STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

STEM Friday is Moving

I sent out an email post this morning to let you know about our move here to the NEW ad-free version of STEM Friday . . .

. . . and all that arrived in my email in-box were the ads – the reason that are moving in the first place. So I am trying again. We have new posts for you to read tomorrow. 

Please click here to subscribe to the new ad-free version of STEM Friday.


~ Anastasia Suen, STEM Friday Founder

Copyright © 2018 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


Diet for a Changing Climate

Have you seen Christy Mihaly and Sue Heavenrich’s wonderful new book, Diet for a Changing Planet:  Food for Thought?

We all know the food we eat can determine our health, but what about change the health of our planet? Mihaly and Heavenrich make a case that eating certain plants and animals — a few that are not normally on the menu — might do just that.

The authors start by revealing some of the plants we think of as weeds were brought to North America from Europe on purpose as food and/or herbal remedies. Dandelions and purslane, for example, are thought to have been been imported and grown intentionally before they escaped from gardens and were labeled as weeds. Perhaps it is time to turn back the clock. What could be more local than eating plants that grow readily in almost any yard? To entice the reader to try them, the authors offer recipes, such as for dandelion flower pancakes.

The next step is to consider eating some of the species that have become invasive, for example Asian carp or garlic mustard, which is a weed. They also suggest eating insects and other invertebrates as alternative protein sources.

The authors have thought this through because they offer plenty of cautions. For example, people who are allergic to shellfish may also be allergic to insects. Although kudsu is edible, the plant is a three-leaved vine that closely resembles and grows in the same locales as poison ivy. The ability to identify these plants and animals accurately is critical.

The book has a modern look sure to entice young people. The art director writes about decisions about the cover design on the Lerner blog might interest future artists. Inside a number of color stock photographs catch the eye.

Diet for a Changing Planet is definitely “Food for Thought.” Given that some young people think meals arise spontaneously and have trouble telling a turnip from a red onion in the grocery store (true story), the idea of foraging for food outdoors and preparing it themselves may be a hard sell. Even so, reading this book may plant some seeds of ideas that will come to fruition later on.

Curious about how the book came about? Check out Writing as a Team at GROG.

Original review and some activity suggestions at Growing with Science.


Meet my Family

Meet My Family! Animal babies and their families, by Laura Purdie Salas; illus. by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

32 pages; ages 5-9. Millbrook Press, 2018

“My parents both take care of me.”

Written from the point of view of animal babies, they introduce us to their families. The tundra swan cygnet lives with both mom and dad, while a raccoon kit has never met its father.

What I like love about this book: Large text on each page introduces the animal baby and its family. Smaller text adds detail about where they live (a den or nest), whether they have siblings, and how parents interact with the young. Wolves play, for example, while some frogs give their kids piggyback rides.

At the same time, facing pages highlight comparisons and contrasts. A foal is an only child, whereas piglets have lots of brothers and sisters. Beaver kits live in one place through their childhood, while orangutans move to a new nest each night.

Best of all ~ the large text, read by itself is a long, lyrical poem about animal families. Plus there’s back matter: a glossary of what animal babies are called in their home ranges, and a map showing where the 22 animal families live. And did I mention the awesome illustrations? I love that the cover resembles a family album.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for another review about animal dads, and hands-on activities.


STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

Bug Hotel

Bug Hotel
by Libby Walden (Author) and Clover Robin (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Welcome to the Bug Hotel, a homemade habitat where creepy crawlies of all shapes and sizes can find a place to stay!

Discover how a bug hotel can create a sustainable, safe environment for insects and minibeasts by exploring each section, lifting the flaps and finding out facts about your favorite garden insects.

Instructions for building your own bug hotel at the end of the book!


See the book trailer.

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

Copyright © 2018 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Just Like Us! Plants

Just Like Us! Plants, by Bridget Heos; illus. by David Clark

32 pages, ages 4-7. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2018

People think, talk, and walk around. Plants do none of these things. So how can they be anything like us?

Well, writes Bridget Heos, they can communicate with each other and wear sneaky disguises. And plants even wage war. In this addition to her “Just Like Us” series, she gives us an up-close look into the secret – and not so secret – lives of plants.

