STEM Tuesday

STEM Tuesday– SHARKS!– In The Classroom


I was so excited when I saw the theme for this month. In elementary school, my daughter fell in love with sharks. Through her, I learned to love sharks, too.

This month’s list of books is packed with great choices. I read a few as I thought about activities that would be great to pair with them.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThe Great Shark Rescue: Saving the Whale Sharks
by Sandra Markle

The whale shark is my personal favorite, so I had to read this one! It looks at dangers facing whale sharks. In doing so, it covers a lot of information about whale sharks and where and how they live.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

World’s Weirdest Sharks
by Paul Mason

This book introduces readers to many different sharks. While the title says they are weird, I would describe them as amazing.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWe Need Sharks (The Animal Files)
by Lisa Bullard

This book looks at why sharks are important and why we should care about them. It looks at sharks in food chains and the important roles they play in ecosystems.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSharks Are Awesome
by Patricia Hutchison

This book is a celebration of sharks. Sharks are everywhere and have been around a really long time. They come in all sizes, have 7 senses, inspire new ideas, and help balance ecosystems. Like the title says, Sharks are Awesome!

 

Here are some ideas for exploring sharks further and for (hopefully) shifting the way people think about them.

Create a Shark Super-Hero

Sharks are often portrayed as sinister, scary things. It’s easy to cast them as villains. Challenge readers to create a shark super-hero based on the sharks they read about. They could pick a specific shark or draw on characteristics all sharks share for inspiration.

Here are some additional questions that might help spark ideas when creating a shark super-character.

  • What are the special abilities the shark has? How would that make it an awesome super-hero?
  • Who would be the shark’s arch-nemesis (villain)? Think about things that endanger sharks and other ocean creatures. How might a super-shark save the day?
  • What if the super-hero was more like the X-Men or Batman? What would make that super-hero special and shark-like?

Once readers have imagined a shark super-hero, challenge them to create a story where the shark-hero saves the day. For those who prefer creating graphic novels, there are some shark drawing and graphic novel resources below to help.

Showcase an Amazing Shark

With all the amazing sharks out there and in these books, at least one had to spark each reader’s interest. Challenge them to share what they found amazing with their friends, family, and/or fellow classmates. One way to do this is with a promotional poster.

I might title my poster “It’s a Whale of a Shark!” Pretty corny, I know. It’s tough coming up with a catchy slogan, but it’s fun to try.

Here are some other things that would be good to include:

  • A picture of the shark.
  • How big the shark gets, perhaps compared with something of similar size. For instance, in World’s Weirdest Sharks, whale sharks are described as being as long as a double-decker bus and as heavy as 5 rhinos.
  • Where the shark lives.
  • What, and how much, it eats.
  • Special abilities or features of the shark.

This could be converted into an aquarium-type classroom display, where different sharks are in “tanks” around the room. There are many ways to run with this idea.

Drawing Sharks

I promised some resources for drawing sharks or creating graphic novels. Here they are:

Author/illustrator Jarrett Lerner has tons of drawing and graphic novel resources on his website, including some that feature sharks. https://jarrettlerner.com/activities

Author and former art teacher Kathy Barbro has quite a few pages on drawing sharks on her website Art Projects for Kids:

https://artprojectsforkids.org/how-to-draw-a-cartoon-shark
https://artprojectsforkids.org/draw-a-megalodon-shark
https://artprojectsforkids.org/how-to-draw-a-shark

There are steps and a video for drawing a shark on Mocomi: https://mocomi.com/how-to-draw-a-shark

Author Lynn Plourde has a great graphic novel resource here: http://www.lynnplourde.com/uploads/31/Documents/2-CREATING-GRAPHIC-NOVEL-LINKS.pdf

Here is another blank template: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Free-Graphic-Novel-Comic-Book-Templates-598158

There are many more out there if you do a little searching.

Explore More Online

Several of the books talk about shark-tracking projects researchers use to gather information about different sharks. Some of these are available online for everyone to see. Check them out and see what kinds of sharks have been tracked closest to your home.

