STEM Tuesday

STEM Tuesday — Fun with Physics– Book List

We use physics every day and yet, the subject of physics might seem intimidating to adults and young readers. These books find ways of bringing this big subject into delectable bites. 

Cover for Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry

Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson with Gregory Mone

Tyson brings his bestselling fundamentals of physics and the universe to young readers with this edition. It’s a perfect exploration of big questions. 

Cover for Fairground Physics: Motion, Momentum, and Magnets with Hands-On Science Activities (Build It Yourself)

Fairground Physics: Motion, Momentum, and Magnets with Hands-On Science Activities by Angie Smibert and Micha Rauch

We couldn’t enjoy our favorite summer fair without physics. This book uses real world fun to explore physics. 

Cover for Women Scientists in Physics and Engineering (Superwomen in Stem)

Superwomen in STEM: Women Scientists in Physics and Engineering by Catherine Brereton

Read about STEM women who made a difference in the field of physics and engineering. 

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Junk Drawer Physics: 50 Awesome Experiments That Don’t Cost a Thing by Bobby Mercer

The best way to learn is often by doing. Here is a collection of experiments for  classroom or home exploration. 

Cover for The Speed of Starlight: An Exploration of Physics, Sound, Light, and Space

The Speed of Starlight: An Exploration of Physics, Sound, Light, and Space by Colin Stuart and Ximo Abadia

This book presents key physics principles through amazing artwork. 

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

Readers can discover the life of the “father of physics” in this fun activity book. 

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Albert Einstein and Relativity for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities and Thought Experiments by Jerome Pohlen

This activity book explores he life and experiments of renowned scientist Albert Einstein. It’s a must for a STEM library.  

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Radioactive! How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World by Winifred Conkling

Read how two revolutionary scientists played a part in the creation of the atomic bomb. 

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Marie Curie for Kids: Her Life and Scientific Discoveries, with 21 Activities and Experiments by Amy M. O’Quinn 

Explore the life of the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in this well-researched activity book. 

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Isaac Newton: Genius Mathematician and Physicist (Great Minds of Science) by Carla Mooney

Here is another biography to explore about Isaac Newton. 

Cover for A Black Hole Is Not a Hole

A Black Hole is Not a Hole by Carolyn DeCristofano and Michael Carroll – Updated and Expanded Edition 

Stretch your mind with this exploration of mysterious black holes. 

Cover for The Physics of Fun (Inquire & Investigate)

The Physics of Fun by Carla Mooney and Alexis Cornell

Physics, sports, and entertainment connect in this activity-based book. 

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Fiction pairing: Jillian vs. Parasite Planet by Nicole Kornher-Stace and Scott Brown

It’s always fun to add in a fiction title that pairs well with our nonfiction list. Try this one to read how 11-year-old Jillian can save her family from aliens. Will she use physics? 

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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 

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Sibert Honor author Patricia Newman shows young readers how their actions can ripple around the world. Using social and environmental injustice as inspiration, she empowers young readers to seek connections to the real world and to use their imaginations to act on behalf of their communities. One Texas librarian wrote, “Patricia is one of THE BEST nonfiction authors writing for our students in today’s market, and one of our MUST HAVE AUTHORS for every collection.”

Titles include: Planet Ocean (new); Sibert Honor book Sea Otter Heroes; Green Earth Book Award winner Plastic, Ahoy!; The NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Eavesdropping on Elephants; California Reading Association’s Eureka! Gold winner Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. Visit Patricia online at her website, on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Pinterest.

STEM Tuesday — STEM in Sports — Interview with Author Janet Slingerland

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 Janet Slingerland, author of The 12 Biggest Breakthroughs in Sports Technology.

Mary Kay Carson: Tell us a bit about The 12 Biggest Breakthroughs in Sports Technology?  

Janet Slingerland: The book looks at sports-related cutting-edge technology through the years. Like its name implies, these were the 12 break-through technologies that I thought had the biggest impact on the world of sports. It’s written for middle-grade readers (ages 8-12), but hopefully it engages readers outside that range, too.

MKC: Do you play sports or are you a big sports fan?

Janet: My father was a gym teacher and track coach, so it’s probably not surprising that I played sports. My favorite sport to play, by far, was volleyball. I’ve always enjoyed playing more than watching, although I have enjoyed watching a wide variety of sports over the years. I especially love the Olympics, where we see sports that are more difficult to watch on a more regular basis.

MKC: What was challenging about writing the book?

Janet: I found trying to select the 12 “biggest” breakthroughs to be challenging. To make the decision, I considered how many people the breakthrough impacted and in what way. Some made the sport more accessible to people. Others were geared toward elite athletes, but are life-saving. Yet others make sports more enjoyable (and understandable) for fans to watch.

MKC: This book is packed full of facts! Would you like to share a favorite research discovery?

