STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


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Rocket Shoes Fiction Inspires STEAM Activities

Generally we feature nonfiction books here at STEM Friday, but that doesn’t mean a good fiction picture book can’t be used to promote STEM.

Take Rocket Shoes by Sharon Skinner and illustrated by Ward Jenkins.

José works hard to buy a pair of special rocket shoes. They are a blast. His neighbor thinks they are too dangerous, however, and talks the mayor into banning them. When the same neighbor gets into trouble during a snow storm, will José break the rules and put on his shoes to save the day?

This book has it all. It features diverse characters, text full of action verbs and catchy rhymes, just the right touch of humor, plus readers learn about conflict resolution in a lighthearted way (not at all pedantic). What more could you ask for?

How about plenty of potential to tie-in STEAM activities?  Check out Wrapped in Foil blog for suggestions for just a few of the many STEAM activities that could be inspired by the book. It is sure to fire up a child’s imagination.

Rocket Shoes is such a fun book that it will fly off the bookshelf. Share a copy with a young reader today!

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New Titles in Nomad’s Picture Book Science Series

Today we have four new titles in the Picture Book Science series by Andi Diehn and illustrated by Shululu (Hui Li). They will be coming out March 1, 2018.

Energy, Forces, Matter, and Waves will appeal to the young reader who loves to learn about words. Andi Diehn has a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing, so her approach is to make vocabulary shine. The titles start with a lively poem to introduce the topic. Next, the author shows how words can have one or more meanings in everyday usage. Finally, she exposes readers to the more specific definitions of the terminology as it is used in the physical sciences and delves into the concepts.

The creative and textured illustrations by Shululu (the pen name of artist Hui Li) add just the right amount of fun to every page.

“Try This” sidebars with instructions for simple hands-on activities are included in each book to encourage children to explore the concepts further.

Overall, this series would be perfect for children who are struggling to understand scientific vocabulary or needing a quick introduction to the physical sciences. Because these books introduce, define, and clarify concepts, they provide an important first step to scientific discovery.

For more information about each individual book, see our review at Wrapped in Foil blog. For more activities to accompany each book, see Growing with Science blog.


Vicki Cobb’s How Could We Harness a Hurricane?

At Growing with Science blog we are featuring a 2018 Best STEM Book K-12 (National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Council): How Could We Harness a Hurricane? by Vicki Cobb.

Hurricanes have certainly been in the news. This middle grade title is for kids who are looking for a deeper understanding of extreme weather. It not only explains what a hurricane is, but also offers discussions about whether we can stop hurricanes from forming, whether we can harness their energy, and whether we should we even try to “mess with Mother Nature.”

What I love about it is that it’s filled with hands-on experiments for those kids who learn by doing. For example, there’s an experiment to show how hot water flows through cold water, and a way to try Torricelli’s experiment.

How Could We Harness a Hurricane? investigates some difficult questions. It is perfect for older kids who want to seriously learn about hurricanes.

Be sure to visit Growing With Science for suggestions for activities and resources to accompany the book.

 


Explore Light Pollution Issues With Dark Matters

At Growing With Science today we are featuring a timely new book for middle grades, Dark Matters:  Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution by Joan Marie Galat.

 

Set up a bit differently than most nonfiction, each chapter in Dark Matters starts with Joan’s reminisces about her childhood experiences with night and lights. The personal stories draw in young readers and help give perspective to the more technical informational sections that follow. They also remind the reader that our environment is changing from one generation to the next. Young children may never have seen the Milky Way because light pollution is so prevalent.

After establishing what light pollution is, Galat reveals how excessive artificial lights at night can harm not only nocturnal animals such as bats and fireflies, but also day-active animals, such as birds. In some places birds end up singing all night because they are confused by excessive lights. In other places migrating birds crash into tall building at night, plunging to their deaths in vast numbers. Throughout the book she reveals many examples of how our environment is being harmed by excessive artificial light.

Dark Matters explores an important topic that is relatively new and hasn’t received much attention. Check out a copy today.

Be sure to visit Growing with Science for a the full review, book trailer, related activities, and links to more information.

Some recent related posts at STEM Friday:

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Just Like Us! Ants

At Growing with Science blog this week we reviewed a new picture book about ants, Just Like Us! Ants by Bridget Heos and illustrated by David Clark.

Although the cartoon illustrations may make it look like this isn’t a serious book, don’t be fooled. It covers all the facts and concepts you would expect in a nonfiction book in a way that will attract the most reluctant of readers. To make it even more enjoyable the author compares what ants can do to what humans do, putting ants in perspective.

Just Like Us! Ants is not simply a rehash of previous children’s books about ants, either. The author reveals recent scientific discoveries, such as how bigheaded ant larvae process food for the colony or how fire ants build rafts to float on water. That’s nice to see.

If you are looking for a fun and informative introduction to the world of ants, then Just Like Us! Ants is for you.

And check out Growing with Science for more information and suggestions for ant-themed hands-on activities for kids.

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

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Explore the Oceans with Marine Science For Kids

Today at Growing with Science Blog we are featuring Marine Science for Kids: Exploring and Protecting Our Watery World, Includes Cool Careers and 21 Activities by Bethanie and Josh Hestermann, with a foreword by Stephanie Arne.

This is one of the fantastic Chicago Review Press books that combine great information with fun hands-on activities to reinforce learning. Throw in beautiful color photographs of awesome animals and mini-biographies of marine science professionals, and you have a treasure trove for middle grade readers.

The book starts with a time line of some important historical events in the field of marine science, with references to discoveries made and boundaries pushed by the likes of Jacques Cousteau, Marie Tharp, and Sylvia Earle.

Then right off the bat, the reader learns what marine science is. Did you know marine scientists study not only saltwater creatures in oceans, but also those found in rivers and lakes?

Now the reader can hop to the chapter that covers their favorite habitat, such as the coast or deep ocean, or they can read from cover to cover. There’s so much to discover.

Activities from the book include:

  1. Building a water molecule
  2. Making an edible coral reef
  3. Exploring marine camouflage
  4. Constructing a water-propelled squid
  5. Testing methods for cleaning up an oil spill, etc.

With a glossary, resource list, and selected bibliography, this book is a useful reference for planning lessons beyond the book, as well.

Marine Science for Kids is a must have for budding marine scientists, but will also entrance young readers interested in animals or the environment. It is a fabulous reference for educators, too.

Don’t forget to check Growing with Science for more information and scores of related activities.

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

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Butterfly Papercrafts: Top Flight for STEAM Projects

At Growing with Science blog today, we are finishing up our celebration of National Moth Week with Butterfly Papercrafts: 21 Indoor Projects for Outdoor Learning by Sal Levinson and illustrated by Danielle Levinson.

This book introduces children to both art and science in an integrated way. Topics covered include butterfly life cycles, butterfly gardening, puddling behavior, migration, camouflage and more. To explore these topics, children make finger puppets, flip books, paper airplanes, and even a butterfly-shaped kite.

The layout consists of a series of two-page spreads with instructions and information about a given butterfly-related topic on the left page and the reproducible template for the craft to make on the right hand page. Also included are black and white photographs of completed projects or activity suggestions. What a wonderful way to learn about butterflies and moths!

Butterfly Papercrafts would be a great resource to have on hand for STEAM festivals, units on insects, to accompany a trip to a butterfly house, or for a rainy day craft project at home. A must have for children who love butterflies.

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

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