Posts Tagged book clubs

STEM Tuesday — Planets and Stars — Book List

This has been a busy year for space exploration. In February, NASA launched a solar orbiter. Late May saw SpaceX launch their Dragon, followed by three different missions to Mars. And China is planning to send a rover to the moon. We hope these books will inspire our next generation of Space Explorers!

Our Solar System and Beyond

Absolute Expert: Space, All the Latest Facts from the Field by Joan Marie Galat

This book starts with the question, “where does space begin?” and takes off to explore our solar system, stars, the big bang, and even communicating with aliens. Every chapter includes Space Watch (things you can see without needing a telescope) and Space Labs (hands-on experiments).

 

Dr. Maggie’s Grand Tour Of The Solar System by Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Dr. Maggie is a space scientist and in this book she takes you on a journey around our solar system. There’s a stop at every planet: a hike up Olympus Mons on Mars, a visit to the red spot on Jupiter, and some quick tours to a few moons. What’s fun is that she includes a “ship’s database” at the back filled with facts and statistics.

 

The Daredevil’s Guide To Outer Space by Anna Brett, illustrated by Mike Jacobsen

A Lonely Planet guide of a different sort! Cartoon characters blast off to explore our solar system and beyond. Text is presented in panels and text boxes as well as through dialog. Readers visit the International Space Station and meet other spacecraft throughout the journey.

 

Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System by Bethany Ehlmann and Jennifer Swanson

Dr. Ehlmann has an out-of-this-world job: she’s a planetary geologist AND she helped drive the rover, Curiosity on Mars. But she wonders what it would be like to zoom around the solar system. The comics are fun, the science is real, and there are some “try this” activities. There’s even a handy guide for likely places to find alien life.

 

Mars Missions

Mission to Mars by Mary Kay Carson

Humans will go to Mars someday. What will it take to get them there? Will there be water on the planet? Martians to greet us? This book looks at what we’ve discovered in previous Mars missions, and the technology and training for future exploration.

 

The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity (Scientists in the Field Series) by Elizabeth Rusch

At 13 years old, Steven Squyers watched astronauts land on the moon. Two decades later, with a degree in geology, he started thinking what a mission to Mars might look like. He proposed sending rovers – and in these pages readers follow along as he and his team design, build, and launch the rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet by Buzz Aldrin & Marianne Dyson

Treating the reader as a Mars Mission crew member, the book examines the preparation, travel, and early residency involved in settling Mars. Each chapter includes both early and ground-breaking science, political and scientific history, facts, and numerous hands-on activities.

 

 

Looking into Deep Space

The Hubble Space Telescope: Our Eye on the Universe by Terence Dickinson, with Tracy C. Read

After discussing Edwin Hubble, the intricacies of the Hubble telescope, and providing a glossary on the universe, this book looks at the remarkable images Hubble has revealed and the advances in scientific knowledge and understanding of star clusters, gorgeous nebulas, the milky way, and distant galaxies that it has provided.

 

Beyond the Solar System: Exploring Galaxies, Black Holes, Alien Planets, and More (A History with 21 Activities) by Mary Kay Carson

Examining the scientists and their contributions to our increasing knowledge of stars, planets, and other galaxies (from prehistory to 2010), this book invites readers to recreate their discoveries and the tools that the scientists developed to explore our solar system and the universe. It includes a glossary and great additional resources.

Visual Galaxy: The Ultimate Guide to the Milky Way and Beyond by National Geographic, with a foreword by Chris Hadfield (Astronaut and Former Commander of the International Space Station)

Combining stunning photographs with illustrations and graphics, this book explores our galaxy and planets. Then it expands into deep space to look at the creation of stars and galaxies, how the universe fits together, and possible exoplanets. It includes information from space missions and a glossary.

Wormholes Explained by Richard Gaughan

If we haven’t seen them, can they exist? Using engaging, accessible text and beautiful images, this book distills a wormholes’ description, scientific theories of gravity & relativity, and the mathematics involved as it offers the data and evidence scientists currently have about wormholes and space.

 

 


STEM Tuesday book list prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich writes about science for children and their families, from space to backyard ecology. A long line of ants marching across the kitchen counter inspired her first article for kids. When not writing, she’s committing acts of citizen science in the garden. She blogs about science for kids and families at archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com.

 

 

Maria Marshall is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. She’s been a judge for the Cybils Awards from 2017 to present. Her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty 2017-2018, 2016, and 2014-2015 anthologies. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at www.mariacmarshall.com/blog.

Teachers, You Inspire Us

On this Labor Day Holiday, it only seems appropriate to give a huge shout out thank you to all the teachers. You INSPIRE US!

