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Very impressive children's magazine with a strong emphasis on science.
Member Name: broxi3781
Date: 19/10/12, updated on 31/10/12 (482 review reads)
Advantages: Exceptionally high quality magaine that entertains as it educates and encourages children to think.
Disadvantages: Only available by subscription, not well known.
After a fair amount of time researching online - I came across mention of AQUILA billed as "the magazine for children who enjoy a challenge". A bit of research shows this magazine was originally developed for "gifted and talented children". In fact I have found one private school boasting that they use this magazine for their gifted and talented programme - and I could easily see designing a monthly curriculum around this. The company states that their current position is as follows : "we hope that AQUILA can inspire all children to reveal their brilliance". Personally, I believe all children are gifted and talented. It is simply a matter of helping them to discover their own unique gifts and talents. After reading this magazine myself and with my son - I do believe this magazine is an excellent resource to do just that.
My only problem with this magazine is that the price was £45 and I was concerned that if we didn't like it - I'd be out a fair amount of money. I had never senn an issue and didn't know anyone who had. They do offer a money back guarantee but I know it can take ages with some companies to get your money back. So cheeky git that I am - I emailed and asked them to send me a sample copy which I would review, and if I found the magazine appropriate to our needs I would subscribe.
When my sample copy arrived - my first thought was "This is a bit thin". It is fact only 24 pages. By comparison Nat Geo kids has 52 pages. Pulling a random copy off my shelf though I found 21 pages of advertising. then we have 4 pages of pull out posters - none of which would be of any interest to us, and overall far too much fluff. Once I started looking through the magazine - my initial appraisal was quickly cast aside. It may be only 24 pages, but there were no advertisements ( excpting a small offer in a box to refer a friend) - no page after page of pull out posters of fluffy animals - in fact there were no posters at all. Of the 24 pages, my son read and enjoyed every one except the letters to the editor, and a single page in this magazine had more text than the nine pages he read he Nat Geo Kids. There are illustrations - and some very nice ones at that - but there is a good balance between illustrations and text in this magazine. There are enough pictures to keep a younger child interested, but there is still plenty of in depth information in the text.
I recieved the Sept 2012 issue. The main articles in this issue were:
The disappearance of Large Animals: This article explored possible reasons for the extinction of most of the the very large mammals during the Pleistocene age. It does not give one single answer but explores many possibilities and encourages the reader to think for themselves.
It All Happened in the Trees: This article is about the evolution of mankind, pointing to how scientists believe many current features of humans stem from life in the trees. I don't agree with everything in this article, but I teach my children the prevailing scientific theories with the understanding that many people have different beliefs. But agree or disagree I really enjoyed this article in large part because it encourages children to think and question things. There is an interesting section on vision here, which led us off into many other subjects. We started by reading about how the position of an owls eyes give it the ability to judge distance better, but this led to a discussion of how different animals have different types of vision - which finally led to a a fairly large project we have started on dinosaurs, by examining different features such as placement of the eyes and using this feature to guess if the animal is a carnivore or herbivore. We also had a very long discussion on how the opposable thumb affected the development of humans - but why other animals with an opposable thumb have not developed in the same manner. This article was only two pages - but so far we spent hours reading discussing, and pursuing other activities.
Puzzles: This magazine has two pages of puzzles - all of which involve some sort of mental exercise. We enjoyed doing these together and I found them fun as well. My son liked the fossil match puzzle best while I felt a maths puzzle involving cubes was the best.
Things to make: This section has a lovely craft idea which we will be doing as soon as we gather the stones. Basically you heat small round stones in the oven and colour them with wax crayons for some really lovely results.
Stone Age People: This article describes several different types of humans. It mentions early settlements, use of tools, neolithic monuments and more. My son was especially interested in the cave art so we will be trying to reproduce some of the drawings on slabs of clay.
Word worm: This appears to be a monthly column The focus for this issue is an is article discussing the French language. My son especially enjoyed discovering which words were the same in French as in English so we are going to be working on a project of our own to find as many common words as possible between English and German.
Paws for Thought: Also appears to be a monthly column. This issue had an article on the Scottish Wild Cat.
Just Think: This article was my favourite. It asks if we have a choice and explores the concept of scientific determination. I think this was brilliantly written and encourages young children to think philosophically as well as scientifically. This led to another very long discussion. The result was that my son believes in a mild form of determination but is willing to convert and believe all behaviour is controlled by preset chemicals and electrical impulses if we are. Because according to this idea he should not get in trouble if he watches The Big Bang Theory or plays video games when he should be studying or does anything else he isn't meant to. After all it isn't his fault - it is scientific determination - whoa re we to argue with science?
Fun With Maths: Another monthly column this issue explains the history of counting, the base ten system and why we have the numbers eleven and twelve instead of one teen and two teen.
Fiction: I didn't expect much from this. My son is very picky with fiction, and for the most part finds short stories quite dull. I was pleasantly surprised though when he really enjoyed the two page story - Sharing the Good News of Mr Bones.
Overall - I really can't think of anything bad to say about this magazine. It is expensive - but I often complain about the lack of real quality in children's magazines. This is a small independent publication putting out a really first class product, and it does not have advertising to help defray expenses. Considering these facts, I find the price quite reasonable and hope that by subscribing I can help keep some a wonderful publication in print. Needless to say - I did subscribe. I can't wait for the next issue - the focus is one volcanoes and earthquakes.
In addition to the standard £45 for 12 issues - they also offer 4 issues at £20. There was an offer in the magazine to refer a friend a they could get 3 months for £10 - but I don't any other subscribers. They did allow me 3 months at £15 though which means I can but the full subscription after Christmas.
This magazine is recommended for ages 8 - 12. I would say the lower age limit is fair enough. My son is age 7 and quite enjoyed this, but the text is small and this is written on an adult reading level. He could read it, but it, we chose to read this together, and I feel he got more out of this magazine with all of our discussions as a shared activity. I would recommend this for children of his age, but not much younger. As to the upper limit though, I am in complete disagreement. I think this magazine would suit teenagers with an interest in science very well. I also could see subscribing to this magazine purely for my own reading pleasure if my children were grown. It has been a long time since I enjoyed a magazine so much. I'm afraid I can't stand the traditional women's magazines. There is more to life than makeup and romance stories. It's nice to find a magazine that encourages thought and leaves the reader feeling as if they have learned something - and I will never be too old to enjoy learning new things.
Summary: A truly unique magazine - well worth reading.