Teachers, You Inspire Us

On this Labor Day Holiday, it only seems appropriate to give a huge shout out thank you to all the teachers. You INSPIRE US!

According to the Department of Labor:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

While many workers fulfill that particular requirement, teachers do that every day by inspiring their students. Teachers aren’t just the ones who work in the classroom, but also are paraprofessionals,  coaches, librarians, and yes, even parents. Everyone who works with students has the ability to have a positive affect on them. Sometimes you see it right away, and sometimes it doesn’t happen for many years. Regardless, some teaching moments and teachers in particular stay with us our whole lives.

That happened to me. I truly believe that I would probably not be a science author if I hadn’t had some amazing teachers in my life.

Here is my story:


I have always loved science! It captured my attention and imagination from a very young age. Luckily, I had parents who encouraged my love of science. Oh, and we also had a creek in our backyard. I spent many wonderful days exploring that creek, knee-deep in water, mud, and yes, sometimes frogs.

At the age of 9, I decided that I wanted to become a pediatrician. I didn’t really know how to do that until I stepped into my 7th grade science class and met a woman that would change my life. Her name was Susan Roth. And to this day (over 40 years later) I still remember my first day in that class. She had a full skeleton model in her classroom. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.


And then there was Mrs. Roth, herself, a very outgoing, happy, encouraging teacher who was EXCITED about science. And most of all made science EXCITING for us!  She used the textbook only as a guide, but instead we focused on the most amazing experiments in her classroom. She encouraged me to study the creek water, really look at it. I did reports with my classmates on the microscopic creatures that we found in it. We mapped the entire creek throughout our little town. We studied its levels, how it moved, and discussed erosion affects from the floods we had occasionally.

We also worked with that skeleton, of course, studying all of the parts of the human body, the systems, and I  could even name all 206 bones!

The best part about Mrs. Roth was that she always encouraged everyone. This was in the 1970’s and it was unusual to have a female science teacher where I lived. Yet she fit in so well. I remembered one day telling her that I wanted to be a pediatrician and she didn’t laugh. She didn’t stop to say, um, that is a difficult road. Instead, she said, “Awesome! I know you’ll be great. You can do anything.”  Those words stuck with me.

In fact, about ten years later when I was nervous about applying to the U.S. Naval Academy, where I would eventually go to college, I remembered Mrs. Roth’s words. They gave me the courage to apply, get in, and pick chemistry as my major. After all, that was the degree you’d need to go to medical school back then.

Being a chemistry major is not easy.

Those of you that have taken even 1 chemistry class in college can probably agree. When you add the requirements of 2 years of math classes, 3 years of engineering classes, plus all of the naval ship classes, it’s a lot. I got bogged down in all of that work, and my grades were about middle of the road. My dream of becoming a doctor was slipping away.

And then I had another teacher, Dr. Joseph Lomax, he was my chemistry teacher at USNA. He knew how hard I worked in the class and that my grades didn’t always reflect the amount of effort I was putting in. He took the time to talk to me and to listen to my dreams about becoming a doctor. Having had it for almost 12 years, it was a tough dream to give up. He didn’t shrug it off, instead, he told me how I could take my gifts and use them in a different way.

He told me that  I had a gift for explaining difficult things in a way that students could understand. That I could take complex science and engineering ideas and turn them into easily understandable concepts. It was something not everyone could do, and that I’d make a wonderful teacher some day. He was right.

Those words Dr. Lomax said to me carried me a long way. In fact, you might say that they helped me to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. At only 24 years of age, I could never have envisioned– all these many years later– that I would end up here, writing STEM books for children.

But when I look back, it makes total sense. I feel like I spent my whole life moving in this direction. Taking complex and unique STEM topics and turning them into exciting books for kids which, hopefully, will inspire them to love science and STEM as much as I do. I am very lucky to have a job I love. And I do it in the name of my teachers.

I’ve dedicated two of my books to my teachers. For Mrs. Roth, I dedicated my Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System book


“To Susan Roth, my 7th grade science teacher, who opened my eyes to the amazing intrigue and adventure that the world of science has to offer. She is my true Science Super Hero.”





And to Dr. Lomax, I dedicate my new chemistry book, ” Thank you for believing in me and helping me to see how my gifts in STEM can be used to inspire others as yours have done for me.”





In fact, all of the amazing things I’ve been able to do as a STEM author can be traced back to their encouraging words. I wouldn’t be there without them. (And my AWESOME family, too, of course).



I realize that this year is particularly difficult for all who are teaching. Unusual circumstances have changed the way things normally work.  And yet, I know you are all doing your best to continue to make those personal connections. Students won’t forget that.  When they reach a time in their life when they need a voice to tell them, “You can do it”, it just might be that of a special teacher who believed in them.

