STEM Tuesday

STEM Tuesday– The Impacts of Our Changing Climate– In the Classroom

 

What is climate change? And how does it affect you and me? There are a lot of great books to help students learn about climate change, how it impacts our lives, and what we can do about it, and they are an excellent starting point for activities and discussion in the classroom. Are you ready to explore our changing climate?

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWhen the World Runs Dry: Earth’s Water Crisis by Nancy F. Castaldo
What would you do if you turned on the faucet and the water was toxic, or no water flowed at all? Readers will explore worldwide water issues and learn from those impacted and making a difference.

Classroom activity: Hold a classroom discussion about water and water shortages. Do you live in an area that has experienced water shortages? What happened? How did you deal with it? In small groups, have students investigate the water supply in their communities. Where does their water originate? How is this water source affected by climate change? What impact has that had on the local community? On families? Students can brainstorm ways to conserve water in their communities. Have each group present their conservation plan to the class.

 

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgEye of the Storm: NASA, Drones, and the Race to Crack the Hurricane Code by Amy Cherrix
Hurricanes and severe storms leave millions of people in danger. Explore how scientists are studying hurricanes in this Scientists in the Field title.

Classroom activity: Extreme weather can be one of the earliest signs of climate change that you will experience. Weather becomes “extreme” when it is far outside what is typical weather for a specific place at a particular time of year. Hurricanes are one type of extreme weather. Have students select a different kind of extreme weather to research. Have them answer the following questions: What areas of the world are most affected by this weather? How does climate change impact this type of extreme weather? What can we do to protect people and property from this type of extreme weather? Have students prepare a disaster plan for their chosen weather event. What should they do to prepare before the weather event? What should they do during and after to stay safe? Share and discuss the disaster plans with the class.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWhere Have All The Bees Gone? Pollinators in Crisis by Rebecca E. Hirsch
Hirsch explores bee population decline in her latest STEM title. Readers will explore bee natural history along with ways to slow their decline.

Classroom activity: Bees are just one species threatened by climate change and habitat loss. Every living thing on Earth feels the effects of climate change, including those in the backyard or local park. Have students take a walk outside in their backyard or nearby park. Have them identify the organisms that live there, their habitats, and the typical climate of the area. Research and discuss how climate change will affect the plant and animal habitats? Will the species that live there be able to survive? Have students predict what will happen to the backyard ecosystem in the next 20 years and explain their reasoning.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgHow To Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other by Naomi Klein with Rebecca Stefoff
Klein explores a trove of things we can all do to help the planet in this age of climate change. It also includes powerful stories of young readers making a difference.

Classroom activity: Have students choose one of the young people profiled in this book or another book to study. How has their chosen activist made a difference to protect the planet and everything that lives on it? Have students work together in small groups to create a short presentation of their chosen activist and their achievements.

 

 

Want some more climate activities? Here are a few resources to try:
• NASA Climate Kids, https://climatekids.nasa.gov/menu/make/
• UCAR Center for Science Education, https://scied.ucar.edu/activity
• National Ocean Service, https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/discoverclimate/

Hopefully, these activities and resources will get your students excited to learn more about climate change!

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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– The Impacts of Our Changing Climate– Book List

2021 was the warmest year on record. We’ve seen the impact of climate change first-hand all around the world. Let’s explore books that are bringing climate change impacts to young readers.

When the World Runs Dry: Earth’s Water Crisis by Nancy F. Castaldo

What would you do if you turned on the faucet and the water was toxic or no water flowed at all? Readers will explore worldwide water issues and learn from those impacted and making a difference.

Running Dry: The Global Water Crisis by Stuart A Kallen

Here’s another look at the global water crisis.

Eye of the Storm: NASA, Drones, and the Race to Crack the Hurricane Code by Amy Cherrix

Hurricanes and severe storms leave millions of people in danger. Explore how scientists are studying hurricanes in this Scientists in the Field title.

Weird Weather: Everything You Didn’t Want to Know about Climate Change, But Probably Should Find Out by Kate Evans

Explore everything you should know about weather in this graphic novel.

Fuel Under Fire: Petroleum and Its Perils by Margaret J. Goldstein

Every day, people use about 90 million barrels of petroleum. This book explores the use and the search for that dwindling resource.

Old Enough to Save the Planet: Be inspired by real-life children taking action against climate change by Loll Kirby, illustrated by Adelina Lirius

A look at what young kids can do to save the planet.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat – Young Readers Edition by Michael Pollan

This young readers edition addresses our eating habits and their global implications.

