STEM Tuesday

STEM Tuesday — Women Who Changed Science — In the Classroom

Most people have learned about famous scientists such as Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and Sir Isaac Newton. But what do you know about Emma Lilian Todd, Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler, Mae Jemison, and Grace Hopper? These incredible women in science have been pioneers in their fields and inspire future generations of women in science, technology, engineering, and math. This month’s STEM Tuesday theme is Women in Science. Here are a few activities to help students learn more about these extraordinary scientists.

Create a Living Museum

Make history come alive in the classroom with a living museum. Start by having students read through these books and choose a scientist to research. They can work individually or in pairs or small groups.

Science Superstars: 30 Brilliant Women Who Changed the World by Jennifer Calvert, illustrated by Octavia Jackson

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgExploring the spark of curiosity and the joy these women found in science, as they each persevered despite any barriers – even wars, this book presents factually & visually interesting entries of many well-known women scientists, as well as Ynés Méxia (Botanist), Janaki Ammal (Botanist/Cytology), Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (Chemistry), Jane Cooke Wright (Oncology), and Sau Lan Wu (Particle Physics). It’s an excellent book for encouraging students to think about the many possible science careers and pursue their own interests.

Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM by Tonya Bolden

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgFrom early trailblazers to the present, these stories highlight black women who have made contributions as surgeons, inventors, mechanics, forensic scientists, engineers, physicists, geneticists, architects and more. Each of three sections put the women’s contributions into the context of U.S. history. This is a book that could inspire a girl to think “maybe that’s something I can do!”

 

101 Awesome Women Who Transformed Science by Claire Philip, illustrated by Isabel Muñoz

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgA great resource for any STEM-girl, this compendium highlights women’s scientific and technical achievements from 2700 BCE to the present. Short biographies introduce women in math, botany, physics – even astrophysics. There are women in paleontology, engineering, computer science, and my favorite, entomology. Readers also meet women inventors and astronauts. Four spreads focus on women in astronomy, medicine, computing, and chemistry.

 

Black Women in Science by Kimberly Brown Pellum

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgAuthored by a Black woman of science (Dr. Pellum is a veterinarian), this book invites girls to explore the possibilities of STEM careers. She presents 15 biographies, beginning with Rebecca Lee Crumpler, a medical doctor at the end of the Civil War, and showcases black women in aviation, nutrition, computers, rocket science, genetics, and forensic science. Hands-on activities at end of each chapter.

 

Hidden No More: African American Women in STEM Careers by Caroline Kennon

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgAttempting to counter the continued stereotyping of black women in STEM careers, this book traces the accomplishments of female African American scientists and inventors through the 19th and 20th centuries – from Bessie Coleman to Mae Jemison, Marie Daly to Joan Owens, Rebecca Crumpler to Alexa Canady, Ruth Howard to Jeanne Spurlock, and Bessie Griffin to Valerie Thomas. It includes source notes and additional resources.

 

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWomen have been studying and practicing medicine, science, and math since before recorded history. We cannot afford to ignore the brain power of half the population, says the author, and she highlights contributions from women in STEM fields. There are timelines and a great sidebar on statistics, using graphs and pie charts to show the percent of women in STEM fields. Also, a fun spread showing a variety of lab tools.

Activity

Once students have selected their scientists, have them research and learn about them. When did they live? What was their life like? How did they get interested in science? What contributions did they make to science? What challenges or obstacles did they face, and how did they overcome them? Students can prepare a short presentation about their scientist for museum visitors using this information. Encourage them to be creative in their presentation. They might want to dress up as their scientist and/or use props and prepare a speech or skit. They might choose to prepare a PowerPoint, short video, or slideshow to help visitors learn about the scientists. When ready, invite another class or parents to visit the living museum and learn about women in science.

STEM Careers Today

More women than ever before are studying STEM subjects and working in STEM careers. Have students look through these books and identify some exciting STEM careers.

No Boundaries: 25 Women Explorers and Scientists Share Adventures, Inspiration, and Advice by Gabby Salazar and Clare Fieseler

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgAn engaging look at women around the globe on the frontlines of ecology, archeology, conservation, citizen science, astronomy, mountaineering, photography, vulcanology, bioengineering, and many more areas of science and exploration. Each biography contains “must-have” and “inspiration” sidebars, stunning photographs and diagrams, as well as a fun activity or additional scientific information.

