STEM Tuesday

STEM Tuesday– Celebrating Diversity in STEM– In the Classroom

This month we are celebrating diversity in STEM with several books that highlight the accomplishments of mathematicians, scientists, inventors, and more, all with diverse backgrounds. These books will help students learn more about these trailblazing STEM pioneers, their lives, and their contributions to science. They are a great starting point for different activities and discussions in the classroom. Here are a few to try:

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Changing the Equation: 50+ U.S. Black Women in STEM by Tonya Bolden

In this book, Bolden examines the lives of trailblazing Black female computer scientists, inventors, mathematicians, and more to inspire young readers.

 

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What Color Is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Raymond Obstfeld, illustrated by Ben Boos and A.G. Ford

Discover African-American inventors with basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

 

Classroom activity: Have students choose a Black pioneer in STEM who they would like to learn more about and research. Then, create a living museum in the classroom. Students can dress up and present to the class what they have learned about their subject from their research.

 

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The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

An inspiring story about the power of books and STEM-thinking. A fourteen-year old Malawi boy who cannot attend school educates himself and learns how to build a windmill to help his village.

Classroom activity: Lead a classroom discussion about windmills. Ask students to describe a windmill and brainstorm what they are used for and how they work. Have students design and build their own windmill using common household materials such as craft sticks, glue, paper cups, string, straws, rubber bands, paper towel rolls, push pins, and more. Have students compare the finished windmills. Which design features worked the best? What design challenges did students face? How did they overcome these challenges? What changes would students make to their windmills based on what they have learned through the design process?

 

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101 Black Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics by L.A. Amber

Young readers will be inspired by the women included in Amber’s book who paved the way for other women of color in STEM fields from the 1800s to today.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWomen in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

Take a peek into the lives of women who chose STEM for their life’s work, trailblazing through a field with few women.

 

Classroom activity: Have students work in pairs and choose a STEM pioneer. Each pair should research their chosen pioneer to learn about their lives and their work. Then, have the students create an interview with their subject. They can present this interview to the class with one student taking the role of interviewer and the other taking the role of the STEM subject.

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Carla Mooney loves to explore the world around us and discover the details about how it works. An award-winning author of numerous nonfiction science books for kids and teens, she hopes to spark a healthy curiosity and love of science in today’s young people. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids, and dog. When not writing, she can often be spotted at a hockey rink for one of her kids’ games. Find her at http://www.carlamooney.com, on Facebook @carlamooneyauthor, or on Twitter @carlawrites.

STEM Tuesday– Celebrating Diversity in STEM– Book List

Changing the Equation: 50+ U.S. Black Women in STEM by Tonya Bolden

Bolden examines the lives of trailblazing Black female computer scientists, inventors, mathematicians, and more to inspire young readers.

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

An inspiring story about the power of books and STEM-thinking. A fourteen-year old Malawi boy who cannot attend school educates himself and learns how to build a windmill to help his village.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

A perfect book for aspiring astronomers and astrophysicists that tells the story of the extraordinary Black women behind the U.S. space program.

How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture by Tonya Bolden

Delve into the creation of a new museum from the architect’s plants to curating the collection.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

Take a peek into the lives of women who chose STEM for their life’s work, trailblazing through a field with few women.

101 Black Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics by L.A. Amber

Young readers will be inspired by the women included in Amber’s book who paved the way for other women of color in STEM fields from the 1800s to today.

Susan La Flesche Picotte: Pioneering Doctor by Diane Bailey

This biography of the first Native American Woman to graduate medical school is a great addition to any middle school STEM shelf.

Astrophysics for Young People In a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson with Gregory Mone

This young readers edition of Tyson’s popular adult version will get kids excited about the universe.

Path to the Stars: My Journey from girl Scouts to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo

Sylvia Acevedo’s experience as a Girl Scout transformed her. She was one of the first Latinx to graduate with a master’s in engineering. Also available in Spanish.

What Color Is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Raymond Obstfeld, illustrated by Ben Boos and A.G. Ford

Discover African-American inventors with basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


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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 served as Regional Advisor Emeritus of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2020 international title about farm and food is THE FARM THAT FEEDS US: A Year In The Life Of An Organic Farm. Visit her at www.nancycastaldo.com. 

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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 – March 2, 2021.

 

STEM Tuesday — Polar Ecology — Interview with Author Rebecca Barone

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 Rebecca Barone, author of RACE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE EARTH: Surviving Antarctica, a thrilling narrative nonfiction tale that chronicles two different centuries’ treacherous expeditions to the South Pole and the men who raced to be first. The newly released book has received multiple starred reviews, including one from Booklist that says:  “Readers will be caught up in the real-time action sequences and should end up rooting for everybody as these determined individuals face unimaginable physical and mental hardships.”

