STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


Rise of the Lioness

rise-of-lionessRise of the Lioness: restoring a habitat and its pride on the Liuwa Plains

by Bradley Hague

56 pages; ages 8-12

National Geographic Children’s Books, 2016

The Liuwa Plains are in Western Zambia – a perfect habitat for zebras, wildebeests, and lions. Back in 1972, the plains were declared a national park. But as the 20th century drew to a close, the plains were radically changed by war and poaching.

In less than a single human generation, Liuwa’s ecosystem collapsed and by 2003, when peace finally settled, there was only one lion left: a lioness called Lady.

The thing about animals is that they don’t just live in their environments; they shape them, too. And the Liuwa Plains without its top predators was “the environmental equivalent of tearing down a dam or blowing up a road,” writes Hague. The loss of the lions created a trophic cascade, affecting the behavior of almost every animal in the habitat.

This book follows the scientists who studied Lady and figured out how to rebuild the local ecosystem. That meant reintroducing animals, including lions – easier said than done. But after many years, the Liuwa ecosystem was restored. This is a story of perseverance, patience, and pride.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for another book focusing on predator-prey interactions.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Faraway Fox

faraway-foxFaraway Fox

by Jolene Thompson; illus. by Justin K. Thompson

32 pages; ages 4-7

HMH, 2016

This was the forest where I lived with my family. We used to race through the undergrowth and rest under the great shade trees after playing all day.

Faraway from his family, Fox wanders the same forest he grew up in. He remembers beautiful trees and streams. But the landscape he travels through is unfamiliar, filled with cars and houses, and paved over.

What I like about this book is that is shows wildlife in an urban landscape. It also highlights the challenges a fox – or any other wild animal – faces when trying to return to their familiar habitat. This fox is lucky, because he won’t have to dodge cars while crossing a busy highway. Instead, people have engineered a better solution to help him get home.

In an author’s note, Jolene Thompson discusses human encroachment into wild animal habitats, and some of the things people are doing to minimize the impacts. Wildlife crossings have been built under highways and over highways to ensure that animals aren’t cut off from the resources they need. She provides resources for people who want to learn more.

Beyond-the-book activities over 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.


Architect Academy

architect-academyArchitect Academy

by Steve Martin; illust. by Essie Kimpimaki

64 pages; ages 7 & up

Kane Miller, 2016

Part activity book, part “training manual”, this book presents architecture in a fun way. In the first pages you’ll get your trainee architect badge and a peek at what’s in store: you’ll learn about famous buildings, create designs for buildings, develop math skills architects need, and carry out special projects.

The first “assignment” is to design your very own dream home, complete with floor plans and a model. Then it’s off to site plan review and drawing plans to scale. Congratulations! You are now a Qualified Draftsperson and ready for construction. But first, some math.

This is a perfect book for the kid who likes to build. It brings together diverse aspects of architecture and construction, including discussion of materials, climate, and design. You can even build a bridge (punch-out parts on the jacket). Kids will be introduced to eco-architecture, landscape architecture, and naval architecture. At the back is a pull-out game, poster, and lots of stickers you can use to mark your progress through the academy “lessons”.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Mission to Pluto

mission-to-pluto-smMission to Pluto: the first visit to an ice dwarf and the Kuiper belt (Scientists in the Field)

by Mary Kay Carson; photos by Tom Uhlman

80 pages; ages 10-12

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017

It takes a lot of work to get to Pluto: teams of scientists and engineers, mission control specialists who keep your vehicle on track, and time. Nearly ten years of time – even if your spacecraft is tiny. That’s why the folks at NASA had to build a craft that was durable and could take care of itself.

In 2005, when they were building the New Horizons spacecraft, engineers knew it would need a power source. Solar panels make electricity for most satellites and space probes, “but a sunny day on Pluto is about as bright as twilight on Earth,” writes Mary Kay Carson. So New Horizons carried its own power source: plutonium.

More about the book, and mission-appropriate theme music over 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.


To the Edge of the Universe!

to-edge-of-universeTo the Edge of the Universe, a 14-foot fold-out journey

by Raman Prinja; illus. by John Hersey

36 pages; 8-12 years

Carlton Kids, 2016

Above earth is an atmosphere, and beyond that the space station and the moon, the sun, 8 planets, an asteroid belt, supernovas, more galaxies until you reach… the edge of the known universe.

What I like about this book: The pages are connected in a long, long, long (14-foot long) mural that takes you from the earth’s surface to the edge of the universe. On the reverse side  are facts, graphs, charts, constellations… answers to the questions you’ll be asking as you explore the universe. I also love the interaction requires for this book. You can unfold the entire mural – indeed, you could (if you want to) cut it off the cover and tape it to the wall. It’s just plain fun.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for another space book and hands-on activities for budding space cadets.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Animals by the Numbers

animals-by-the-numbersAnimals by the Numbers: a book of animal infographics

by Steve Jenkins

48 pages; ages 6-9

HMH, 2016

How much do all the humans on earth weigh? Without adding up everyone’s weight, we have to make an estimate, and that comes to around 350 million tons. That’s a lot, right?

So how much would all the insects on earth weigh? Best estimate of that comes to 100 billion tons – about 15 tons for every person on earth. To help put these huge numbers into context, Steve Jenkins creates infographics – charts, tables, diagrams, and graphs that illustrate information.

He uses bar graphs to compare how fast animals swim, fly, and run and how far animals jump. There are pie charts and “thermometer” graphs, maps and a very cool decision tree illustrating the sorts of things that might run through a small animal’s mind when another creature approaches: does it look dangerous? Does it see me?

What I like about this book: it presents facts about animals in a fun way. Sure, you could read a page telling how fast different animals run, but a chart comparing those speeds makes you think about information in a different way. The way he presents the information is as fun as the questions he explores: how fast do critters have to flap their wings to stay airborne? How many hours a day do animals sleep compared to their waking time?

And, for us writers, Jenkins includes a pie chart showing how he spent his time making the book (5% spent staring into space).  Review copy provided by the publisher.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Tigers!

National Geographic’s “Explore my world” is a series  aimed at curious preschoolers.  There are a bunch out there featuring frogs, baby animals, koalas… and this one:

tigers-explore-my-world

Tigers

by Jill Esbaum

32 pages; ages 3-7

NGK, 2016.

Here’s how it begins: “A tiger! She prowls the steamy jungle on padded paws. This tiger is hungry. Stay hidden, buffalo. Watch out, wild pigs.”

Simple language tells about a tiger’s life. Active words in large type begin each topic. For example, “Chase!” for tiger on the hunt, and “Cuddle” for a description of how mama tiger cares for her cups. Facts are highlighted in “circle” text boxes scattered throughout the book, and every page is illustrated with high-quality photos.

I also like the interactive pages. There’s a spread that compares tigers and house cats. A big difference: tigers enjoy swimming and pet cats usually don’t! Another spread illustrates similarities between tigers and house cats. And there’s a matching game at the end.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for a review of a chapter book about animal friends.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2016 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.