STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


Ultimate Space Atlas

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Ultimate Space Atlas

By Carolyn DeCristofano

National Geographic Kids, 2017

National Geographic Kids Ultimate Space Atlas is a picture book-sized, softcover atlas.  It’s small and light enough to take with you on car trips, vacations, etc.  That’s the beauty of an atlas.  The reader can invest as much or as little time as she wants—scan the Cool Facts, enjoy the images, or read more in-depth passages about constellations, lunar phases, favorite planets or the possibility of life in space.

Immediately following the Table of Contents is the very helpful section “How to Use This Atlas.” Despite this being the digital age, using an atlas is a useful exercise in learning how to group, classify, and present information.  The same skills that are used in creating an atlas, are those used in creating research papers, PowerPoint presentations, essays, and more. An atlas helps a child to process the questions:

  • What information do I have?
  • What portion of that information do I want to share?
  • What is my purpose in sharing it?
  • What is the best way for me to present it?

But enough of librarian geekery, the point is that the atlas is organized into tabbed sections, Sky-High, Observing Space, Inner Solar System, Outer Solar System, Our Galaxy and Beyond, and Mapping Space.  Each section contains similar insets against a background of images – natural photographs, colorized images, and artistic impressions. The lack of glossy pages takes away a bit of space’s luster, but space is magnificent even in matte finish. A few pages of fun activities round out the atlas and would suffice to keep a child occupied while waiting for dinner at a restaurant.

Ultimate Space Atlas includes:

  • Table of contents
  • How to Use section
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Seven tabbed chapters
  • Credits

Read more of this this review and see all of my reviews at Shelf-employed.

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 Copyright © 2017 L.Taylor at Shelf-employed. All Rights Reserved.

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

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The Astronaut Instruction Manual

The Astronaut Instruction Manual: Practical Skills for Future Space Explorers

by Mike Mongo, read by Mike Mongo with foreword by Alyssa Carson

Listening Library, 2017

47 minutes

the-astronaut-instruction-manual

The Astronaut Instruction Manual began as a book on Inkshares, basically a “Kickstarter” for self-published books.  Largely do to its author’s subject knowledge and enthusiasm, it became a popular seller, hence the recent release of the audiobook version.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, there is also a television series in the works.

Mike Mongo narrates his own book with an infectious enthusiasm for guaranteed to draw you in to this practical and inspirational look at the future of space travel.

My complete review of The Astronaut Instruction Manual may be found in AudioFile Magazine, in print and online at this link [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/121233/the-astronaut-instruction-manual-by-mike-mongo/].

(See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed)

 Copyright © 2017 L.Taylor at Shelf-employed. All Rights Reserved.

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


The Official ScratchJr Book

Because I’ve shown an interest in coding in the past, No Starch Press was kind enough to offer me a review copy of The Official ScratchJr Book by Marina Umaschi Bers and Mitchel Resnick. (2015)

Sadly, I don’t have an iPad or Android-based tablet, so I was unable to download the ScratchJr app to test it, but judging by the book and my experience with Scratch, I’m sure it’s a wonderful tool for inspiring creativity and logical thinking.

Here’s what I like about The Official ScratchJr. Book:

  • It targets a very young audience – ages 5 and up
  • It can be useful for parents and teachers and librarians – especially those who might find coding to be intimidating
  • Unlike the Hour of Code (which I love and have used as a resource for library programming), The Official ScratchJr Book focuses more on inspiring creativity than learning the nuts and bolts of logical thinking
  • The above statement notwithstanding, it still can be used to learn the nuts and bolts of simple coding and logical thinking

If at first there was a great rush to teach kids to code, there is now a push in the opposite direction. Just Google “Should kids learn to code?” and you will find a wealth of opinion on either side. Personally, I liken the “argument” to car repair.  In days gone by, many people knew how to do most repairs on their automobiles.  Now, cars’ systems are so intricate, that most people have trouble doing anything other than the simplest of repairs.  Most people have cars.  Should we know how to repair them?  No, I don’t think so.  There will also be a need for an auto mechanic. But, knowing how to change a flat tire sure comes in handy!  If working on cars appeals to you, become a mechanic.  The same is true of coding.  Give it a try.  If your kids are looking for a follow up to the Frozen Hour of Code project, “Code with Anna and Elsa,” The Official ScratchJr Book is probably a good place to start (if you have a tablet that can run the ScratchJr app).