HUGS to all of the amazing teachers out there and THANK YOU for what you do for us. We appreciate it!

Enjoy your holiday. You deserve it.


And in honor of my two amazing science teachers, I am offering a giveaway of these two books as a pack.


I’ll pick 3 winners. To be entered, leave a comment below about a teacher who inspired YOU. OR if you are a teacher, let us know about the kids YOU inspire every day. 😀


Happy 3rd Anniversary STEM Tuesday!! (Enter our Big Giveaway Celebration!)




The entire STEM Tuesday team is SO excited to be celebrating our third anniversary!! We have enjoyed every minute of it and hope you have, too.

Our goal, when we started this blog was to provide  engaging, exciting, and inspiring STEM/STEAM activities and literacy connections to all of our readers. Over the past three years, we have taken a deep dive into so many unique and interesting topics.

From conservation, to Health, to Field Work, and even Exploration and Technology. We have featured graphic novels, Women’s History month, sharks, and activity books. And who can forget the posts on epic achievements and fantastic failures? Such important concepts in all of STEM/STEAM.

If you have used STEM Tuesday’s posts in your classroom or homeschool, let us know by commenting below. We’d like to hear what kind of  STEM/STEAM activities and literacy connections your student’s are enjoying. If there is topic that we haven’t covered yet and you’d like to see, please also let us know. You can email us at

We, the entire STEM Tuesday team thank you for reading our posts and using our resources in your classroom or homeschool. After all, it’s all about inspiring kids (of all ages) to engage with STEM and STEAM!

As a way to share our excitement of this anniversary, we are going to give YOU the prizes.

Take a look at some of the amazing giveaways being offered:


From Author Jennifer Swanson

TWO free books– Beastly Bionics and Save the Crash-test Dummies



From Author Kirsten W. Larson  

Do one of my FlipGrids and invite me to join. I’ll record a FlipGrid for your students and comment on their videos.


Paper Airplane Creations:


From Mike Hays

“Catch a Wave!” STEM Tuesday Prize Pack

For the budding young physicist, here’s an electromagnetic wave prize package inspired by the “Catch a Wave” STEM Tuesday Spin-Off post at MG Book Village. (link: )

3’ Horseshoe Magnet, Compass, Bar Magnet Set, Prism, Folding Pocket Magnifying Glass

AND two 30-min. classroom Skype visits



From Author Mary Kay Carson

TWO activity-filled books as giveaways–Wildlife Ranger Action Guide & Alexander Graham Bell for Kids



From Author Karen Latchana Kenney 

TWO books for  giveaway: TV Brings Battle into the Home with the Vietnam War and Exploring Auroras


From Author Carla Mooney 

TWO books  for giveaway – Inside the Human Body & The Human Genome: Mapping the Blueprint of Human Life



From Author Janet Slingerland

One book Atoms and Molecules AND a FREE 15-minute Skype Q & A



From Author Heather L. Montgomery,

Whose books include:  Who Gives a Poop? Surprising Science from One End to the Other and Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill.

One FREE 15-20 minute Skype Visit 




From Author Nancy Castaldo

Whose books include:  The Farm that Feeds Us and Back from the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction

One FREE 20 minute Skype Visit 

ENTER the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget BELOW  


a Rafflecopter giveaway

We salute all of you teachers, librarians, and parents who are doing an AWESOME job teaching your kids/students this school year. If you are looking for virtual visits, please be sure to check our websites.

Many of us are offering activities and virtual events. You can find us all HERE

THANK YOU for reading along with STEM Tuesday. Cheers to another great year. GO STEM!!!




Jennifer Swanson is the creator and administrator of STEM Tuesday. Hugely passionate about making STEM engaging and inspiring for kids of ALL ages, she is also the creator of STEAMTeamBooks, a website that highlights new STEM books releasing every year, and also the creator of the new Solve It! for Kids podcast where, along with her co-host, Jed Doherty, they give a peek into the lives of real-life scientists and engineers as they solve problems in their daily jobs.

Midnight at the Barclay Hotel: A Chat with the Author + Giveaway

Any fans of the movie Clue out there? You gotta love a good whodunnit. I enjoyed reading the ARC of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel by Fleur Bradley and got a chance to interview the author. Keep reading to find out how to win a free copy of the book!

Thank you for sharing Midnight at the Barclay Hotel with me. It was such a fun whodunit. Can you give us a short summary about the book?

Of course! Here’s the description on the cover:

Hunting ghosts and solving the case before checkout? All in a weekend’s work.

