STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Explore Solids and Liquids!

Explore Solids and Liquids! With 25 Great ProjectsExploreSolidsAndLiquids_Cover
by Kathleen M. Reilly, illus. by Bryan Stone
96 pages, grades 2-4
Nomad Press, 2014



Why is water watery? Why are solids hard? Why does steam float?

These questions are ones you might hear from a seven-year-old, and this book has the answers. Explore Solids and Liquids! with 25 Great Projects brings basic chemistry into the classroom or kitchen and makes it accessible for kids in grades two through four, and for anyone else who needs a refresher course in the different stages of matter.

Explore Solids and Liquids even goes beyond the three stages—solid, liquid, gas—many of us know from science classes past. Have you ever experienced non-Newtonian liquids? You probably have, even if you didn’t know it at the time! Non-Newtonian liquids behave differently in different situations. For example, when you try to punch your fist into a bowl of non-Newtonian liquid, it feels like a solid and your hand doesn’t get very far. If you slide your hand in gently, you can easily reach the bottom of the bowl.ExploreSolidsAndLiquids_9781619302389

This happens because there’s not enough space between those atoms to separate quickly and flow around your fist. When you move more slowly, however, those atoms have the time to rearrange themselves and behave like liquid around your hand.

Have you ever heard of oobleck? This is an easy non-Newtonian fluid to make at home or at school. Start with a cup of water in a rimmed cookie sheet and add about 1½ to 2 cups of cornstarch until it’s thick and gooey. Do some experiments with pennies, marbles, string, food coloring, and your hands!

You can watch a video of people playing with a pool of non-Newtonian liquid—they even try to ride a bike on the stuff!

Enjoy learning about solids, liquids, gases, and everything in between
with Explore Solids and Liquids!


STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2014 Nomad Press All Rights Reserved.

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?


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?




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

Copyright © 2015 Jill Eisenberg. All Rights Reserved.


A Rock Is Lively

rockA Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long, published by Chronicle Books, is the fourth book in the series by this team. I enjoyed the other ones, but having some experience with geology, and my own significant rock collection, I found this newest book to be particularly compelling.

One does not generally think of rocks as particularly lively, but Aston’s words, and Long’s illustrations take us on a journey around the earth (and even into space!) to see just how varied and changing and full of life rocks really are. The illustrations are perfection, full of color and detail, and capture the essence of a wide variety of rocks. Everything from the “mixed up” Lapis Lazuli, to the “galactic” rocks that fall from space, to the stunning insides of geodes are offered up to the reader with gusto. Aston’s words are poetic and yet simple. She skillfully captures the facts that make this book nonfiction, while at the same time giving them to us with a bright and clear voice.

I loved this book, and I think it might be my favorite of theirs. It is a beautiful example of nonfiction picture book done well. And one that my son and I can read again and again, continuing to be amazed at the stunning liveliness of rocks.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2013 Amanda K. Jaros All Rights Reserved.


Come See the Earth Turn


Come See the Earth Turn

By Lori Mortensen

Illustrated by Raul Allen

Tricycle Press, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58246-284-4

Nonfiction picture book

Ages 8-12

Come See the Earth Turn tells the story of Leon Foucault and the way he proved that the Earth turned using a pendulum to show the movement. Lacking formal training, Foucault, a poor student, found his place in developing “clever instruments and magnificent contraptions.”

He wondered about questions relating to light, its speed, and how to prove these sorts of things. And while people had begun to think the Earth turned, no one had proved it—until Foucault did.

Even though he’d received honors for his work, he wasn’t formally trained and it wasn’t until three years before his death that he was granted membership into the French Academy of Science.

The book contains an author’s note, glossary with pictures of the instruments, and bibliography.  In this day of Common Core State Standards, this book begs to be included in classroom and library lessons.

It would make a wonderful introduction to a lesson on Earth science, gravity, and the Earth’s motion. The invention could be compared with that of another early scientist and used as a way to show the scientific method.

Determine the main idea and find examples of how the story supports it. Look up the tools listed in the vocabulary to find more about how they worked to support academic and domain-specific word acquisition.

Compare the book with a scientific explanation of the Earth’s motion and discuss they different ways the authors used to explain this principle.

With the Next Generation Science Standards now available, the book fits perfectly with the Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions and Earth’s Place in the Universe strand. It would kick off a fun lesson to begin a study of these topics in the relevant grades.

Nonfiction is a terrific way to liven up lessons and provides a fun introduction to many topics. It gives teachers, parents, and librarians the opportunity to show children the pleasure and fun of nonfiction.

This site has a good biography of Foucault.