I’m going to pass my copy along to my school district’s media specialist.  The kids have Chromebooks and should be able to make good use of it.

(See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed)

 Copyright © 2016 L.Taylor at Shelf-employed. All Rights Reserved.

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

 


Bee Dance

Bee Dance by Rick Chrustowski
(Henry Holt, 2015)

9780805099195

Suitable for sharing with a story time group, Bee Dance is presented as a conversational entreaty to bees,

Waggle faster, honeybee!

Buzz louder!

Your dance points the way to the prairie.”

Bee Dance is lyrical nonfiction with large, bright, cut-paper illustrations.  An author’s note contains additional facts and the author’s source material.

See a slide show of images from Bee Dance on the publisher’s website.

You can watch an actual “waggle dance” below.

Bee Dance was also reviewed on this site by Archimedes Notebook.  I thought it was worth mentioning again.


Mesmerized

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!

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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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Star Stuff

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson. (2014, Roaring Brook)

In simple text augmented by word bubbles, thought bubbles, and sketches, Stephanie Roth Sisson gives us the highlights of Carl Sagan’s lifebut more importantly, she offers a sense of his wondrous enthusiasm for the cosmos,

It gave Carl goose bumps to think about what he had learned about the stars, planets, and the beginnings of life.  He wanted everyone to understand so that they could feel like a part of the stars as he did.

So he went on television.

This is the first book that Stephanie Roth Sisson has both written and illustrated.  The fact that she is enthralled with her subject is apparent in the artwork. Painted cartoon images (often in panels with word bubbles), depict a happy Sagan, wide-eyed and curious.  While some pages are like panel comics, others are full-bleed, double spreads depicting the vastness of the darkened skies, dotted by planets or stars.  One foldout opens vertically, reminding us of our infinitesimal existence in the cosmos.  We are so small, yet we are reminded,

The Earth and every living thing are made of star stuff.

Star Stuff is a 2015 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award Honor book for “outstanding nonfiction for children.”

Substantial back matter includes Author’s Note, Notes, Bibliography and Sources, Special Thanks, and Source Notes.

(See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed.)

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

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


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Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

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Mr. Ferris and his Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, Illustrated by Gilbert Ford (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)

Though written in a fully illustrated, engaging and narrative nonfiction style,  Mr. Ferris and his Wheel is nevertheless, a well-sourced and researched picture book for older readers.

The story of the 1863, Chicago World’s Fair debut of the world’s first Ferris wheel (or Monster Wheel, as Mr. Ferris originally named it),  is told in a flowing and entertaining style,

     George arrived in Chicago and made his case to the construction chief of the fair.

     The chief stared at George’s drawings.  No one had ever created a fair attraction that huge and complicated.  The chief told George that his structure was “so flimsy it would collapse.”

     George had heard enough.  He rolled up his drawings and said, “You are an architect, sir. I am an engineer.”

     George knew something the chief did not.  His invention would be delicate-looking and strong.  It would be both stronger and lighter than the Eiffel Tower because it would be built with an amazing new metal—steel.

and

it contains sidebars that impart more technical information that might otherwise interrupt the flow of the story,

George was a steel expert, and his structure would be made of a steel alloy.  Alloys combine a super-strong mix of a hard metal with two or more chemical elements.

George Ferris’ determination is a story in itself, but it is the engineering genius of his wheel that steals the show.  A “must-have” for any school or public library.

Some facts about the original “Ferris” wheel:

  • 834′ in circumference
  • 265′ above the ground
  • 3,000 electric lightbulbs (this itself was a marvel in 1893!)
  • forty velvet seats per car

Ferris wheel at the Chicago World’s Fair c1893. Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed.

STEM Friday

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

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