained in such a way that even children can access it. Granted, there are some articles I feel are a bit too long and complicated for my children, so I read them carefully and summarise. I do feel that this magazine would best suit children of at least ages 10+, rather than 8+, if you expect a child to be able to read this cover to cover. But there is still enough material suitable for an 8 year old to read on their own to make this worth buying - even if it means they will be skipping some of the more difficult articles. As I am quite happy for us to read this together, I feel it as an excellent choice for a magazine the whole family can enjoy. Even my four year old can enjoy looking at the pictures while I tell him a few short facts about each item - but I won't try explain that whole aerographite thing to him.
This is primarily a science magazine, but it does incorporate history as well. As a home educator, I feel this is a wonderful resource to add to our curriculum, but more importantly, this is a magazine that is really enjoyable to read. It is very clear that this is a science magazine - not an entertainment one - they don't try to do too many things. But they have taken educational material and made it fascinating - so that you want to know more, and this I found the magazine far more entertaining than any of the ones that are meant to be just for fun. This is the type of publication to make children want to read and to learn - and adults too. I have no hesitation recommending this for every family - even ones who don't like science. I especially like this magazine because it has so much boy appeal. It's a lot more difficult to find books and magazines that really interest boys, but boys are always wanting to know how things work. Seeing the insides of a Mig fighter, learning how a lightbulb works, even why a bee sting hurts - that all appeals to boys. At only £1 for 3 issues it is certainly worth a try and you may find that science is a lot more fun than it was in school.
In an attempt to make myself feel better, that this magazine really was for adults too, I also spent a lot of time looking at the adverts contained in it - to see if they were meant to appeal to adults or children. There is a mix. Nature books and airfix models clearly appeal to children, high specs gaming computers, most likely to adults. The course on physiology is for adults - as is the ad to consider teaching as a career. One ad is for something called a CNC machine and I still haven't a clue what it is but it has a computer screen a cutting thing which cuts steel, plastic wood and more and likely costs more than my yearly income. I don't think many children will be buying one, so this confirms my idea that this magazine is intended for a very wide range of ages. But while I am speaking of ads, there are not too many, nor are they intrusive. A couple of large ones at the beginning and end of the magazine and a few scattered throughout but I certainly do not feel like I am paying for more ads than content. This magazine has 100 pages. I'm guessing roughly 20 pages of ads plus 2 pages that I am not certain if should be classed as advertisement or just new gadgets. This still leaves us nearly 80 pages of content - which I feel is quite fair for £3. an issue, or even full price at the newsstand of £3.95.