of Middle-Grade Authors

STEM Tuesday

STEM Tuesday– Symbiotic Relationships– In The Classroom

As I write this post, my community is still under a Stay-At-Home order, and has been for several weeks. There has been a lot of debate about when and how we should open up different areas of the country. Communities are trying to balance the health of businesses and the economy with the health of people. In a way, the two interests are intertwined in a close and long-term relationship. Which is a lot like this month’s topic – symbiosis.

Symbiosis is when two dissimilar organisms are closely associated with each other. Sometimes both benefit from the relationship. Other times, only one benefits. The books we’re highlighting this month dive into how symbiosis works. They are a great starting point for different sciences activities and discussions in the classroom.

Natural Attraction: A Field Guide to Friends, Frenemies, and Other Symbiotic Animal,  by Iris Gottlieb

Watercolor illustrations combine with a humorous, scientific text to examine thirty-five odd and unusual symbiotic animal, plant, and bacteria relationships. It includes statistics, graphs, takeaways, and fun additional facts about mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism.

 

Symbiosis, by Alvin Silverstein

Photographs and a sprinkling of fun fact sidebars enhance the examination of plants, animals and fungi partnerships (both beneficial and necessary), symbiosis of numerous parasites and microorganisms (including Ebola and SARS), and the possibility of symbionts from space. The engaging text is supplemented with scientific terms, a glossary, and further research suggestions.

 

Partners in the Sea, by Mary Jo Rhodes and David Hall

You’ve probably heard about cleaner fish, but there are so many more undersea partnerships. There are fish that hang out in anemones, tiny crabs and shrimps that live inside sponges, and a bunch of animals that partner up with algae.

 

There’s A Zoo on You! by Kathy Darling

You share your body with more than a thousand microscopic species of bacteria, fungi, and other too-small to see organisms. Some are beneficial, such as tooth amoebas that eat bacteria. Others, like some fungi, take advantage of the relationship by benefiting at our expense.

 

It’s a Fungus Among Us: The Good, the Bad & the Downright Scary, by Carla Billups and Dawn Cusick

Most land plants live in a symbiotic relationship with fungi, and use the fungal web to share information with their plant buddies in the garden, field, and woods. Some animals develop beneficial partnerships with fungi, too – but others are attacked by fungal parasites.

 

Things That Make You Go Yuck! Odd Couples, by Jenn Dlugos & Charlie Hatton

Everything on earth is involved in a symbiotic relationship, some good and some bad. Amazing close-up photographs coupled with trivia questions, humor, sidebars, and a dash of gross-out facts makes this book on animal, plant, and microorganism adaptation and survival an entertaining and educational read about some unusual and creepy relationships.

 

Forest Talk: How Trees Communicate, by Melissa Koch

Trees are talking all around us, using an underground network of fungi and roots to communicate with one another. They also share chemical messages from their leaves, sending defense signals to other plants when pests attack.

 

Plant Partnerships, by Joyce Pope

An examination of the dependence of numerous plants and lichen on other plants and animals for their habitat or survival. Covers instances of symbiosis, parasitism, gardening, and pollination by insects and mammals.

 

Even if your school and library are closed for the rest of the school year, you can still try some activities to explore symbiosis.

Explore Online
Use the Internet to learn about symbiosis. What are the three general types of symbiosis? How can you describe each type of symbiotic relationship and how do the organisms interact in each? Make a poster or PowerPoint presentation to compare and contrast the three types of symbiosis. Make sure to include at least two examples of organisms that use each type of symbiotic relationship. How is each relationship the same or different than the other relationships? Why would an organism want to be in a symbiotic relationship? You can also include any interesting information that you learned in your research.

Create a Game
Using what you have learned about symbiosis and the Internet, make a list of pairs of organisms in symbiotic relationships. With this information, you can create a card game, board game, or trivia game that involves matching organisms in symbiotic relationships. You’ll need to develop the rules of the game, instructions on how to play, and determine how players win the game.

Draw What You’ve Learned
Use your artistic skills to create a drawing, painting, or other artistic creation that shows a symbiotic relationship. What organisms did you portray in your art? Where are the organisms? How are they interacting? Is the relationship positive or negative? How does your art show this? What can someone learn about this relationship from the art?