 

Gutsy Girls Go for Science: Engineers – With Stem Projects for Kids by Diane C. Taylor

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgEngineering is a huge part of our everyday life. The buildings we live and work in, the computers and phones we use – even the dishes we eat from – were designed by engineers. This book contains biographies of five gutsy girl engineers: Ellen Swallow Richards, an environmental engineer; Emily Roebling, chief engineer for the Brooklyn Bridge; Catherine Gleason, mechanical engineer; Lillian Moller Gilbreth, and industrial engineer; and Mary Jackson, an aerospace engineer. There are plenty of text-boxes, short bios of other engineering women, and hands-on “field assignments” at the end of each chapter. Other books in the series include Paleontologists, Programmers, and Astronauts.

Technology : Cool Women Who Code by Andi Diehn, illustrated by Lena Chandhok

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThis is one of ten books in the “Girls in Science” series. It begins with an introduction to technology, and how it has evolved from wheels and steam engines to current tech. Each of three chapters focuses on a woman in technology: Grace Hopper (math, science, computers); Shaundra Bryant Daily (coding, technology & movement); and Jean Yang (computer science and programming languages). Text boxes highlight cool careers in technology, sidebars provide short biographies of six more women in technology, and there are plenty of “try-it’s” and questions sprinkled throughout. Also in the series: books about women in Astronomy, Engineering, Forensics, Marine Biology, Aviation, Archaeology, ZoologyMeteorology, and Architecture.

Activity

Ask students: “Where do you see yourself in STEM?” Have them think about what types of STEM jobs and careers interest them. Then, they can identify a STEM career that they find most interesting and learn more about it. An excellent place to learn about careers is the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. What does a typical day look like for someone in this career? What responsibilities do they have? What type of education do they have? Where do they work? What are some similar jobs? Have students prepare a short presentation about what they have learned and share it with the class.

Hopefully, these activities and resources will get your students excited to learn more about women in STEM!

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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 — Women Who Changed Science — Book List

Many girls are familiar with only a few names of women in science. Here are a dozen books to inspire our future women in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Fossil Hunter: How Mary Anning Changed the Science of Prehistoric Life by Cheryl Blackford

Tracing her discoveries, this gripping, gorgeously spot illustrated biography is a wonderful tribute to this remarkable woman and an honest look at the scientific community that almost waited too long to acknowledge one of the world’s greatest paleontologists and her remarkable contributions. The timeline, author’s note, glossary, current list for locations of Mary’s fossils, source notes, and bibliography round out this great nonfiction middle grade book.

Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane by Kirsten W. Larson, illustrated by Tracy Subisak

Every now and then we come across a picture book perfect for the 8-10 crowd. This book shows how Lilian Todd grew up in a family of innovators, and created her own things. But invention wasn’t for women, so Lilian took a job at the U.S. Patent Office. In her free time she built models of flying machines, eventually designing and building her own airplane. Great backmatter for readers who want to explore further.

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery

This engaging biography of Temple Grandin shows how she brought her experience as a person with autism to the science of animal behavior. With a science teacher as an advocate and an ally, Temple began experimenting with a simple squeeze machine that would help her feel more comfortable, and revolutionized how people view animal emotions. Just as important as portraying a woman in science, this book shows that there is a place for neurodivergent people to explore their passions in STEM fields.

ANTHOLOGIES

No Boundaries: 25 Women Explorers and Scientists Share Adventures, Inspiration, and Advice by Gabby Salazar and Clare Fieseler

An engaging look at women around the globe on the frontlines of ecology, archeology, conservation, citizen science, astronomy, mountaineering, photography, vulcanology, bioengineering, and many more areas of science and exploration. Each biography contains “must-have” and “inspiration” sidebars, stunning photographs and diagrams, as well as a fun activity or additional scientific information.

Science Superstars: 30 Brilliant Women Who Changed the World by Jennifer Calvert, illustrated by Octavia Jackson

Exploring the spark of curiosity and the joy these women found in science, as they each persevered despite any barriers – even wars, this book presents factually & visually interesting entries of many well-known women scientists, as well as Ynés Méxia (Botanist), Janaki Ammal (Botanist/Cytology), Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (Chemistry), Jane Cooke Wright (Oncology), and Sau Lan Wu (Particle Physics). It’s an excellent book for encouraging students to think about the many possible science careers and pursue their own interests.

Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM by Tonya Bolden

From early trailblazers to the present, these stories highlight black women who have made contributions as surgeons, inventors, mechanics, forensic scientists, engineers, physicists, geneticists, architects and more. Each of three sections put the women’s contributions into the context of U.S. history. This is a book that could inspire a girl to think “maybe that’s something I can do!”

101 Awesome Women Who Transformed Science by Claire Philip, illustrated by Isabel Muñoz

A great resource for any STEM-girl, this compendium highlights women’s scientific and technical achievements from 2700 BCE to the present. Short biographies introduce women in math, botany, physics – even astrophysics. There are women in paleontology, engineering, computer science, and my favorite, entomology. Readers also meet women inventors and astronauts. Four spreads focus on women in astronomy, medicine, computing, and chemistry.

Black Women in Science by Kimberly Brown Pellum

Authored by a Black woman of science (Dr. Pellum is a veterinarian), this book invites girls to explore the possibilities of STEM careers. She presents 15 biographies, beginning with Rebecca Lee Crumpler, a medical doctor at the end of the Civil War, and showcases black women in aviation, nutrition, computers, rocket science, genetics, and forensic science. Hands-on activities at end of each chapter.

Hidden No More: African American Women in STEM Careers by Caroline Kennon

Attempting to counter the continued stereotyping of black women in STEM careers, this book traces the accomplishments of female African American scientists and inventors through the 19th and 20th centuries – from Bessie Coleman to Mae Jemison, Marie Daly to Joan Owens, Rebecca Crumpler to Alexa Canady, Ruth Howard to Jeanne Spurlock, and Bessie Griffin to Valerie Thomas. It includes source notes and additional resources.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women have been studying and practicing medicine, science, and math since before recorded history. We cannot afford to ignore the brain power of half the population, says the author, and she highlights contributions from women in STEM fields. There are timelines and a great sidebar on statistics, using graphs and pie charts to show the percent of women in STEM fields. Also a fun spread showing a variety of lab tools.

Gutsy Girls Go for Science: Engineers – With Stem Projects for Kids by Diane C. Taylor

Engineering is a huge part of our everyday life. The buildings we live and work in, the computers and phones we use – even the dishes we eat from – were designed by engineers. This book contains biographies of five gutsy girl engineers: Ellen Swallow Richards, an environmental engineer; Emily Roebling, chief engineer for the Brooklyn Bridge; Catherine Gleason, mechanical engineer; Lillian Moller Gilbreth, and industrial engineer; and Mary Jackson, an aerospace engineer. There are plenty of text-boxes, short bios of other engineering women, and hands-on “field assignments” at the end of each chapter. Other books in the series include Paleontologists, Programmers, and Astronauts.

Technology : Cool Women Who Code by Andi Diehn, illustrated by Lena Chandhok

This is one of ten books in the “Girls in Science” series. It begins with an introduction to technology, and how it has evolved from wheels and steam engines to current tech. Each of three chapters focuses on a woman in technology: Grace Hopper (math, science, computers); Shaundra Bryant Daily (coding, technology & movement); and Jean Yang (computer science and programming languages). Text boxes highlight cool careers in technology, sidebars provide short biographies of six more women in technology, and there are plenty of “try-it’s” and questions sprinkled throughout. Also in the series: books about women in Astronomy, Engineering, Forensics, Marine Biology, Aviation, Archaeology, ZoologyMeteorology, and Architecture.


STEM Tuesday book list prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich, author

Sue Heavenrich writes about science for children and their families, from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. Visit her at  www.sueheavenrich.com

Maria Marshall is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at www.mariacmarshall.com

STEM Tuesday — Birds — Interview with Author Leslie Bulion

We are delighted to have the aweome Leslie Bulion with us today to talk about her book:

Superlative Birds book

Get to know all about the best and brightest―and smelliest!―birds in Leslie Bulion’s award-winning collection of avian science poetry. You won’t even need binoculars!

