STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth

An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth
by Karlin Gray (Author) and Steliyana Doneva (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Feeling quite ordinary, a plain gray moth sadly compares itself to its more exotic kin, such as the Luna Moth, the Spider Moth, and the Hummingbird Moth. And the little moth feels even worse when a young girl sees it and says “Eww!” But things change when her brother explains that this particular type of moth is his favorite kind of insect. Maybe an ordinary moth is really extraordinary after all. Back matter includes fascinating moth facts, along with a special activity.

Snippet:

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

Copyright © 2018 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

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Spooked!

Spooked! How a Radio Broadcast and the War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America, by Gail Jarrow

144 pages; ages 10 – 12. Calkins Creek, 2018

Mischief night is October 30, the night before Halloween. It’s the night when older kids and teens head out to soap windows, TP trees, and other mischief. But on October 30, 1938, a radio theater company unwittingly perpetrated mischief on a national audience. They performed an updated production of H.G. Wells’s science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds.

The novel portrays a martian attack on Earth – unrealistic, right? And yet, people tuning in late heard breathless announcers read alerts of an invasion. Because they hadn’t heard the disclaimer at the beginning of the show, that this was an act of fiction, some people panicked. They piled in their cars and fled their homes. Others jammed phone lines, calling relatives for one last conversation. And some drove to the invasion site, hoping to get a look at the alien invaders.

How could people be so taken in by a radio show? It was the depths of the depression, Gail Jarrow writes. Hitler is rising to power, and his invasions of European countries have Americans anxious. So if a person turned on the radio after the introduction, they might believe that the “program interruptions” they heard were legitimate alerts about invasions on American soil.

Gail’s book connects history with science, technology, engineering, and math. Right now, she days, we live in a world where the technology – social media and the Internet – is way ahead of human behavior and culture. Back in 1938, that’s what was going on with radio. People got their entertainment and news from the radio. As she studied this event in history, she kept seeing parallels in the way people responded to a radio broadcast and the way people respond to social media now.

The biggest issue Gail saw is confirmation bias – that we tend to believe “news” that conforms to our ideology or politics. Not only is this a hazard when reading news presented on our social media, but it can also sway scientists, says Gail.

Hop over to Archimedes Notebook for an interview with Gail, and some beyond-the-book resources.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!

It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!
by Jody Jensen Shaffer (Author) and Claire Messer (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Today is the very first day of school! Busy Bus is excited, but he also has some first-day jitters. Will the children like him? Will he be homesick? What if he gets lost?! Luckily, bus driver Ben knows just what to do to make sure that the school year gets off to a great start. The bus driver’s work to get the bus ready (checking the tires, air, horn, etc.) adds a a STEM focus to this #backtoschool book.

Snippet:

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

Copyright © 2018 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


Spring After Spring ~ a story about Rachel Carson

I love reading stories about real people – especially when those people use science to solve problems. Here’s a new book about Rachel Carson: Spring After Spring, How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement, by Stephanie Roth Sisson (40 pages; ages 4-8. Roaring Brook Press, 2018).

It was dawn when the chorus began. cheerily! fee bee! jurit jeroo! Rachel didn’t want to miss a note.

Rachel Carson grew up surrounded by the sounds of nature. She paid attention to them season after season. So when spring sounded a little too quiet, she knew something was wrong. What was happening to the birds and insects who filled the air with song?

What I like LOVE about this book: I love that in the first few pages Stephanie R. Sisson has put the calls of birds and other creatures into speech bubbles. It’s fun, and helps me hear the symphony of music Rachel heard around her. There’s also a vertical illustration, so you have to hold the book a different way – which makes me take a closer look at the illustration and where the story is going.

I like the way Sisson portrays Rachel Carson – as a scientist who studied sea creatures but, when she noticed something was wrong, she used all her science skills to figure out what the problem was. She observed closely. She listened carefully. And she learned as much as she could by reading reports and articles – and then pulled the facts together into a narrative that explained how chemicals used to control insect pests were getting into the food chain and killing birds and other animals. The chemicals were making egg shells so thin that eagle eggs broke in the nest. And then Rachel did a brave thing. She wrote about it. She went to Congress and talked about it. Most of all, she inspired people to take better care of the earth.

