STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books



Wecome to STEM Friday, hosted by SimplyScience. Add your links in the comments to participate and read about all the great STEM books we’re reviewing. Today I have the one Roberta presented last week–that’s because it’s so good!

Build It

Invent New Structures and Contraptions

By Tanny Enz

Capstone, Fact Finders, 2012

ISBN # 9781429676359

Grades 3-6


“The world is full of wonderful, puzzling, everyday problems waiting to be solved. Inventing contraptions to solve those problems is what engineers do. But you don’t need to be an engineer to invent like one. Ask how you can solve them.”

Author and engineer Enz explains her interest in engineering and conveys her excitement about the subject. With the emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) today, it’s great to find a book that addresses engineering for readers under twelve. This book does just that!

Build It focuses on how engineers go about solving problems using six steps of inventing. It explains the process of problem solving from an engineering point of view and then goes on to show readers how to solve specific problems that might occur in their world. The two to three pages dedicated to each problem list the steps and show a photo of what each step involves to create the new invention. The projects range from building a newspaper fort to making a pet watering dish. The projects are presented in the problem solving process and the photos are numbers for ease of following the directions.  New vocabulary is defined on the page and in a glossary.

Each project also includes a sidebar telling about a success that came from a failed project, like how cereal flakes were discovered by the Kellogg brothers. The variety of projects will suit most readers and can be made with easily found materials. A few of the projects have steps that will require a minimum of adult help, but most of them can be done by the readers of this age. Back matter includes a glossary, read more, internet sites, and an index.

It’s good to see engineering defined and explained in a book for both girls and boys. It’s an excellent summer reading book but extends to the school year, as projects could be done in classes with groups. The relationship of math, science, and technology is evident and practical. What a great way to interest readers in STEM!


Try one of the activities from the book. Identify the problems and success you have. Then identify a problem you’d like to solve and use the 6 steps to help you solve it. Analyze what worked or didn’t work and show someone your ideas.

This excellent site has definitions, activities, and explanations about engineering.

This site has additional activities for kids.

National Science Standards: Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem; Developing; Possible Solutions; Optimizing the Design Solution

Book provided by Capstone Press

Here are today’s STEM titles.

Marina’s Tween Materials Blog  has The Hundred-Dollar Robber

Sue at Archimedes Notebook has A Luna Moth’s Life and Luna Moths.

Pam at Nomad Press has Robotics.

Roberta at Growing With Science has Night Life of the Yucca and many other books in honor of National Moth Week.

Amanda at tamarck writes has The Other Way to Listen.

Anastasia at Booktalking has Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls.


Author: Shirley Duke

Bio for Shirley Duke I am a children's writer, science content editor, and presenter. I taught science and ESL in elementary, middle school, and high school for twenty-five years and then began to write for children. I've written 34 books for the trade and educational market and 8 books for an individual. I've written freelance for publishers, book packagers, and individuals. This work includes books, magazines, Booklinks, tests, teacher guides, flashcards, workbooks, ghostwriting, my college alumni bulletin, and blogs. I began writing about fourteen years ago. My first book, No Bows!, was published in 2006. I have most recently been writing science books for the school and library markets. I also have done science content editing for Blue Door Publishing and Red Line Editorial. With Anastasia Suen, I wrote a book on STEM and the Commmon Core for ABC-Clio. It contains 44 lessons for librarians to incorporate more STEM subjects into their lessons while covering the Common Core standards. I also correlated the Next Generation Science Standards and Common core for Kingfisher's Basher series. Look for the Growing STEM column in LibrarySparks that Anastasia Suen and I write. I've spoken at schools, ALA, TLA, TSRA, ALA, NAEYC, universities, libraries, and book fairs and festivals. Visit my website at to see more about me. I also do a few library and school visits.

6 thoughts on “STEM FRIDAY: Build It

  1. over at Archimedes Notebook I’m featuring books on Luna Moths – for National Moth Week.

  2. Read about our newest title on Robotics at Nomad Press. Don’t miss the fun video at the bottom!

  3. In honor of National Moth Week, we are also celebrating moths and butterflies at Growing with Science

    Glad you enjoyed Build It, too.

  4. It’s more natural history than pure science, but it’s a good one… I wrote today about Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnell’s The Other Way to Listen on my blog Tamarack Writes.

    Thanks for the other rgeat links:)

  5. At Booktalking I’m sharing Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls (at my NEW blog location)