STEM Tuesday

STEM Tuesday Wild and Wacky Science — In the Classroom

This month’s STEM Tuesday Theme: Wild and Wacky Science has the potential to lead readers in all directions! What a fun Book List the STEM Tuesday Team found for us this month.

Here are a few ways to use this month’s books in the classroom, extending learning beyond simply reading. Enjoy these suggestions, and as always, we welcome your additional suggestions in the comments below!

Follow a Friend on Facebook! 

After reading Unstoppable: True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals by Nancy Furstinger, you’ll want to adopt one of these furry heroes! Since convincing parents to get new pets of any kind can be a monumental task, it might be easier for your class to befriend a furrrball on Facebook. Here are links to the Facebook pages of several of Furstinger’s friends.

Chris P Bacon, Pig on Wheels @CPBaconWheels

Brutus the Rottweiler @betterpawsforbrutus

Molly the Three-Legged Pony @mollythe3leggedpony

Vincent the Cat @walkingvincentcat

Albie, Felix, and Fawn, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary @woodstockfarm

 Chart Your Allergies! 

First, read Itch! Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch by Anita Sanchez.

Then, practice data-collecting, chart-making, graphing, and data analysis skills by doing a classroom allergy assessment.  Start by asking students to create their own survey. What questions will you need to ask to find out who is allergic to what? Create the survey together, complete the surveys, and gather the data. Next, chart or graph (or both!) the results for a visual and numeric display of what gets under your skin. Who’s is inclined to itch when the cat comes in? Do menacing mosquitoes munch on many or just a few of the members of your class?

Dig Deeper!  Get the DNA 411!

In Forgotten Bones, Uncovering of a Slave Cemetery, Lois Miner Huey takes readers on a fascinating journey that begins with the discovery of and leads to an amazing amount of information about the thirteen slaves buried on what was once the Schuyler Family Farm near Albany, New York.

Much of what the scientists on the scene and in the lab near Albany were able to determine about the slaves was came the DNA samples from seven of the adult skeletons.  But what do you really know about DNA? Plan ahead for National DNA Day, April 25th, by checking out this website for several great DNA-related activities to do with kids. 

Make a Book Trailer.  Some of this month’s book picks have cool book trailers available on You Tube.  Watch these one-minute advertisements for wild and wacky nonfiction and make your own book trailer. There’s a lot to be said about getting the most out of just sixty seconds of screen time! Can you make a trailer that is certain to send readers running to the library to check out the book you’ve read? Here’s a link to a helpful tutorial to show How to Make a Book Trailer in iMovie.

   

This week’s STEM Tuesday post was prepared by

Michelle Houts delights in the wild and wacky side of finding fun facts for young readers. She writes both fiction and nonfiction and often finds the nonfiction harder to believe than the fiction. Find her on Instagram and Twitter @mhoutswrites and on the web at www.michellehouts.com.

STEM Tuesday Wild and Wacky Science — Books List

This month’s theme of Wild and Wacky Science! is pretty broad, so we’ve included a wide variety of books that include humor, gross facts, bones, poop, unusual explorations, and some far-out science. It’s a great list for introducing science to reluctant readers and a wonderful gateway to many STEM topics. As always, we welcome your suggestions in the comments section below.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgHow Rude! Real Bugs Who Won’t Mind Their Manners by Heather Montgomery
Hilarious, informative, and gross, this title features a great mix of science and humor. Where else can you find bugs that throw their poop?

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgPoison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murdreous Medicines by Sarah Albee
The author of Poop Happened has a new title out that combines history and science. Poison brings to light medical mishaps and mysterious deaths.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSuperman Science: The Real-World Science Behind Superman’s Powers by Agnieszka Biskup and Tammy Enz
Investigate the science of Superman in this Capstone Young Readers series that delves into flight, sight, and strength. A perfect way to combine STEM and super heroes.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgForgotten Bones: Uncovering a Slave Cemetery by Lois Huey
Archeologist/author Lois Huey tells the story of the discovery of a slave cemetery. Readers will uncover the science of archeology and the tools they use to solve mysteries buried beneath the soil.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgTwo Truths and a Lie by Ammi-Joan Maquette and Laurie Ann Thompson
From It’s Alive! to Histories and Mysteries, readers of this series will find unbelievable facts and some fake stories to tease their interest.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThe Secret of Scorpion-Eating Meerkats…And More!  by Ana Maria Rodriguez
Meerkats, hyenas, capuchin monkeys, and horses come to life in this curious title as readers explore their adaptations for survival.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgUnstoppable: True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals by Nancy Furstinger
If a human can benefit from having a prosthetic leg or arm, why can’t a dog or another animal? This book introduces readers into the medical marvels that have been created for animals and how the quest for solutions also inspires help for humans.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgTracking Trash:  Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion by Loree Griffin Burns and Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman.
These books describe how trash moves through the Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgocean and what happens when it gets there. Two great reads for budding marine biologists.

 

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

The Big Book of GROSS Stuff by Bart King
This book, published in 2010, is one to pull off the shelf of your local library. Readers who love grossology will enjoy practical knowledge about boogers, belches, diseases, sneezes, and demon cheeses. Remember to take the Gross Quiz!

