STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


Two Truth and a Lie

Two Truths and a Lie

by Laurie Ann Thompson and Ammi-Joan Paquette

176 pages; ages 8-12

Walden Pond Press, 2017

When a nonfiction book begins with a warning that some of the stories included are not true – you know it’s going to be a wild read. The thing is, the authors point out, there are lies all around us. Truths, too. Anyone trying to keep up with political news knows that sorting fact from fiction is really important.

But lies aren’t partial to politics; you’ll find plenty of shady stories masquerading as scientific truths. Like stories about a fungus that infects insects and takes over their brains, creating bug zombies. Oops – that IS a true story.

What Laurie and Ammi-Joan (who likes to go by Joan) do in their book is play a game with readers. They present three wacky science stories and challenge you to figure out which one is fake. For example, one group of three animal stories features a chicken who lived without its head – and performed in a circus sideshow, a cave-dwelling salamander that looks like a dragon, and a tree-dwelling octopod that lives in rainforests.

Which two are true? Which is the lie? They tell you at the back, and give lots of source notes for the stories so you can do your own research. They also include a few words about how to tell truth from lie when reading articles online and in the paper. It’s like a guide to finding facts in the news world.

Drop by Archimedes Notebook for an author interview game called Two Truths and a Lie


Karl, Get Out of the Garden

Karl, Get Out of the Garden! Carolus Linnaeus and the naming of everything

by Anita Sanchez; illus.by Catherine Stock

48 pages; ages 7-10

Charlesbridge, 2017

Karl Linne was in the garden again. He just wouldn’t stay out of it!

Karl, get out of the garden!

Karl’s mom dreams that he’ll become a lawyer, or perhaps a minister. His father thinks he should apprentice to the shoemaker. But Karl loves spending time in the garden. He loves learning the plants, and watching the insects. So he tells his father that he wants to go to medical school.

Once there, he begins learning how to use plants for healing. There’s a big problem though: with so many names for plants, how does he know which is the correct plant to use? Karl decides that what the world needs is a consistent system for naming plants (and other living things) – a system that will help organize life.

What I like about this book: It’s a fun way to delve into the history of science, and also learn why we have scientific names for plants and animals. I also like that author Anita Sanchez includes some of the controversies about naming species – especially the idea of including humans. Imagine! Naming humans as if they were just another animal! Worse yet – lumping them in with mammals like groundhogs and cats! The very nerve!

Today I’m sharing books about plants and gardening over at Archimedes Notebook. Head on over for more book reviews and some hands-on activities.

STEM Friday

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

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Books about Baby Animals

If you love to read about baby animals, here are two new books that are just delightful.

Baby on Board

by Marianne Berkes; illus. by Cathy Morrison

32 pages; ages 3-8

Dawn Publishing, 2017

When you were a baby, someone carried you.

Have you ever wondered what animal parents do?

They may not have baby backpacks or strollers or carriers…  but wild animal moms have figured out how to transport their kids from one place to another.

Kangaroos use pockets, mama otters become rafts, and mother possums give their young piggy-back rides. Even dads get into the picture.

Fun, rhyming language and realistic illustrations introduce youngsters to the diversity of transport their woollier – and featherier – wild friends experience. Back matter includes a matching game and plenty of resources for further exploration.

Baby Animals (Animal Bites series)

by Dorothea DePrisco

80 pages; ages 4-8

Animal Planet/ Time Inc. Books, 2017

Many animals lay eggs and build nests – and not just birds! This photo-rich book focuses on  babies from across the animal kingdom. Information is presented in small, “browsable” chunks with many entry points. You can use the table of contents, or use the colored tabs to guide you in your wildlife safari: yellow for close-up look at animals, orange for a gallery exhibit highlighting diversity, and there’s even an icon labeled “just like me” that compares how animals and humans behave in similar ways.

Some of the animals highlighted are bunnies, owls, red pandas, dogs, skunks, and more. Back matter includes baby animal activities, resources, and a glossary.

Review copies from publishers.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Just Hatched: books about birds

Birds are back! They’re gathering nesting materials, checking out the bugs in the garden, and filling the morning with song. Here are three recently hatched books to tickle your bird-lover’s thirst for true stories.

Duckings (Explore my World series)

by Marfe Ferguson Delano

ages 3-7; National Geographic Kids, 2017

High in a tree, a wood duck mother checks her nest.She sits on her eggs to keep them warm. Then one day, peck, peck, peck. Ducklings are ready to hatch. Large-print words or simple phrases set off sections of a baby bird’s life. Crack! They hatch. Jump! They leap out of the nest and down, down, down … to a pond. Text describes the life of a duckling, and photos invite us right into their day, from learning what to eat (bugs are good) to following mom everywhere. Back matter includes comparing ducks with other animals that hatch out of eggs, “ducky details”, and how to be a duckling.

