Common Core & NGSS

STEM Tuesday– Tiny Worlds (Microscopic/Nanotech)- Book List


This month we delve into the world of the TINY… the microscopic even. Then we go even further to the world of the nanoparticle. Dive into these books and learn about the world that you can’t even see with your own eyes but is found all around you.




Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies

This book is perfect for the curious kid who wants to know how microbes work. 

All around the world—in the sea, in the soil, in the air, and in your body—there are living things so tiny that millions could fit on an ant’s antenna. They’re busy doing all sorts of things, from giving you a cold and making yogurt to eroding mountains and helping to make the air we breathe.


It’s Catching: The Infectious World of Germs and Microbes by Jennifer Gardy 

Good for readers who want to learn all about germs

Don’t be afraid to delve into the good, bad, and sometimes truly ugly world of germs. Microbiologist Jennifer Gardy, who calls herself a disease detective, picks up her microscope to bring expert insight to the microbes that are all around us but are too small to see.



Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth by Nicola Davies

A great companion book to the Tiny Creatures book above.

The more we study the world around us, the more living things we discover every day. The planet is full of millions of species of plants, birds, animals, and microbes, and every single one — including us — is part of a big, beautiful, complicated pattern.



Hidden Worlds: Looking Through a Scientist’s Microscope (Scientists in the Field Series) by Stephen Kramer

Ever wonder what you’ll find looking through a microscope? This book can help with that!

There are hidden worlds in nature—places you can visit only with a microscope. For more than twenty-five years, Dennis Kunkel has been exploring these worlds. Through the lenses of powerful microscopes, he has examined objects most people have never even thought about: a mosquito’s foot, a crystal of sugar, a grain of pollen, the delicate hairs on a blade of grass.



It’s a Fungus Among Us: The Good, the Bad & the Downright Scary by Carla Billups and Dawn Cusick

All about Fungus! Who wouldn’t want to read this book? 

In It’s a Fungus Among Us, you’ll meet the wild group of organisms that can turn ants into zombies and eat trillions of pounds of feces every day. They’re not all gross though, these are the same types of organisms that make cheese stretchy, add sour tastes to candy, and make bread rise!



Nanoparticle level 


Super Gear: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up by Jennifer Swanson

A fun look at the science of nanotechnology and something the majority of us do every day — play sports! 

Take a close-up look at sports and nanotechnology, the cutting-edge science that manipulates objects at the atomic level. Nanotechnology is used to create high-tech swimsuits, tennis rackets, golf clubs, running shoes, and more. It is changing the face of sports as we know it.



Nanotechnology (Cutting-edge Science and Technology) by Janet Slingerland

Nanotechnology — it’s everywhere! Check out this great book to learn more! 

Examines the current status of the field of nanotechnology, including recent work and new technological developments, and discusses noted individuals and controversial issues.



Looking for a way to STEAM up the month? Take a listen to this rap about photosynthesis by Mr. D. Learn some amazing facts about the microscopic processes of how plants get energy.



Jennifer Swanson is the creator and administrator of the STEMTuesday blog. She is also the award-winning author of over 35 nonfiction books for kids. A self-professed science geek, Jennifer started a science club in her garage when she was 7 years old. While no longer working from the garage, Jennifer’s passion for science and writing is evident in her many books and also her presentations at the World Science Festival and the National Book Festival (2019). You can find Jennifer through her website,

STEM Tuesday — Chemistry ROCKS! — Interview with Author Kathy Ceceri

Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview & Book Giveaway, a repeating feature for the fourth Tuesday of every month. Go Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!

Today we’re interviewing Kathy Ceceri about her chemistry-infused book, EDIBLE INVENTIONS: Cooking Hacks and Yummy Recipes You Can Build, Mix, Bake, and Grow. says,”this book is such a great source to explore and learn through science and more.”

Mary Kay Carson: How did Edible Inventions come to be?

