STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Concrete Mixers Stir!

Concrete Mixers Stir!
by Beth Bence Reinke (Author)

Booktalk: What truck do you need when you want to make a new sidewalk? A concrete mixer! Concrete mixers bring concrete to construction sites. From a goopy mixture to dry concrete, concrete mixers are there to help.


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

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

More bug books…

One can never have too many bug books, right? So while it’s bug season, I’ll be reviewing the buggy books in my basket.

Dawn Publications, 2017

There’s a Bug on my Book! by John Himmelman

The best thing about summer is reading outside. That’s what this book is all about: sitting on the grass with a …

“Hey! there’s a bug on my book! It’s a beetle.”

Okay, we can handle that. Just puff a breath of air on it to get it moving. Now, back to reading. Yikes! now there’s a snake slithering across the page.

What I like about this book: it invites readers to tilt the book (so the snake slides back into the grass), to nudge a bug, to be patient while a slug meanders across the page. At the same time, John Himmelman shares observations about the insects, spiders, worms, and other …. what’s that? A frog just plopped onto the page! Another thing I like about this book is the back matter. Four Pages! That’s where you learn more about each critter that slithered, slimed, hopped, wiggled, and plopped across the pages of the book. There are also activities that explore how bugs move, habitat, and “design a bug”.

National Geographic Kids, 2017

Explore My World: Honey Bees, by Jill Esbaum

Easy to read and understand, the text describes the life of a honey bee. There’s nectar-collecting, loading up the pollen baskets (which, we learn, can be a messy job), and carting the food back home. The hive is a busy place, with so many sisters and a queen, and there’s lots of work to do in hive as well. We see the bee life cycle, meet a newly emerged bee who is immediately given a task: clean your room! Back matter includes more details about honey, pollination, the waggle dance, and a maze.

Hungry Tomato, 2016

Incredible Bugs (series: Animal Bests), by John Farndon; illus. by Cristina Portolano

This is a fun, browsable book with a table of contents so you can find what you’re looking for fast (if you want). Sections include smartest bugs, communication, special senses, builders, tool users, teamwork, migration, and special skills. You’ll discover maze-solving spiders, dragonfly flight instruments, and which bug can leap tall buildings in a single jump. Text is accompanied by cartoons and photos.

Looking for Bug Activities? Head over to Archimedes Notebook to check out these Wednesday Explorers Club posts about Hummingbird Moths and Smelly Bee Feet.



STEM Friday

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

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Weird But True Daily Planner

Weird But True Daily Planner: 365 Days to Fill With School, Sports, Friends, and Fun!
by National Geographic Kids (Author)

Booktalk: Just in time for back to school! Prepare to be amazed each day with weird-but-true facts that will impress your friends and stump your parents. Turn the page in this spiral-bound book and record your school work, keep track of activities, and plan your social life, all while learning wild and wacky things about the world around you!

Snippets from the October pages:

Outside, you are rarely more than six feet away from a spider.

Vampire bats are the only mammals to have a blood-only diet.

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

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

My Awesome Summer

My Awesome Summer,  by P. Mantis

by Paul Meisel

40 pages; ages 4-8

Holiday House, 2017

P. Mantis had a wonderful summer, full of bird-watching, hide-and-seek, fine food, sibling rivalry, and flight lessons. There are a few scary moment, like the time she almost got eaten by a bat, and narrowly escaping spider webs. But for the most part it was a summer to remember.

What I like about this book:

It’s fun to read! Written from the point of view of a praying mantis, it’s set up as diary entries. For example:

June 2

All the aphids are gone. I’m hungry. Growing so fast! I ate one of my brothers. Okay, maybe two. Fine dining? Or sibling rivalry? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. P. Mantis also reveals her most important trick: how to be still and look like a stick. This gets her out of a lot of dicey situations.

I also like love that what would usually go into back matter has been put on the end papers. Small-ish chunks of information about praying mantises and their ecology are accompanied by illustrations. The end pages are where you learn what mantises like to eat, how they use camouflage to hide from predators, flight, and laying eggs. That’s where cool websites are and a very tiny glossary.