Janet:  I think the thing that amazed me most was how long ago sports science originated. The study of how exercise changes the human body started when gladiators were fighting in the Roman coliseum. It may actually go even further back than that, but there are detailed records from gladiator times. Realizing the first indoor ice skating rink was built before electricity is a little mind-blowing, too. Here’s a really interesting article on the first skating rinks.

Janet Slingerland studied electrical engineering and programmed computers before deciding to share her love of STEM (and other things) with children. She has written more than 20 nonfiction books for grades K-12. Visit her at

MKC: What inspires you to write about STEM subjects?

Janet:  My background is in engineering and embedded programming (writing code for microchips that go inside things). I’ve always been fascinated by how science explains so many things that seem like magic. The puzzle-lover in me drew me to engineering. I started writing STEM books so I could share these loves with kids (and parents/teachers).

Lately, I’ve been thinking more about how everything is interconnected. So many people think they don’t like STEM, but it’s tied to everything. We hear music thanks to the physics of sound and the biology behind how our ears work. We see rainbows and blue skies thanks to the physics of light, the chemistry of the air the light passes through, and the biology behind how our eyes perceive color. Everything in our lives has ties to STEM.


Win a FREE copy of The 12 Biggest Breakthroughs in Sports Technology!

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

STEM Tuesday — STEM in Sports — Writing Tips & Resources


Title Talk

A good title can do a lot of work for both the reader and the writer. Of course the title conveys the subject of the book but it has many more jobs to do. It conveys the tone of the book. It gives clues to the scope of the book. Most importantly, it must hook a reader. All of that in just 1-5 words (and sometimes a subtitle).

Our STEM Tuesday book lists are a great place to study what titles can do. Take a look at just the titles of this month’s STEM in sports books:

Sports Science & Technology in the Real World

Super Gear: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up

The 12 Biggest Breakthroughs in Sports Technology

STEM in Sports: Engineering

Learning STEM From Baseball: How Does A Curveball Curve? And Other Amazing Answers for Kids!

STEM In Sports

Science Behind Sports

The Secret Science of Sports: The Math, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering Behind Every Grand Slam, Triple Axel, and Penalty Kick

STEM Jobs in Sports

Sports Medicine: Science, Technology, Engineering

The Book of Wildly Spectacular Sports Science: 54 All-Star Experiments

Start asking questions: Why were those specific words chosen? The word “sport” is used frequently but in different positions. How does word placement matter? Who chooses the titles? Surprisingly, in many cases the title/subtitle are developed by the marketing team, not the author. Why might that be?

Here are a few ways you can look at what titles can do.  In the nonfiction area of the library, sit down in front of one shelf. Find a section of 5-10 books that are all on a closely related topic. (For this exercise it is best to not use a series of books). Write down all of the titles and subtitles in a list.

A Reader’s Reaction

  • Which titles draw you in? Why? Is it the subject or some other element?
  • Looking at your title list, are there any particular words that hook you?
  • Skim the books. For each book ask: Did the title/subtitle give you an accurate idea of what was inside the cover?

More than The Subject

Search for how the titles  subtly or not-so-subtly convey more than the basic subject. Consider these elements (and add your own):

  • Subtopic: Does the book focus on one specific topic within the subject?
  • Angle: Has the author selected a unique angle from which to approach the topic? Can you determine that from the title?
  • Tone: Is this book humorous? Academic? Lyrical? Does the title convey that?

Make it Visual

Upload your title list into a word cloud generator and see what other discoveries you can make.

  • Do one or more words dominate the titles?
  • If so, are there any titles that do not rely on those words? How are those titles unique? How are those books unique?

Compare and Contrast

  • Do the titles on your list vary drastically or are they all fairly similar? Some things to analyze: content, length, specific words, presence of a subtitle, etc.
  • In a new section of the library, pick a subject area which is very different (for example if your first list is about space, maybe go to the art section).
    • Create a new title list. Repeat one or more of the above exercises.
    • In what way is your new list similar to/different from your previous list? How much do you think the book’s subject affects that?
    • Separate your books into two piles based on main purpose: to entertain or to inform. In what ways might that impact the choice of title?

Titles can do a lot of work for the reader and the writer.  Enjoy taking a closer look at all the titles in your future!


Heather L. Montgomery writes for kids who are wild about animals. Studying titles and subtitles in the library helped her create a few fun ones of her own:  BUGS DON’T HUG, SURPRISING SCIENCE FROM ONE END TO THE OTHER, and SOMETHING ROTTEN. You can learn more about here wacky titles at


Here are some ways to add some STEAM into your work with titles:

  • Pick one book from your list and create at least 3 alternate titles.
  • Using your stack of books, create a spine poem. Feel free to add other books to your pile as needed.
  • Using your title list(s), create a blackout poem. Is it easier to do with one list than the other? Why might that be?

New to spine or blackout poems? Kristen W. Larson explains how in this post: