STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Birdology: Learning About Birds the Hands-On Way

At Growing with Science blog today, we are featuring a new middle grade book from Chicago Review Press, Birdology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds by Monica Russo and photographs by Kevin Byron.


Birdology gives an introduction to many aspects of bird biology, such as their anatomy and special characteristics, where to look for them, what they eat, bird migratory behavior, etc. In the final section it explores common careers that involve working with birds. Each section reveals information about a topic, such as feathers, and then provides suggestions for making observations and for appropriate hands-on activities to reinforce learning.

The author is very careful to point out that it is illegal to collect or possess feathers, nests or eggs of wild birds. All the activity suggestions keep this important consideration in mind.

As with other Chicago Review Press books for kids, Birdology is appropriate not only for older children to use on their own, but also for adults. Educators will be interested in the Teacher’s Guide and Resources in the back matter, and will also want a copy for ideas for quick projects that are appealing, well-designed, and that could work with multi-aged groups.

Stop by Growing with Science for an in-depth review, as well as more suggestions for activities and resources to accompany the book.

STEM Friday

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

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Explore Solids and Liquids!

Explore Solids and Liquids! With 25 Great ProjectsExploreSolidsAndLiquids_Cover
by Kathleen M. Reilly, illus. by Bryan Stone
96 pages, grades 2-4
Nomad Press, 2014



Why is water watery? Why are solids hard? Why does steam float?

These questions are ones you might hear from a seven-year-old, and this book has the answers. Explore Solids and Liquids! with 25 Great Projects brings basic chemistry into the classroom or kitchen and makes it accessible for kids in grades two through four, and for anyone else who needs a refresher course in the different stages of matter.

Explore Solids and Liquids even goes beyond the three stages—solid, liquid, gas—many of us know from science classes past. Have you ever experienced non-Newtonian liquids? You probably have, even if you didn’t know it at the time! Non-Newtonian liquids behave differently in different situations. For example, when you try to punch your fist into a bowl of non-Newtonian liquid, it feels like a solid and your hand doesn’t get very far. If you slide your hand in gently, you can easily reach the bottom of the bowl.ExploreSolidsAndLiquids_9781619302389

This happens because there’s not enough space between those atoms to separate quickly and flow around your fist. When you move more slowly, however, those atoms have the time to rearrange themselves and behave like liquid around your hand.

Have you ever heard of oobleck? This is an easy non-Newtonian fluid to make at home or at school. Start with a cup of water in a rimmed cookie sheet and add about 1½ to 2 cups of cornstarch until it’s thick and gooey. Do some experiments with pennies, marbles, string, food coloring, and your hands!

You can watch a video of people playing with a pool of non-Newtonian liquid—they even try to ride a bike on the stuff!

Enjoy learning about solids, liquids, gases, and everything in between
with Explore Solids and Liquids!


STEM Friday

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

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A Rock Can Be

rock can beA Rock Can Be
by Laura Purdie Salas; illus by Violeta Dabija
32 pages; ages 4-7
Millbrook Press, 2015

“A rock is a rock.
It’s sand, pebble, stone.
Each rock tells a story,
a tale all its own.”

I love Laura Purdie Salas’s “can be” series (Water Can Be, A Leaf Can Be) so I was excited to see a new book about rocks. What fun! A rock can be a mountain, a fountain, a skimmer, a trimmer.

What I like love about this book: Laura’s lyrical writing. The wonderful examples of what a rock can be. The invitation to go out and see for ourselves, to discover what else a rock can be.

I also love the back matter – four pages in which Salas explains how rocks are used to make fountains and play games, and how rocks are formed deep within the earth and erupt as lava. I love that there’s a glossary and further reading (including a Rock and Minerals guide). What fun!

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some beyond-the-book activities.

STEM Friday

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

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Leaflets three, let it be!