Ocearch – https://www.ocearch.org – Ocearch tracks many different species. Their main page shows animals they are tracking, with recent pings blinking. The different colored dots indicate different animals; sharks are blue. There are also yellow whales, green sea turtles, and more. Have fun exploring the different creatures and where they’ve been. Some of them travel truly astounding distances.

Conservation International has a whale shark tracker here: https://www.conservation.org/projects/whale-shark-tracker. There are lots of interesting videos and other things on their website, too, including a quiz to find out “What Kind of Shark Are You?” – https://www.conservation.org/quizzes/what-kind-of-shark-are-you.

Many aquariums also have lots of great information on their websites. Here are some of my favorites that feature sharks:

The Georgia Aquarium is (I believe) the only aquarium in the Western Hemisphere that has whale sharks. They’re amazing to see in person. They’ve got lots of info on their website, too. https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/animal/whale-shark

The National Aquarium in Baltimore has a web cam where you can try to see and identify sharks and other sea animals: https://aqua.org/Experience/live#btr. They have additional information about animals found there. Sharks in Shark Alley are listed here: https://aqua.org/Experience/Shark-Alley.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium also has a live shark cam: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams/shark-cam. At the bottom of that page and around the site there are links to stories, animals, and more that are worth exploring.

The Shedd Aquarium also has lots of information about sharks on their website. The Wild Reef’s a good place to start, then see where your fancy takes you: https://www.sheddaquarium.org/exhibits/wild-reef.

 

I hope you have fun exploring sharks. Perhaps soon, you’ll even be writing a love poem to sharks!

*************************************************************

Janet Slingerland loves learning about science, history, nature, and (well) everything, which she then turns into a book. She regularly visits aquariums with her family and has even touched a shark or two – or in the case of this picture, a ray. She was able to write about whale sharks in her book 12 Epic Animal Adventures. To find out more about Janet and her books, check out her website: janetsbooks.com

STEM Tuesday– SHARKS! — Book List

Sharks fascinate us and scare us at the same time. They can seem scary with their sleek primitive bodies and sharp teeth, but mostly they’re misunderstood. Dive into these books for an up-close look at the science of sharks and why we need to keep them in our oceans.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Smart About Sharks by Owen Davey

Davey’s detailed illustrations give this book teeth! He gives readers a deep dive in deadly and not-so-deadly shark species. This survey look at sharks provides readers with everything they want to know about sharks and more. Did you know that shark teeth aren’t all the same?

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Great White Shark Scientist by Sy Montgomery, photographys by Keith Ellengoben

Join Montgomery on another scientific adventure with great white shark scientist, Greg Skomal. He wonders if Cape Cod might be a breeding ground for great whites. This Scientists in the Field title demonstrates how humans sometimes have to embrace their fears to save the world’s valuable creatures.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Great Shark Rescue: Saving the Whale Sharks by Sandra Markle

Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet, but unfortunately face threats from commercial fishing and climate change. Markle follows scientists working to protect these gentle giants of our ocean. Readers will learn how these sharks differ from their perceptions of the dangerous creatures they are taught to fear.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWe Need Sharks (The Animal Files) by Lisa Bullard

Every living thing has a place in the food web, sharks included. Bullard’s book explores the roles sharks play in ocean ecosystems and the various threats sharks face because of human habits. Hurrah for sharks!

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Sharks Are Awesome by Patricia Hutchison

Loaded with cool shark facts and colorful photos, this book is sure to please a young shark enthusiast.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org World’s Weirdest Sharks by Paul Mason 

When you think SHARK, the great white or maybe even the hammerhead pop into your mind, but there are more than 500 species of sharks in our ocean. Mason highlights the weirdest and most bizarre. Cool photos throughout this title.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Amazing Sharks (Animals Are Wild!) by Steve Parker 

Why are sharks such efficient predators? Parker examines their teeth, fins, body shape, hunting practices, and other adaptations that make sharks so successful in their ocean habitat.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgPocket Genius: Sharks: Facts at Your Fingertips by DK Publishing