Kathy Ceceri: I have to credit my friend Miguel Valenzuela, inventor of the PancakeBot, a kind of 3D printer for making cool designs with pancake batter. I had written two books for Maker Media — Making Simple Robots and Paper Inventions — and gotten good feedback from educators and families looking for low-tech projects to help kids learn about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) concepts. I ran into Miguel at World Maker Faire New York — one of the worldwide celebrations of creativity in tech produced by Maker Media — where I was a speaker, but also casting about for inspiration for my next title. Miguel suggested I focus on food projects, and I roped him into a creating one of them — a hand-powered Lego version of the PancakeBot that lets kids “draw” with icing on cookies. The other projects touch on a wide variety of science and technology, with a heavy emphasis on chemistry, of course!

MKC: What was it like developing all these projects?

Kathy: Like most science experimentation, this one involved a lot of mishap! I spent several days trying to build an edible Rube Goldberg machine that included cucumber slice “dominoes” and a marble run using celery stalks and cherry tomatoes, but in the end it proved too difficult to coordinate all the moving parts. (You can see a test run video here.) More successful was the cardboard box solar oven. After going through several iterations, I finally developed a design that got hot enough to bake a chocolate cake! One of the things I loved about this book (and all my books, really) was learning a bunch of new stuff. For instance, thanks to a tip from another friend, flour expert Amy Halloran, I discovered that housewives used to make their own baking powder from chemicals they got at the local pharmacy. But probably the best part of creating Edible Inventions was getting to eat the results!

MKC: Why do you choose to write STEM books?

Kathy: My background is as a journalist. Over the years, I’ve written for local newspapers, magazines such as Sesame Street Parent, and websites such as (where I helped create the GeekMom blog) and (now Thoughtco, where I was the Homeschooling Expert). I’ve covered education, child development, history, art, and science — but I’m not an expert in any of those areas. You could say my expertise is in digging up background information research, finding the right people to talk to, and asking the right questions. My real talent is knowing how to distill what I learn into a form that’s easy for anyone to understand.

Kathy Ceceri is the author of over a dozen books of nonfiction for middle grade readers that teach STEAM along with history, geography, literature, and culture. Her hands-on projects have been used in classrooms and enrichment programs across the country and around the globe. Visit Kathy at Crafts for Learning, and follow her on Twitter @kathyceceri for sneak peeks of works in progress and links to her free online tutorials (including how to make Juicy Edible Gel Dots from Edible Inventions)!

I began focusing on STEAM (the “Art” is an important aspect to me!) after educational publisher Nomad Press asked me to do a book on robotics. Because my then-teenage oldest son was exploring robotics at the time as part of his homeschooling studies, I had spent a couple of years jumping on any opportunity to interview robotics engineers and designers. So I already had a good grasp of the basics, and a contact list of experts who were kind enough to let me pick their brains for topics and project ideas. I discovered I really enjoyed the process and I’m good at it, so I’ve continued writing about STEAM topics even after my kids grew up and moved onto other interests!

Today I teach crafts-based electronics and enrichment programs for kids and teens, and present hands-on professional development workshops for teachers and librarians. I’ve also worked with the Girl Scouts of the USA on their recent line of Robotics badges and their first-ever Cyber Challenge, coming this fall. All of these experiences help me keep in touch with what students and educators want to know about STEAM topics and ensure my writing is fresh and relevant.

MKC: To whom did you imagine yourself writing to while drafting the book?

Kathy: All my books are written for readers with little to no knowledge about the topic. That’s where I am at the start, too. So I can recognize the places where beginners are going to need some hand-holding and encouragement. I always try to relate concepts and techniques to things the reader is already familiar with. With robots, I use familiar materials like cardboard and duct tape. With Edible Inventions, I included a chapter featuring recipes that used standard ingredients and techniques to create unexpected textures and flavors (sort of like Molecular Cuisine, but using things you could find in any supermarket or natural food store). What makes my book different from an ordinary cookbook is that I emphasize the science. How does whipping an egg white turn a gooey liquid into a stiff meringue? Why do juice-flavored gelatin dots change color when you plop them into lemon-lime soda? And what’s the chemical reaction that causes watermelon lemonade to foam up and bubble over when you add a touch of baking soda? Readers get to learn about chemistry while making tasty snacks — what could be better?