★ “Fascinating.”―Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

★ “In works such as Superlative Birds, the collaboration of poetry and science invites children of varying reading preferences, learning styles, and worldviews to enter nature study through their own chosen door.” ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED REVIEW

★ “Entertaining and educational, a superlative package.” ―Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

 

Leslie, thanks for joining us today. please tell us about your book, Superlative Birds

Thanks for inviting me to STEM Tuesday, Jen! SUPERLATIVE BIRDS (Peachtree 2019) takes readers on a funny, poetic tour of the important characteristics of “birdness,” such as feathers, eggs, nests, wings, and bills, plus behaviors like courtship and bird parenting using a “best of the bird world” representative for each trait. A chatty chickadee appears in each spread to help readers meet a challenge offered in the introductory poem: which of these traits belong only to birds? This is the second of four critter poetry collection collaborations with illustrator Robert Meganck, whose work is superlatively funny and accurate!

 

You wrote this book and many of your others in verse, which is so amazing. Why do you choose to write in this format?

I love the challenge of communicating one cool science story in a succinct way using the music and wordplay of poetry. I am a lifelong learner; writing science poetry allows me to learn about a subject of interest, and to learn more about poetry as I explore and choose different forms for each of the poems.

spread inside Superlative Birds

In my poems, I’m not sharing everything there is to know about birds (or amphibians, or spiders, or human body parts, or…). I also don’t share everything about any particular bird—that wouldn’t make for a fun or interesting poem. I try to hone the science story I’ll tell to one elegant nugget. For example, in my poem about the world’s smallest bird, the bee hummingbird, I talk about its size, mention what it eats, and describe the pattern its wingbeats make (figure-eight). That’s it! I try to keep the poems’ accompanying expository notes fairly concise as well, which is much harder!

 

There are so many different birds in this book. What kind of research did you do? 

I always start with two approaches: reading widely and some kind of hands-on experience. For SUPERLATIVE BIRDS, I read general books and articles about birds and bird behavior and pored over field guides. I took a week-long summer course at Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology where I met Leslie Bulion researching birds ornithologists and expert birders who became my expert readers. I asked a LOT of questions, including “which bird do YOU think is the best, and why?” Once I figured out the structure and organization of the book, and the “world record-holders” hook, I researched animal world records and unusual birds, and continued to read recent articles in science magazines and journals to see which birds scientists were studying and why. I also contacted researchers for further information. There’s always something new in science! While reading recent research on emperor penguins (deepest diver) I learned they had the most feathers of any bird, something researchers had discovered while taking an unexpected opportunity to look at feather density. I had read many references to the tundra swan being the world record-holder for most feathers but it had just been dethroned!

 

Why do you choose to write STEM/STEAM books? Is it in your background?

I have been interested in science for as long as I can remember. I wrote a poem back in fourth grade encouraging readers to take a closer look at critters living “under the grass,” something I did myself 50 years later in LEAF LITTER CRITTERS (Peachtree 2018)! I did a semester at sea in during my undergraduate studies, and earned a Master’s degree in Biological Oceanography after that. I was inspired to start writing science poetry on the heels of taking a summer course (just for fun) called “The Way Bugs Work.”

 

Do you have any tips for writers who might want to write science poetry?

I think we all do our best work when we’re writing about something we find fascinating. I read current science every day. There’s always a note I’ll squirrel away in an idea file or follow on a happy hunt into the weeds. I collect all of the information I can, and then I whittle. For me, science poetry involves whittling a stick until you make a whistle (or a flute) that calls the read over—Hey! Check this out!

 

What is your newest book? 

Thanks for asking! SERENGETI: PLAINS OF GRASS (Peachtree, March 1, 2022) follows the greatSerengeti Plains of Grass book migration of wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and others into and out of Tanzania’s Serengeti short-grass plain as the first rains bring new grass growth to feed the herd. Migrating animals interact with resident animals in this moving ecosystem. Unlike my other science poetry books, SERENGETI is all the same form of poetry throughout, one stanza connecting to the next as readers follow energy though the food web from herbivores to insectivores, carnivores, and recyclers before the herd moves on, following the rains west. The form is an adaptation of a Swahili stanza called the utendi.

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us today, Leslie.  You can learn more about Leslie and her other amazing books HERE

Leave us a comment about your favorite book about birds!  Go STEM/STEAM!