A compact book for on-the-go young readers. Facts about more than 150 sharks and rays.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Truth About Great White Sharks by Mary M. Cerullo and Jeffrey L. Rotman

Great white sharks are probably the most well-known, and most feared,  species of shark. Their photos grace the cover of nearly every shark book on the market, but what’s fact and what’s fiction about these ancient predators? Find out in this colorful book with a huge gatefold image that will wow young readers.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Ultimate Book of Sharks by Brian Skerry 

For true shark lovers! This book by National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry features every species of shark on Earth. Young readers will line up for the real-life encounters, cutting edge science, and insider shark behavior information.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Mission Shark Rescue by Ruth Musgrave 

We like this title because of the hands-on activities and the ideas young readers can implement to save endangered sharks. It doesn’t matter where you live – everyone can make a difference in helping our ocean creatures.

 

 

HISTORICAL FICTION

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgI Escaped The World’s Deadliest Shark Attack: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis, WWII by Scott Peters and Ellie Crowe 

A riveting piece of historical fiction that explores the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. The ship sank in 12 minutes an the survivors spent four days fighting off the deadliest shark attack in history. The authors use a 16-year-old protagonist to tell the story of these brave men.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org I Survived: The Shark Attacks of 1916 by Lauren Tarshis

 

In the summer of 1916, the Jersey shore was terrorized by a great white shark. Tarshis’ historical fiction title, uses the events of 1916 to frame her story.

 


STEM Tuesday book lists prepared by

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also serves as the Regional Advisor of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2018 multi-starred title is BACK FROM THE BRINK: Saving Animals from Extinction. Visit her at www.nancycastaldo.com. 

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that empowers young readers to act on behalf of the environment and their communities. The Sibert Honor author of Sea Otter Heroes, Newman has also received an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Award for Eavesdropping on Elephants, a Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy!, and a Eureka! Gold Medal from the California Reading Association for Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. 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 young readers can use writing to be the voice of change. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com. Stay tuned for her upcoming Planet Ocean – fall 2020.

 

 

STEM Tuesday– Symbiotic Relationships– Author Interview

STEM Tuesday–Symbiosis– Interview with co-authors Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton

 

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

Today we’re interviewing authors Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton, co-authors of Odd Couples, part of their “Things That Make You Go Yuck” series. Although busy with lots of projects–Jenn writes and illustrates science text books, and Charlie is a computational biologist–they say they collaborate on their books to meet a “fundamental ‘need’ to be creative.” Self-proclaimed science nerds who met through stand-up comedy, they bring humor to their books. In a time when basic biology has revealed its scary side, it’s a relief to be able to laugh a little while enjoying the fascinating tales of interrelationships in this book.

(*I had a lot of questions and Jenn and Charlie had a lot to share. This interview has been edited for brevity.–CCD)

 

Pictuer of the cover of Odd couples.

Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano: What’s Odd Couples about—and what was most important to you in deciding to write it?

CH: Odd Couples is part of a series of “Things That Make You Go Yuck!” books, all about interesting and unusual critters and plants. This book explores some of the cooperative – and competitive and completely bonkers – relationships between organisms. With Odd Couples and all the Yuck! Books, we wanted to show young readers that even the “yucky” bits of nature can be fascinating, inspiring and sometimes oddly beautiful.

JD: Every second is life or death in the wild, and sometimes organisms have to work together to survive. Odd Couples covers everything from weird mating habits to strange friendships (and  frenemy-ships). From a crab that waves sea anemones around like pom poms to ward off predators to sloths that have strange friendships moths that lays eggs in sloth poop, Odd Couples covers the oddest of the odd.

CCD: You are two co-authors of a book named Odd Couples, so of course I have to ask: What kind of an odd couple are you? How would you describe your creative partnership?

