STEM Tuesday

STEM Tuesday– Getting Your Comic-on with Great Science Graphic Novels — Book List

 

Can you believe it is already December? We hope that you have found some amazing reads here this year. To finish out 2018 we’ve selected some comics and graphic novels that might have you looking at STEM in an entirely new way.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Older than Dirt: A Wild But True History of Earth by Don Brown and Dr. Michael R. Perfit  

Almost 14.5 billion years ago, it all started with a BIG BANG. What began as a cloud of gas and dust became our planet. Sibert Honor medalist Don Brown tackles the history of our planet in his latest.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThe Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown

Another title from Don Brown for your bookshelf provides readers with information about one of the worst environmental disasters of our planet. This is a great book to pair with The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Science Comics series

We’ve featured select titles within this STEM series before, but we wanted to be sure to tell you about the newest title released this fall:  Solar System: Our Place in SpaceOther titles include Volcanoes, Coral Reefs, Robots & Drones, Rockets, and The Brain. Check them out.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Twisted True Tales from Science series 

Stephanie Bearce is the creator of another great science comics series. Budding science fair enthusiasts will enjoy Explosive Experiments and Disaster Discoveries. The truth is always stranger than fiction!

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer  by Sydney Padua

A bit of a departure from our normal middle-grade focus, this informative and fun young adult graphic novel includes tons of primary information as it explores the lives of Ada Lovelace and inventor Charles Babbage. It was too good to pass up!

 

Plus, we wanted to share a few fiction titles that pair well with the above nonfiction science comics:

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes

We featured the Monsters and Modules installment of this series back in June, but there are lots of other (alliterative) titles to consider.  Potions and Parameters. Paths and Portals. Robots and Repeats. Secrets and Sequences. The combination of logic puzzles, basic coding instruction, and mysteries is perfect for budding STEM wizards.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Lowriders in SpaceLowriders to the Center of the Earth; and Lowriders Blast from the Past by Cathy Camper and illustrated by Raul the Third

Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria love working on cars, specifically lowriders. Sketched in pen-and-ink, the stories are chock full of science facts and several Spanish words/phrases. These titles will entertain as they inform.

 

 

STEM Tuesday–Peeking into the Mind of a Scientist/Engineer–Interview with Author Heather L. Montgomery

STEM TUESDAY from the mixed up files 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 Heather L. Montgomery, author of SOMETHING ROTTEN: A Fresh Look at Roadkill, a recently-released book that’s stacking up starred reviews. School Library Journal says, “With wry humor, gory detail, and great enthusiasm, . . . this book is not for the faint of heart, but be prepared to laugh along the way and to learn a lot. . . Sure to be a hit among students. A top addition to STEM collections.”

Click the cover for additional information about the book, including research photos and a link to submit your own roadkill stories. www.heatherlmontgomery.com/something-rotten.html

 

 

 

Mary Kay Carson: Why did you write Something Rotten?

Heather L. Montgomery: One day, when I was procrastinating writing a book about rattlesnakes, I went for a run. On my little country lane I came across a rattler who had lost his life to a tire. I had some questions, so I picked him up. No, you probably shouldn’t do that, but I did. And I spent the rest of the day learning from that marvelous guy, his fold-able fangs, his snorkel for when his mouth is crammed full of bunny, his non-existent lung!?! This was research at its best. And then I wondered: who else uses roadkill…

MKC: Care to share a memorable research moment?

Heather: Just about everything about this book has become a favorite moment. From plunging my hands into roadkill compost to talking to a kid who re-builds animal skeletons from roadkill, this research rocked. Another beautiful thing is that the research process became the book.

This might be my favorite part of it all: I had the opportunity to share with readers how questions drove me to slice open a skunk, how one sentence dropped in an interview lead me across the country to meet 400 roadkill professionals, how trusting inquiry carried me right down the road to jaw-dropping discoveries — can you say “contagious cancer”!?!   This book proved it: Inquiry is my life!

Heather L. Montgomery writes for kids who are wild about animals. The weirder, the wackier, the better. An award-winning science educator, Heather uses yuck appeal to engage young minds. During school presentations, petrified animal parts and tree guts inspire reluctant readers and writers. www.HeatherLMontgomery.com

MKC: Why do you write STEM books?

Heather: Um, Inquiry is my life. Once, I tried to kick the habit of asking questions. It made me sick. I do have a B.S. in biology, an M.S. in environmental education, and over 20 years’ experience teaching about nature, but really it’s just that writing, researching, and teaching about science is who I am at my core.

MKC: The book’s unique first-person voice and the clever use of footnotes are courageous style choices. Who was your audience when writing the book? 

Heather: For years at school visits or educator conferences I talked about dissecting that road-killed rattlesnake. Those audiences showed me the power of story. They taught me to play a game, balancing information and story. And, they laughed with me (this quirky lady asking oddball questions), not at me. Those audiences gave me the confidence to write the way I speak. That was a gift. I began to see that readers would follow me down this road, this rollercoaster of research. Thank you listeners, for showing me how to write this book.

