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Phineas L. MacGuire ERUPTS! : The First Experiment

 Phineas L. MacGuir ERUPTS!: The First Experiment .  Dowell, Frances O Roark; Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006

Grades 3-5

1-4169-0195-7 @ $15.95


Blanket Permission to Reproduce Book Jackets: Preferred wording, "Used by permission of the publisher."


Synopsis:   Phineas L. MacGuire (aka Mac) is a scientist in the fourth grade.  Science is the mainstay of his being.  Now that the fourth grade science fair is around the corner, how will Mac deal with being paired with the new kid in class since his best friend and scientific partner moved away the second week of school?  You’ll find more than one eruption as you read about friends, experiments, and even a couple of super heroes.

General Review:  

It’s bad enough that Mac’s best friend, and scientific partner, moved away after the second week of school, but now another Mac has moved into to Mrs. Tuttle’s classroom, Mac R., who has not made a very impressive first impression.  And since Marcus moved away, who will Mac be partners with in the fourth grade science fair.  You’re right, the two Macs will have to work together.   Mac wants to do experiments with mold, but Mac R wants to do volcanoes.  And what about those first impressions?  Can you ever change a first impression?  Join Mac and Mac R as they use sound scientific reasons to overcome some fourth grade hurdles. Be sure to visit Mac’s Science Experiments Journal at the end of the book for some scientific adventures of your own.

Theme: Schools; Science- experiments; Friendship

Author Information:

Discussion Questions:   (Standard 3, Benchmark 3)


  • Why do you think that Mrs. Tuttle put Mac and Mac R as partners for the Fourth Grade Science Fair?
  • What evidence does Aretha observe that makes her suspicious of Ben?
  • Compare the relationship between Mac and Mac R., then compare the relationship between Mac and Ben.  What changes do you see?
  • How would you improve Mac and Ben’s chances of winning the science fair?
  • Why do you think that Ben (aka Mac R.) chose to make such an obnoxious first impression?



  • Use a Venn diagram to compare Mac and Mac R at the beginning of the novel.  Then use another Venn diagram to compare Mac and Ben at the end of the novel.  What changes do you see?  (Reading:  Standard 1, Benchmark 3)
  • Ben enjoyed making his comic books.  Put together a short comic book about your first week of school (or a summer vacation, or a memorable event in your life.  (Writing:  Standard 1, Benchmark 1)
  • Make a baking soda and vinegar eruption and make a baking soda and lemon juice eruption.  See details at the end of the book.  Compare the results of each eruption.  (Reading:  Standard 1, Benchmark 3)  (Science:  Standard 2, Benchmark 1)
  • Visit or to learn more about volcanoes.  (Science:  Standard 4, Benchmark 1)

Other books by this author:

Dovey Coe

The Secret Language of Girls

Where I’d Like to Be

Chicken Boy

Shooting the Moon

Phineas L. MacGuire…Gets Slimed!

Similar Books for Further Reading:

Star Jumper:  Journal of a Cardboard Genius - Frank Asch

Gravity Buster:  Journal #2 of a Cardboard Genius - Frank Asch

Moldy Mystery - Michelle Krudsen

It Came From Beneath the Bed - James Howe

Jake Drake, Know-It-All - Andrew Clements

Amber Brown Goes Fourth - Paula Danziger