Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build

Last updated Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Author: Bob Pflugfelder
Illustrator: Steve Hockensmith
Date of Publication: 2013
ISBN: 1594746486
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2016

Synopsis: Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble. When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin: 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more. Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.

Note to readers:
•  The book is long and you will not finish. Please try to read to Chapter 5. You do not have to read the science experiments between the chapters but point them out to the kids so they can try them later. During the first chapter you discover the children's parents are working in Uzbekistan and the children are in San Francisco to live with their uncle. Use a map in the classroom or on your phone to show them where these two places are.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you like Science Experiments or Inventing things?
•  What does "High -Voltage" mean and why is it dangerous? (high voltage means electrical energy at levels high enough to cause harm to humans and animals)
•  Do you know who Nicola Tesla was? (American inventor who invented our modern electrical system and built one of the first remote controlled vehicles.)


•  kinematics--the mechanics of how things move;
•  subdued--low spirited, sad, depressed;
•  scorched--burnt;
•  smirking--fake smiling;
•  demented--mad, unbalanced, insane;
•  cocked--tilted to the side;
•  adrenaline--a chemical substance released by the body when a person is excited or fearful which causes the heart to beat faster and provides more energy to the body

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why are science and scientific discoveries important? (science helps us in our daily life; science created our medicines, televisions and computers, cars etc....)
•  Do you think Nick and Tesla should use their uncles lab to make things?
•  What inventions would you like to create?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a picture of the invention you wish to create.
•  Make a paper rocket using paper and a straw.
•  See ideas or examples on Pinterest:

Special activities:
•  Conduct fun and easy science experiments with the kids with a few bring ahead items.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!