What I like about this book: On each spread we get to see one specific way in which plants are similar to people. One spread focuses on what plants eat, another on the importance of drinking water. There are a couple spreads that detail how young seeds are sent on their way – some by hitching a ride, others by air or sea. David Clark’s vibrant and humorous illustrations are fun and engaging.  A glossary and bibliography provide more for the curious kid.

Check out the hands-on fall plant activities over at Archimedes Notebook

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon

Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon
by Suzanne Slade (Author) and Thomas Gonzalez (Illustrator)

Booktalk: In 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced that the United States would try to land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. During the two thousand nine hundred and seventy-nine days following his speech, eighteen astronauts climbed into spaceships; three of them died before even leaving the ground. Eight rockets soared into space. And four hundred thousand people?engineers, technicians, scientists, mathematicians, and machinists?joined Project Apollo in hopes of making the dream a reality.

Illustrated free verse tells the true story of the American effort to land the first man on the Moon.

Determined to win this Space Race,
the Apollo team begins their herculean task:
designing, building, and testing four new crafts–
each with its own important role–
that must work flawlessly together.
The command module
will carry the crew to the Moon and back.
The service module
will provide electricity, oxygen, and other supplies.
The lunar module
will land on the Moon and provide a home there.
And the mighty Saturn rocket
must launch the entire mission into space.

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

Copyright © 2018 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Hawk Rising

Hawk Rising, by Maria Gianferrari; illus. by Brian Floca

40 pages; ages 4-8. Roaring Brook Press, 2018

Father Hawk stretches wide his wings. You stretch your arms as Mars rises red in the sky.

Dawn is breaking and hungry chicks are waiting for their breakfast. Father Hawk is on the hunt! But catching food is harder than we’d think – and there are other dangers facing hawks.

What I like about this book: The alternating viewpoint between the child (“you”) and the hawk. The reality of being a predator in a hawk-eat-rodent world. I love Brian Floca’s muted watercolor illustrations. I love the suspense: will the hawk nestlings get a meal?

And, of course I like that there is back matter. More details on the lives of red-tailed hawks: where they live, how they fly, what they eat (just about anything!) and tips on spotting a red-tailed hawk. Maria also includes suggestions for further reading as well as websites for learning more.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for another book review about desert animals and some STEAM activities.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

Ecosystems Everywhere

My new Focus on STEM column: Ecosystems Everywhere is in the September Quick Tips for Schools and Libraries newsletter.

Here’s a fun science fact for September. At 9:15 a.m. on September 30, 2004, in the ocean waters off the coast of the Ogasawara Islands, the giant squid, Architeuthis, was captured on camera for the very first time.

Click here to read Ecosystems Everywhere with eight #kidlit ecosystems books as well as Next Generation Science Standards Ecosystem activities for the classroom and library.

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

Copyright © 2018 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


Belle’s Journey

Belle’s Journey, An Osprey Takes Flight, by Rob Bierregaard; illustrated by Kate Garchinsky

122 pages; ages 7 – 10. Charlesbridge, 2018

The story of Belle begins with her parents, who return to their nest on Martha’s Vineyard in March (brrrr!), and the two scientists who are scouting for active nests. By the middle of July, the young ospreys are nearly as big as their parents and they’re stretching their wings. One day, while the birds are out hunting, Dr. B and his fellow researcher climb up and put a fish in the nest as bait. Then they cover the nest with wire mesh to trap the birds.

Success! They capture Belle, fit the backpack straps over her wings and sew the harness so the radio transmitter won’t fall off in flight. The transmitter will send signals so the scientists can track her migration.

So here’s the thing about a young osprey’s first migratory flight: they don’t have maps. Their parents have already gone, so there’s no flock to join. They may run into danger, such as hurricanes, eagles, or people who shoot at them. And the journey is long – three to four thousand miles.

What I like about this book: The story is written from Belle’s point of view. We see her adventures during migration through her eyes. Chapters about the scientists are written from a different point of view. I like the back matter that gives more information about ospreys, migration, and what to do if you find injured birds. There are also lots of resources.

And I love the illustrations! Full color spreads are soft and inviting. Sepia-colored vignettes give us quick glimpses into the lives of Belle and the children following her journey. There’s even a series of sketches illustrating how an osprey captures fish.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for more about ospreys and some cool links.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.