I also like that there’s back matter. (but frequent readers already knew that!)

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for a review of Who Says Women Can’t be Computer Programmers? The Story of Ada Lovelace plus some hands-on activities.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Extreme Survivors ~ Animals that Time Forgot

Extreme Survivors, Animals the Time Forgot (How Nature Works series)

by Kimberly Ridley

48 pages; ages 10-13. Tilbury House, 2017

They’re prowling around the planet now … prehistoric beasts whose ancestors survived the catastrophes that wiped out the dinosaurs. Don’t look now, but one might be lurking in your backyard…

That’s an introduction that grabs your attention! Prehistoric beasts in the backyard? Absolutely. Also in the ocean, on the beach, sliming across a jungle floor. In the pages of this book, Kimberly Ridley introduces readers to ten creatures that have survived the centuries: the toothy goblin shark, the spiky tuatara, horseshoe crabs, tardigrades, and more. And she reveals their survival secrets.

Running throughout the book is a conversation about evolution – the gradual change in organisms over generations. Organisms that are better adapted to their environment tend to be preserved through later generations, Ridley explains. She provides examples of natural selection in action and discusses advantages of certain adaptations. Like the comb jellies that, more than 550 million years ago, were among the first animals to evolve skin and muscles. Even more important than having a primitive “brain”, these animals had an anus – so food could go in one end of their digestive system and be excreted out their rear end. This adaptation allowed digestive tracts to develop, further allowing evolution of larger animals. Pretty cool, huh!

Of course there is Back Matter! More info on extreme discoveries, and a couple of nicely illustrated timelines plus quick facts on every animal: how big it is, what it eats, what eats it, when it appeared on earth. And for kids who want to dive deeper into the topic, Ridley provides a list of books and websites.

Want to know more? Head over to Archimedes Notebook for an interview with Kimberly Ridley.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Pluto Is Peeved

Pluto Is Peeved: An Ex-planet Searches for Answers
by Jacqueline Jules (Author) and Dave Roman (Illustrator)

Today, August 24, is PLUTO DEMOTED day!

Booktalk: Pluto is peeved. And who can blame him? He was once considered one of the Solar System’s nine planets but was unceremoniously demoted. “Why do scientists think it is all right to change things?” is just one question Pluto asks as he roams the science museum in search of answers.

Snippet:

BONUS! Download the Readers’ Theater Script:

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

Copyright © 2018 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

 


The Monarchs are Missing

56 pages; ages 8-12. Millbrook Press, 2018

The Monarchs are Missing: A Butterfly Mystery, by Rebecca Hirsch

One of the things we used to do with our kids was tag monarch butterflies as they began their southbound journey. In our neck of the woods that means heading out to the hayfields with net and tags in the first weeks of September.

Rebecca Hirsch begins her book with kids in the field, capturing monarchs to tag for the Monarch Watch citizen science project. The monarch butterflies they tag will head south on a journey of nearly 3,000 miles from across the eastern US and Canada to Mexico. How they do that is a mystery. What’s not a mystery: that monarchs are in danger. Every hear fewer butterflies reach the forests in Mexico where they spend the winter.

Why are the monarchs disappearing? That’s what scientists want to know, so Hirsch profiles scientists in the field. We learn how field scientists count butterflies, and how human land use affects monarch populations. Habitat loss, climate change, parasites … these are just some of the issues that monarchs face. Fortunately, there are things people can do to make the world a better – and safer – place for monarch butterflies, from creating milkweed corridors to planting native flowers in our back yards.

Yay for back matter! Hirsch provides further reading, seed sources for butterfly plants, and plenty of ways kids (and adults) can get involved as citizen scientists.Want to get started watching monarchs? Check out her website here.

Check out more books about bugs at Archimedes Notebook.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.