STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Water is Water

Looking for a great book to explain the water cycle to children? Try Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin. It is a beautiful picture book that relates the water cycle to familiar objects and activities.


water is water

Miranda Paul’s spare but engaging story arc goes from familiar (getting a glass of water) to less familiar (forms of water/weather) and then returns to drinking water again (familiar).

Award-winning author and illustrator Jason Chin’s paintings of children doing everyday activities help bring the young reader in, as well.

A two page spread in the backmatter helps children learn “More About Water.” In this case, the pages explain the vocabulary of the water cycle, from evaporation to seepage.

Pick up a copy of Water is Water to share with children ready to learn the basics of the water cycle. Perfect for young readers who prefer their nonfiction to look and sound like fiction.

Sue reviewed this wonderful book back in June.

At Growing with Science we are featuring three books about water nominated for Cybils Awards in 2015, including Water is Water.

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.

National Geographic Puzzle Explorer

National Geographic Puzzle Explorer
created by Fingerprint Digital Inc.
Part of the app is free; $2.99 for the rest of the app

According to the website MineMum, a sandbox game is one where players create a game themselves by manipulating the world within it.

National Geographic’s Puzzle Explorer is a new app where players can create mazes in different geographic settings. You can download it here. My daughter and I created mazes and played on already built mazes in the Yucatan Peninsula and Antarctica. I will warn you that this is addictive. In Antarctica, the goal is to collect three cameras located in different places in the maze. You travel across ice blocks (see below). The tricky part is not all of the maze is connected. Players have to manipulate blocks of ice and giant snowballs to create new pieces of the maze that can be crossed. Each camera contains informational text with a photograph background. When you have collected the cameras, you win the game.

Using this app was a lot of fun! You have to really think to develop a strategy to meet your goal. I like the combination of informational text and game-playing. Mazes can be shared between players which brings a social aspect to the game. Try out the free version and if you like it, you can complete your app for $2.99 with settings for the Himalayas, the Nile River Valley, and the Australian Outback. If your child/student is going to have screen time, give them something that will make them think and create. As they are creating, players will be learning facts about each of these places in the world. This makes the app a way to introduce these geographic locations. Speaking of geography, you could also use this app to talk about land forms. I think this app would be good for ages 6-12.

Early Readers from National Geographic Kids

Hoot owlHoot, Owl!
by Shelby Alinsky
24 pages, ages 2-5
level: pre-reader

Over at Archimedes Notebook I’m reviewing a trio of early readers from National Geographic Kids. This is one of the early leveled readers, intended for preschoolers. Instead of a table of contents, the first page has a “vocabulary tree”.  It reminds me of a classification, but in this case it’s a list of words beginning with: animals. Under that: Snowy Owls. Then on one side a list with words related to Where they Live (snow, cold) and on the other side, What they Do (swoop, glide).

The easy-to-read text is accompanied by high-quality photographs. The last page in the pre-readers is devoted to an activity: pretending you’re the featured animal and moving the way it moves, matching words to photos, drawing…

Hop over to Archimedes Notebook to check out Red Pandas and Ugly Animals.

Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects

At Wrapped in Foil this week, we are featuring picture book biographies. For STEM Friday let’s take a look at Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith and illustrated by Giuliano Ferri, which delves deeply into the life of one of the first naturalists who explored the insect world with a scientific eye and at the same time wrote with the goal of sharing his insights not only with colleagues, but also with essays written for regular people.



Rather than following strict chronological order, Smith starts out by creating an air of mystery around the eccentric old man who lives in a small village in France. He then flashes back to the man’s childhood and his intense curiosity in the natural world around him. Using rich descriptive language, Smith captures Fabre’s fascination with the “small wonders” around him. Circling back, Smith finishes with Fabre as an elderly man again, now receiving great honors for his unusual life’s work.

The rich, lush illustrations are delightful, with insects to find and discuss in every one.

Small Wonders will intrigue budding naturalists, particularly entomologists. It might also appeal to almost anyone who felt at times that they don’t really fit in.

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.


bristly beard 2012Instead of books I’m looking at lichens. They’re an odd lot, these crusty-looking aliens that I find around my yard. They look sort of greenish and make their own food using sunlight, but they don’t have flowers or leaves or roots. So they’re not plants.

They’re also not just one thing, but instead are a composite of two organisms: fungi and algae. Usually the algae is sandwiched in between layers of the fungi. Lichens have a symbiotic relationship – both organisms benefit. The algae make food, and the fungi provide the structure and help retain moisture.

And they come in all sorts of shapes and colors, from orange crusts on rocks to those that are having “bad hair days”. Head on over to Archimedes Notebook –  you might be surprised to discover where you’ll find lichens in your life.


STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2015 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

Photosynthesis (The Science of Life)


Photosynthesis (The Science of Life)
by Christine Zuchora-Walske (Author)

#kidlit Review Haiku:
Photosynthesis —
a sunlight food factory —
for that we give thanks.

