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.


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Books for Left-brained Kids

On Wednesday, I wrote a post about the pros and (oh, yes!) cons of narrative nonfiction on my personal blog, Celebrate Science. It led to so much discussion on Twitter, that I thought I’d explore my evolving ideas a little more here.

So we all know that lately narrative nonfiction is getting a lot of buzz in the kidlit community. Editors look for it. Awards committees honor it. Teachers and librarians buy it. And yet, by and large, kids just don’t seem to be drawn to it.

Now there are lots of possible reasons for that, but today I’d like to talk about what kinds of nonfiction school librarians tell me elementary kids do love. They pick it themselves, and they read it enthusiastically.

#1 The Gunniess Book of World Records

#2 Anything like The Gunniess Book of World Records, such as the National Geographic’s Kids Everything books

#3 Any book on any topic they are interested in, whether it’s an award-winning book or not. All that matters is the topic—dirt bikes, snowboarding, spiders, dinosaurs, monsters, cars, UFOs, ghosts, swords.

These books generally don’t win awards. They aren’t the ones the adult kidlkit community gets excited about. And for the most part, they aren’t the books editors are actively seeking out. Why is that?

Frankly, I think the answer has to do with brain chemistry. Yep, I’m serious.

Think about it. Most editors and librarians and elementary teachers and kidlit advocates have brains that work in a particular way. They are naturally drawn to the arts and humanities and social sciences. They are right-brain thinkers.

But there is a whole different way of interacting with and experiencing the world. Left-brain thinkers are straight-line thinkers–scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and computer programmers. Logic, not emotion, rules in the land of the analytical.

Left-brain thinkers love reading and sharing The Guinness Book of World Records and other just-the-facts books because these titles are chockful of what they love best– data. Kids can use the information they gather in these books to learn about the world and its possibilities and their place in it. And that’s what they want more than anything.

IMHO, these kids aren’t drawn to narrative (fiction or nonfiction) in the same way that right-brained kids (and adults, such as most book editors and elementary teachers and librarians and kidlit advocates are). They don’t crave an emotional connection with the main character in a novel or a central figure in a biography. They want the data, and then they will interpret it for themselves.

But right-brained kids aren’t reading narrative nonfiction. They are perfectly content with novels. And so that leaves narrative nonfiction sitting on a shelf.

So here’s my take home message: I strongly believe that left-brain thinkers are currently being underserved by the kidlit community. We need to honor and nurture their analytical minds by:

–appreciating the value of existing books that meet the needs of these students

–purchasing more books that will appeal to them (even if they don’t appeal to us)

–creating more books that help them understand the world and its possibilities and their place in it.

If we want a strong STEM workforce in the future, we need to meet the needs of curious left-brained thinkers today.

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STEM Friday: Feats of Engineering

Bridges and Tunnels: Investigate Feats of Engineering with 25 Projects by Donna Latham
2012 Nomad Press

Sunny mornings like today always conjure up some of the spectacular vistas that stick in my mind from all sorts of places I’ve been in my life. Since I spent many years in the Bay Area, the views across the bay are some of the most frequent. And I’m not alone. Once you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, you never forget it. The view is nothing short of stunning in all directions. But there’s a lot more to that bridge than meets the eye.

I’d like to introduce you to our new Investigate Feats of Engineering titles by featuring the first in this category that we’ve done. Bridges and Tunnels: Investigate Feats of Engineering with 25 Projects invites children 9 and up to explore the innovation and physical science behind these remarkable structures that our world depends on. They’ll learn about some of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles like vast canyons and mountain ranges that engineers and builders have tackled to design and construct such amazing passageways. Bridges and tunnels are lifelines that connect people and places. And some of the world’s most spectacular bridges have equally amazing stories to go along with them.

This book takes a challenging topic and makes it accessible to children. Hands-on activities encourage children to embrace the important engineering skill of trial and error. They’ll experiment with a triangular toothpick dome, liquefaction, and corrosion. They’ll make an egg bungee jump and a soda pop can engine. And with some great history thrown in, there are many lessons to be learned!

Enjoy this title and we look forward to Canals and Dams: Investigate Feats of Engineering with 25 Projects coming soon!

Today’s post is part of STEM Friday, a weekly round-up of children’s science, engineering, math and technology books.

Join STEM Friday!

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Happy STEM Friday to all!

Pam at Nomad


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STEM Friday: The Invention of Time!

Did you know there’s a clock in Boulder, Colorado that can keep the time to within 1 second in 3.7 billion years?! It’s considered the most accurate clock in the world. It’s an optical clock, and what that means is that instead of using the vibration of atoms or molecules, like our current atomic clocks use, it uses light to keep time.

That’s pretty cool. But how did this method of keeping time evolve? And why is it even important to be this accurate?

When a child (or an adult for that matter!) asks, what is time, the explanation isn’t an easy one. Yes, time is a way to keep track of our lives—the school year, the season, the age of our dog (in human and doggy years)…it seems like time has always existed. Well, it has, but what time is today—seconds, minutes, days, etc.—isn’t what time was millions of years ago, when telling time didn’t exist as we know it. It’s easy to forget that the act of telling time is one of the greatest inventions of mankind!

