STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


Feathers: Not Just for Flying

Although Sue at Archimedes Notebook has already mentioned this title, Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen definitely deserves a second look.



Melissa Stewart has done a phenomenal job crafting the dual-level text. She relates the jobs that different types of bird feathers do to human-produced objects, making the ideas both concrete and memorable.

Sarah S. Brannen’s yummy watercolor illustrations look like you should be able to pluck them from the page. The scrapbook style is sure to inspire children to take up nature journalism.

Feathers: Not Just for Flying would be a perfect gift for budding ornithologists, as well as a must have for a unit on birds. At Growing with Science we have a more extensive review, information about feathers, and suggestions for activities to extend the book.

STEM Friday

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

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Abayomi, an orphaned puma cub

Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma

by Darcy Pattison; illus by Kitty Harvill

32 pages; ages 6-10

Mims House, 2014

 In October, 2012 a puma cub was born in Brazil. That’s not unusual because pumas, also known as mountain lions, range across North, Central and South America. They live in a variety of habitats, from desert to swamp to forest. This particular puma lived in a forested place close enough to a city that he could see the skyscrapers every day. But while he and his mom could see the city, nobody could see them. The pumas moved between forest and human habitation silently; unseen.

One night the mother, hunting for food, revisited a chicken coop she’d raided a few weeks earlier. But this time the farmer was ready for her – with a trap. Unfortunately, the mother was injured and died, leaving the cub to fend for himself until, a month later, scientists finally rescued him.

Hop over to Archimedes Notebook to read a brief interview with author Darcy Pattison.

STEM Friday

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

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Water Can Be…

Today we are introducing a new picture book Water Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija, the same ultra-talented pair who brought us the wonderful A Leaf Can Be…


With top-notch mixed-media illustrations and charming rhyming text, most readers probably wouldn’t recognize this title as a nonfiction book, let alone a STEM book. However, it can be used to learn about the seasons, weather, the importance of water to living things, even life cycles.

Water Can Be… is perfect to accompany World Water Day (March 22, 2014) as well, because Laura Purdie Salas has pledged to donate 10% of proceeds of sales of this book to, an organization that helps bring clean water and improved sanitation to areas that lack it.

Want to learn more? See a complete review of the book with video trailer at Wrapped in Foil, and suggested science activities to accompany it at Growing with Science.

STEM Friday

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

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A year in the life of a Beaver

BeaversBusyNatural historian Mary Holland takes us into the lives of beavers through a year of seasons. We learn about their teeth – and how they use them to gnaw down trees for their building projects. We learn about their special see-through goggly eyes and their strong webbed feet. We see them get ready for winter and emerge with kits in the spring. And we even learn the secrets of how beavers get wood splinters out from between their teeth.

There’s plenty of additional material for curious naturalists. Holland includes a section about “beaver signs”. Just because you don’t see beavers doesn’t mean they aren’t there, she says. You might find bite marks or tracks or other signs that they’ve been about. She also has a section about beavers as “habitat engineers” and gives a closer look at how they build their dams. And though some people think of them as pests, beavers play a role as a “keystone species” in an ecosystem.

STEM Friday

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

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Explore Forest Habitats

about forestsAbout Habitats: Forests

By Cathryn Sill; illus by John Sill

48 pages; ages 3-7

Peachtree publishers, 2014

The latest addition to the About Habitat series highlights the diversity of the forest biome. As with previous books, each spread introduces one concept in simple language and eloquent illustrations. Each illustration focuses on a particular type of forest –  deciduous, rainforest, dry forest, boreal forest, or cloud forest – and highlights animals, birds, plants or fungi that live in those forests.

For example, Sill introduces the idea of plants and trees growing in layers. The illustrations of a tropical rainforest shows the forest floor, the understory, and the canopy. Sills shows the seasons of a forest, how animals use the trees and plants for food, and how people use forest products that include everything from paper to medicine and chocolate.

One of the things I love about these books is the yummy back matter: six pages of detailed notes about each illustration, a glossary, websites and books. There’s a handy map at the front, too, showing the major forest areas of the world.

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A Great Day for Pup: iPad app

A Great Day for Pup
written by Bonnie Worth
2014 (Oceanhouse Media)
iPad app

Dick, Sally, and the Cat in the Hat travel the globe in the Super-de-Duper Wild Animal Greeter to learn about animal babies in this new iPad app. The first stop is Australia where a mother kangaroo is taking care of her joey. Only the size of a kidney bean at birth, the joey soon grows into a jumping bundle of energy. Next we learn that ostrich parents take shifts in watching over the nest. Dad watches at night while Mom has the day shift. Dad also shoos away predators like the warthog. If you don’t know the word predator, no need to worry as this app highlights important words and provides the definition at your touch. In a different location, mother croc is also looking out for predators and forgoing eating to keep watch. Traveling next to Asia, our intrepid trio finds a panda mother in a cave cuddling her blind and almost hairless baby. Starting on milk, in seven months this panda cub will be eating a lot of bamboo. Tiger cubs live in a brood and rely on their mother’s hunting abilities to bring them food. Swatting their mom’s tail is one way to begin learning how to hunt. The next continent on this itinerary is Africa where a troop of gorillas is found. Moms check fur for bugs and build nests for the young ones to rest when they tire out. Perhaps the coolest fact I learned from this app was that a group of very young giraffes is called a kindergarten. I wonder how snack time works there?  Other climates briefly visited include Antarctica and the Arctic.

Young readers will enjoy many aspects of this app including authentic animal noises and the rhyming of the text.The big science takeaway  is in learning the names of these animal babies and a fact or two about their life growing up. If you have a primary student working on writing a nonfiction text, there are plenty of details for them to glean from A Great Day for Pup. The best part of learning about these babies? No diapers were changed in the reading of this app.

A Great Book for Pi Day

bedtime math 2 Laura Overdeck has a new book out about math this week – and just in time for Pi Day. Like her earlier book, this one is filled with fun math puzzles for kids of all ages, from wee ones (2 – 3 years old) to early elementary grades. Plus something new: Laura’s added a BONUS – a problem that requires two or more steps to solve.

What’s missing, though, is anything Pi-related. There’s not the skinniest sliver of Pi in her book. That’s because Pi is a more complex concept, says Laura. She’s aligned this book with the Common Core – especially useful for the parents at home – and Pi comes at later grades, she says. But that’s OK – there’s plenty of Pi-jinks over at Archimedes Notebook  plus a brief interview with Laura about her book and her new nation-wide math club, with links to everything.


STEM Friday

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

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