STEM Tuesday All About Conservation – In the Classroom


This month’s STEM Tuesday Theme is All About Conservation. Click here to see the list of books chosen by our STEM Tuesday Team for the month of April.

Here are a few ways to use this month’s books in the classroom, extending learning beyond simply reading. Enjoy these suggestions, and as always, we welcome your additional suggestions in the comments below!

Explore our National Parks. 

Park Scientists: Gila monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard by Mary Kay Carson, with photographs by Tom Uhlman, will take readers to three National Parks that deliver on the promise of adventure!

  • Use this fact-packed book to chart the differences between plants and animals found in Yellowstone National Park, Saguaro National Park, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Discuss habitats, climate, altitude, and other factors that influence what species thrive where.
  • Map it out. Use map pins to locate all of America’s National Parks. Find the distance from your school, home, or library to the nearest National Park. Which park is the farthest from you? Discuss reasons why some National Parks receive more visitors than other.
  • In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary. Embark on a fact-finding mission to learn who started the park system and why. What are our oldest parks? Newest? Largest? Smallest? Are any in danger of being shut down? What impact does our park system have on the conservation of native species in America?

A Whale of a Tale!

Whale Quest: Working Together to Save Endangered Species by Karen Romano Young offers an in-depth and up-close look a one of the ocean’s most intriguing animals.

Check out the Whale Guide Starting on page 104, the author provides detailed profiles of the world’s most watched whales.

Make a game of it. Middle-graders love trading cards, and The Phylo(mon) Project offers printable trading cards and games that will make whale research fun and interactive. Find them right here.

Geoengineering Earth’s Climate: Resetting the Thermostat  by Jennifer Swanson (who happens to have been the mastermind behind STEM Tuesday here at The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors) takes a careful and objective look at all sides of a modern and, often politically-charged, topic.  Swanson asks straight out: Is geoengineering too risky? Or is it our best hope of survival?”

Hold a classroom debate:  Middle graders are the perfect age to introduce the idea that there are two sides to most issues. Divide into two groups, one that will highlight the positive contributions of geoengineering and one that will point out its harmful effects.  Using carefully-designed rules for classroom debate (ones that include respect for others’ opinions, careful listening, and an understanding that audience members may come to differing conclusions), hold a classroom debate. Invite another middle-grade class to listen in. Take a pre-debate poll and a post-debate poll. Analyze listeners’ knowledge and feelings about geoengineering before and after hearing both sides of the issue.  For a great, recent article about how to run a middle school classroom debate, click here. 

A perfect fiction pairing to this month’s topic!

Endangered  by Eliot Schrefer is a fictionalized account of a young girl’s experiences growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo and her unexpected affection for a small bonobo named Otto.

After reading the book, take a look at these video resources for more information about this fiction tale, steeped in fact.

Librarian Preview: Endangered

Scholastic Book Clubs Interview with Eliot Schrefer

Eliot Plays King of the Mountain with Bonobos

Tool Use Among Bonobos

Join the CONSERVATION conversation!

What books are you reading that fit into this month’s STEM Tuesday Theme: All About Conservation?  What classroom activities have you done that were a hit with middle-grade learners? Leave a comment below! We love hearing from you!

This week’s STEM Tuesday post was prepared by

Michelle Houts delights in the wild and wacky side of finding fun facts for young readers. She writes both fiction and nonfiction and often finds the nonfiction harder to believe than the fiction. Find her on Instagram and Twitter @mhoutswrites and on the web at

STEM Tuesday All About Conservation– Book List

Scientists have said that we are experiencing the 6th great mass extinction in the history of our planet. WOW, that’s scary, especially for kids! But, thankfully, we have many people of all backgrounds, from scientists to kids in elementary schools, focusing attention to conservation. So, this month we not only celebrate Earth Day, but books that highlight  the science of conservation and how readers can help preserve our environment.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWhale Quest: Working Together to Save Endangered Species by Karen Romano Young
Young readers will discover how threats to whale populations are being addressed by cetologists, researchers, and citizen scientists.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThe Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard by Mary Kay Carson
In this Scientists in the Field title readers will meet the scientists who call the National Parks their laboratory as they study grizzly bears, cactus, and fireflies.

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Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and Zoo Scientists to the Rescue by Patricia Newman and Annie Crawley
This author/photographer duo’s titles bring conservation to life for young readers. Plastic, Ahoy! [Green Earth Book Award] investigates ocean conservation and the serious problem of plastic waste. Zoo Scientists to the Rescue introduces readers to the behind-the-scenes conservation that is going on in our nation’s zoos.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgEyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Heaedlines by Paul Fleischman
Newbery Medal author Paul Fleischman takes readers behind the environmental headlines in this title to explain the concepts that drive events and attitudes about the environment–politics, money, denial, history, psychology, activism. It’s all here in an easy-to-understand format that Fleischman hopes will spur readers to act .

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgBack from the Brink: Saving Animals From Extinction by Nancy Castaldo
In her latest title, Castaldo demonstrates through stories of seven species that we all can join together to make a difference and rescue wildlife from the brink of extinction.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgUltimate Oceanpedia: The Most Complete Ocean Resource Ever  by Christine Wilson
As the title suggests, this book is chock full of information for any budding marine biologist. Readers will travel through all parts of the ocean to understand how it affects our world.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgGeoengineering Earths Climate: Re-setting the Thermostat by Jennifer Swanson Even if we all agree that the Earth is warming, we probably won’t all agree on what might fix it. This book offers readers a solution.


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Bee conservation books, including The Hive Scientists: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns and The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle
These two titles offer insight into pollinator conservation, which is so important to our plants and our food security.

And for good measure we’ve tossed in a couple of great eco-fiction titles too!

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgForest World by Margarita Engle
A beautiful verse novel from Poet Laureate Margarita Engle about a Cuban-American boy’s first trip to Cuba. He meets a sister he doesn’t know he has. The two children create a fake butterfly to their cryptozoologist mother will come to visit, but their message is intercepted by poachers. Engle creates a wonderful story of family and they jungle they love.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSaving Wonder by Mary Knight
Set in the Appalachian Mountains, Saving Wonder tells the story of Curley Hines, who must speak out against Big Coal to save his mountain. Green Earth Book Award


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgEndangered by Eliot Schrefer
A compelling tale of a young girl who must save herself and bonobos from a violent coup. Schrefer introduces readers to a wonderful ape sanctuary  in the Congo threatened by revolutionaries.


As always we welcome your additional book suggestions and comments about how you are using these books with children. To date, we’ve featured books on the following themes:  zoology, science in fiction, exploration, wild and wacky science, and field work. Click on our STEM Tuesday link to read these past posts.

STEM Tuesday book lists prepared by:

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including her 2016 title, THE STORY OF SEEDS: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less To Eat Around The World, which earned the Green Earth Book Award and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia. She enjoys sharing her adventures, research, and writing tips. She strives to inform, inspire, and educate her readers. Nancy also serves as the Regional Advisor of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2018 title is BACK FROM THE BRINK: Saving Animals from Extinction.

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that inspires kids to seek connections between science, literacy, and the environment. The recipient of  a Sibert Honor Award for Sea Otter Heroes and the Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy!, her books have received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how her writing skills give a voice to our beleaguered environment. Visit her at

Check back every Tuesday of every month:

  • Week 1:  STEM Tuesday Themed Book Lists
  • Week 2:  STEM Tuesday in the Classroom
  • Week 3:  STEM Tuesday Crafts and Resources
  • Week 4:  STEM Tuesday Author Interviews and Giveaways