STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


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What’s the Buzz? New Books about Bees!

Two books about bees were released earlier this month.

Turn this Book into a Beehive! by Lynn Brunelle; illus. by Anna-Maria Jung (Workman Publishing) begins,  Bees… whether you love ’em or hate ’em, we need bees for our survival.

That may sound over-dramatic, but the truth is that bees are a keystone species. That means, writes author Lynn Brunelle, “plants and animals in an ecosystem depend on them for survival.” That dependence includes us – because one third of the food we eat depends on bees for pollination. Think: blueberries, apples, almonds, cucumbers.

But there’s a problem. Bee populations are in decline. Not just honey bees, but the hard-working native pollinators that provide millions of dollars worth of free labor to fruit farmers. Bumble bees, carpenter bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, digger bees…they are all too important to lose.

This book introduces us to bees, plants, and pollination. Then the author introduces us to two kinds of bees: mason bees and honey bees. There are 20 activities and experiments that provide children and families a safe way to learn about our busy, buzzy neighbors. And BEST of ALL – you can turn the book into a beehive for native bees. Durable cover and instructions included.

The King of Bees, by Lester L. Laminack; illus. by Jim LaMarche (Peachtree Publishers) opens: Henry and Aunt Lilla lived deep in the Lowcountry, where South Carolina reaches out and mingles with the saltwater for form tidal creeks and marshes. Don’t you just love that luscious language?

Henry and his aunt live in a small house with a vegetable garden, a hen house, and beehives. He can’t wait until he is old enough to help care for the bees. Henry wants his own coveralls and bee hat. He also loves the bees, their humming, and the stories Aunt Lilla tells about how the sister bees work together.

“Don’t they have any brother bees?” Henry asks. Then one day the bees begin to swarm and Henry decides he’ll help guide the bees to the new hive box Aunt Lilla is getting ready. Things don’t go as planned and he has a closer encounter with bees than he expected.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for fun links and hands-on bee activities.

 

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

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Leaf Litter Critters

Leaf Litter Critters

by Leslie Bulion; illus. by Robert Meganck

48 pages; ages 8-12

Peachtree Publishers, 2018

Between soil’s grains of weathered rock.

Beneath its veiny leaves in scraps,

Amid its ribs of rotting sticks,

Soil’s litter critters find the gaps.

Welcome to the brown food web – banquet table for decomposers of all classes (and orders). From bacteria to beetles these poems get down and dirty about how dead stuff gets recycled into compost.

What I like about this book: Everything, from end pages to back matter. There are cool new words scattered about to describe the work of decomposers: shredding, chewing, humus-pooing… totally fun to read out loud! Every spread has science notes (sidebars) that go into detail about such things as duff, number of nematodes in soil, how fungi eat, pseudoscorpions – I really like the pseudoscorpions! Each poem not only focuses on a different litter critter, but also highlights a different style of poetry – which is explained in detail in back matter. There are linked cinquain, traditional stanzas, free verse, tanka, and more.

I love the back matter – a glossary, poetry notes, and hands-on field explorations. And there’s a fun comparison of sizes of the critters, some compared to an earthworm and others compared to the head of a pin. So one could actually determine how many tardigrades can dance on the pin-head. And I love the end pages, with roly-poly pillbugs and sowbugs that march right onto the title page. What fun!

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some Beyond-the-Book activities.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


How many guinea pigs can fit on a plane?

ages 7-11; Feiwel & Friends, 2017

“If each guinea pig sits on its own seat, then it just depends on how many seats are on the plane,” says Laura Overdeck. It’s a different matter if you’re squishing them in as tightly as they can fit. And the fact is, she says, “guinea pigs are happiest when they’re together with friends.” She would know; she wrote the book, How Many Guinea Pigs can Fit on a Plane?

The math gets a bit more complex and involves cubic space and how tightly you pack them. But for the sake of argument, let’s go with 472,500.

Guinea pigs aren’t the only critter calculations in the book. Overdeck demonstrates how one can compute the total number of dogs in the world – spiders, too – and whether hopping bunnies move faster than running people.

And that’s just the Animal chapter. There’s a chapter about math for your mouth (it includes chocolate), your life in numbers, math used to calculate things in nature, and tips for mental math.

But first, before the first problem is served, Overdeck treats us to a bite of pie pi. That;s so we can figure out cool things like how much wrapping paper you’d need to cover a basketball, and how much space is inside that basketball. A fun, fun book brought to us by the mistress of the Bedtime Math series (see reviews here and here – and click on the Bedtime Math button over in the right column for today’s problems!)

ages 8-12; Nat. Geo Kids, 2017

You can never have too many math games, so here’s another book filled with games, puzzles, and information about your brain. Brain Bogglers starts with a page of puzzles to determine what “kind of genius” you are. Because there are different kinds.

Each chapter focuses on some aspect of how your brain works, and includes puzzles to challenge you. For example, how does your brain translate reflected light into images? And does it ever trick you?

Sometimes our body tricks our brain. Sometimes we know stuff that we don’t know we know. (I know- confusing, right?) And sometimes we don’t get top score because other animals are so much … smarter?

