STEM Tuesday – Shining the Light on Technology, Engineering, and Math — In the Classroom

Last week, the STEM Tuesday team featured this month’s Book List on the topic Shining the Light on Technology, Engineering, and Math. Click here to go back to that list.  It’s a broad-ranging list, certainly, which mades this week’s post about classroom applications even more fun! I’ve narrowed the focus to three amazing science topics.


   Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World is by Reshma Saujani.  Saujani is not only the author of an amazing book, but she’s also the founder of a worldwide organization by the same name. Girls Who Code offers free summer programs and year-round clubs and is more than 90,000 girls strong! After sharing this book in your classrooms and libraries, visit the Girls Who Code website and find out how to start a club in your school or community.

And, the book? You’ll have see it to believe it. Half how-to, half graphic novel, this is the most clearly written, interactive, and non-intimidating explanation of coding of I’ve ever seen. As an adult reader, I was fascinated. Middle-graders – boys or girls – won’t find a more thorough introduction into coding anywhere.


From the temples of Greece to the Chrysler Building in New York City to the Sydney Opera House, The Story of Buildings is a visual feast paired with fascinating detail and information about dozens of the most famous buildings in the world.

Do a “Before You Go” Project:  Every school is different when it comes to field trips and travel opportunities for middle-graders. Some schools take an annual trip to Washington, DC, where the focus is often American history, but the opportunity for architectural study abounds.  My own children, who all attended a very rural public school, had the fortune to spend a weekend in Chicago as fifth graders, where everyone took the Chicago River Architectural Boat Tour.  Urban students might only need to go out their school’s front doors and look up to find inspiring examples of architecture.  Whether your class field trip takes you miles or minutes from home, consider using this book as a “before you go” learning experience.  The prior knowledge will shine through as your students recognize structural and design elements in every building they see.


When it comes to robotics, classroom applications are seemingly endless! Below is a list of possible activities to explore after reading Jennifer Swanson’s Everything Robotics from National Geographic Kids.

  • Find a workshop, event, or online challenge for teams and individuals by clicking here to go to Robot Events, a web service of The Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, which exists to connect students, mentors, and schools in every community to a variety of successful and engaging technology-based programs.
  • LEGO fun. Click here to go the LEGO Middle School Education page.
  • Enlist NASA’s help! Visit NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project page for 6th – 8th graders for a list of links you’ll love!
  • Robot Scavenger Hunt – Robots are all around us. Start small. See if students can find any robots at work in their school or community. On a larger scale, take a look at robots in manufacturing. This interesting article will help you and your students locate which states rely most heavily on robotics to produce the goods we use every day.
  • Predicting the future:  Brainstorm in small groups what the future of robotics might hold. What are some potential practical uses of robotics that might make life better?
  • Hold a debate.  Are robots the key to a productive future? Or do they threaten jobs once filled by humans? Is there a possibility that robots could become too intelligent?  Here’s a great resource for holding classroom debates. I’d like to be a fly on the wall in a middle-grade classroom for this one!

Can you add to the conversation? In what ways have you been shining a light on Technology, Engineering, and Math? Comment below and share an idea!

Today’s STEM Tuesday post was prepared by Michelle Houts, wanna-be-coder, fan of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, future robot owner, and author of the Lucy’s Lab Chapter Books from Sky Pony Press.

STEM Tuesday – Shining the Light on Technology, Engineering, and Math — Book List

This month’s theme focuses specifically on the TEM in STEM. The following list features  books that use technology, engineering, and math in real-world situations. We hope they inspire young readers–and you! the adults in their lives –to promo all STEM categories. If you have other title ideas for middle-grade readers, please share them in the comment section below.

The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans  by Elizabeth Rusch  In this Scientists in the Field title, we meet the engineers working to transfer the power of the ocean into energy for us to use. Through imagination, innovation, and science they have developed devices to create “ocean electricity” that is renewable and an alternative to using fossil fuels.

Hidden Figures: Young Readers Edition by Margot Lee Sheerly  This edition of the bestselling book of the same title allows younger readers to become empowered by the powerful story of the African-American female NASA mathematicians who were instrumental in our early space program.


Everything Robots by Jennifer Swanson  We’ve already seen robotic vacuums, but can you imagine tiny robo-bees or a joke-telling robot? Readers will discover an entirely new world of technology in this National Geographic book. Packed with visuals, readers will explore what artificial intelligence is all about.

The Way Things Work Now by David Macauley
This revised and updated edition for Macauley’s The Way Things Work includes wi-fi, touchscreens, 3D printers, as well as levers, lasers, and windmills.  Budding engineers will love this one!


The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond by Patrick Dillon, illustrated by Stephen Biesty Aspiring architects will enjoy the look at the inner workings of many famous buildings in this book.


Women of Steel and Stone: 22 Inspirational Architects, Engineers, and Landscape Designers by Anna M. LewisThis book features 22 profiles of women who have designed, built, and landscaped our world. The inspirational stories are perfect for Women’s History Month and every month after.



Curious Jane: Science + Design + Engineering for Inquisitive Girls by Curious Jane   The pages of Curious Jane are filled with DIY projects from making face scrubs to building a cloud in a jar.


Coding programs have sprung up all over the country. These next two books can get girls (and boys) started on creating apps, games, and robots. Readers will have fun exploring the world of computer science .

Girls Who Code: Learn To Code and Change the World by Reshma Saujani, illus. by Andrea Tsurum


Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting it Done by Andrea Gonzalez and Sophie Houser



And a fabulous FICTION series to pair with the above two coding titles:

Monsters and Modules by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes — the final installment in the Secret Coders series
This title will be released October 2, 2018, but until then students can solve logic puzzles and learn basic coding skills while Hopper, Eni, and Josh solve a mind-bending mystery.


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 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. She strives to inform, inspire, and educate her 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.

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that inspires kids to seek connections between science, literacy, and the environment. The recipient of  a Sibert Honor Award for Sea Otter Heroes and the Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy!, 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