MKC: What’s your current project and how are you tackling it?

Kathy: My next book, Bots! from Nomad Press, is an update on my original 2012 book Robotics. It contains several new projects and topics, as well as old favorites. As with every book I write, I try to approach the topic from as many different angles as possible. I firmly believe that showing how science relates to other kinds of creative activities helps bring in people who might not otherwise give it a try. So along with engineering, electronics and programming, there’s a “kitchen chemistry” robotics project that shows you how to make edible, stretchable robot skin! And like most of my projects, it ties into actual research — in this case, researchers who are trying to make inflatable robots that can crawl or slither into hard-to-reach areas. They hope their edible robots could help rescue lost explorers trapped in a cave, for example, and provide nourishment after sending back data about their location. You can see video of my homemade edible inflatable robot here. Bots! comes out in October 2019.


Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below. The randomly-chosen winner will be contacted via email and asked to provide a mailing address (within the U.S. only) to receive the book.

Good luck!

Your host is Mary Kay Carson, author of The Tornado Scientist, Alexander Graham Bell for Kids, Mission to Pluto, Weird Animals, and other nonfiction books for kids. @marykaycarson

STEM Tuesday — Chemistry ROCKS! — Writing Tips & Resources


The crowd chants as the June sun sets on the western horizon. The emcee, DJ “Atom” Mick Orbitals, takes the stage to thunderous applause.

“Ladies and gentlemen…


The crowd explodes with a roar like an alkali metal added to water. 


“Welcome to the Chemistry Rocks Summer World Tour 2019! Let’s rock!”

By via Wikimedia Commons.

STEM Tuesday fans, sit back, relax with your favorite chemically enhanced or brewed beverage and enjoy the show.

Chemistry Rocks!

It really does. Qualitative, quantitative, organic, bio, physical, whatever or whichever, they all rock the scene. From the twitch of a muscle to the Fourth of July fireworks display to the explosion of the LH2 (liquid hydrogen) fuel that propels a rocket into space toward Mars, chemistry is there. Reaction after reaction after reaction occurring all around us every microsecond of every day. Sight, smell, taste, touch (If you think about it, we can also technically go with sound when we consider the neurochemistry involved in processing a sound wave) are all affected by chemistry.

Chemical Fun!

Don’t throw your shoe at me! I realize not everyone has had a positive experience with chemistry. I understand. I’ve been there. The struggle was real. I was only able to dig myself out of a “D” hole in high school chemistry because of the additions I was able to add to my science teacher’s herpetological and ichthyological collections for extra credit on the biology side of his classroom. I washed out of Chemistry 101 as an immature, baseball-playing freshman in college and it took three full semesters to dig out of that hole in my transcript.

Chemistry is hard. It’s one of those sciences that is like a completely foreign language. Like the Tower of Babel, one can be confused, frustrated, and want to throw a shoe at that one person who tries to tell you that chemistry is fun. As with language, once you learn the basics, begin to understand the meanings of the words, and learn to navigate those foreign roads, a whole new world opens up. With chemistry comes a new understanding of the world around us and how it operates. We are able to drive our existence toward a better life.

And where else can you perform experiments where colors change, states of matter are shifted, and there’s a potential for explosions?

Celebrate the Periodic Table! 

In 1869 Mendeleev proposed the first periodic table of elements. That makes the periodic table 150 years old! In my opinion, it looks just a fresh and vibrant at 150 as it did in it’s 20s. Maybe even better! I guess some things get better with age, right? I’ve always marveled at the beauty of the periodic table. Well, I marveled when I finally gave in, buckled down and learned the basics of the periodic table. The periodic table is a masterpiece. Just as The Beatles had Sgt. Pepper’s, DaVinci the Mona Lisa, Michaelangelo his sculpture of David, chemistry has the periodic table.

Happy Birthday, Periodic Table!

Better Life

Chemistry has made life better.

