STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


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This STEM Friday is for the Fishes

The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea

by Helaine Becker; illustrated by Willow Dawson

For ages 8 – 12; Kids Can Press, 2012

If you take this book with you to the ocean, you won’t be sitting under the beach umbrella reading it for long… because it has a whole lot of stuff that you just need to get up and do. And the really neat thing – you don’t even have to go to the ocean to do it!

This is a hands-on, let’s-find-out-how-the-ocean-works kind of book. There’s 80 pages of information, experiments, games and activities on everything from how much of the earth is water (75%) to how one stops an oil slick from spreading (rice chex maybe?). Want to know how a starfish’s tube feet work? That’s in there. Want to know how a jellyfish stinger works? That’s in there too.

There are hands-on explorations that help explain global warming impacts on the ocean: how warming can affect currents, and how ocean acidification affects coral reefs. You can create a tsunami in your bathtub, check out how oil spills affect bird feathers, and test what fishy shapes are best for swimming. And there’s a fun game that can really help you understand the population impacts from overfishing.

There are scads of sidebars, too: newsy bits that bring readers up to date on efforts to fight environmental hazards, risks to the ocean, and things kids can do. A great resource for kids who want to learn more about how oceans work.

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Rocks and Minerals at STEM Friday

Welcome to STEM Friday. Please leave your contribution in the comments. I’ll add the links throughout the day.

Roberta at Wrapped in Foil has Creep and Flutter: The Secret World of Insects and Spiders by Jim Arnosky.

Sue at Archimedes Notebook is  focusing on pollinators… think you can pollinate a flower as well as a bee can? Find bee-friendly activities here.

Rourke Educational Media is featuring the new books in their line, My Science Library, including The Night Sky, Skeletons and Exoskeletons, The Scoop About Measuring Matter, Let’s Investigate Light, Eating and the Digestive System, and The Amazing Facts About Sound.

I Can Prove It! Investigating Science Cover

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff, has a review of A Whale of a Tale, which is a new iPad app.

And Shirley at SimplyScience has

Rocks and Minerals

Rocks and Minerals

By Steve Tomecek

Illustrated by Kyle Poling

National Geographic Kids, 2010

ISBN #978-1426305382

Grades K-3

Nonfiction

“Rocks are all around us. Have you ever wondered where all these rocks came from? What are rocks made of? Here’s your chance to become a ‘rock star’ an discover the wonderful world of rocks.”

Rocks and Minerals is a terrific introduction to rocks, the rock cycle, and minerals. In a simple, fun way, Steve Tomecek, also known as  “The Dirtmeister,” explains rocks through the Earth’s formation and subsequent cooling, the building blocks of rocks called minerals, and the three groups of rocks and how they formed. Also included are examples of how people use rocks, erosion and sedimentation, and fossils embedded within rocks. The conclusion diagrams the rock cycle. The book ends with an easy to do experiment to show how conglomerate rocks are formed.

The illustrations are shown through the eyes of an unnamed cartoon figure that frolics about as a guide. This book would be a good read-aloud or one a reader might want to read on his or her own. The rocks depicted in the art are shown in large photos that are labeled and a pronunciation is given for the hard-to-say names. This good information would be an excellent way to begin a study of rocks and minerals.

Activity

Try the activity suggested in the book and make a conglomerate rock. Then use the same technique to make a sedimentary rock with a fossil inside. You may want to use a smaller cup for this activity.

Use the glue, but include several layers of sand, dirt, and other material with a different grain size (like powered clay, plaster of paris, or even salt) to make the different layers. Place a leaf or small object covered in petroleum jelly or small object between two of the layers. Let the rock dry and open it. Break it apart and see if you can find the fossil.

Another way to do this is to use plaster of paris for the fossil layer. Make the layers, but let the plaster layer dry. Cover the layer and fossil object with petroleum jelly, put the fossil object on top of the plaster layer, and add more plaster and layers. Let this dry and break it open.

Observe the fossil imprint. Then talk about which layer is the oldest and youngest. The bottom layer would be oldest.

National Science Standards: Earth’s material and system.

Book provided by publisher for Librarians’ Choices Review Committee.


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Philip Hoose Flies Again with Moonbird

Have you heard? Phillip Hoose has a wonderful new middle-grade book released in July, Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95. After winning the 2009 National Book Award with Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, he has gone in a new direction, but once again he has found a little-known main character whose story deserves to be told.

Who or what is “Moonbird?” The title refers to a tiny bird who has flown an estimated 350,000 miles – over the distance to the moon and halfway back – in his lifetime!

Moonbird is also known as B95 because that was the number he was banded with in South America in 1995. He is a male shorebird commonly called a red knot. He’s a member of the rufa subspecies, which migrates from the tip of South America all the way to the Arctic Circle and then back each year. Scientists have been spotting B95 during portions of his trip. The most recent sighting was in May of this year. If you do the math 2012-1995 (when he was first tagged) = an age of 17 years. That is impressive enough, but scientists estimate he was already a mature bird when he was first tagged, which means he was probably at least three years old. B95 is some 20 years old and still going strong.