I like the cover, too. Who can ignore a face like Mantis’s? Plus the monarda! Heading out to my garden to see if any of her cousins are hanging out amongst my flowers right now!

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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Drones (Robotics in Our World)
by Kirsten W. Larson (Author)

Booktalk: Discover the technological history that led to today’s drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and what makes a drone a robot or simply a remote control plane.

The Drone Ranger
A tiny plane flies over a herd of rhinos. Using its cameras, it scans for poachers. Poachers kill rhinos for their horns. When the plane spots a poacher, it alerts park rangers. They get the bad guys. Gotcha!

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

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Beauty and the Beak

Beauty and the Beak
written by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp
2017 (Persnickety Press)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

A bullet had shattered her beak. Her eye was torn and 
her face was bleeding. It even hurt for her to breathe. 

When I’m at the grocery store, I’m a fan of the 2 for 1 deal. In my parts, it’s known as a BOGO (Buy One, Get One). Why not enjoy two of something for the price of one? How about 3 for 1? What does this have to do with Beauty and the Beak? I mention the BOGO because Beauty is really three books to me, which makes it a valuable resource for readers and teachers. The first part of the book is like an informational text about bald eagles, but in the form of a narrative. Busting the eggshell that holds her in, an eaglet depends on a tuck-in from her mother to protect her from the cold Alaskan wind that comes off the river. In a month, she will be able to stand and tear food with her beak. The beak comes in handy as the eaglet takes care of her feathers. One of the things I learned about eagles was how they shift their feathers to warm up or cool down. Like me adjusting the thermostat in winter against my family’s wishes. They also use oil from a gland near their tails to waterproof their feathers. These are the kinds of facts that hook young readers. Come summer time, the now young eagle will test her wings and find food from the river. The narrative shifts when Beauty, the eagle, has her beak shattered by a bullet. Now readers are drawn into the struggle as Beauty, no longer able to fly or hunt, lingers near death until she is found by a policeman who takes her to a wildlife center. A raptor biologist takes Beauty home to her raptor center and tells people about this injured eagle. One of the people who hears the story is an engineer who thinks he can build a prosthetic beak using a 3-D printer. After many hours of work building the beak and a complicated surgery, Beauty is fitted with a golden yellow beak.

The third part of Beauty and the Beak is sixteen pages of excellent back matter. There’s a Q&A that gives further information about Beauty’s life today and about the use of prosthetic devices. Several more pages of information about eagles are included with a note from the raptor biologist, Janie Veltkamp, who took care of Beauty. At the end are four pages of resources and activities that will be a great help in doing further research. Loaded with information wrapped around an engaging animal story, this is definitely a book that you will want to add to your nonfiction library.

Here’s a link to educator resources connected to Beauty and the Beak.

Books about the Birds and the Bees

People who read my Archimedes Notebook blog know that I love bugs. Ants, bumble bees, clear-winged hummingbird moths, beetles of all colors and kinds! And I found a cool field guide perfect for kids who want to learn more about insects.

Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Insects

By Libby Romero

160 pages; ages 8-10

National Geographic Children’s Books, 2017

This is so much more than a field guide. Introductory pages tell where to find insects, how to be safe around insects (avoiding stings, bites, and defensive chemicals), and how to protect insects. Each page introduces an insect, giving its scientific name along with notes about ecology and behavior and photos. There are text boxes noting things to look for, listen to, plus hands-on activities (how to draw a dragonfly), plus plenty of “Insect Inspector” side bars. Every few pages you’ll find an “Insect Report” focusing on specific features: wings, how to tell an insect from a “bug”, and the art of insect deception.

Helpful back matter includes a photographic “Quick ID Guide”, a list of books and apps for discovering more, a glossary, and index. And all of that is in a pocket-sized guide with tough, flexible covers.