Mary Kay Carson: Tell us a bit about Race to the Bottom of the Earth and how you came to write it.

Rebecca Barone: First off – thank you Mary Kay Carson and the team at STEM Tuesday for hosting me today! It’s an honor to be featured here! Race to the Bottom of the Earth is the story of two races through Antarctica: one in 1912 to be the first to reach the South Pole and one in 2018 to be the first to cross Antarctica solo, unsupported, and unassisted.

Antarctica has always captured my imagination! There’s something about how entirely inhospitable it is to life, and yet humans go there! I’ve always been mesmerized by the contrast. When I saw a New York Times headline in November, 2018 that two men were attempting a “first” in Antarctica – right as I was sitting at home eating lunch – I rushed to read the article. As luck would have it, I had read a Wikipedia article about the 1912 race to the South Pole not too long before. So that adventure was fresh in my mind as I was reading about the 2018 race.

It was like a lightning bolt hit. Before I had even finished the NYTimes article, I knew that I had to put these two races together into a story. What really sealed it for me was finding out that neither race was intended to be a race. That the two adventures could parallel each other, entirely inadvertently, more than a century apart, was like a story-telling gift. I had to write this book!

MKC: The book goes back and forth in time, in alternating chapters, between the two races. Why did you choose this structure? Did you write it in that order?

Rebecca: From the start, I was struck by the parallels between the two races. By placing the two stories so directly side-by-side, I wanted my readers to draw history forward into the present. It’s so easy to place 1912 as nothing more than static, black-and-white pictures in a textbook, but they’re really men with personalities and characters like people we know and love today.  I did an in-depth outline in the book’s order, but I drafted it with each timeline separately. Even more so, I went through and wrote all of Amundsen’s story, then I went and wrote all of Scott’s, then O’Brady’s, and finally Rudd’s. It wasn’t in the book’s order at all!

MKC: How was your research process different for the 1912 and the 2018 race?

Rebecca: I could talk with people involved in the 2018 race! (Not so much with the men who were around in 1912…) Both involved a ton of reading to research. But it was wonderful to talk with some of the Antarctica expedition experts involved in setting up both O’Brady’s and Rudd’s journeys. And I shouldn’t be glib about the 1912 race; talking to experts in 2018 was certainly helpful with the Amundsen/Scott race, too. Even today, it seems like anyone who is interested in Antarctica comes down heavily as either Team Amundsen or Team Scott. It kept me on my toes to talk with people so heavily invested with Antarctic history!

Rebecca E. F. Barone is an engineer who has worked on a diverse array of projects: NFL injury analysis, development of gait biometrics, and engine calibration of hybrid cars. Realizing her love for books in addition to numbers, she now describes the world with words rather than equations. Race to the Bottom of the Earth is now available, and her second book, about breaking the Enigma cipher of WWII, will launch in the fall of 2022. Visit her at rebeccaefbarone.com or follow her on Twitter @rebeccaefbarone.

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

Rebecca: I always write for myself. If I don’t like it, if I can’t get excited about it, then I figure no one else will.

MKC: Why do you choose to write STEM books? Do you have a STEM background?

Rebecca: I do have a STEM background! I’m a mechanical engineer! I love knowing how the world works, and STEM has taken me to some pretty amazing places: hot testing development cars in Death Valley, learning about car crash biomechanics in Spain, and even developing injury criteria on the sidelines of an NFL game. I don’t see STEM and books as all that different – both describe our environment, both are ways of explaining and making sense of the world around us. They’re both ways of telling stories. If I ever do write fiction (who knows?!), I imagine even those stories would have some STEM elements to them as well. I can’t imagine divorcing any story from technical subjects – for me, the narrative and the STEM inform and support one another.

MKC: For readers who loved Race to the Bottom of the Earth, what other middle-grade books would you suggest?

Rebecca: I’m deep, deep into researching and drafting my next book about breaking the Enigma cipher in WWII (so much fantastic STEM!!), so I’m woefully behind on new MG. But, from 2019/2020, I loved Jennifer Swanson’s Save the Crash Test Dummies. I mentioned it earlier, but I worked in an auto safety lab in grad school where we regularly crashed cars, and I loved revisiting that topic in her book. She did such a great job of weaving information in an accessible, entertaining way! For older readers, I thought Candice Fleming’s The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh was spectacular. She makes the subject and the themes immediately and obviously relevant to readers living through the events of the early 21st century.

Thanks again for inviting me to the STEM Tuesday blog! If any of your readers have more questions about Race to the Bottom of the Earth, I’d love to chat via social media or my website.

Win a FREE copy of RACE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE EARTH!

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 Wildlife Ranger Action Guide, The Tornado ScientistAlexander Graham Bell for Kids, Mission to Pluto, and other nonfiction books for kids. @marykaycarson