Leaflets Three Let It BeLeaflets Three, Let it Be! The story of poison ivy
by Anita Sanchez; illus. by Robin Brickman
32 pages; ages 4 – 8
Boyds Mills Press, 2015

You’ve heard the warning: leaflets three, let it be. Poison ivy! Who wants to come back from a walk in the woods all itchy and scratchy? But poison ivy doesn’t just grow in the woods. Around here, you can find it in people’s back yards, and growing along roadsides.

Poison ivy. Yuck! Who needs it? Lots of animals, writes Anita Sanchez. Like a rabbit in springtime. He’s thin and hungry, and there aren’t many plants growing yet. But poison ivy leaflets are tender and tasty. But rabbits aren’t the only ones who eat leaves.

In the summer, poison ivy flowers. Bees collect nectar to make honey and aphids suck plant juices. The petals fall off and fruit ripens for birds and squirrels. Are we the only ones bothered by the plant?

I love the way this book follows the plant through a yearful of seasons. I love the gorgeous art: painted paper (watercolors and acrylics) cut and shaped by hand. And I love the back matter where we learn what to do if we’ve come in contact with poison ivy and how to get rid of it in your back yard without harming animals and insects. There’s a cool “poison ivy look-alike” challenge (hint: not all plants that have three leaflets are poison ivy).

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for an interview with the author.


STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2015 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

Seashore Science Books for Kids

We have gone crazy featuring books about beaches all this week at Wrapped in Foil blog. Today we have suggestions for children’s books about the science of the seashore.

The seashore is a scientifically important and dynamic area. Perhaps that’s why we humans find beaches so fascinating. Even if you can’t take a trip to the beach on your own, you may explore the science of beaches through some great children’s books.




Take for example, Beachcombing : Exploring the Seashore by Jim Arnosky. The author takes the reader on a walk along a beach, finding many treasures including coconuts, sharks’ teeth, jellyfish, crabs and different kinds of shells.

See our entire list, plus links for more great beach reads at Wrapped in Foil blog.

Sue also recently reviewed another wonderful beach science title, High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs, here at STEM Friday.


STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2015 Roberta Gibson at Growing with Science All Rights Reserved.

Will and Wendy Build a Website with Digital Tools


Will and Wendy Build a Website with Digital Tools
by Darice Bailer (Author) and Sean O’Neill (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Will’s family is moving to Australia, and he’s worried he’ll miss his friends from his old class. But Wendy has an idea! They’ll build a class website so they can keep in touch. They’ll write news stories, add hyperlinks, and even upload photos. What news will Wendy and Will share?

Will and Wendy were ready to post news on the website. “Remember what Mrs. Gold told us,” Wendy reminded Will. “We shouldn’t write things on the Internet that aren’t safe for a stranger to read.

“No addresses or full names either,” agreed Will. “And Mrs. Gold or another adult should read what we write before we post it.”

STEM Friday

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

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Saturn Could Sail

Today at Wrapped in Foil we are putting a spotlight on Saturn Could Sail by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot, with illustrations by Pete Oswald and Aaron Spurgeon, a fun picture book in the Did You Know series that explores our solar system and beyond.



I have to admit the cover of this book caught my eye on the library shelf. Do you know what the title Saturn Could Sail refers to? It turns out Saturn is less dense than water and could float in it if one could find a container of water large enough. Given our experience has mostly been with our own rocky planet, which is much denser than water, the fact a something as huge as a planet could float is very surprising to think about.

This books is full of the kind of thought-provoking facts that a certain type of child is going to soak up like a sponge and then bring up every chance he or she gets, usually prefaced with the words, “Did you know…?”

With conversational-style text, humorous cartoon illustrations (both illustrators have worked on animated films), and a fascinating collection of up-to-date facts,  Saturn Could Sail is very appealing to children in general, but in particular it would be a good choice for reluctant readers.


STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2015 Roberta Gibson at Growing with Science All Rights Reserved.


You’ve heard the term mesmerized before, and you’ve likely heard of a blind study in medical research.  But do you know what these two terms have in common?  Benjamin Franklin!

