STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


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This week for STEM Friday, we’re featuring Sandra Markle’s new book The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery.

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What’s killing the bees? That’s a mystery scientists and gardeners have been investigating for years now. Our bee population is dropping. This matters because about one-third of our food supply is pollinated by bees. Apples, almonds, apricots, and avocados, for a start…and that’s just food starting with A.

Here in Minneapolis, researchers at the University of Minnesota have determined that pesticides killed three hives of bees last month. Someone in a residential area sprayed a house and some nearby plants, and the bees inadvertently took the poison back to their hives to share it with the group. Read more here:

http://ecowatch.com/2013/10/10/pesticides-to-blame-for-massive-bee-deaths/

So is it just pesticides that’s causing our bees to die off? That’s unlikely, though it is one important cause. Students can follow along in the investigation of a real-life science mystery in The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery. And furthermore, check out our FREE teaching resources. These activities, written by author Sandra Markle, invite students to dig deeper into the story of the disappearing honeybees.

STEM Friday

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

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For the Budding Scientist

Few things are more satisfying to me than writing for the youngest learners—so when the opportunity arose to write six STEM books for K–2 readers, I was ecstatic! The task was to write about things that change form when exposed to different temperatures (for example, things that change from solid to liquid when exposed to heat). To make this concept concrete for the K–2 set—and to answer the call for materials aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize hands-on learning—I decided to focus on activities that kids could try themselves to see how objects change form. That’s where the fun began!

51AV8K0eYWL__AA160_First, my colleagues and I brainstormed a list of objects that change form. We came up with: cake, candles, eggs, ice cream, popcorn, and popsicles. Next, for each topic, I researched kid-friendly steps our readers could follow to see how each object changes form. In the Cake book, for instance (cover pictured), I found simple instructions for baking a cake (with the help of an adult, of course!), so that readers could see how liquid batter turns into a solid, spongy, and delicious treat.

Finally, the real challenge came in. I attempted to “translate” the steps into a narrative that is accessible for emergent readers, meets our stringent Guided Reading Level standards, and incorporates high-frequency words. For each title, I also provided supplementary materials on the inside front cover, including a note for parents and educators, a word count, a list of the high-frequency words used in the book, and activities that support the Common Core State Standards. In addition, each book includes a table of contents, chapter headings, a glossary, and an index to introduce readers to informational text features.

I’ve rarely worked on a project that was more difficult, more satisfying, or more fun. I sincerely hope our books help you—the parents, educators, librarians, and caretakers entrusted with the crucial job of developing young minds—introduce the kids you know and love to a passion for science that will last their whole lives through.

STEM Friday

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

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A Breathtaking View…of Science at Its Most Spellbinding

Full disclosure: As a child, I was bored out of my mind by science. And math. And the computer classes I took in high school as my sole available alternative to Advanced Home Ec. Throughout the years of my primary and secondary education, these subjects didn’t simply go over my head: They never made me want to jump up and catch them.

Those early, uninspiring experiences with STEM subjects shaped my default attitude as an adult…until quite recently, when I picked up Tales from the Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest with Pete Athans (Millbrook Press, ©2013).


Written by Sandra K. Athans (the sister of mountaineering legend Pete, aka “Mr. Everest”) for kids ages 9 and up, this book doesn’t read like a science text. It reads like an epic adventure story. Because it is. The inside scoop on Mount Everest offers everything a reader could want: action, suspense, deadly peril, incredible courage, and an unbeatable view…all intertwined with the magic of STEM.

When scaling Mount Everest, climbers need extensive scientific knowledge (and a solid grasp of math, engineering, and technology, for that matter) if they expect to…

  • recognize and treat frostbite before it turns someone’s face black. (By that point, it’s pretty easy to recognize.)
  • recognize and treat hyperthermia. That’s right: hyper. As in too much. Too much heat, on Mount Everest. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Guess you don’t know enough science yet.
  • handle a variety of high-altitude illnesses with punchy acronyms.
  • assemble a makeshift kitchen to melt ice for drinking water. Suddenly that solar oven I built in sixth grade takes on new significance.
  • pilot a paraglider safely.
  • make an informed decision about whether yetis exist.

And let’s not forget that everything on this list is a matter of life and death. (Minus the yeti issue…probably….) Boring? Not so much. As I discovered far too late in life, science can be an adventure, and the greatest adventures are often deeply related to science.

So if I, cynical anti-STEM crone that I am, can be captivated and blown away by this book, then there’s hope for every kid who thinks science is boring. There’s a chance that, if the right book comes along, she’ll be inspired to jump up and climb a mountain.

Join STEM Friday!

We invite you to join us!

  • Write about STEM each Friday on your blog.
  • Copy the STEM Friday button to use in your blog post.

STEM Friday

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

  • Link your post to the comments of our weekly STEM Friday Round-up. (Please use the link to your STEM Friday post, not the address of your blog. Thanks!)

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Science is lyrical: STEM Friday

Science Is Real!

If you have any interest in children and science, technology, engineering, and math, you owe it yourself to buy They Might Be Giants’ “Science Is Real” album (with videos for every song). And if you hear a tune when I say “The sun is a mass of incandescent gas,” then you really must buy it because, as they say, “that thesis has been rendered invalid.”

I love the first song on the album (above) because when they sing “the facts are with science,” it’s true of course, but it’s truth wrapped in imagination and make believe and carried along by the tools of art. Making up stories is often the best way—sometimes the only way—to tell ourselves what is “true.”

“When I’m seeking knowledge, either simple or abstract, the facts are with science,” goes the song, proving that yes, the facts are with science, but their delivery depends on art

Kate Hosford and Gabi Swiatkowska’s Infinity & Me was a project born in this spirit: take a painfully abstract mathematical concept and make the facts of it resonate through the art of the picture book.

And so we were very please to learn yesterday that Infinity & Me  is a finalist for the Bank Street College’s Cook Prize, honoring “the best science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) picture book published for children aged eight to ten.”

  Anna Cavallo, Zach Marell—the book’s editor and designer respectively–and I are very proud of this honor for Kate and Gabi’s book. It represents a core value of our picture book program at Carolrhoda.

-Andrew Karre, editorial director of Carolrhoda Books

Join STEM Friday! We invite you to join us!

  • Write about STEM each Friday on your blog.
  • Copy the STEM Friday button to use in your blog post.

STEM Friday

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

  • Link your post to the comments of our weekly STEM Friday Round-up. (Please use the link to your STEM Friday post, not the address of your blog. Thanks!)

Site Meter Copyright © 2013 Lerner Publishing Group All Rights Reserved.