Diversity

STEM Tuesday – Shining the Light on Technology, Engineering, and Math — In the Classroom

Last week, the STEM Tuesday team featured this month’s Book List on the topic Shining the Light on Technology, Engineering, and Math. Click here to go back to that list.  It’s a broad-ranging list, certainly, which mades this week’s post about classroom applications even more fun! I’ve narrowed the focus to three amazing science topics.

CODING:

   Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World is by Reshma Saujani.  Saujani is not only the author of an amazing book, but she’s also the founder of a worldwide organization by the same name. Girls Who Code offers free summer programs and year-round clubs and is more than 90,000 girls strong! After sharing this book in your classrooms and libraries, visit the Girls Who Code website and find out how to start a club in your school or community.

And, the book? You’ll have see it to believe it. Half how-to, half graphic novel, this is the most clearly written, interactive, and non-intimidating explanation of coding of I’ve ever seen. As an adult reader, I was fascinated. Middle-graders – boys or girls – won’t find a more thorough introduction into coding anywhere.

ARCHITECHTURE:

From the temples of Greece to the Chrysler Building in New York City to the Sydney Opera House, The Story of Buildings is a visual feast paired with fascinating detail and information about dozens of the most famous buildings in the world.

Do a “Before You Go” Project:  Every school is different when it comes to field trips and travel opportunities for middle-graders. Some schools take an annual trip to Washington, DC, where the focus is often American history, but the opportunity for architectural study abounds.  My own children, who all attended a very rural public school, had the fortune to spend a weekend in Chicago as fifth graders, where everyone took the Chicago River Architectural Boat Tour.  Urban students might only need to go out their school’s front doors and look up to find inspiring examples of architecture.  Whether your class field trip takes you miles or minutes from home, consider using this book as a “before you go” learning experience.  The prior knowledge will shine through as your students recognize structural and design elements in every building they see.

ROBOTICS:

When it comes to robotics, classroom applications are seemingly endless! Below is a list of possible activities to explore after reading Jennifer Swanson’s Everything Robotics from National Geographic Kids.

  • Find a workshop, event, or online challenge for teams and individuals by clicking here to go to Robot Events, a web service of The Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, which exists to connect students, mentors, and schools in every community to a variety of successful and engaging technology-based programs.
  • LEGO fun. Click here to go the LEGO Middle School Education page.
  • Enlist NASA’s help! Visit NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project page for 6th – 8th graders for a list of links you’ll love!
  • Robot Scavenger Hunt – Robots are all around us. Start small. See if students can find any robots at work in their school or community. On a larger scale, take a look at robots in manufacturing. This interesting article will help you and your students locate which states rely most heavily on robotics to produce the goods we use every day.
  • Predicting the future:  Brainstorm in small groups what the future of robotics might hold. What are some potential practical uses of robotics that might make life better?
  • Hold a debate.  Are robots the key to a productive future? Or do they threaten jobs once filled by humans? Is there a possibility that robots could become too intelligent?  Here’s a great resource for holding classroom debates. I’d like to be a fly on the wall in a middle-grade classroom for this one!

Can you add to the conversation? In what ways have you been shining a light on Technology, Engineering, and Math? Comment below and share an idea!

Today’s STEM Tuesday post was prepared by Michelle Houts, wanna-be-coder, fan of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, future robot owner, and author of the Lucy’s Lab Chapter Books from Sky Pony Press.

STEM Tuesday — Highlights!

Hello STEM Tuesday enthusiasts! Can you believe that we’ve been doing this blog for 7 months now? How cool is that? We couldn’t do it without your interest and support. So, THANK YOU!!  It’s been a fabulous run and the best part is that we are just getting started. We have many more intriguing book topics for the rest of the year. If you haven’t signed up to get this newsletter weekly, please do so now. You will find the subscriber button in the upper-right hand corner.

BONUS: If you subscribe you won’t just get STEM Tuesday posts, but you’ll have access to all of the awesome posts by the Mixed-Up File-rs. GO Middle Grade books!

To celebrate our STEM Tuesday success and to provide you with a list of some STEM books for summer reading, we are going to take a look back at some of our past posts. So take time to click on the links below to see some of the awesome STEM middle grade books that we have highlighted. (HINT: If you click on the topic listed, you’ll be able to review the book list for that month)

Don’t worry, we are keeping STEM Tuesday running through the summer. Look for our list of exceptional STEM books COMING SOON in July so you can know what books to add to your classroom curriculum in the fall.

In the meantime, if you have suggestions, questions, or comments, don’t hesitate to contact us. Just send an email to STEMmuf@gmail.com

Cheers!