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled all of France by Mara Rockliff. Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. 2015, Candlewick.

When Benjamin Franklin arrived in France seeking support for the American cause, Paris was all abuzz about recent advances in science. One man in particular was drawing much attention – Dr. Franz Mesmer.  Like the invisible gas that was recently proven to buoy giant passenger-carrying balloons when burned, Dr. Mesmer claimed that he, too, had discovered a powerful new invisible force.

Dr. Mesmer said this forced streamed from the stars and flowed into his wand.  When he stared into his patients’ eyes and waved the wand, things happened.

Women swooned.

Men sobbed.

Children fell down in fits.

Mesmer and his practitioners claimed to cure illnesses in this manner, but was is true?  Or was it quackery?  King Louis XVI wanted to know, and Benjamin Franklin was sent to find out.

Mesmerized is one of those wonderful books that combines science with history and humor.  Using the scientific method, Benjamin Franklin was able to deduce that Dr. Mesmer had indeed discovered something, but not the something he had claimed!

Delightfully humorous and informative illustrations, a section on the scientific method (Oh La La … La Science!). and a list of source books and articles make Mesmerized a triple-play – science, humor, and history.  Go ahead, read it. Be mesmerized.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2015 L Taylor  Shelf-employed All Rights Reserved.

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High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs

high tide 1High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs
by Lisa Kahn Schnell; illus by Alan Marks
40 pages; ages 3-7
Charlesbridge, 2015

I love this book beginning with the endpages – which are scientific illustrations (with labels) of the dorsal and ventral side of a horseshoe crab (plus pedipalp details).

And then the title page, where you see a horseshoe crab scuttling up a beach. And then…

“It’s starting. One spring night, the first horseshoe crab lunges onto shore.”
Then… “They’re arriving.”
Later, “They’re laying.”
Until, finished, “They’re leaving.”

Who are “they”? Horseshoe crabs. Gulls and other shorebirds. Researchers and citizen scientists who’ve come to tag and count the crabs. And they’re all converging on one beach in Delaware, on the day of high tide.

What I like about this book – besides the endpages and awesome illustrations – is the way author Lisa K. Schnell layers the story. You can see it on the page below:

HighTide 2

“They’re arriving.” Simple. Bold. Easy to read. Then a more detailed paragraph about how the crabs “crawl from the muck of their winter homes” and head toward Delaware Bay, where high tides will carry them far up the beach where their eggs will develop.

Another thing I love about this book is the back matter – and there’s a lot. One page tells more about horseshoe crabs; another goes into detail about how the blue blood of horseshoe crabs is used by the medical industry to test for harmful bacteria on needles, pacemakers, and even in vaccines. There’s a map, some resources for further investigation, and advice for where to find horseshoe crabs – and even how to get involved in crab counts.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some beyond-the-book activities and an interview with author Lisa K. Schnell.

STEM Friday

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

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Toad Weather

toad weatherToad Weather
by Sandra Markle; illus. by Thomas Gonzalez
32 pages; ages 4-8
Peachtree, 2015

OK, I’ll admit it… I chose this book by the cover. I mean, how can anyone resist those boots? Or a toad?

In the gloomy gray
of a March day
the spring rain keeps falling.

Ally wants to go outside but it’s wet out there. Umbrella and boot weather. But Mama has seen something important, so off they go, splish-splashing their way down the city sidewalks. There are reflections in the puddles, colors swirling on the water, and the sound of raindrops drumming on their slickers. And a surprise: a sign that says TOAD DETOUR.

It’s not March, but there’s still rain, and the toads in my neck of the woods are barely waking up.

What I like about this book are the sounds. There are lots of sounds. And rain. And TOADS! Everywhere! Hopping, plopping, trying to make their way to their pond. Which means crossing the road. Will people help them?

For hands-on beyond-the-book activities, head over to Sally’s Bookshelf.