I’m sitting on my back patio as I write this section. It’s a beautiful early June Saturday morning. Chemistry surrounds me.

  • I see the cat eating his store-bought cat food, which has been optimized through a blend of macro and micronutrients. In other words, chemistry.
  • There’s the gardener table I built from my kids’ old wooden swingset that both got a recent coat of water sealant. Chemistry.
  • The house paint. Chemistry.
  • The cement of the patio. Chemistry.
  • The flowers and vegetables in pots and in the garden which were recently fertilized with BR-61. Chemistry.
  • I just ate a bowl of rice cereal made from a chemistry-based recipe. The peanut butter on my toast is loaded with chemistry. Heck, even the toasting of the bread by electrical heating elements in a closed chamber is chemistry.
  • I’m working at a steel patio table painted with a rust deterrent coating while typing on a laptop that relies on rare earth metals. Tell me that’s not some amazing chemistry!

I could go on and on but the point is this:

We are surrounded by chemical marvels every second of every day.

Chemistry makes our lives better.

Dark Side

There’s little argument as to the benefits chemistry brings to society. But to everything good, there’s always a dark side. The dark side of chemistry often is a result of our attempts to develop a fix to one particular problem without consideration of the entire ramification spectrum. Pesticides that are also potent carcinogens. Pharmaceutical chemicals with side effects that almost override the positive effects or cause addiction. Chemical weapons.

I could go on with examples of chemistry gone wrong but the point remains we need to be more vigilant with the power of chemistry. The current and future generations of chemists need to design chemical solutions with an eye to the long-term effects and cost-benefit of the solution. This particular solution may work to solve the issue BUT what else does it do?

Writing With Chemistry

I was going to title this section, Writing Chemically, but had second thoughts about the unintended connotations associated with that title. Most writers would classify chemistry as something on the opposite end of the creative spectrum than writing. I understand but hear me out before launching the other shoe at my head.

An ionic bond forms between two oppositely charged atoms when an atom with the weaker force donates an electron to the atom with a stronger force. Covalent bonds form between two atoms when they share electrons to fill their outer orbitals. Hydrogen bonds are weaker bonds that form when the partial positive charge of the hydrogen is attracted to a negatively charged atom. When thinking about the interactions between story elements or characters, chemistry provides three good ways to explore these interactions and reactions.

Or how about using the principals of exothermic (heat released) and endothermic (heat absorbed) reactions to move the plot forward in your story? You can also think about character development in the structural terms of chemistry, primary structure, secondary structure, tertiary structure, and quaternary structure. All four structures contain the same basic bits; it’s a matter of increasing the complexity of the model.  

See? The principles of chemistry can help out the writer as well as the chemist. Another win for science!

By Thomas Shafee – Own work. Via Wikimedia Commons

Explore Chemistry!

Bottom line: Give chemistry a chance because it really does rock.

The benefits far outweigh the detriments.

The rewards in understanding the fundamentals of chemistry are well worth the failures, false starts, and frustrations of the learning process.

We are all a whole lot better off with chemistry than without (and it doesn’t even matter if we don’t understand a lick of the science behind it).

Chemistry Rocks!

Now go enjoy the show.

By Ian T. McFarland from Los Angeles, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Mike Hays has worked hard from a young age to be a well-rounded individual. A well-rounded, equal opportunity sports enthusiasts, that is. If they keep a score, he’ll either watch it, play it, or coach it. A molecular microbiologist by day, middle-grade author, sports coach, and general good citizen by night, he blogs about sports/training related topics at and writer stuff at www.mikehaysbooks.comTwo of his science essays, The Science of Jurassic Park and Zombie Microbiology 101,  are included in the Putting the Science in Fiction collection from Writer’s Digest Books. He can be found roaming around the Twitter-sphere under the guise of @coachhays64.


The O.O.L.F Files

The Out Of Left Field (O.O.L.F.) Files this month take a look at close look at chemistry from all angles, from industry to academics to studying for med school. Plus, what’s a look at how Chemistry ROCKS! without a look at the chemistry of rocks?