How To Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other by Naomi Klein with Rebecca Stefoff

Klein explores a trove of things we can all do to help the planet in this age of climate change. It also includes powerful stories of young readers making a difference.

Our World Out of Balance: Understanding Climate Change and What We Can Do by Andrea Minoglio, illustrated by Laura Fanelli

Clear and concise descriptions of climate change and environmental degradation. Monoglio also includes what is being done and ways we can act to build a better world.

The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth: Understanding Our World and Its Ecosystems by Rachel Ignotofsky

If you loved Women in Science, you’ll love this illustrated tour of our planet’s ecosystems and how they work.

Where Have All The Bees Gone? Pollinators in Crisis by Rebecca E. Hirsch

Hirsch explores bee population decline in her latest STEM title. Readers will explore bee natural history along with ways to slow their decline.


Photo of DESERTS author Nancy Castaldo

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. 

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that empowers young readers to act on behalf of the environment and their communities. Academy Award winner and environmentalist Jeff Bridges calls Planet Ocean a “must read.” Newman, a Sibert Honor author of Sea Otter Heroes, 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.

STEM Tuesday– Invasive Species– Interview with Author Lisa Amstutz

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 Lisa Amstutz, author of Invasive Species. The book is part of the “engaging and informative” Ecological Disasters series, according to School Library Journal.

Mary Kay Carson: How did you come to write Invasive Species?

Lisa Amstutz: This book was an assignment from an educational publisher as part of their Ecological Disasters series. Because of my background in ecology, this one felt like a great fit, and I was excited to dig in! For those who aren’t familiar with this market, some educational publishers hire writers to produce series for them instead of reviewing projects submitted by authors/agents, as most trade publishers do. These series are designed in-house and are highly targeted to the school curriculum. Authors are given a set of guidelines that includes things like word count, reading level, a general outline, number of sidebars, etc.

MKC: The book is so well researched! Did you discover anything especially surprising?

Lisa: The thing that surprised me most was how many invasive species were imported on purpose. For example, the nutria was brought to the United States between 1899 and 1930 by fur farmers. When the market collapsed, farmers released the animals into the wild. Kudzu, aka ‘the vine that ate the South’, was imported in 1876 as an ornamental plant and even promoted by the Soil Conservation Service to prevent soil erosion from the 1930s to 1950s. Today, both are damaging ecosystems. Hopefully we’ve learned our lesson when it comes to moving species out of their natural habitats.

MKC: Do you have a least-liked invasive species? 

Lisa: The brown marmorated stinkbug (at left) is my current nemesis, as it has an annoying habit of moving into my house in the winter!

MKC: For whom is the book written? How does the writing style reflect that?

Lisa Amstutz is the author of ~150 books for children. She has also written for a variety of magazines and newspapers. In 2021, she joined Storm Literary Agency as an associate literary agent. Lisa’s background includes a B.A. in Biology and an M.S. in Environmental Science/Ecology. She specializes in topics related to nature, sustainability, and agriculture. Lisa lives on a small farm with her family. Find her online at www.LisaAmstutz.com

Lisa: Because it is targeted to schools and libraries, this book provides a broad and straightforward overview for kids exploring this topic on their own or for a research project. Photos and sidebars add interest. As always, I tried to use engaging language, concepts kids can relate to, and fun facts to hook the reader and draw them into the topic.

MKC: Do you choose to write about STEM books? Is STEM your background?

Lisa: I have a B.A. in Biology and an M.S. in Environmental Science/Ecology. After working in my field for a few years, I realized I liked writing about science even better, and as a bonus I could work from home. I love exploring new topics and sharing that excitement with kids. I’m also passionate about helping readers connect with the natural world and learn to care for it.

MKC: Could you give us a peek into your process by sharing where you are right now on a current project and how you’re tackling it?

Lisa: I’m at the very beginning stages of a new project at the moment. After choosing a topic from my long and very random list of ideas, I’m currently gathering information and resources online and through my local library. For a longer project like this one, I use Scrivener or OneNote to easily record and categorize information. I always footnote as I go, so it’s easy to go back and double check facts. For me, this part is the most fun—I love learning new things!

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Win a FREE critique by author and agent Lisa Amstutz!

The lucky winner receives one critique (query letter, picture book manuscript, or first 10 pages of a longer manuscript or project). Enter by leaving a comment below. The randomly-chosen winner will be contacted via email.

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