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgItch! Everything You Didn’t Want To Know About What Makes You Scratch by Anita Sanchez
This book releases March 13th and describes all the icky, pinchy, and slimy things that make you itch. Watch for it!

 

And two great fiction pairings this month:

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgHow to Outswim a Shark without a Snorkel by Jess Keating
Sharks, crocodiles, and humor are combined in this terrific middle grade zoology-inspired title.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgHow to Avoid Extinction by Paul Acampora
Death, food, and dinosaur fossils help make this book a memorable read.

 

 

STEM Tuesday book lists prepared by:

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including her 2016 title, THE STORY OF SEEDS: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less To Eat Around The World, which earned the 2017 Green Earth Book Award and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia. She enjoys sharing her adventures, research, and writing tips with readers. Nancy also serves as the Regional Advisor of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2018 title is BACK FROM THE BRINK: Saving Animals from Extinction. www.nancycastaldo.com

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that inspires kids to seek connections between science, literacy, and the environment. The recipient of the Green Earth Book Award and a finalist for the AAAS/Subaru Science Books and Films Award, 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 her writing skills give a voice to our beleaguered environment. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.

Check back every Tuesday of every month:

  • Week 1:  STEM Tuesday Themed Book Lists
  • Week 2:  STEM Tuesday in the Classroom
  • Week 3:  STEM Tuesday Crafts and Resources
  • Week 4:  STEM Tuesday Author Interviews and Giveaways

STEM Tuesday Exploration — Interview with Author Jennifer Swanson and Giveaway

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 author Jennifer Swanson who wrote this month’s featured book, Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact.

The book invites readers along on a journey of exploration to two very different but similarly extreme environments—outer space and the deep ocean. Through fascinating text, interviews with experts, and hands-on activities, Astronaut-Aquanaut challenges young people to think about limitations on human explorers and how technology strives to overcome them.

Mary Kay Carson: Congratulations on Astronaut-Aquanaut being chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection! How did you come to write this fabulous book?

Jennifer Swanson: Well, it all started with a conversation I was having with my National Geographic Kids editor, Shelby Lees. We were discussing a different book on space that I was doing with her and talking about how astronauts train to go into space. I happened to mention that it was probably much different from how people trained to work under the ocean. That got me thinking. Was it different? I had to find out! Like any good nonfiction author, I  started researching. To my surprise, I found out that astronauts and aquanauts do a lot of things in common when training. As we say in the writing world, that fascinating tidbit of information was my HOOK! and one I was sure would make a great book!

Buy a copy of Astronaut-Aquanaut!

MKC: It looks like you got to interview some famous aquanauts and astronauts. Do you have a favorite moment or happening you’d like to share?

JS: There are so many with this book. Being a science geek and getting to talk to real astronauts and aquanauts made me feel like I was a groupie talking to a bunch of rock stars. Probably my two favorite moments were speaking with Dr. Kathy Sullivan on the phone for an hour (she was the FIRST woman to walk in space! And I remember her doing that)  and also meeting Fabien Cousteau in person. He is an amazing aquanaut in his own right, but also grandson of the famous Jacques Cousteau, who I grew up watching on television.  But really, talking to all of these experts was quite thrilling!

MKC: Why do you choose to write STEM books? 

STEM author Jennifer Swanson

JS: I LOVE STEM. I have since I was a kid. I was 7 when I started my own science club in my garage. My love of science has followed me my whole life. I have a B.S. in chemistry from the U.S. Naval Academy, and a M.S. Ed in K-8 science education. Aside from writing books for kids about science, I also teach middle school science online for Johns Hopkins University. I guess you could say that I am the epitome of a science geek. And proud of it!

MKC: For readers who loved Astronaut-Aquanaut, what other middle-grade books would you suggest?

Wow. There are so many!  Smash! Exploring the Mysteries of the Universe with the Large Hadron Collider by Sara Latta is really cool! Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly is one of my favorites. The movie was AWESOME, too! All of the Scientists in the Field series books by HMH.  As for fiction, there is The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm and Michelle Houts’ new Lucy’s Lab series. I really loved that– it reminds me of me as a kid. There are so many great books with STEM and STEAM in them these days. It’s such a great time for all of us who love 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?

JS: Well, that’s an interesting question. I typically juggle several projects at once, sometimes simultaneously. Right now I’m waiting for edits on a long-term young-adult nonfiction STEM book that I did. I also just turned in an outline for another middle-grade STEM book and am about to have a call with the expert to do my initial interview. I like to make sure that my books with experts highlight their passion about their research because that really brings depth to the story. Finally, I am knee-deep in researching another topic and plan to start writing that proposal soon. I seem to work better with a lot of things going at once. 🙂

More about this week’s author……

Jennifer Swanson dreams of one day running away to the Museum of Science and Industry–then maybe she could look at all the exhibits and try out all the gadgets without competing for them with her kids. An author of twenty nonfiction science books for grades 3-6, Jennifer’s goal is to show kids that Science Rocks! She lives in sunny Florida with her husband, three kids and two dogs. When not writing she’s on the hunt for fun science facts. Learn more about Jennifer and her books at www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com.

• • •

Win a FREE copy of Astronaut-Aquanaut!

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 Mary Kay Carson, fellow space geek, science nerd, and author of Mission to Pluto and other nonfiction books for kids.