STEM Tuesday All About Conservation – In the Classroom


This month’s STEM Tuesday Theme is All About Conservation. Click here to see the list of books chosen by our STEM Tuesday Team for the month of April.

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!

Explore our National Parks. 

Park Scientists: Gila monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard by Mary Kay Carson, with photographs by Tom Uhlman, will take readers to three National Parks that deliver on the promise of adventure!

  • Use this fact-packed book to chart the differences between plants and animals found in Yellowstone National Park, Saguaro National Park, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Discuss habitats, climate, altitude, and other factors that influence what species thrive where.
  • Map it out. Use map pins to locate all of America’s National Parks. Find the distance from your school, home, or library to the nearest National Park. Which park is the farthest from you? Discuss reasons why some National Parks receive more visitors than other.
  • In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary. Embark on a fact-finding mission to learn who started the park system and why. What are our oldest parks? Newest? Largest? Smallest? Are any in danger of being shut down? What impact does our park system have on the conservation of native species in America?

A Whale of a Tale!

Whale Quest: Working Together to Save Endangered Species by Karen Romano Young offers an in-depth and up-close look a one of the ocean’s most intriguing animals.

Check out the Whale Guide Starting on page 104, the author provides detailed profiles of the world’s most watched whales.

Make a game of it. Middle-graders love trading cards, and The Phylo(mon) Project offers printable trading cards and games that will make whale research fun and interactive. Find them right here.

Geoengineering Earth’s Climate: Resetting the Thermostat  by Jennifer Swanson (who happens to have been the mastermind behind STEM Tuesday here at The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors) takes a careful and objective look at all sides of a modern and, often politically-charged, topic.  Swanson asks straight out: Is geoengineering too risky? Or is it our best hope of survival?”

Hold a classroom debate:  Middle graders are the perfect age to introduce the idea that there are two sides to most issues. Divide into two groups, one that will highlight the positive contributions of geoengineering and one that will point out its harmful effects.  Using carefully-designed rules for classroom debate (ones that include respect for others’ opinions, careful listening, and an understanding that audience members may come to differing conclusions), hold a classroom debate. Invite another middle-grade class to listen in. Take a pre-debate poll and a post-debate poll. Analyze listeners’ knowledge and feelings about geoengineering before and after hearing both sides of the issue.  For a great, recent article about how to run a middle school classroom debate, click here. 

A perfect fiction pairing to this month’s topic!

Endangered  by Eliot Schrefer is a fictionalized account of a young girl’s experiences growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo and her unexpected affection for a small bonobo named Otto.

After reading the book, take a look at these video resources for more information about this fiction tale, steeped in fact.

Librarian Preview: Endangered

Scholastic Book Clubs Interview with Eliot Schrefer

Eliot Plays King of the Mountain with Bonobos

Tool Use Among Bonobos

Join the CONSERVATION conversation!

What books are you reading that fit into this month’s STEM Tuesday Theme: All About Conservation?  What classroom activities have you done that were a hit with middle-grade learners? Leave a comment below! We love hearing from you!

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

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  1. You could certainly see your skills within the work
    you write. The arena hopes for even more
    passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe.

    All the time follow your heart.

  2. I’m all in when it comes to saving our plants and animals. After all what will we be leaving our children or grandchildren? People need to get out of their own way when it comes to conservation and help us save the planet! Thank you for all the classroom suggestions:)