Bird Braniacs

by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer;  illustrated by Rachel Riordan

104 pages; ages  5 – 13

Cornell Lab Publishing Group, 2016

The subtitle for this book is “activity journal and log book for young birders.” It is meant to be written in, drawn in, shared with friends. Part activity book and part birding journal, Bird Brainiacs is the perfect book to tuck in a backpack, or toss in the picnic basket when heading off to the park. There are quizzes, “mad-lib” fill-in-the-blanks, games, nature challenges, personality questionnaires, word scrambles, and bird facts. I love the hands-on science stuff: a do-it-yourself bioblitz, bird count, and nest-watching. There are enough bird-log pages to get you started on a summer’s worth of birding plus some how-to-draw pages for the doodler in us all. I know the age range is for up to 13 years, but heck, this looks like fun for the whole family.

STEM Friday

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

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Auto Racing Super Stats

Auto Racing Super Stats
by Jeff Savage (Author)

Booktalk: Race cars zoom at incredible speeds on tracks all around the world. How do fans keep track of it all? They use statistics! From the most powerful cars to the most successful drivers, this book is packed with statistics on every page.


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

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Alexander Bell Answers the Call

Alexander Graham Bell Answers the Call
written and illustrated by Mary Ann Fraser
2017 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Each new sound whispered to Aleck’s curiosity. How was he able to hear? What made one noise different from another?

Young Aleck Bell loved listening in his native Scotland. The noises of Edinburgh enticed him. Being the son of a speech therapist fed his interest even more. His father created an alphabet for 129 sounds made by the human voice. Aleck had a deep personal connection to sound. His mother Eliza had very little hearing and used an ear tube to hear. He would speak against her forehead to create vibrations that allowed her to understand him. Aleck also used a two handed manual alphabet to allow his mother to know what was being said during dinner conversations. Family members were entertained by sound shows put on by the brothers Bell. In this Age of Invention, Aleck was busy creating other devices for cleaning grain and making sound travel. His childhood joy was sadly interrupted by the deaths of his two brothers from tuberculosis. This prompted the family to move to North America where Aleck became a teacher for the deaf. As he developed more inventions to help others, Aleck wondered what else he could do. Meeting an electrician named Thomas Watson was a great spark to his desire to conduct more experiments. They worked on a device that could transmit sound and improve on the dots and dashes of a telegraph. More determined after a series of failures, Aleck would soon utter the famous words “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you!” and the world would never be the same.

Three reasons (I could list more) why I really, really like this picture book biography. First, I learned a lot about Alexander Graham Bell. Did you know he created, at the time, the fastest boat in the world? Or built a flying machine? Or was president of the National Geographic Society? Second, there are a plethora of informative text boxes. The narrative is great by itself, but the boxes take it to another level. There are illustrations, descriptions, and diagrams about inventions from Aleck and others that give extra information. You could use this book as a mentor text for students writing their own nonfiction books. Speaking of the artwork, my third reason is how the mix of drawings and photographs is a unique and interesting approach to take readers back to Bell’s time. With an informative author’s note and timeline to boot, this book would be an excellent addition to a biography basket or for a unit on sound.

Check out more stuff at NC Teacher Stuff.

Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper

Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper

by Anastasia Suen; illus. by Ryan O’Rourke

32 pages; ages 3-7

Charlesbridge, 2017

Dig, dig, dig!

Pour, pour, pour!

Pound, pound, pound!

What’s going on behind that tall board fence? Put on your hardhat and let’s find out.

Machines and people work together to build a skyscraper. So tall it touches the clouds. So if they’re building up, why are they digging down? Because tall buildings need sturdy foundations.

Anastasia Suen takes readers behind the fence and into the world of a construction site. Active language engages kids in what’s going on, and additional text explains why. Bolt by bolt, beam by beam, we travel up, up, up to the top of the building. Once the skeleton is completed it’s time to put the “skin” on – the metal and glass panels that hold everything in. And then, at last, with a fold-out page that extends high above the others, we see the finished skyscraper.

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

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.