Write About It
Write a short story or poem that involves symbiosis. Get creative! What characters will you create? How will they illustrate a symbiotic relationship in your story or poem? How does their relationship impact the plot or themes of your writing? What other information can you include in your writing?

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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– Symbiotic Relationships– Book List

Symbiosis is a close and long-term biological relationship between two different species. Sometimes both benefit. Sometimes only one benefits. So you might want to study up before you develop that new “friendship” …

Natural Attraction: A Field Guide to Friends, Frenemies, and Other Symbiotic Animal,  by Iris Gottlieb

Watercolor illustrations combine with a humorous, scientific text to examine thirty-five odd and unusual symbiotic animal, plant, and bacteria relationships. It includes statistics, graphs, takeaways, and fun additional facts about mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism.

 

Symbiosis, by Alvin Silverstein

Photographs and a sprinkling of fun fact sidebars enhance the examination of plants, animals and fungi partnerships (both beneficial and necessary), symbiosis of numerous parasites and microorganisms (including Ebola and SARS), and the possibility of symbionts from space. The engaging text is supplemented with scientific terms, a glossary, and further research suggestions.

 

Partners in the Sea, by Mary Jo Rhodes and David Hall

You’ve probably heard about cleaner fish, but there are so many more undersea partnerships. There are fish that hang out in anemones, tiny crabs and shrimps that live inside sponges, and a bunch of animals that partner up with algae.

 

There’s A Zoo on You! by Kathy Darling

You share your body with more than a thousand microscopic species of bacteria, fungi, and other too-small to see organisms. Some are beneficial, such as tooth amoebas that eat bacteria. Others, like some fungi, take advantage of the relationship by benefiting at our expense.

 

It’s a Fungus Among Us: The Good, the Bad & the Downright Scary, by Carla Billups and Dawn Cusick

Most land plants live in a symbiotic relationship with fungi, and use the fungal web to share information with their plant buddies in the garden, field, and woods. Some animals develop beneficial partnerships with fungi, too – but others are attacked by fungal parasites.

 

Things That Make You Go Yuck! Odd Couples, by Jenn Dlugos & Charlie Hatton

Everything on earth is involved in a symbiotic relationship, some good and some bad. Amazing close-up photographs coupled with trivia questions, humor, sidebars, and a dash of gross-out facts makes this book on animal, plant, and microorganism adaptation and survival an entertaining and educational read about some unusual and creepy relationships.

 

Forest Talk: How Trees Communicate, by Melissa Koch

Trees are talking all around us, using an underground network of fungi and roots to communicate with one another. They also share chemical messages from their leaves, sending defense signals to other plants when pests attack.

 

Plant Partnerships, by Joyce Pope

An examination of the dependence of numerous plants and lichen on other plants and animals for their habitat or survival. Covers instances of symbiosis, parasitism, gardening, and pollination by insects and mammals.

 


STEM Tuesday book list prepared by:

 

Sue Heavenrich writes about science for children and their families, from space to backyard ecology. A long line of ants marching across the kitchen counter inspired her first article for kids. When not writing, she’s committing acts of citizen science in the garden. She blogs about science for kids and families at archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com.

 

Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. She’s been a judge for the Cybils Awards from 2017 to present. And a judge for the #50PreciousWords competition since its inception. Her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty 2017-2018, 2016, and 2014-2015 anthologies. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at www.mariacmarshall.com.

STEM Tuesday — Earth Day 50th Anniversary Celebration– Interview with Author Mary Kay Carson

 

 

 

I’m excited to turn the tables on Mary Kay Carson, who usually does these interviews and invite her to speak about her newest (really cool) book,

Wildlife Ranger Action Guide 

 

Be a Hero for Local Wildlife!

Birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals live all around you – and you can help protect them! Use the field guide pages to learn about which species you’re likely to see in your area. Then turn your backyard into a sanctuary by creating an animal-friendly habitat where wild residents can find food, water, shelter, and places to nest and raise their young.