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Food chains & instinct ~ two books about animals

hungriest mouth in seaArbordale has a couple of new books about animals this fall ~ one about instinctual behavior and one about food chains. They’re both 32-page picture books aimed at the 4-8 crowd.

The Hungriest Mouth in the Sea
by Peter Walters

“Who has the hungriest mouth in the seas of the south?” That’s what author Peter Walters wants to know so he sets off exploring the waters around New Zealand, starting with the plankton that drifts with the tide and soaks up energy from the sun.

Using the refrain, “But look – a hungrier mouth in the seas of the South” he asks the reader who would be heading this way? His cut-paper illustrations give hints of the next possible link in the food chain. Kicking krill swarm and blue cod are out hunting, but neither is fierce enough to be the top in this habitat. Could it be the sharks? Pointy-tailed rays? The barracuda? Or is there something bigger out there waiting for supper?

The artwork is delightful and will inspire young artists to try their hand at cut paper illustrations, and the rhyming text is engaging enough to be read over again. Back matter includes a fun section on marine mammals that will have kids comparing their own bodies to whales. There’s a predator-prey matching game and food web cards for a “Hungry Mouth” game.

they just knowThey Just Know: Animal Instincts
by Robin Yardi; illus. by Laurie Allen Klein

“No one reminds a caterpillar to eat her leaves, or to make a chrysalis when she’s old enough. Caterpillars just know.” And once they turn into butterflies, they know how to fly – without even going to flight school.

Sharks are born knowing how to swim, frogs know how to sing, and baby sea turtles know how to swim across the ocean. Using simple text, the author helps children understand what instinct is. More challenging information about instinct versus learned behaviors is included in the back matter, along with a quiz about behaviors: learned or instinct? There’s also some life cycle charts for those animals whose young look nothing like the adults (butterflies, frogs, ladybugs) and a matching game.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2015 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

1 Comment

The Wolf-Birds Fly High

At Wrapped in Foil today we are featuring the Cybils nominee, The Wolf-Birds by Willow Dawson.

The Wolf-Birds

The Wolf-Birds turns out to be a complete surprise. It was shelved in the fiction section of our library. It looks and reads like a fictional picture book. Watch out, however, because under the fictional facade is a serious nonfiction work based on cutting-edge animal behavior research. Why are ravens called wolf-birds? The story reveals a complex relationship between ravens and gray wolves, particularly in areas with cold, harsh winters.

This book has a lot of depth. The unique and exciting acrylic paintings lend a primal feel and would be perfect inspirations for art lessons on cave paintings or aboriginal art. Pull out the charcoal, cray-pas, and earth-toned paper!

Overall, The Wolf-Birds is perfect for young readers interested in science and nature, particularly animals. It is also likely to appeal to those readers who think they prefer fiction. It is one of those versatile books to pull it out for units on winter, birds, animal behavior, and even art.

Stop by Wrapped in Foil for more details and a Q-and-A video with the author.

Related:  Sue recently reviewed this book at Nonfiction Monday.

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.

What in the World? Look Again

What in the World NGKWhat in the World? Look Again: Fun-tastic Photo Puzzles for Curious Minds
by National Geographic Kids
48 pages; ages 8 – 12
National Geographic Kids, 2015

This is not your average book. For one thing, it’s good for your brain. For another, the format is completely different: it’s a 10-inch (plus a smidgen more) square. And that makes it interesting.

There are pages of amazing photos: birds, frogs, ocean creatures, unusual architecture, feathers, scales, stones and bones…. and more. Some close-up; some from a distance; some not even real. And all of them are pieces of puzzles – that’s where the “good for your brain” part comes in.

Your brain, it turns out, is a muscle just like your heart and your biceps. You exercise your arms to get strong, and your heart to stay fit. So why not exercise your brain, too? Picture puzzles help strengthen your visual perception. They also strengthen cognitive skills – that’s the ability to think and process new information.

This book has different kinds of puzzles. “What in the World?” pictures challenge you to think about what you’re looking at. It might be a piece of a photo, like an animal’s nose or a snake eye. Each puzzle has an anagram clue, in which the letters of the word(s) are all mixed up.

“Real or Fake” asks puzzlers to determine which photos are real and which are faked. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially in this age of digital photography. So be skeptical about what you see. “Take a Look” puzzles require time: you have to search for things in a large picture. Think: “I Spy” or “Where’s Waldo”.

“Up Close” puzzles are photos taken with microscopes. A scanning electron microscope can magnify something 50,000 times – so it may look a lot different than the way you see it in the real world. The challenge is to match a photo (like magnified pollen grains) with a flower.

“Hidden animal” puzzles challenge you to find spiders, butterflies, and other critters that blend in with their background – and that calls for attention to detail. “Optical Illusions” trick your brain, while “Double Takes” make you take second – and third – looks to determine what the differences are between two photos.

What makes this a STEM pick? Well, if you want to be a spy (or a biologist or an explorer or an engineer, astronomer, geologist…) you have to be really good at observing and remembering details. And a good scientist doesn’t believe everything he – or she- sees.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2015 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.