HIGHLIGHTS OF STEM TUESDAY

November– Zoology  

Book of the Month : Zoo Scientists to the Rescue by Patricia Newman 
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December  Science in Fiction Books

Book of the Month : Saving Wonder by Mary Knight
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January  Exploration

Book of the Month: Astronaut- Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact by Jennifer Swanson
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February  Wild and Wacky Science

Book of the Month: Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines by Sarah Albee

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March   Field Work

Book of the Month: Life on Surtsey: Iceland’s Upstart Island by Loree Griffin Burns

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April  All About Conservation  

Book of the Month: Back from the Brink by Nancy Castaldo

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May– Cool Inventions and the People Who Create Them  

Book of the Month: Alexander Graham Bell for Kids by  Mary Kay Carson
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Happy Reading! and GO STEM/STEAM books!

This blog was prepared by Jennifer Swanson

   Science Rocks! And so do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award-winning author of over 30 books for kids. When not writing, Jennifer can be found looking for the Science all around her. www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com

 

STEM Tuesday Inventors- Those Awesome People of Science – Writing Craft & Resources

 

Reading Between the Facts

Don’t you just love it when a story comes to life? When you are reading something and you can smell the sooty aromas, hear the grinding gears of a new invention, taste the tang of tart pie? And when, long after you’ve put a book down, you find yourself wondering about the characters? But that’s fiction, right? A story that wraps you up and carries you away.

Wait, what about fact-filled books that transport you like that? When I looked at this month’s book list, packed with techy inventions and their nerdy inventors, a story that transported me was the last thing I expected. Physical science isn’t my thing, so I gritted my teeth anticipating some dull, dry reading.

                     Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSupport Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSupport Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org                      
Boy was I wrong. Flying Machines: How the Write Brothers Soared had me so hooked I convinced my aerospace engineer husband he had to read it (sidenote: he was impressed with the accuracy of the content).  Eureka! Poems About Inventors drew me through periods of history I had never cared about. And then there’s Isaac The Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d which made me pondering how light works, I mean really think about the physics of it. A week later I found myself Googling “Newton’s Laws of Motion because I wanted to actually understand them – not just memorize them. How did this book do this to me?

I had to know.

So I did what every good writer does, I studied the words on the page. I looked at how Mary Losure cast stories, how she used sentences, how she arranged paragraphs, and how she constructed chapters that draw me in. And then I noticed something.

Writing Between the Facts

Mary Losure had written a lot between the facts. When you research a historical figure, you only have so much information.  From the level of detail included (like the child’s drawings found in the house where Isaac grew up) it is obvious that this author dug and dug and dug until she found gold. But even a gold nugget won’t reflect light unless it is polished and placed in just the right position – in this case it shone a spotlight on Isaac’s childhood attributes. Losure had to bridge the gaps between the facts.

I’m not saying she falsified facts. No, through clearly-stated, careful conjecture, she brilliantly brought her readers into the world of inquiry.

“Far in the future, a child’s drawings would be found scratched in the farmhouse’s soft stone walls: a windmill, a church, a figure with a spurred boot. It was clear the child who drew them was bright and imaginative. The pictures had been hidden by layers of plaster for many years. The people who found them wondered if the drawings had been made by Isaac. It was easy to imagine him scratching away, unnoticed by anybody in the busy household.” Page 5, The Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d

Once I noticed that, I turned my mental search engine on, pulled out my wet-erase markers and transparency paper. I got to work. I wanted to ferret out all of the hard facts on a page, find the gaps between them, and see how Losure bridged them. Laying the transparency paper over a page allowed me to mark up the page without leaving a mark in the book.

I highlighted the obvious facts in green, qualifying words in red, and passages I wasn’t sure about in yellow.

Page 5, Isaac The Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d 

Cool! Working my way through the book, I found lots of examples:

  • She presented us with quotes from texts he read: “In his book The Mysteries of Nature and Art, there were instructions for making: A Water Clock …” page 31
  • She admitted we don’t know but presented evidence: “No one today can know exactly how Isaac and his friends spent their time, but the list Isaac made …” page 55
  • She referenced oral history: “To this day, people tell an old familiar story …” page 122

I learned lots of writing moves from Mary Losure that day. And as a bonus, the next time I read a fact-filled text, you can be sure my mind will read right between the facts – that’s an skill for every reader needs to hone.

—–

By Heather L. Montgomery

Heather L. Montgomery writes for kids who are WILD about animals. She reads and writes while high in a tree, standing in a stream, or perched on a mountaintop boulder. www.HeatherLMontgomery.com


The O.O.L.F Files

For the Out of Left Field (O.O.L.F) post, let’s look at inventions gone wrong.

Some inventions are completely pointless, like shoe umbrellas and the car exhaust grill : http://www.complex.com/style/2013/05/25-inventions-that-are-completely-pointless/air-conditioned-shoes

Inventions aren’t always used the way they were intended. Read how a soybean fertilizer became Agent Orange and why the Wright brothers regretted creating airplanes:

http://bigthink.com/laurie-vazquez/6-scientists-who-regret-their-greatest-inventions

Time shares 50 of the worst inventions, including pay toilets, DDT and hair in a can:

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1991915,00.html

And then there are always human errors… To read true tales of technological disasters, check out Steven Casey’s Set Phasers on Stun.