Ajax Bigelow's Science Journal - Stuff

Ajax Bigelow's Science Journal - Stuff

by David Cochran

ISBN: 9781483557892

Publisher BookBaby

Published in Children's Books/Science, Nature & How It Works, Education & Teaching, Children & Teens (Young Adult), Children's Books

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Book Description

Ajax Bigelow really doesn’t like science, but his science teacher, Ms. Turri, is “making him” write a science journal about matter. He records the antics of his friends at Avogadro Middle School as they try to make sense of such topics as mass, density, atoms and molecules, states of matter, mixtures and compounds, and much more.

Stuff has a companion website ( filled with science information and middle school chatter. Teachers will like the discussion questions and concepts list, too!

Sample Chapter

One day I was in science class thinking about sitting on my couch playing my favorite video game Avengers of Centauri. I heard Ms. Turri talking about an assignment. Actually, I didn’t hear her until she said, “Isn’t that right, Andrew?”

“Sure, Ms. Turri,” I replied trying to look like I had heard her.

When she asked me to repeat the assignment, I said, “Yeah, we have to do this assignment and it’s due when you said it is.”

“Fighting space battles again, Andrew?” she said. How did she know that? I think she’s got some mysterious psychic power. For some reason, Ms. Turri likes kids to pay attention in her class. The assignment was to keep a science journal that shows what happened in class and what we learned in each of the lessons. She called our writing “reflections.” I think they are more like being zapped by a laser gun.

So here I am doing something I don’t want to do in a subject I don’t know much about. Science kind of freaks me out, so I’m not sure what I’m going to say to fill up the rest of this journal.

About My Family and Me

Ms. Turri says I have to tell you about myself first. I think my life is kind of boring, but I need a good grade on this journal, so here we go.

My name is Ajax. Well, not really. My official name is Andrew Jackson Bigelow, but everybody calls me Ajax. Please don’t call me Andrew like my mom and Ms. Turri do. Mom calls me that when she’s mad at me and Ms. Turri calls me Andrew all the time unless she’s calling me Mr. Bigelow. I know I’m in trouble when she uses my last name.

You can see where Ajax comes from if you look at my first and middle names—Andrew Jackson. My mom tells me that I was named after the seventh president of the United States. That’s pretty cool. My brother Sammy says, “Of course you were named after Andrew Jackson. If you were named before him, you would have been born before 1767!” Sammy’s a real pain.

My dad tells me I got the nickname Ajax from a cleaning powder. He says that I’m “stronger than dirt” like Ajax. Hmm…is that a compliment? Actually, I think my dad may have the true story of my official name. He says that he and my mom were at the ATM machine getting money one day before I was born. They couldn’t agree on my name, and then out popped five $20 bills with guess whose picture on them. Yes, Andrew Jackson! My dad said a big light bulb went off in his head and I got named. So no matter which story is true, I go by a nickname based on a very famous person…or a sink cleaner.

My brother, Sammy, is three years older than I am, which makes him 16. He likes to think he’s cool and can boss me around.

My mom’s name is Sarah Jane, and my dad’s name is George―George Washington Bigelow. Hmm…do you think this might explain my name?

I also have a very lazy dog named Fleaster. You can guess why he got his name. Chances are he’ll be scratching himself when you see him.

I’m not sure how much of this stuff I’m supposed to put in my journal, but I’m kind of medium height, five feet and one inch tall. My dad says I’ll have a growth spurt soon. I can’t wait for Sammy to stop calling me Shrimp. The last time I asked him not to call me Shrimp, he said, “Okay, leopard head.” Look who’s talking!

I have brown hair that gets brownish-blond in the summer, and I get freckles on my face, too. My mother calls the mole on my neck my beauty mark. Whoever thought moles make you beautiful?

I’m in eighth grade at Avogadro Middle School. Science is really big in my school. They named the school after a dead Italian dude who made up a law about how gases that are the same have the same number of molecules. He also had some huge number named after him, so I guess he was important. That’s way over my head. I’m not even sure what a molecule is.