Thank goodness the answers are at the back of the book!  Review copies provided by the publishers.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


I am the Rain

I am the Rain

by John Paterson

32 pages, ages 3-8

Dawn publications, 2018

Sometimes I’m the rain cloud and sometimes I’m the rain.

Using poetic language and art, author John Paterson takes us on an adventure through the water cycle. He knows water – where it flows and how to paddle through it. And he knows its many moods, from wild and splashy to misty fog.

What I like about this book: I like the first-person point of view – a story about the water cycle from the perspective of the water. I like how we learn about water through the different seasons, and in different states – gas, liquid, solid. Water is everywhere on our planet and, as it notes, “All of life depends on me.”

The back matter is filled with so much information and ideas for exploration. There are notes to explain the “science behind the poetry” and tips for taking care of water. Plus science, engineering, and math activities.

Head over the Archimedes Notebook for hands-on activities and some science-connected art.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Izzy Gizmo

Izzy Gizmo

by Pip Jones; illus. by Sara Ogilvie

32 ages; ages 4-8

Peachtree Publishers, 2018

Izzy Gizmo, a girl who loved to invent, carried her tool bag wherever she went…

Izzy mends things that don’t work. She also tweaks them and embellishes them or invents something new. Her inventions are marvelous, magnificent … and too often malfunction. Like the spaghetti-eating machine, and the nearly-automatic hair cutting robot. Just when Izzy is ready to quit in frustration, she finds a crow with a broken wing. Izzy knows she has to help.

What I like love about this book: I love the feisty and determined Izzy. I also like her patient and supportive grandpa who reminds her that inventors make a lot of mistakes before they get to “ah-ha!” What I really love, though, is when Izzy decides to help the crow regain flight. She’ll invent wings. Sounds easy, but she’s got to collect some materials (I love the scene where she liberates a couple engine sprockets from a motorcycle while the leather-jacketed guys aren’t paying attention!).

I love the bright illustrations, the wonderfully expressive characters, and even the end pages that look like an erector set blew up and landed on the paper.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some beyond-the-book hands-on engineering activities.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Women in Archaeology and Architecture

Archaeology: Cool Women who Dig

by Anita Yasuda; illus. by Lena Chandhok

112 pages; ages 9-12

Nomad Press, 2017

March is Women’s History month, and I can’t think of anything more appropriate than to share a couple of books from Nomad’s “Girls in Science” series.

Archaeology begins by making an important distinction between collecting and archeology – you might have a stamp or coin collection, but archaeological collections demand careful notes and context that provides insight into he society that created the artifacts.

Chelsea Rose, for example, studies a Gold Rush town in Oregon. In addition to field work and interviews, she researches census records, mining claims, and newspapers. Justine Benanty is another archaeologist, but her passion is maritime archaeology and slave ships. So in addition to sifting through documents, she dives deep into cold water to uncover the facts.

Our world may be mapped, but the past remains largely unexplored. Which means there is a lot of room for you – if you love history and enjoy solving mysteries. It’s not all about deserts and dirt – there are space archaeologists, and garden archaeologists!

Architecture: Cool Women who Design Structures

by Elizabeth Schmermund; illus. by Lena Chandhok

112 pages; ages 9-12

Nomad Press, 2017

Are you creative? Do you like solving problems? Architecture combines art and science – not only do you have to understand physics and engineering, but you get to design beautiful buildings. Or bridges.

Patricia Galvan designs post offices and modernized schools. She works at a small firm where she gets to see projects through, from start to finish. Farida Abu-Bakare remembers that she was inspired by the computer game “Sim City”. And Maia Small is an urban designer. She remembers building structures in her back yard when she was a kid.

While the young women agree that the jobs they do are fun and challenging, they say that they are treated differently than men in the same position. They tend to be cut off when talking, or their proposals may not be taken seriously by their male colleagues. Still, they can’t think of more fulfilling work. Their advice: study hard and try to get a mentor when you head into the working world.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Life on Surtsey

Life on Surtsey, Iceland’s Upstart Island (Scientists in the Field)

by Loree Griffin Burns

80 pages; ages 10-16

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017

“For the people who live in Iceland and the kids who grow up here, ice and fire just aren’t that unusual,” writes Loree Burns. But for everyone else around the world, this was big news. A new island! Scientists were eager to explore it – as soon as it cooled off enough to step foot on.

In this book,  Burns invites us on an adventure of exploration to the shores of an island now just over 50 years old. We meet some of the scientists who have been studying Surtsey since before she was a teenager. Erling Olafsson is one of those scientists who has been keeping an eye on the island’s development since the summer of 1970. That was when he joined a small crew to study plants and other life on the island. They found insects, seagulls, plants…things that flew or floated to Surtsey’s shores and made a life for themselves.

Through the pages, we join the 2015 expedition and watch scientists at work in the field. They set pitfall traps for insects, and sweep the grasses for flying bugs. Since the island was born, gulls have changed the soil, making it more suitable for plants. Seeds and insects have hitched rides to the island, and life has taken hold. The work is methodical, and it pays off: they find new species of insects!

What I like about this book: it’s a marvelous adventure! The photos are gorgeous. In addition to plants, insects, and bird life, Loree introduces us to Icelandic culture, and the alphabet. The back matter is a rich resource, and she includes a section about other recently formed volcanic islands.

 

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.