STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


Tetris

Tetris: The Games People Play
by Box Brown (Author / Illustrator)

Booktalk: Alexey Pajitnov had big ideas about games. In 1984, he created Tetris in his spare time while developing software for the Soviet government. Once Tetris emerged from behind the Iron Curtain, it was an instant hit. Nintendo, Atari, Sega game developers big and small all wanted Tetris. A bidding war was sparked, followed by clandestine trips to Moscow, backroom deals, innumerable miscommunications, and outright theft.

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

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


Beastly Brains

Beastly Brains

by Nancy Castaldo

160 pages; ages 12 & up

HMH, 2017

Do animals think? Solve problems? Do math? Understand the concept of fairness?

You bet, says Nancy Castaldo, and she offers up a wealth of examples shoeing how animals think, talk, and feel. In one chapter she describes and experiment in which scientists gave monkeys tokens that they could use to buy treats. The monkeys quickly learned to take advantage of “sales” (when they could get more than the usual item for the same cost). They also stole tokens from others.

Other scientists wanted to know whether dogs feel jealousy. So they tested pairs of dogs. One was asked to “shake” without any reward. Then another dog joined them and when it “shook” paws it was given a treat. Do you think the first dog kept giving her paw when asked to “shake”? No! She went on strike! Unfair!

Castaldo has filled this volume with stories that will amuse you, make you think, and maybe even inspire you to test your own pet’s intelligence. There is a wonderful section at the back (“Inquiring Minds Want to Know”) that outlines how you can do your own animal intelligence studies. There are also tons of other resources: places where your pets can get involved in studies, organizations that advocate for animals, videos and books, plus a glossary and source notes.

STEM Friday

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

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Gertrude B. Elion and Pharmacology

Gertrude B. Elion and Pharmacology
by Ellen Labrecque (Author)

Booktalk: A new book in the 21st Century Junior Library: Women Innovators series, this biography introduces young readers to a Nobel Prize winning scientist.

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

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


Mapping My Day

For Pi Day coming up next week, let’s take a look at the new nonfiction picture book Mapping My Day by Julie Dillemuth and illustrated by Laura Wood.

mappin-my-day

Mapping My Day introduces basic map concepts and vocabulary through a day in the life of a young girl named Flora. To start the day she wakes up to a lesson about cardinal directions, races to the bathroom while learning about map scale, and goes outside to use a treasure map full of landmarks. Wait until you hear what she does after breakfast.

The back matter includes a “Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals” with explanations of why mapping skills are so important and an extensive section explaining map concepts with suggestions for numerous activities. Activity pages are included.

We often underestimate the ability of young children to learn how to read and understand maps. That’s why a resource like Mapping My Day is so important. It helps educators teach mapping skills in an engaging and age-appropriate way.

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What does mapping have to do with math and Pi Day? Although often associated with geography, mapping is a way to present visual information that is useful in many STEM fields. Think of genome maps for genetics. Or, how about all the coordinates you learn about in geometry? Mapping is everywhere.

For more information and related activities, see our post at Growing With Science blog.

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

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Finding Wonders

Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science
by Jeannine Atkins (Author)

Booktalk: A novel in verse about three girls in three different time periods who grew up to become groundbreaking scientists.

Maria Merian was sure that caterpillars were not wicked things born from mud, as most people of her time believed. Through careful observation she discovered the truth about metamorphosis and documented her findings in gorgeous paintings of the life cycles of insects.

More than a century later, Mary Anning helped her father collect stone sea creatures from the cliffs in southwest England. To him they were merely a source of income, but to Mary they held a stronger fascination. Intrepid and patient, she eventually discovered fossils that would change people’s vision of the past.

Across the ocean, Maria Mitchell helped her mapmaker father in the whaling village of Nantucket. At night they explored the starry sky through his telescope. Maria longed to discover a new comet–and after years of studying the night sky, she finally did.

Snippet:
Rules:

If people catch you with creeping things or wild herbs,
they’ll think they’re for potions or poisons, Sara warns.

Maria tucks the pastry into a basket. She hates
how growing up means more rules instead of fewer.
She’s supposed to walk slower instead of faster,
look around less instead of more.


March is Women’s History Month

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

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


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Marie Curie for Kids

For Women’s History Month we have an amazing new middle grade book, Marie Curie for Kids: Her Life and Scientific Discoveries, with 21 Activities and Experiments by Amy M. O’Quinn.

marie-curie-for-kids

Right up front I have to say that I love Chicago Review Press books. They combine two of my favorite elements:  an in-depth biography and hands-on activities to reinforce learning. Those are a powerful combination on their own. Add that the title is about an outstanding woman scientist, and it is a must have.

Marie Curie was indeed a groundbreaking scientist. Some of her accomplishments include:

  • Studied radioactivity (she coined the term)
  • First woman to win a Nobel Prize
  • First person to win two Nobel Prizes
  • Only person to win Novel Prizes in two fields:  chemistry and physics

Author Amy M. O’Quinn delves deeply into Marie Curie’s life using many primary-source materials. I have read other biographies of Marie Curie, but this one has details I had not seen before. The author’s passion for her topic comes through clearly in her writing.

The 21 hands-on activities range from learning about Poland (Marie Curie’s birthplace) to chemistry and physics experiments, such as:

  • Build an atomic model
  • Make a compass with magnets
  • Explore Charles’s Law using soap clouds

Although Marie Curie for Kids is written for middle grade children, it has the depth to make it a wonderful resource for educators as well. Pick up a copy for Women’s History Month, STEM Friday, or just for fun and inspire a young reader today!

Find out more and see some related resources at Growing With Science blog.

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

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Caroline’s Comets

carolines-cometsCaroline’s Comets, a true story

by Emily Arnold McCully

40 pages; ages 6-10

Holiday House, 2017

In 1786, Caroline Herschel became the first woman to discover a comet. She was also the first woman to be paid for doing scientific research.

Weaving Caroline’s memoir and correspondence into the text, Emily McCully takes us into the life of an early astronomer.

Caroline’s father was the first to show her the stars; her mother taught her the practical skills she would need. But then, when she was 22 years old, her brother William invited her to join him in England. In addition to helping around the house, he needed some help recording his astronomy observations – and some help building a telescope.

So Caroline became his assistant inventor. She pounded and sifted dried horse manure so her brother could build a mold for making the mirror. Their first telescope magnified things 6,000 times. That might not seem like a lot these days, but back in the 1700s it was astronomic.

They discovered that the Milky way was made of stars. They discovered a new planet (Uranus). And then, as the King’s Astronomer, William began a sweep of the sky.Caroline discovered nebulae and star clusters and two new galaxies – and all the while she did needlework, kept William’s accounts, and cleaned all the equipment.

Then, December 21, 1786, Caroline discovered a comet. McCully fills the pages with wonder, discovery, and comets. She also includes great back matter with a timeline, glossary, and additional notes.

 

STEM Friday

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

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