STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


Celebrate and Learn About Water

World Water Day is March 22!

 

Water Rolls, Water Rises, Children's Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, 2014

Water Rolls, Water Rises, Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, 2014

Water Rolls, Water Rises/ El agua rueda, el agua sube (nonfiction, poetry) Interest level: grades 1–6

by Pat Mora, illustrated by Meilo So

In a series of poetic verses in English and Spanish, readers learn about the movement and moods of water around the world and the ways in which water affects varied landscapes and cultures.

Themes: Water & Hydrosphere, Human Activity & Impact, Human Relationship to Water, Geography, Cultural Diversity

Before reading

Ask students what they know about water. What do you know about the water cycle (local vs. global scale)? Describe water using each of your five senses. How do people use water? How is water important to life on Earth?

Questions during reading

  • Describe how water connects humans across cultures and continents based on Water Rolls, Water Rises.
  • Study how people in the book interact with the water around them. What states of water are most useful to people? Why? What are the benefits of living near water?
  • What does this book teach us about humans’ place in the natural world? What does this book teach us about the water cycle?
  • The author, Pat Mora, has spent most of her life in the Southwest desert region of the United States. How do you think living in that environment influenced her to write a book about water?

World Water DayActivity Suggestions:

  1. Pair Water Rolls, Water Rises with another title to learn about various ways humans use and rely on water. What suggestions do these books offer to take care of water environments?
  • Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming
  • Everglades Forever: Restoring America’s Great Wetland
  • The Woman Who Outshone the Sun
  • I Know the River Loves Me
  1. Have students research the water cycle. How does water travel from one part of the world to another? Now take a look again at Water Rolls, Water Rises. Which verses and illustrations demonstrate precipitation? Evaporation? Collection? etc.
  2. With students, try some of the in-class science experiments about water that the American Museum of Natural History created for its “Water: H2O=Life” exhibit.
  3. Provide students with a world map. (An outline of a Robinson projection world map can be downloaded here for reproduction.) Ask students to mark on the map the location of each place featured in the book. In addition, have students identify and label the seven continents, five major oceans, and the largest lake and river on each continent. Students should also mark their location on the map. Discuss what a compass rose is and the purpose it serves on a map. Students may also build their own maps at National Geographic Education’s MapMaker 1-Page Maps.
  4. Have students with their families make a list of all the things that they do in a day that require water. If you suddenly didn’t have water at your home, where could you go to get water? Estimate how much water you use in a day and reflect on what you would do if you had to live without running water.
  5. Imagine an alien from a planet without water is visiting your classroom. Have students describe, in a letter to the alien guest, what water is and the features of water. How do humans use water? Where do humans get water? What makes water special? What would happen to people, plants, animals, and weather if Earth didn’t have water?

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

Copyright © 2015 Jill Eisenberg. All Rights Reserved.


Celebrate and Learn About STEM on International Women’s Day

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, explore STEM concepts with students through the lens of environmental science and conservation. Students can read about women-led conservation movements in Kenya and India.

Seeds of Change, Lee & Low Books, 2010

Seeds of Change, Lee & Low Books, 2010

Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace (nonfiction/biography) Interest level: grades 1–6

written by Jen Cullerton Johnson and illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler

A picture book biography of scientist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman—and first environmentalist—to win a Nobel Peace Prize (in 2004) for her work planting trees in her native Kenya. Blazing a trail in the field of science, Wangari used her knowledge and compassion to promote the rights of her countrywomen and help save the land, one tree at a time.

 

Aani and the Tree Huggers, Lee & Low Books, 1995

Aani and the Tree Huggers, Lee & Low Books, 1995

Aani and the Tree Huggers (fiction) Interest level: grades 1–4

written by Jeannine Atkins and illustrated by Venantius J. Pinto

Based on a true event in northern India, Aani and the Tree Huggers presents an enduring message of environmental action. Aani acts with quiet, instinctive heroism to save not only her special tree, but also the village’s beloved forest.

Themes: Ecology, Environmental Science, Conservation, Activism

International Women's DayBefore reading:

  • Ask students what they know about Kenya and India. Help students locate these countries on a map or globe.
  • Ask students what they know about deforestation. How do trees help people and ecosystems? What are examples of ways people depend on trees?

Questions during reading:

  • How do these women respond to the destruction of trees in their communities?
  • What causes deforestation in these communities?
  • What do these texts teach about interdependence?
  • How are we responsible for our environment? What suggestions do these books offer to take care of the world around us?
  • How do these books demonstrate the value of conservation?
  • What risks do these women take for their goals? Why do you think they took these risks? What are their motivations to act?
  • How do these women empower other women? How do these women demonstrate perseverance and leadership?

Activity Suggestions:

  1. Create a Venn Diagram comparing the central figures, Aani and Wangari Maathai, or the books, Aani and the Tree Huggers and Seeds of Change.
  2. Encourage students to research the Chipko Andolan movement (Hug the Tree Movement) in India or the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. What events took place? What was the purpose(s) of these movements? What were the results?
  3. Study the history of a nearby state or national park. Who was involved in its establishment? What challenges did people face in its creation? What makes this place unique or significant? Show students how to find a state or national park near them. Visit the National Park Service’s Find a Park web page.
  4. Have students identify the trees in their neighborhood. Check out the Arbor Day Foundation’s step-by-step Tree Identification guide. Help students study one of these species. Describe its physical features, including trunk, leaves/needles, and roots. Where is this species found? What types of animals live near, in, or among this species? How do people use this tree species? What survival challenges does this species face today?

 

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

Copyright © 2015 Jill Eisenberg. All Rights Reserved.