MKC: Any suggested titles for fans of Something Rotten?

Heather: Any of the phenomenal nonfiction by authors Sy Montgomery, Sarah Albee, or Georgia Bragg. Page-turning fiction such as: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly and The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali BenjaminAdult readers might like books by Mary Roach. She showed me how to share my quest for information.

Win a FREE copy of SOMETHING ROTTEN: A Fresh Look at Roadkill!

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 this week is fellow skull collector Mary Kay Carson, author of Mission to Pluto and other nonfiction books for kids. @marykaycarson

STEM Tuesday–Peeking into the Mind of a Scientist/Engineer — Writing Craft and Resources

STEM TUESDAY from the mixed up files

Peeking in

This month we have been challenged to peek into the mind of scientists and engineers. How do we do that? It seems like such a scary proposition. How could we approach those aloof academics squirreled away in hermetically sealed laboratories, thinking about nothing else but their hypothesis?

Ummm. . .

#Fieldworkfails will give you a whole new perspective on those stuffy scientists. These are everyday folks making everyday mistakes. One researcher accidently glued herself to a crocodile, a field team had baboons steal their last role of toilet paper and string it up in trees, another group managed to get a drugged zebra’s neck stuck in the fork of tree.

This is peeking in!

And guess what – STEM Professionals are eager to share. In fact, many are almost shouting, jumping up and down, waving stadium-sized banners: “COME LEARN FROM US!”

There’s this growing field, science communication, and more and more practicing scientists are themselves becoming all about some SciComm. Go ahead, check out #Fieldwork or #SciComm or one of the bajillion other cool places these STEM nerds are sharing.

As a writer, I’m just as likely as the rest of the world to see scientists – especially those I adore – as remote individuals who don’t have the time for me. Once, I was in awe of this scientist – she gets to dive with manatees for her research – so I put off contacting her for months. When I finally did reach out, she invited me to join her next research trip to Belize! But the trip was in two weeks. I couldn’t get organized that quickly. I missed the opportunity of a lifetime because I had been nervous about contacting her.

Don’t miss out. Don’t let your students miss out.

Do reach out to the STEM community

But first, be prepared.

  1. Visit the scientist’s website. If they have videos, articles in popular magazines, or active social media accounts, they are eager to engage.
  2. Read about the research the scientist is conducting.
  3. Generate a list of your questions and then prioritize those questions.
  4. Contact the individual (I use email), letting them know:
    1. your purpose
    2. how you prepared for talking with them
    3. what exactly you are seeking (a phone interview, answers via email, a video chat)
    4. why you are seeking them out as opposed to another researcher.

Then, once you’ve made contact, let the questions begin. Do let the professional share in a way that is comfortable to them. Some prefer lots of questions; others love to tell stories. Have fun with them and don’t forget to send a thank-you.Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Peek Into the Past

But don’t think this peeking in is limited to living folks. Books on this month’s reading list give you prime opportunities to wander around in the world of geniuses such as Charles Darwin. Take a look at Charles and Emma: The Darwin’s Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman. You’ll get a look into the inner workings of his mind:

  • Reading Charles’s list of marriage pros and cons
  • Seeing that after years of work he worried that “all my originality, whatever it may amount to, will be smashed,”
  • Watching him grapple with a child’s death and the realization that natural selection was playing out in his own life.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgFiction can show us the inner scientific mind as well. Consider The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly.  Young Callie Vee posts questions in her notebook, “What shapes the clouds?” She observes a weather vane and documents her ideas. She builds an anemometer, and just like the contributors to #FieldworkFails, she discovers that STEM endeavors aren’t always easy. Her great anemometer blew apart. Fortunately for Callie Vee, she has a mentor eager to share the thrill of design, but wise enough to let her learn through failure.

I encourage you – students, writers, educators – STEM lovers reach out and peek in!

 

 

 

 

Nonfiction author Heather L. Montgomery peeks into the lives of scientists in her recent book Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill. A scientist who pulls parasites from snake lungs? A kid who rebuilds animal bodies bone-by-bone, a researcher who finds contagious cancer? Don’t you want to know how those folks think? Heather also peeks directly into roadkill herself. Dissecting a rattler, skinning a fox, her hands stay busy discovering answers to questions her brain keeps pumping out.  

 

 

O.O.L.F (Out of Left Field)

How can students connect with STEM professionals? Here are some good opportunities:

Before they were scientists is an interview series that asks scientists what they were like in middle school.

Skype-a-Scientist matches scientists with classrooms for 30-minute Q & A sessions.

Melissa Stewart’s “Dig Deep” series looks at the inner lives of nonfiction writers who often write on STEM topics.