CH: Oh, we’re odd. We met around fifteen years ago doing amateur standup comedy around the Boston area among a crowd of fellow misfits. We began collaborating on creative projects a few years ago, which has turned out to be much more productive than telling jokes at a coffee shop at midnight on a Tuesday. We’ve taken a “sure, let’s try it” approach to projects, leading to working together on writing books as well as short plays, producing a web series and short films, and various other oddities-in-progress.

JD:  In biological terms, we’re in a parasitic relationship. The parasite is whomever is not paying the tab that week.

CCD: What’s one of your favorite organism relationships from the book? Why is it a favorite?

CH: We researched a number of parasites for Odd Couples, which is a really… interesting way to spend your Saturday afternoons. My favorite is a flatworm called Ribeiroia that infects frogs during one phase of its life cycle. The worms’ next stage of development occurs in birds. To improve their odds of getting there, the worms affect infected frogs’ development, causing them to grow extra, gangly useless legs that hinder their hopping. These frogs are less likely to escape birds trying to eat them, which is good for the worms – though not as much for the Franken-frogs. It’s basically a Bond movie villain strategy for getting ahead.

JD: My favorite animals are spiders. (Yes, really. I had pet tarantulas when I was younger.) So, I have to go with the peacock spider. It’s an adorable little arachnid who basically does the Y.M.C.A. dance to attract a mate. Scientists recently discovered a new species of peacock spider that has markings that resemble a skeleton. You know, because spiders need to double-down on their creepy reputation.

CCD: Can you say a little about how your writing partnership works? For example, who does what when?

CH: On most projects, we discuss an outline and detailed plans for writing. I promptly forget most of it, and Jenn reminds me of the parts she says that we both liked the best. It’s not the most efficient process, but it works. While writing, we generally pass material back and forth – in the case of Odd Couples, we agreed on a format and researched the organisms we wanted to include, then split them up to each write about our favorites. Sort of like a fantasy sports draft, only with more spiders and parasites.

JD: Nothing happens until food and drinks arrive. It’s very possible that our waiter/waitress is our muse. Several hours later, we have something that resembles an outline typed out in Jenn-ese on my phone. I translate it to something that resembles English, and from there it’s a 50/50 split. We’ve been writing together for so long that we’ve developed a joint voice, and we sometimes forget which part each of us wrote. There have been more than a few times we have seen/heard a joke in something we’ve written and wondered which one of us was responsible for that nonsense.

CCD: What’s next for you as authors?

JD: Another infographics book (is) waiting in the wings after Awesome Space Tech.

(Awesome Space Tech, also an infographics project, is Jenn and Charlie’s latest book. –CCD)

CCD: Well, I’d bet that your humor and serious science creds have led to yet another book that will inspire, entertain, and fascinate kids. Your symbiosis certainly benefits others! Thanks so much for your time!

Win a FREE copy of Odd Couples

Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below.  (Scroll past the link to the previous post.) 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!

 

 

Snapshot of co-authors Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton in a comic pose.

Boston-based collaborators, Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton are co-authors of Prufrock Press’s series, “Things That Make You Go Yuck!” and, in Charlie’s words, “several other, far more ridiculous projects.”

By day, Jenn writes science textbooks, assessments, and lab manuals for grades K–12. By night, she writes comedy screenplays, stage plays, and other ridiculous things with Charlie Hatton. Her favorite creepy crawlies are spiders.

Charlie is a bioinformatician who slings data for a cancer research hospital–as well as a science fan and humorist. He enjoys working with genetic and other data to support cancer research, learning about new and interesting scientific areas, and referring to himself in the third person in biographical blurbs.

 

***

photo of author and STEM Tuesday contribuor Carolyn DeCristofanoCarolyn DeCristofano, a founding team member of STEM Tuesday, is a children’s STEM author and STEM education consultant. She recently co-founded STEM Education Insights, an educational research, program evaluation, and curriculum development firm which complements her independent work as Blue Heron STEM Education. She has authored several acclaimed science books, including Running on Sunshine (HarperCollins Children) and A Black Hole is NOT a Hole (Charlesbridge).