STEM Tuesday

STEM Tuesday — STEM Activity Books– Book List

Summer is still here and you might be running out of activities for the young people in your life. Whether you are looking for projects to tie-in with your homeschooling curriculum or just want a fun STEM project to pass the time on a hot summer day, these titles will inspire you.

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Darwin and Evolution for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities by Kristan Lawson

Try your hand at a Darwin-inspired activity with this book by Kristan Lawson. It’s a great title to pair-up with Deborah Heiligman’s Charles and Emma.


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Isaac Newton and Physics for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities by Kerrie Logan Hollihan

Activities are a great way to learn the principles of physics. Read this one with a snack of apple slices.


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Awesome Snake Science! 40 Activities for Learning About Snakes by Cindy Blobaum

Snakes might seem threatening, but Blobaum has some activities that will introduce readers to these fascinating creatures. A great pairing for Kate Messner’s Tracking Pythons: The Quest to Catch an Invasive Predator and Save an Ecosystem.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Rainforests and Deserts both by Nancy Castaldo

If the pandemic has changed your summer travel plans, discover some new places in the US and abroad with these two titles by Nancy Castaldo that include, STEM activities, folktales, and recipes.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Destroy This Book in the Name of Science by Mike Barfield

The Brainiac and Galileo editions of this series are meant to be literally pulled apart.




Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Smithsonian: STEM Lab by Jack Challoner

Readers will find 25 activities to excite their imaginations. Great illustrations accompany each activity.





Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Calling All Minds: How To Think and Create Like an Inventor by Temple Grandin

Learn from a master inventor through personal stories, acts, and inventions. Readers will come away inspired!





Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Recycled Science: Bring Out Your Science Genius with Soda Bottles, Potato Chip Bags, and More Unexpected Stuff by Tammy Enz and Jodi Wheeler-Toppen

Readers see how to recycle stuff around their homes and then use it for science projects and experiments. Entertaining and informative.





Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Albert Einstein and Relativity for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities and Thought Experiments by Jerome Pohlen

Learn all about one of the greatest inventors in history through text and 21 activities to try at home.




Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Alexander Graham Bell for Kids: HIs Life and Inventions with 21 Activities by Mary Kay Carson

Your cell phone may be lightyears away from Bell’s first phone, but his invention changed our lives forever. Find out more and try the great activities in the book.



Extreme Garage Science for Kids! by James and Joanna Orgill


If you followed the author’s You Tube channel, you’ll love the activities and projects in this book. Readers can try their hand at drawing on water, removing the iron from their Cheerios, and even more.





Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Everything You Need to Ace Chemistry in One Big Fat Notebook

The title says it all. Inside this book is what students need to rock that chemistry class.




Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Also by Jennifer Swanson — Explore Forces and Motion! With 25 Great Projects and Bridges With 25 Science Projects for Kids 

Get ready for some hands-on physics with these two titles from Nomad’s Explore Your World series.



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 Regional Advisor Emeritus of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2018 multi-starred title is BACK FROM THE BRINK: Saving Animals from Extinction. Visit her at 

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 Stay tuned for her upcoming Planet Ocean – spring 2021.


STEM Tuesday — Pollinators — Interview with Author Rebecca Hirsch

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 Hirsch, author of WHERE HAVE ALL THE BEES GONE? Pollinators in Crisis. The book received a starred review from Booklist, saying Hirsch gives “a well-balanced and objective presentation” and that the book is “an important resource for all libraries.”

Mary Kay Carson: How’d you come to write Where Have All the Bees Gone?

Rebecca Hirsch: Around 2010 my children and I began volunteering at the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden, a big pollinator garden in my hometown in Pennsylvania. Our job was to plant and weed a small area. The Master Gardeners who ran the garden would come by and share with us an interesting flower or a plant that was really buzzing with bees. I noticed how excited they were about all the bees. Native bees were something I had not previously given much thought to. Once I started paying attention, I began to notice all the bees too, not only in the pollinator garden but also in my own backyard. Around the same time I began to see news stories about possible declines among native bees. Finally in 2017 I heard about the rusty-patched bumblebee becoming the first bee in the continental US to make the endangered species list. I took the plunge and pitched the idea to my editor of doing a book on bees, and got an enthusiastic thumbs up.

MKC: The book features such great interviews with bee scientists, experts, and others. Can you share a memorable research experience?

Rebecca: A favorite time was the day I spent with a group of high school students and their teacher at a local school. The students are slowly converting the lawns around their school into a series of pollinator gardens. Every year, a new group of students competes to design a new addition to the garden, then all the students help plant and tend the old and new parts of the garden. I visited on a day the students were outside working. These kids were sweating, getting dirty, and having fun. And they took such obvious pride in their garden. The school board has been so impressed, they keep funding new additions to the project. How can you be around something like that and not be inspired?

MKC: How would you describe the approach you took on this book—and why you chose it?

Rebecca E. Hirsch has published close to a hundred books for young readers, ranging from picture books for young children to nonfiction for teens. Her books have been NCTE Notable, Junior Library Guild, and the Children’s Book Committee/Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections. Learn more at

Rebecca: I wanted my readers to grasp the importance of the pollinator issue, the urgency of it, but I didn’t want the book to come across as too gloomy. I wrestled a lot with questions like, How do I make readers grasp the immensity of this issue? How do I inspire them to care? I studied techniques of persuasive writing and discovered there’s a whole toolkit of techniques that writers can use. I read other inspiring environmental books, especially Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. If you open my copy of Carson’s book you’ll see lots and lots of my notes about her writing techniques scribbled in the margins.

MKC: Do you choose to specifically write STEM books?

Rebecca: In college I majored in biochemistry and went on to earn a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin. After graduate school I spent a couple of years working as a postdoc in labs at UW and Penn State. I liked laboratory research well enough, but my favorite part of my job was doing scientific writing. I started writing science for children in 2008 when my own kids were devouring books on all sorts of topics. I was very impressed with the books they were reading, and I realized writing science books would be a way for me to use my scientific training and share my passion for science and nature with young readers.


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 Scientist, Alexander Graham Bell for Kids, Mission to Pluto, and other nonfiction books for kids. @marykaycarson

STEM Tuesday — Pollinators — Writing Tips & Resources


Title Talk

Creating the perfect title for a nonfiction piece is tough. In a few short words you’re supposed to convey the subject, approach, and audience — and be appealing. That’s a tall order. Honestly, I used to hate drafting a title but I’ve come to see it as an effective exercise.

Working and reworking a title at different stages of a project helps me nail down more than words for the cover. When I finally smile at a title I’ve crafted — and when that smile returns every time I dive in to revise — I know I’ve also got a handle on what my book is actually about.

Often though, even that title isn’t the final title. The editor, marketing team, others at the publishing house all have a say and sometimes one of them develops the final title.

[Note: This discussion is relevant for trade books. For books in the education market, the title is typically assigned ahead of time.]

So, how do you develop the perfect title? Lots and lots of work — and play! Here are some exercises to help.


Read these titles from this month’s list, paying particular attention to their structure:

Birds, Bees, and Butterflies: Bringing Nature Into Your Yard and Garden

The Pollinator Victory Garden: Win the War on Pollinator Decline with Ecological Gardening

Pollinator Friendly Gardening: Gardening for Bees, Butterflies, and Other Pollinators

Summer’s Flight, Pollen’s Delight: Meet the Bees, Butterflies, Birds and other Creatures Who Keep Our World Green and Alive!

Pollinators: Animals Helping Plants Thrive

These titles use a traditional structure: a shorter title (indicating the subject matter), a colon, and a subtitle (fleshes out the topic or scope of the book). Check your shelves for titles that use this structure. Nonfiction writers are fortunate; we can use subtitles! Subtitles give us options. Providing additional clues through the title/subtitle combination can be a critical element in helping a book find the right readers.

What about titles that break from that traditional structure?

They may use questions:

Where Have all the Bees Gone? Pollinators in Crisis

Consider what the use of a question does for the title. Prompt the reader to think? Provide an air of uncertainty? This particular title also introduces a level

of anxiety and capitalizes on the tension inherent in the topic.

Or imperatives:

Know Your Pollinators: 40 Common Pollinating Insects including Bees, Wasps, Flower Flies, Butterflies, Moths, & Beetles, with Appearance, Behavior, & How to Attract Them to Your Garden

What does that do?

Or need no subtitle at all:

Turn this Book into a Beehive


Standing Out

Now, look for literary devices which help a title stand out.

  • Alliteration, assonance, consonance like Astronaut Aquanaut: How Space Science and See Science Interact by Jennifer Swanson and Woodpecker Wham! by April Pulley Sayre
  • A play on words like The Whole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller and I See Sea Food by Jenna Grodzicki
  • Rhythm or rhyme like Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez

What other devices can you find in titles you love?

Try adding a literary device to one of the titles listed above.


The Power of Play!

Amazing titles can come from play. Play with the language, play with the concepts, play with what your reader might be thinking. Here are a few examples: You’re Invited to a Moth Ball by Loree Burns, Something Rotten: A Fresh look at Roadkill by Heather L Montgomery, Save the Crash-test Dummies by Jennifer Swanson

                • Draft the most conservative title possible. Draft the most outrageous title possible. Which do you like best?
                • Reverse the words in one of your draft titles.
                • Combine opposites (over/under, fresh/rotten, etc)
                • Swap out a common word with something that challenges readers just a bit.


Tricks and Tips

Like any other skill, developing a finely honed title requires practice. Here are a few more exercises to round out your workout:


  • Listen to the words of friends, critique partners, strangers as they talk about your project or subject. Stockpile their words as fodder for your title.
  • Revise one of your titles using each of the literary devices listed above.
  • Jot down a title and develop a list of at least 10 synonyms for each word. Mix-and-match, paying attention to the rhythm of the words.
  • At random, select five non-fiction books and use their titles as models for yours.

Many thanks to the members of the NF for NF Nonfiction Children’s Writers Facebook group who suggested titles for this post.


Heather L. Montgomery writes STEM books for kids. She’s had fun with her recent titles:

Who Gives a Poop? Surprising Science from One End to the Other (Bloomsbury 2020)

Little Monsters of the Ocean: Metamorphosis under the Waves (Lerner, 2019)

Bugs Don’t Hug: Six – Legged Parents and their Kids (Charlesbridge 2018)