Get this. Gadro, that’s what a lot of kids call this school, has the world’s weirdest mascot. We could be the lions, the warriors, or even the Gadro Gators. No, we’re the moles. That’s right, the Avogadro Moles―not the kind on my neck, but the mousey things that make tunnels underground. I asked Ms. Turri why they picked an animal that lives underground and eats worms for a mascot. She told me it was a science play on words. Huh? She said she would explain it at the right time, maybe on Mole Day. Mole Day? I can hardly wait!

This brings me to the point of this whole science thing… why should a Gadro Mole write a science journal? Simple. Ms. Turri gave us a choice. Do a science journal or else. I asked her what “or else” meant, just in case I wanted that choice. She didn’t think that was such a good idea and snarled at me like a Schnauzer. I hate it when teachers snarl, but for some reason, they snarl at me a lot. I thought about it a long time before I decided to do the journal. I didn’t want to say yes too fast and give Ms. Turri the impression that I’m a science geek.

So here I am, doing a science journal about what I call “stuff.” It would be great if I knew something about stuff, but I don’t. How bad is that! Oh well. I have to do it “or else,” and I don’t want to find out what “or else” is.

The good news is that Ms. Turri made a deal with us. She said we could write the journal any way we like. She said she‘d scan it to make sure we’re not just copying the Declaration of Independence, but we only have to show her a few parts so she knows we’re getting the science stuff right. Ms. Turri is cool about some stuff. Hey, that’s a play on words!

Journal 1

What’s Stuff?

Ms. Turri wants us to keep a journal on stuff. I think stuff is a cool word, because you can use it for a bunch of things and nobody is really sure what you’re talking about. I can say that a pillow is made of stuff or that I’m going to get my stuff and go to school. Stuff is always something or anything, but it’s never nothing. Everything is made of stuff. I learned that from Ms. Turri.

There are other cool words for stuff, like junk. But not all my stuff is junk. My collection of Hot Wheels that I’ve had since I was a little kid isn’t junk…just stuff.

If you want to sound fancy, you can call stuff a substance or material. Personally, I wouldn’t use those words to describe stuff. It sounds too dorky.

I found out that in science there is a word for all the stuff that things are made of. Ready for this? It’s called matter. Ms. Turri says that matter is anything that has mass and takes up space.

When we rescued Fleaster from the dog pound, they didn’t tell us he was made of matter, but he must be. He’s big, so he must have mass, and he always takes up the space where you want to sit on the couch.

Everything we see is made of matter. You name it-- trees, cars, cell phones, moles, rocks, pythons, you and me―everything. Here's the scary part. Matter takes any shape and size. Even invisible things are made of matter. The invisible mummy that I saw in that horror movie has mass and takes up space! Imagine air being made of matter. How can something have mass and take up space if you can’t see it? Beats me, but if stuff has mass and takes up space, that’s all that matters! Get it? I’m catching on to this play on words stuff….whoops, there I go again!

When I got home from school the other day, I yelled from the couch, “Hey Mom?”

“What’s the matter?” she replied.

“Anything with mass that takes up space, like Fleaster!”

Am I becoming a science whiz or what!


Excerpted from "Ajax Bigelow's Science Journal - Stuff" by David Cochran. Copyright © 2015 by David Cochran. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

David Cochran

David Cochran

David Cochran has been a teacher and writer for more years than he can count on his fingers and toes. He’s been an elementary and middle school teacher, middle school supervisor, K-12 math and science supervisor, high school vice principal, math, science, and technology director, adult school director, and college professor. He has published six books and hundreds of articles. He earned a BA and MA in Education from the College of NJ and an EdD from Rutgers University. He is the founding partner of Daval Publications LLC, which publishes Spigot Science and other science publications.

View full Profile of David Cochran

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