When JJ Jacobson convinced his mom to accept a surprise invitation to an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway at the illustrious Barclay Hotel, he never imagined that he’d find himself in the midst of a murder mystery. He thought he was in for a run-of-the-mill weekend ghost hunting at the most haunted spot in town, but when he arrives at the Barclay Hotel and his mother is blamed for the hotel owner’s death, he realizes his weekend is going to be anything but ordinary.

Now, with the help of his new friends, Penny and Emma, JJ has to track down a killer, clear his mother’s name, and maybe even meet a ghost or two along the way.


When does the book come out?

Midnight at the Barclay Hotel is out on…Aug. 25th! I’m so excited. There will be lots of cake—be it the virtual kind.


You mention in your Author’s Note how you enjoy mysteries. What mysteries did you read growing up?

When I was a kid, I read like crazy. By the time I was twelve or so, I’d read most of the books in the children’s section. There was no YA department at the time (yes, I’m that old), so I moved to the books for grown-ups. A kind librarian pointed me toward the Agatha Christie section; I read The ABC Murders, and I’ve been hooked on mysteries ever since. I love a good puzzle.


You have a wonderful cast of characters in the book. Who was your favorite to write? Who are you most like and why?

Fleur’s cat, Chloe, who makes an appearance in the book and on the cover

They were all so fun to write! I set out to make every character a little bit larger than life, to keep a sense of humor about the murder mystery.

The kid characters were very fun to write too. JJ is really into ghost hunting; as a kid I remember being so super excited about something that it’s all you can think about. Emma was fun to write, since she’s so eager to make friends—I remember feeling that way too when I was twelve.

I’m probably most like Penny: a big reader, a little shy sometimes, and a sceptic when it comes to ghosts and ghost hunting.


How can teachers use this book in their classrooms?

Mysteries are great to use in the classroom: the deductive reasoning, the character profiles, and different perspectives are all useful in analyzing story. Plus, mysteries are very accessible.

I wrote Midnight at the Barclay Hotel as a way to introduce kids to the traditional, Agatha Christie style mystery, with spooky elements (without being scary). Kids and teachers can follow along and see if they can use the clues in the story to figure out who killed Mr. Barclay, and why. The book is structured around the traditional investigative technique of finding motive, means and opportunity for each suspect.

There is a teacher guide on my website, plus extra activities for kids:

I also love doing Zoom (or other platform) visits to talk about mysteries, and my process when writing.


I enjoy asking authors how their book got its shape. What would you say was the spark for Midnight at the Barclay Hotel? What came next? And what components organically fell into place later on? 

It really all started with my love for mysteries, and my own spark when reading Agatha Christie. I wanted to write a fun mystery that would get kids excited about mysteries, too.

The character profiles (the suspects!) probably came next, then the outline for the story. I also wanted to have the story take place at an interesting, closed-off setting, one that I could imagine being a fun place for kids to visit—that was when I created the Barclay Hotel.


Did you go anywhere interesting as research for your book?

The Barclay Hotel is inspired by the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado—of the movie The Shining. I went to visit and knew I had to set a story in a place just like it…

My family and I even went on a ghost hunting tour at the Stanley Hotel—that was so much fun. Alas, I didn’t see a ghost, but I did get lots of inspiration.

The Barclay Hotel is a bit more isolated, and has more fun stuff for kids: there a carousel, a bowling alley, a pool, a cupcake shop… I had a lot of fun creating the setting.


What ended up taking more time than you anticipated when researching/writing/revising?

The original manuscript was longer and had a lot of chapters written from the perspectives of the adult characters—the suspects. When discussing revisions with my (very smart) editor at Viking, she suggested the book would be better and more accessible for reluctant readers if it was a bit shorter, and if we added illustrations. She was right, of course. Although it was hard to cut those chapters, the story is so much better for it. And I love the illustrations!


I have to ask: do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever seen a ghost?

I’ve never seen a ghost, though I’ve heard voices I can’t explain… I’m probably more of a sceptic, like Penny in the book, but I’m open to the possibility.


How can we learn more about you? 

My website has more about my books, author visits, and a page just for Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, with kid activities and an educator guide. I’m on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor, and post on Instagram as fleurbradley.

Midnight at the Barclay Hotel is available here:

If you’re an educator, librarian, or parent, send her an email and let her know what you think of the book!


Fleur Bradley will be giving a copy of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel to a lucky reader. Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats to Danielle H.! 

*This giveaway is only available in the United States.

About Fleur Bradley:

Fleur Bradley is the author of many middle-grade books aimed at reluctant readers, including the (spooky) mystery Midnight at the Barclay Hotel. Fleur is passionate about two things: mysteries and getting kids to read, and she regularly speaks at librarian and educator conferences on reaching reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, Fleur now lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and two daughters, and entirely too many cats.

For more information on Fleur and her books, visit, and on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.