Otis the Owl

by Mary Holland

ages 4-9; Arbordale Publishing, 2017

Beautiful, detailed photos take us right into the first few months of a baby owl’s life. Otis, and his sister, are the cutest, fluffiest sad-eyed babies you’ve ever seen. Mary Holland shows all aspects of a baby owl’s life, from hatching to eating voles, mice, and the occasional chipmunk. Sometimes Otis and his sister fight over the food their parents bring. Other times, he and sis are best friends, preening each other’s feathers and standing watch at the nest hole. Back matter includes information on owl pellets, a guessing game, and details on owl anatomy.

Birds Make Nests

by Michael Garland

ages 4-8; Holiday House, 2017

Two-page spreads show a diversity of birds and the nests they build. Some nest in trees, others nest on the ground. Some use grass to make their nest, or animal hair, spider silk, lichens. Others use sticks and mud. Some nests open at the top; some nests open at the bottom. Kids might recognize some as visitors to their back yard or local park. Others live half-way around the world, giving parents an opportunity to show on a globe or world map where those birds build their nests.

Dive into the “Beyond the book” activities at Archimedes Notebook

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Watersong

Watersong

by Tim McCanna; illus. by Richard Smythe

32 pages; ages 4-8

Simon & Schuster, 2017

Drip drop

      plip plop

           pitter patter pat …

 

A rainstorm moves in as a fox trots through a marsh. As the storm builds, fox looks for a safe place to shelter.

What I love about this book: The language. Reading the words aloud is like listening to a rainstorm. Whish! Hiss! Whoosh…. The illustrations are stunning, and capture the storm from all angles, including from above.

You can feel the energy of the leaves whirling in the wind! I love the beat of the words, and the way they are grouped on the pages. At first the words are soft, few on the page, but as the storm intensifies the words become rougher, more intense, louder.

I also love that there is back matter: notes about ecosystems, watersheds, and the importance of water to plants and animals. The story itself doesn’t explain the water cycle or ecology of a marsh, but we see it. Notes add some context that an older reader can share with a youngster.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some hands-on “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.


Insects – the most fun bug book ever

Insects, the most fun bug book ever

by Sneed B. Collard III

48 pages; ages 9-12

Charlesbridge, 2017

Earth is a great place to live. But, says Collard, if you look at all the animals on our planet, it becomes clear that insects dominate the life on Earth. Scientists have catalogues nearly 1 million species of insects, and they haven’t come close to finding all of them.

Collard gives us the basic body plan for bugs, and then goes into details about how well they can see (some see ultraviolet light), how fast they can fly (35 mph for dragonflies), how tough they are (ironclad for some beetles). He points out the hairiest and the hungriest, tells us the secrets of insect communication, and gives us an inside view of “growing up insect”,

As promised, this is a fun bug book. We learn about insects’ favorite foods – some will dine on tacos from a dumpster while others prefer sweet nectar – and there’s an entire section devoted to the “party animals”. Some bugs are very social. Collard introduces us to “good” bugs, those that we use for dyes, food, medicine, and pollination services. He introduces us to “bad bugs” that chew up crops and damage homes. The key thing: insects are essential and play a vital role on our planet. So if we want to do right by our six-legged buddies, we should be planting more gardens – and throwing out the pesticides.

Check out another fun book about bugs over at Archimedes Notebook today.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


The Science of Science Fiction

The Science of Science Fiction

by Matthew Brenden Wood; illus by Tom Casteel

128 pages; ages 12 – 15

Nomad Press, 2016

I grew up on Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Heinlein and Star Trek. In the intervening years I have seen: flip phones (Star Trek communicators), voice-activated software, jet packs, robots, and more.

So I loved the timeline at the beginning of this book – a date where an idea was introduced in a sci-fi story, followed by a date when that technology was first used. For example, in 1870 Jules Verne wrote about Captain Nemo piloting an electric sub in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In 1954 the first nuclear sub, appropriately named USS Nautilus, was launched.

Topics in this book include cloning ancient creatures (Jurassic Park, anyone?) robots, androids, artificial intelligence, life on Mars, aliens, faster-than-light travel, and time travel. Text is augmented with cartoons, short sidebars, fast facts, and questions.

What I really like are the hands-on investigations. You can extract your own DNA, calculate the likelihood of intelligent life in the universe, and play around with centripetal force. My favorite, though, is measuring the speed of light using a microwave, a bar of chocolate, a ruler, and a calculator. Who can resist an experiment that involves chocolate?

Review copy provided by publisher.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.