STEM Friday with Annie Biotica

The Case of the Sneezing Popcorn: Annie Biotica Solves Respiratory System Disease Crimes

By Michelle Faulk, PhD
48 pages, ages 10 and up
Enslow Publishers, Inc. 2013

ISBN 978-0-7660-3946-9 Available in library binding, paperback, and eBook versions

 The Case of the Sneezy Popcorn: Annie Biotica Solves Respiratory System Disease Crimes is all about readers experiencing the scientific method that medical teams and scientists use to decipher symptoms and lab test results. That’s why we chose to feature this title for STEM Friday this week.

What do you get when you combine evil microbes trying to harm the respiratory system and a super detective skilled at body system disease investigations? Enter crime-solving super sleuth, Agent Annie Biotica!

A brief description of the respiratory system, supported by a labeled diagram, is followed by five individual cases regarding strep throat, hantavirus, whooping cough, pneumonia, and cold and flu. Readers follow Agent Annie Biotica as she uses logic and the scientific method to solve each case. She searches for clues, identifies microbe suspects, gathers evidence, makes a verdict, and finally she treats the patient accordingly.

An added feature is that there are three more cases at the end of the book that readers can try to solve on their own using the methods featured in the previous chapters.

The Case of the Sneezy Popcorn is just one of the six books in our “Body System Disease Investigations” series written by Michelle Faulk, PhD.  Each book in this series covers life science, body systems, and health in a unique way while supporting the science curriculum. Graphic-style illustrations and character, Annie Biotica, make this series fun and engaging while presenting content that students will find relevant to their own lives.

The Crime: Not having enough engaging STEM books to share with students.

Clues: Some children appear bored. Others are sleeping at their desks.

Suspects: Old, boring science lessons.

Evidence: Doodling on science notebook covers. Loud snoring.

Verdict: Students need fun and engaging STEM books.

Treatment: Body System Disease Investigation books!

Case closed!

About the author: Michelle Faulk has a PhD in virology and microbiology from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She has worked as a medical researcher, teacher, and editor, and is currently an author.


Join STEM Friday!

We invite you to join us!

  • Write about STEM each Friday on your blog.
  • Copy the STEM Friday button to use in your blog post.

STEM Friday

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

  • Link your post to the comments of our weekly STEM Friday Round-up. (Please use the link to your STEM Friday post, not the address of your blog. Thanks!)

Site Meter Copyright © 2013 Enslow Publishers, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.


STEM Friday: Max Axiom is Back!

Max4Kids’ favorite super scientist Max Axiom is back in a brand new graphic nonfiction series perfect for STEM studies, Graphic Science and Engineering in Action.

For those that need a reminder on Max’s backstory… Using the powers he acquired in a freak accident, Max has the ability to shrink to the size of an atom or ride on a sound wave. Equipped with his sunglasses (giving him x-ray vision) and lab coat (allowing him to travel through time and space), Max Axiom demonstrates and explores concepts in ways never before experienced in the classroom. Max illustrates the how’s and why’s of science, making difficult concepts accessible to readers.

Max1In Graphic Science and Engineering in Action, Max Axiom is on new missions, from using the engineering process to design and build a skateboard and recycling center to learning more about the amazing careers in science and the incredible work of engineers. Readers see firsthand how cool and exciting science can be!

Kids who love science with Max Axiom will love our new poster too! We’re giving away copies on the Capstone Connect blog, so head on over there and enter for your chance to win one for your library or classroom!

This post is part of STEM Friday, a collection of children’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math books. Check out more book reviews from STEM bloggers in the comments section of this post.

Join STEM Friday!

We invite you to join us!

  • Write about STEM each Friday on your blog.
  • Copy the STEM Friday button to use in your blog post.

STEM Friday

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

  • Link your post to the comments of our weekly STEM Friday Round-up. (Please use the link to your STEM Friday post, not the address of your blog. Thanks!)

Site Meter Copyright © 2012 Jennifer Glidden All Rights Reserved.


Bugs and Bugsicles

Bugs & BugsiclesBugs and Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter

By Amy Hansen; illustrated by Robert C. Kray

32 pages, ages 7-9; Boyds Mills Press

Unlike the grasshopper of Aesop’s Fables fame, many insects begin their winter preparations while the weather is still warm. In late summer Monarch butterflies get ready to fly to Mexico, honeybees cap off their cells full of pollen and nectar, and ants stockpile seeds of all sorts and sizes.

Dragonfly nymphs curl up in the mud. Not only does the mud protect nymphs from cold, but it hides the nymphs from hungry fish. Ladybugs are more gregarious – they snuggle in hidden ladybug clusters until spring returns.