According to the Department of Labor:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

While many workers fulfill that particular requirement, teachers do that every day by inspiring their students. Teachers aren’t just the ones who work in the classroom, but also are paraprofessionals,  coaches, librarians, and yes, even parents. Everyone who works with students has the ability to have a positive affect on them. Sometimes you see it right away, and sometimes it doesn’t happen for many years. Regardless, some teaching moments and teachers in particular stay with us our whole lives.

That happened to me. I truly believe that I would probably not be a science author if I hadn’t had some amazing teachers in my life.

Here is my story:

 

I have always loved science! It captured my attention and imagination from a very young age. Luckily, I had parents who encouraged my love of science. Oh, and we also had a creek in our backyard. I spent many wonderful days exploring that creek, knee-deep in water, mud, and yes, sometimes frogs.

At the age of 9, I decided that I wanted to become a pediatrician. I didn’t really know how to do that until I stepped into my 7th grade science class and met a woman that would change my life. Her name was Susan Roth. And to this day (over 40 years later) I still remember my first day in that class. She had a full skeleton model in her classroom. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.

 

And then there was Mrs. Roth, herself, a very outgoing, happy, encouraging teacher who was EXCITED about science. And most of all made science EXCITING for us!  She used the textbook only as a guide, but instead we focused on the most amazing experiments in her classroom. She encouraged me to study the creek water, really look at it. I did reports with my classmates on the microscopic creatures that we found in it. We mapped the entire creek throughout our little town. We studied its levels, how it moved, and discussed erosion affects from the floods we had occasionally.

We also worked with that skeleton, of course, studying all of the parts of the human body, the systems, and I  could even name all 206 bones!

The best part about Mrs. Roth was that she always encouraged everyone. This was in the 1970’s and it was unusual to have a female science teacher where I lived. Yet she fit in so well. I remembered one day telling her that I wanted to be a pediatrician and she didn’t laugh. She didn’t stop to say, um, that is a difficult road. Instead, she said, “Awesome! I know you’ll be great. You can do anything.”  Those words stuck with me.

In fact, about ten years later when I was nervous about applying to the U.S. Naval Academy, where I would eventually go to college, I remembered Mrs. Roth’s words. They gave me the courage to apply, get in, and pick chemistry as my major. After all, that was the degree you’d need to go to medical school back then.

Being a chemistry major is not easy.

Those of you that have taken even 1 chemistry class in college can probably agree. When you add the requirements of 2 years of math classes, 3 years of engineering classes, plus all of the naval ship classes, it’s a lot. I got bogged down in all of that work, and my grades were about middle of the road. My dream of becoming a doctor was slipping away.

And then I had another teacher, Dr. Joseph Lomax, he was my chemistry teacher at USNA. He knew how hard I worked in the class and that my grades didn’t always reflect the amount of effort I was putting in. He took the time to talk to me and to listen to my dreams about becoming a doctor. Having had it for almost 12 years, it was a tough dream to give up. He didn’t shrug it off, instead, he told me how I could take my gifts and use them in a different way.

He told me that  I had a gift for explaining difficult things in a way that students could understand. That I could take complex science and engineering ideas and turn them into easily understandable concepts. It was something not everyone could do, and that I’d make a wonderful teacher some day. He was right.

Those words Dr. Lomax said to me carried me a long way. In fact, you might say that they helped me to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. At only 24 years of age, I could never have envisioned– all these many years later– that I would end up here, writing STEM books for children.

But when I look back, it makes total sense. I feel like I spent my whole life moving in this direction. Taking complex and unique STEM topics and turning them into exciting books for kids which, hopefully, will inspire them to love science and STEM as much as I do. I am very lucky to have a job I love. And I do it in the name of my teachers.

I’ve dedicated two of my books to my teachers. For Mrs. Roth, I dedicated my Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System book

 

“To Susan Roth, my 7th grade science teacher, who opened my eyes to the amazing intrigue and adventure that the world of science has to offer. She is my true Science Super Hero.”

 

 

 

 

And to Dr. Lomax, I dedicate my new chemistry book, ” Thank you for believing in me and helping me to see how my gifts in STEM can be used to inspire others as yours have done for me.”

 

 

 

 

In fact, all of the amazing things I’ve been able to do as a STEM author can be traced back to their encouraging words. I wouldn’t be there without them. (And my AWESOME family, too, of course).

     

 

I realize that this year is particularly difficult for all who are teaching. Unusual circumstances have changed the way things normally work.  And yet, I know you are all doing your best to continue to make those personal connections. Students won’t forget that.  When they reach a time in their life when they need a voice to tell them, “You can do it”, it just might be that of a special teacher who believed in them.

