STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Leave a comment

To the Stars!

to the starsTo the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space
by Carmella Van Vleet & Dr. Kathy Sullivan; illus. by Nicole Wong
40 pages; ages 5-8
Charlesbridge, 2016

Theme: science, space, exploration, women

“Kathy Sullivan loved to explore.”

When her father brings home blueprints of airplanes, she studies their lines and curves. She daydreamed about flying, and when people asked, she told them that when she grew up she wanted to see the whole world. And she did – becoming the first woman to walk in space.

What I like about this book: It portrays a little girl who wants to be an adventurer and see the world at a time when girls were expected to grow up to be mothers or teachers or nurses. I like the way that pairs of spreads alternate, showing Kathy as a girl and in the next spread as a grown woman facing the same questions and problems. For example: a wonderful illustration of her as a teenager in the cockpit, learning to pilot a plane. “There were so many dials and buttons and numbers.” The next spread shows Kathy as an astronaut studying another (much larger) instrument panel.

There is great back matter including a note from Kathy, additional biographical material, and “American Women Firsts in NASA History”.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some beyond-the-book activities.

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Site Meter Copyright © 2016 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

Edible Science

edible scienceEdible Science: Experiments You Can Eat
by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and Carol Tennant
80 pages; ages 8-12
National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015

Our kitchen has been a science lab ever since I started cooking. Think about it: every time you mix something up, bake it, stir-fry or whatever… you’re doing a science experiment. You’re mixing up chemicals and creating reactions.

This book is chock-full of experiments to try, and “science scoop” text-boxes that explain why things happen or don’t happen. Take the idea of chocolate-flavored gum. Ever tried eating a candy bar when you’re chewing gum? Gum, it turns out, is made of molecules that don’t mix well with water. That’s why you can chew it all day and it won’t dissolve. BUT, when you add chocolate, those chocolate molecules act as an emulsifier. They connect oil and water or, in this case, gum and water. When that happens, the gum starts breaking apart.

There are lots more things to try: making crystals, exploding seeds (popcorn), baking cookie pH indicators, making gels, and making slime. Cakes and cookies rise because of gas bubbles, so changing ingredients might make your cakes turn out flat. There’s a recipe for making yogurt – that means keeping a bacteria culture alive – and one for making “bug” brownies with toasted meal worms. In all, there are about 40 hands-on science experiments – and to clean up, all you do is eat them.

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Site Meter Copyright © 2016 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


ultimate reptileopedia

Ultimate Reptileopedia by Christina Wilsdon 272 pages; ages 7-10 National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015

How can you resist opening a book with the face of a Tokay gecko plastered on the cover? Once you open the book you’re swept into the world of reptiles ~ what makes them different from amphibians, basic stuff like scutes and scales, what they eat, what eats them…

There are four groups of reptiles: lizards and snakes; turtles and tortoises; crocs and alligators; and a funny little group called tuataras. Each two-page spread includes a detailed photo of a featured creature, a description about their life and behavior, a “facts” box and additional cool things to know. For example: did you know that there really are dragons? And there are lizards that look like worms?

The book ends with an interview with a herpetologist – that’s a scientist who studies reptiles – and a discussion about what you can do to help save reptiles from extinction.

sea turtle rescue

Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue by Karen Romano Young 112 pages; ages 10 & up National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015

I lucked out because National Geographic sent me two reptile books. This is one of the Mission: Animal Rescue series that focuses on saving animals in danger.  Habitat loss, hunting, and other human activities are threatening many animals – but this book points to ways children can help turtles and other animals. The thing is, learning about sea turtles means getting wet …  so the author takes us into the ocean to show us how they live and grow.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook to read more of the review and leave a comment to enter for a chance to win a copy of Sea Turtle Rescue.


Numbers in Nature

what-in-the-world 1What in the World? Numbers in Nature
by Nancy Raines Day; illus. by Kurt Cyrus
32 pages; ages 4-8
Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), 2015

What in the world comes one by one?
A nose. A mouth. The moon. The sun.

So begins this innovative counting book. From one to ten, in rhyming couplets, Nancy Day explores sets of things in nature: legs, arms, flowers. I love how she uses three parts of a bee’s body (head, thorax, abdomen) to invite readers to look more closely at insects. There’s another reference to insect legs (6) but when she gets to 8 it’s not spider legs she’s counting, but octopus limbs.

The language is soft, lyrical. The illustrations are warm, full of details that pull you into the scene. And on every page: What in the world comes grouped in ____? Until the end, when Day asks, “What comes in sets too big to count?”

This is a perfect book for engaging children in counting and observing the natural world around them. Why not head out on a counting walk? How many legs on a bird? How many wings? Where can you find five of something in the natural surroundings of your neighborhood?

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Site Meter Copyright © 2016 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

The Official ScratchJr Book

Because I’ve shown an interest in coding in the past, No Starch Press was kind enough to offer me a review copy of The Official ScratchJr Book by Marina Umaschi Bers and Mitchel Resnick. (2015)

Sadly, I don’t have an iPad or Android-based tablet, so I was unable to download the ScratchJr app to test it, but judging by the book and my experience with Scratch, I’m sure it’s a wonderful tool for inspiring creativity and logical thinking.

Here’s what I like about The Official ScratchJr. Book:

  • It targets a very young audience – ages 5 and up
  • It can be useful for parents and teachers and librarians – especially those who might find coding to be intimidating
  • Unlike the Hour of Code (which I love and have used as a resource for library programming), The Official ScratchJr Book focuses more on inspiring creativity than learning the nuts and bolts of logical thinking
  • The above statement notwithstanding, it still can be used to learn the nuts and bolts of simple coding and logical thinking

If at first there was a great rush to teach kids to code, there is now a push in the opposite direction. Just Google “Should kids learn to code?” and you will find a wealth of opinion on either side. Personally, I liken the “argument” to car repair.  In days gone by, many people knew how to do most repairs on their automobiles.  Now, cars’ systems are so intricate, that most people have trouble doing anything other than the simplest of repairs.  Most people have cars.  Should we know how to repair them?  No, I don’t think so.  There will also be a need for an auto mechanic. But, knowing how to change a flat tire sure comes in handy!  If working on cars appeals to you, become a mechanic.  The same is true of coding.  Give it a try.  If your kids are looking for a follow up to the Frozen Hour of Code project, “Code with Anna and Elsa,” The Official ScratchJr Book is probably a good place to start (if you have a tablet that can run the ScratchJr app).

I’m going to pass my copy along to my school district’s media specialist.  The kids have Chromebooks and should be able to make good use of it.

(See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed)

 Copyright © 2016 L.Taylor at Shelf-employed. All Rights Reserved.

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 141 other followers