It’s easy to forget that things like minutes and months are an invention in the first place! So that’s why we’re featuring, Timekeeping: Explore the History and Science of Telling Time with 15 Projects for today’s STEM Friday post. Because understanding timekeeping involves knowledge of all of these things: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Timekeeping, a book for kids ages 9-12,explores how humans have measured the passage of time since, well, since the beginning of “time,” when the sun told the time, and days were kept with a shadow clock. Nights were kept by the phases of the moon. It teaches kids about the process of mathematically calculating calendars, and about all of the phases our current Gregorian calendar has gone through to be the twelve-month, 365-day calendar that it is now. They’ll learn how to make a sundial and a clepsydra, a clock devised by the Egyptians that uses dripping water to track time. They’ll also learn cool facts like why Daylight Savings Time exists, and that another name for it is “War Time,” because it was originally implemented to save fuel during WWI.

The projects, facts, and much more make reading this book no waste of time!

Today’s post is part of STEM Friday, a weekly round-up of children’s science, engineering, math and technology books.

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Site Meter Copyright © 2012 Nomad Press. All Rights Reserved.


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Why I Write STEM Books for Kids

Why I Write STEM Books for Kids
by Melissa Stewart

It was 1996. My first children’s book had just been accepted for publication, and I was headed to East Africa to do research for a second book. Life was good—or so it seemed.

As friends and family heard about my success, I received a flood of phone calls. They congratulated me, of course. But they also asked some unexpected questions.

“So now are you going to write a real book? You know, one for adults.”

“It’s nonfiction? That’s great. But wouldn’t you rather write fiction?”

These questions confused me. They made me wonder and worry. Was I headed down the wrong path? Was writing for children a waste of time? Was nonfiction less important than fiction?

Luckily, my journey halfway around the world gave me the perspective—and the answers—I needed.

One night around a campfire at the edge of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, Ann Prewitt, an anthropologist and educator from the American Museum of Natural History, said she was fascinated by aha moments—seemingly small experiences that change the course of a person’s life. She asked the circle of scientists if they could recall such events from their own lives.

When my turn came, I described exploring a wooded area in western Massachusetts with my dad and brother when I was eight years old. As we hiked, my dad asked lots of questions:

“Why do stone walls run through the middle of the woods?”

“Why do sassafras trees have three kinds of leaves?”

“Why don’t chipmunks build their nests in trees like squirrels?”

He wanted us to think about our surroundings, and he knew a guessing game would be more engaging than a lecture.

As we reached the top of a hill, my dad stopped and scanned the landscape. Then he asked if we noticed anything unusual about that area of the woods.

My brother and I looked around.

We looked at each other.

We shook our heads.

But then, suddenly, the answer came to me. “All the trees seem kind of small,” I said.

My dad nodded. He explained that there had been a fire in the area about twenty-five years earlier. All the trees had burned and many animals had died, but over time, the forest had recovered.

Why was that an aha moment for me? Because I instantly understood the power of nature. I also realized that a field, a forest, any natural place has stories to tell, and I could discover those stories just by looking.

As the firelight flickered across the African savanna and I described my childhood insights, heads nodded all around me. I was among a new group of friends, kindred spirits who understood my fascination with the natural world.

They knew why I didn’t write fiction.

They knew why children were my primary audience.

And suddenly, so did I. It was another aha moment.

Now, 16 years later, I’ve written more than 150 children’s books about science and nature. Some people still ask me why I’ve never written a book for adults. Others want to know if I’ll ever write a novel. But these questions no longer bother me.

I know that my personal mission, the purpose of my writing, is to give today’s children their own aha moments in the natural world—the same gift my dad gave me on that special walk through the Massachusetts woods.

Join STEM Friday!

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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!)

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STEM Friday: Animal Homes

STEM Friday: Animal Homes
By Shirley Duke of SimplyScience.

Animal Homes

By Angela Wilkes

Kingfisher, 2012

Discover Science Series

ISBN #9780753467756

Nonfiction

Grades K-3

“Animals need home for all of the same reasons that people do. Homes provide shelter and keep animals warm in the winter. They are a safe place to rest and raise babies.”

Animal Homes  introduces the variety of homes and locations where vertebrate and invertebrate animals live. An introductory paragraph sets the facts included about the specific home; short text passages give detailed information about animals living in that sort of home. Large, clear photographs support the text information that will appeal to the readers of this age range. Each spread discusses a specific kind of home following the introduction.

After defining homes, the book covers homes along the water and in it, nests of all kinds, underground homes and hibernation, colonies and cells such as honeycombs, and snow homes. The animals inhabiting each location are described by explaining how and why they live there.

This book addresses many areas of science. Life cycles, habitats, adaptations, and animal habitats are included within the information. Something else I noticed is the attention to aspects of the Common Core. Topics address the nonfiction reading and information. Rings point out details in photos to illustrate specific information. Back matter suggests specific activities to do that relate to the reading and extending the knowledge. It also has parent and teacher notes that include extension activities across the curriculum, as well as table of contents, glossary, a short quiz, and a find out more section.

The beauty of this book and its series is that it covers so many parts of life science. This book in a library will not only enhance the collection but it will provide a wide range of science for one reading. Kingfisher books are excellent choices for their quality and well-chosen information.

Activity

Set up a field notebook for recording observations to use throughout the year. Inlcude qualitative observations and quantitative observations. Qualitative observations include information observed using the senses. Quantitative observations are those that include recording facts numerically. Choose one of the activities on pages 50-51 and do it. Record the findings in your field notebook.

National Science Standards: growth and development; adaptation

Book provided by publisher.

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Join STEM Friday!

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  • 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 Shirley Duke All Rights Reserved.