Then there are the bugs that go into “diapause” – a state of dormancy that allows them to survive temperature extremes – and others that simply freeze, turning into bugsicles, like the Arctic Woolly Bear caterpillar that Amy Hansen writes about in Bugs and Bugsicles.

Hansen provides detailed notes on how the Woolly Bear pulls off its bugsicle act, and includes two hands-on investigations perfect for playing around with next time it’s too frigid for playing outside.

You can check out more about bugsicles and insect antifreeze over at Archimedes Notebook. Review copy provided by publisher.

Check out what other bloggers are posting today:

Carry Me

learn how animal parents carry their young over at Sally’s Bookshelf.




Wrapped in Foil reviews a book about peculiar plants.



Join STEM Friday!

We invite you to join us!

  • Write about STEM each Friday on your blog.
  • Copy the STEM Friday button to use in your blog post.

STEM Friday

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

  • Link your post to the comments of our weekly STEM Friday Round-up. (Please use the link to your STEM Friday post, not the address of your blog. Thanks!)

Site Meter Copyright © 2013 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


STEM Friday: Infinity and Me

If you’re looking for a way to inspire very young people to wonder about math and science, look no further than Infinity and Me!

  • Hosford, Kate. 2012. Infinity and Me. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda. (Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska)

Infinity and Me will open up (dare I say it?) infinite possibilities and questions!

A small girl, Uma, ponders infinity while gazing at stars,

How many stars were in the sky? A million? A billion? Maybe the number was as big as infinity.  I started to feel very, very small.  How could I even think about something as big as infinity?

Uma proceeds to ask others how they conceive of infinity, and hears it defined in quantities of numbers, time, music, ancestors – even spaghetti!  Finally, she settles on her own measure of infinity, quantified in something that is both personal and boundless.  Full-bleed painted illustrations by Gabi Swiatkowska capture the magical sense of  the endless immensity of infinity that at first perplexes Uma, and finally envelops her in understanding.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how one envisions infinity; what does matter is kindling an interest in something broader, wider, more infinite than oneself.

This is an intriguing introduction to a mathematical concept.  Suggested for ages 5 and up.

For Teachers:

A curriculum guide for Infinity and Me is available on the author’s website.

Book details from the publisher’s website:

Pages: 32Trim Size: 9 1/4 x 11Dewey: [E]Reading Level: 3Interest Level: K-4Ages: 5-10ATOS Quiz #: 0.5ATOS AR Points: 3.40ATOS: 151611.00Lexile Level: 670

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

Join STEM Friday!

We invite you to join us!

  • Write about STEM each Friday on your blog.
  • Copy the STEM Friday button to use in your blog post.
STEM Friday
  • Link your post to the comments of our weekly STEM Friday Round-up. (Please use the link to your STEM Friday post, not the address of your blog. Thanks!)
Site Meter Copyright © 2012 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.


Olivia’s Birds

Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf

by Olivia Bouler

32 pages, ages 7 and up

Sterling Children’s Books, 2011

To 13-year old Olivia Bouler, birds are fascinating, unique and intriguing. She’s been watching birds – and drawing them – for most of her life, from her backyard on Long Island (NY) to the rocky Maine coast to the sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast.

When the BP oil spill happened in April, 2010, Bouler worried for the birds. She knew that oily water would spell disaster for nesting, and she wanted to do something to help. But what can an 11-year old do to save birds?

Then she had an idea: she would sell bird drawings to raise money to save the birds. She pens a letter to the Audubon Society explaining that she is a “decent drawer” and plans to sell pictures of birds to raise money for bird rescue. In the first month she received 500 requests for paintings and raised more than $150,000.

Bouler’s book – which she wrote later that year – is part field guide, part oil-spill story. She writes about – and draws – birds that live in the woods, near the water, or in your back yard.

“You may not notice the birds around you, but there are lots of them right outside your window,” she writes. Bouler describes how birds learn to fly (from their parents), shows different habitats (forest, wetlands) and draws pictures of the weirdest, wackiest birds she’s heard of – like the scissor-tailed flycatcher.

She writes about the importance of helping birds and lists what she would do if she were President of the US: stop deforestation, use cleaner energy, and put the “eco” back into the economy.

“Even though I’m not, I know that I can make a difference,” writes Bouler. “And so can you. Kids CAN do important things to preserve our earth.” Things like putting up a bird feeder, composting egg shells and orange peels, and recycling and conserving the things we use.

Check out a talk with Olivia at Archimedes Notebook and Olivia’s facebook page.