STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


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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Our Universe Revealed for Young Adults

It is often difficult to find good nonfiction science books for young adults. By the time readers reach their teen years, if they are interested in science they are often forced to resort to reading books written for adults. That is why at Growing With Science blog we were excited to find Our Universe Revealed: A Cosmic Exploration by E. L. Strauss, which targets this under-served age group.

 

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Our understanding of the universe is changing rapidly. Strauss guides the reader through a thorough introduction by relating unfamiliar and complex topics to more familiar ones. For example, how do scientists study the history of space? Strauss explains that the processes of uncovering clues are similar to those used here on Earth in the field of archeology, and then gives specific examples.

Do you know what a magnetar is? What about degenerate matter or population III stars? If these terms are unfamiliar, this book will introduce you to them. Strauss, however, doesn’t just string together vocabulary words. The author also explains how the concepts fit in the bigger picture. As a case in point, Strauss shows how our ability to create better technology to explore the universe has greatly increased our body of knowledge.

The illustrations in the book are amazing. They include a selection of photographs and artist’s renditions of that are wondrous to behold, as well as numerous detailed charts and tables. Instead of a simple illustration of the Scientific Method, Strauss gives a much more complex and realistic “Process of Investigation” flow chart. What scientist hasn’t wandered “down a few dark alleys” as Strauss explains?

Although – as the book summary states – Our Universe Revealed is “aimed at bright, gifted, curious and creative teens,” it is also likely to appeal to adults who want a clear understanding of some of the most cutting-edge concepts in astronomy today. Nothing expands your mind like exploring the cosmos and this book is a wonderful way to start.

 

STEM Friday

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

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The Official ScratchJr Book

Because I’ve shown an interest in coding in the past, No Starch Press was kind enough to offer me a review copy of The Official ScratchJr Book by Marina Umaschi Bers and Mitchel Resnick. (2015)

Sadly, I don’t have an iPad or Android-based tablet, so I was unable to download the ScratchJr app to test it, but judging by the book and my experience with Scratch, I’m sure it’s a wonderful tool for inspiring creativity and logical thinking.

Here’s what I like about The Official ScratchJr. Book:

  • It targets a very young audience – ages 5 and up
  • It can be useful for parents and teachers and librarians – especially those who might find coding to be intimidating
  • Unlike the Hour of Code (which I love and have used as a resource for library programming), The Official ScratchJr Book focuses more on inspiring creativity than learning the nuts and bolts of logical thinking
  • The above statement notwithstanding, it still can be used to learn the nuts and bolts of simple coding and logical thinking

If at first there was a great rush to teach kids to code, there is now a push in the opposite direction. Just Google “Should kids learn to code?” and you will find a wealth of opinion on either side. Personally, I liken the “argument” to car repair.  In days gone by, many people knew how to do most repairs on their automobiles.  Now, cars’ systems are so intricate, that most people have trouble doing anything other than the simplest of repairs.  Most people have cars.  Should we know how to repair them?  No, I don’t think so.  There will also be a need for an auto mechanic. But, knowing how to change a flat tire sure comes in handy!  If working on cars appeals to you, become a mechanic.  The same is true of coding.  Give it a try.  If your kids are looking for a follow up to the Frozen Hour of Code project, “Code with Anna and Elsa,” The Official ScratchJr Book is probably a good place to start (if you have a tablet that can run the ScratchJr app).

I’m going to pass my copy along to my school district’s media specialist.  The kids have Chromebooks and should be able to make good use of it.

(See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed)

 Copyright © 2016 L.Taylor at Shelf-employed. All Rights Reserved.

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

 


Explore Simple Machines

Learning about and making simple machines is a great way to explore physics with kids. The Kids’ Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities that Make Science Fun! by Kelly Doudna (coming out August 25, 2015) is the perfect way to get started.

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The Kids’ Book of Simple Machines has concise explanations of the science of simple machines,  clear step-by-step instructions, and enticing colorful photographs of the projects. In addition, the background information in the different sections introduces children to famous scientists and inventors, from Archimedes to the Wright brothers.

The six simple machines covered are the lever, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, wheel and axle, and screw. After a brief introduction to each type in the front, the following chapters give more in-depth information, numerous examples of the different simple machines, and several activities and projects to explore the concepts more fully.

Whether you are teaching science in the classroom, after school, or at home, The Kids’ Book of Simple Machines is a well-designed and useful resource. The young makers of the world are going to have hours of fun trying out the activities in this book.

At Growing with Science blog, we have more information and some suggestions for related activities.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2015 Roberta Gibson at Growing with Science All Rights Reserved.