It is tempting to tell you all the details about amazing B95, but we’re supposed to be reviewing the book. Phillip Hoose follows B95’s journey, starting with a trip to the tip of South America to visit the spot where B95 was first banded. He then moves to the critical stopover station in Delaware Bay, before traveling north to the birds’ breeding ground in the Arctic and then heading south again. To keep the reader oriented during all this moving about, the book contains numerous helpful maps. Also, at each stop Hoose meets and profiles dedicated scientists who study the birds. The final chapter addresses the issue of extinction, why you should care about these tiny birds, and, as you will find out, horseshoe crabs as well. He also brings the story back to young people and what they can do to help.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 is a must-read book for budding ornithologists and conservation biologists. Others who read it might just be inspired to take up a new hobby, birdwatching.

What our STEM Friday participants are sharing today:

Right in time for learning more about space exploration, Marina has Buzz Aldrin: Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin at Marina’s Tween Materials Blog.

Shirley found an interesting graphic format book Eggs, Legs, WINGS:  A Butterfly Life Cycle by Shannon Knudsen and illustrated by Simon Smith, featured at Simply Science Blog.

In a celebration of summer, Sue has A Butterfly’s Life by Ellen Lawrence, How do You Know It’s Summer by Ruth Owen, and Chipmunk’s Hole by Dee Phillips at Archimedes Notebook. These are sure to entice children outdoors.

Jeff has a fun and informative review of Volcanoes by Dr. Franklyn M. Branley and illustrated by Megan Lloyd at NC Teacher Stuff.

Ana has author Alexandra Siy today visiting her blog today. She has outstanding, award-winning books about science for children including Cars on Mars: Roving the RedPlanet.

Today’s host is Wrapped In Foil blog.

Join STEM Friday!

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  • Write about STEM each Friday on your blog.
  • Copy the STEM Friday button to use in your blog post.

STEM Friday

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

  • Link your post to the comments of our weekly STEM Friday Round-up. (Please use the link to your STEM Friday post, not the address of your blog. Thanks!)

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STEM Friday: Plagues, pox and pestilence

The Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize is the UK’s only award solely for books about science for children and young people. The books which have made this year’s shortlist are:

5 of the shortlisted books for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Award

The winner will be announced on 15 November 2012.

I’ve started reviewing them all (my review of the Usborne book, my review of the Dawkins book), and today it’s the turn of the most stomach churning one of the lot – Plagues, pox and pestilence by Richard Platt, illustrated by John Kelly.

Warning: If you’re of a nervous or squeamish disposition, you may wish to look away now.

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Ok. I did warn you!

Ebola, HIV, the Black Death, Leprosy, Malaria, Tuberculosis – you want a grim, deadly disease? This book has them by the bucketful. Hand wipes or a sick bowl? Unfortunately not, but don’t let this stop you picking up Plagues, pox and pestilence for it presents a truly fascinating history of some of the world’s most horrible diseases, what causes them and what we can do to stop the spread of them.

Readers are invited into the Pox Lab where Dr Scratch (a flea), Professor Ratticus (a rat) and Lab assistant Mozzy (a mosquito) guide us through a richly and entertainingly illustrated discussion of germs and how germs work and spread, introducing us to different protists, bacteria and viruses. Lots of case studies follow, each describing a certain disease, its known history and the scientists involved in the discovery of its causes, preventions and cures (where they exist). The irony of having three of the biggest spreaders of disease teach us about germs is just one of the fun aspects of this book which keeps it utterly readable, despite any stomach flips you may experience as you turn the pages.

Along the way you’ll learn why we don’t all die when there’s a pandemic, how flying corpses were used as germ warfare in the the 14th century, the benefits of catching tuberculosis (let’s just say, in a funny twist of fate, you won’t need to worry about catching leprosy) and what may have been behind the behaviour of the “witches” of Salem, Massachusetts in the 17th century.

This is a fascinating and fabulous book. The topic is utterly engaging in a slightly terrifying way, and whilst the book will score highly with readers who like a little bit of “grossness”, author Platt never veers into gratuity or scaremongering. It’s a stylish looking book, brilliantly designed and produced – it couldn’t look less like a textbook, packed as it is with amusing and detailed full-page cartoon images (supplemented with several photos). The book has been produced in association with London’s Science Museum, and the use throughout of Common Era dates, and the inclusion of a glossary and index all add up to create a very well thought-out, serious contender for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize.

Join STEM Friday!

We invite you to join us!

  • Write about STEM each Friday on your blog.
  • Copy the STEM Friday button to use in your blog post.

STEM Friday

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

  • Link your post to the comments of our weekly STEM Friday Round-up. (Please use the link to your STEM Friday post, not the address of your blog. Thanks!)

Site Meter Copyright © 2012 Zoe Toft All Rights Reserved.