STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


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!

0763663514.med

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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If … A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers

If… A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J. Smith.  Illustrations by Steve Adams.  Kids Can Press, 2014.

If you’re familiar with If the World Were a Village (also from Kids Can Press), then you’ll understand the context in which If introduces large concepts.

Take “Your Life,” for example.  On a two-page spread, a large Sicilian-style pizza is depicted on a table surrounded by several happy children and one salivating dog,

If your whole life could be shown as a jumbo pizza, divided into 12 slices …

4 slices would be the time you spend in school or at work

1 slice would be spent shopping, caring for others and doing things around home

4 slices would be the time you spend getting ready to sleep and sleeping,

etc., until all twelve slices have been accounted for.

Other concepts featured are:

“Inventions Through Time” – depicted on a 36″ measuring tape

“Our Galaxy” – presented on a dinner plate

“Water” – represented by 100 water glasses

and 12 others.

In each case, care is taken to equate the concept to something with which children will be familiar.  This is a great way to place an intangible concept into a simple object that a child can hold within her hand.

Suggested for grades 3 – 6.  See an interior preview of If at the publisher’s website.

 

STEM Friday

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

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