 

 

Here is a spread of the inside of this awesome book:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of the books you’ve written are about space or weather, how did you come up with the idea to write Wildlife Ranger?

Providing habitat for local wildlife is a real passion of mine. My husband and I live in the city, but chose to buy the 100+ year-old home we did fifteen years ago because of the acres of urban green space that surround it. We’ve been able to watch all kinds of critters take up residence as invasive plants has been removed, native plants encouraged and cultivated, dead trees left standing, and lawn abandoned! And I want kids to feel similarly empowered. To know that they can help wildlife right in their own backyards by providing one or more of the Big Four—water, food, shelter, and nests. Kids love animals, and presentations about how scientists are helping endangered animals are some of my most requested during school visits. And while kids are drawn to the well-publicized plight of pandas, tigers, and penguins, there isn’t a whole lot a young person in Iowa can do to help those faraway animals apart from raising awareness or donating money from a bake sale. But helping the wild animals that live all around us? That’s something anyone of any age can do.

I do love to write about space and weather! But biology is actually my background. My degree was biology (systematics and ecology), I served in the fisheries program as a Peace Corps volunteer, and I have quite a few animal books under my belt—Emi and the Rhino Scientist, The Bat Scientists, Do Sharks Glow in the Dark?, etc. But I’d have to say that it was my years of experience writing for Audubon Adventures that most inspired me to propose the idea of Wildlife Ranger Action Guide. I knew there were lots of fun projects out there for kids to do that would truly help wildlife.
 Was it difficult to do the research on each animal? Can you share something unexpected or unusual you learned about some of the animals.

Our home is filled with field guides, so I can’t say the research was difficult. I am embarrassed by how much I learned along the way, however. After all, these are animals I’ve seen most of my life. But somehow I never realized that green darners migrate nor knew that cottontails can have six litters a year. SIX! I’m ready for native wildlife trivia night!

Was it fun to write in this style, ie. more expository than narrative?
I like expository writing when it really speaks directly to readers. I try to imagine myself speaking to a group of kids thirsty for facts—but also a bit fidgety—when writing expository text. Clarity, brevity, and friendliness are paramount. I’m not a big fan of rambling, stream-of-consciousness, expository text for young readers.

 

This book seems to just beg for readers to take with them outside. Is that how you hope that readers use it?
This book should be filthy! Covered in dirt and warped from damp grass, smudged with paint and sticky with glue from projects. Seriously! A pristine copy of Wildlife Ranger Action Guide is just sad.

 

Can you give your readers tips on how to record data on animals they see or how to make journal?

Choose a format that works for you. Some kids are more likely to use something they’ve invested time into or personalized, like a Wild Notes Notebook. (Download template pages here.) But there are also apps for recording observations for the smart-phone savvy, too. In these times of global climatic changes, tracking when flowers bloom  and birds migrate has never been more critical.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know about the book?

My photographer husband, Tom Uhlman, did the photos of all the step-by-step kid projects. (A good number of the animal photos in the Field Guide sections are his, too.) Kudos to him for all the kid-wrangling of neighborhood and friends’ children! It was a fun challenge to think so visually. Not only how do I write up projects and information in ways that interest readers, but how (and what!) to show so they can successfully make a Paw Printer or Coffee Tub Nest Box by looking at the photos and text. Those photo shoot days were long and messy! Also, that’s our beloved cat, Shamu, on page 38.

Thanks so much for sharing your book with us, Mary Kay! If you’re interested in winning an autographed copy, please comment below or give this post a shoutout on Twitter and tag @mixedUpFiles and @marykaycarson.
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Author Jen SwansonScience ROCKS! And so do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award-winning author of over 40 nonfiction books for kids. Jennifer Swanson’s love of science began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. While no longer working from the garage, you can find Jennifer at her favorite place to explore the world around her. www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com Jennifer is also the creator and administrator of #STEMTuesday and #STEAMTeam2020

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From the Mixed-Up Files is the group blog of middle-grade authors celebrating books for middle-grade readers. For anyone with a passion for children’s literature—teachers, librarians, parents, kids, writers, industry professionals— we offer regularly updated book lists organized by unique categories, author interviews, market news, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a children's book from writing to publishing to promoting.

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