HUGS to all of the amazing teachers out there and THANK YOU for what you do for us. We appreciate it!

Enjoy your holiday. You deserve it.

 

And in honor of my two amazing science teachers, I am offering a giveaway of these two books as a pack.

 

I’ll pick 3 winners. To be entered, leave a comment below about a teacher who inspired YOU. OR if you are a teacher, let us know about the kids YOU inspire every day. 😀

 

STEM Tuesday — STEM Activity Books– Author Interview

STEM Tuesday–Activity Books– Interview with Nancy Castaldo

 

Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview & Book Giveaway, a repeating feature for the last Tuesday of every month. Go, Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!

Today we’re visiting with STEM Tuesday contributor and prior interviewee Nancy Castaldo. An award-winning author, Nancy has a long list of books for kids, including activity books, such as Deserts. 

 

Picture of the book cover for Deserts by Nancy Castaldo

Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano:

Please tell us about Deserts and your purpose for writing it.

Nancy Castaldo: I began my children’s writing career with a series of nonfiction activity books that centered around the exploration of the natural world. Deserts followed the popular, Sunny Days and Starry Nights, and was published along with Rainforests, Oceans, and River Wild.

My first introduction to the desert environment came as a child. Deserts fascinated my dad and he shared that fascination with me. I can still remember standing in the desert and watching the iguanas basking on the rocks. As a lover of all reptiles and amphibians, I became an instant fan. Of course, there are many types of deserts around the world and each has its own flora and fauna. I wanted my readers to discover them along with me.

 

CCD: Can you share a favorite aspect of the book? What about a favorite bit of information about deserts?

NC: While I enjoyed bits of every desert, much of what I wrote about the American desert returned to me last year during my visits to Arizona. I spent weeks vacationing and researching there and found that chapter of the book rising up in my thoughts daily. Hiking in Saguaro National Park only reinvigorated my love of this majestic cactus species. Seeing the petroglyphs with a Native guide in Canyon de Chelly brought Navajo history alive.

 

CCD: Other than introducing the desert habitat to readers, were there any other themes you wanted to explore in this book?

NC: As an environmental educator, I strive to inform and inspire my readers about the natural world. In this book, along with my books on rainforests and rivers, I wanted my readers to expand their knowledge and perceptions about these ecosystems. Readers might think all deserts are hot or that monkeys live in all rainforest jungles, or that all rivers flow fast.  In these books, they’ll  find that our world is wide and these ecosystems differ from their perceptions in spectacular ways.

 

CCD: In your mind, what makes a great activity in a nonfiction children’s book?

NC: Activities that are easy to follow with simple materials can allow readers to explore ideas on another level. Plus, they are fun!

In DESERTS, readers learn how to make a solar still to collect water in the desert. Illustration: B. Kulak

CCD: Looking over the activities in Deserts, I’d say you nailed the activities on all of those points. I particularly appreciated the way you brought in activities (and text)  that help readers get a sense of how people and culture thrive in the desert. The still, sand painting, and kachina doll activities are some examples.

 

CCD: On a different note, this book goes back a while. How have you as an author changed? What has stayed the same?

While this is one of my older titles, I still have educators reaching out who are using it in their classrooms, especially during this pandemic. I still love including activities and additional ways my readers can engage with my topics in all my books. Whether it is a pizza recipe in my picture book, Pizza for the Queen, or a how-to on hosting a seed swap in my young adult The Story of Seeds, activities can provide a jumping off point for readers young and old.

CCD: It’s interesting to note that your love of activities as a way to help readers engage has stayed with you throughout your career.  Speaking of your career…Deserts is one of your earlier books. Imagine you were going to revise Deserts now. Given any changes in you, publishing, schooling, or the world at large that may come to mind for you right now, what might you want to change about Deserts

ND: I’ve been able to provide photos for many of my books recently. Although I love Betsy’s illustrations, I’d love to supply photos for a reboot of this title if possible.

CCD: Oh, that would be gorgeous–even though I agree that Betsy’s illustrations are lovely. Either way, it’s a wonderful book. Thank you for all of your work helping kids explore STEM ideas and activities, and thank you for the interview. 

Looking for more STEM activity books? Check out the entire August 2020 STEM Tuesday booklist!

Win a FREE copy of Deserts

Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below.  (Scroll past the link to the previous post.) 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!

Photo of DESERTS author Nancy CastaldoNancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also serves as Regional Advisor Emeritus of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2020 title is THE FARM THAT FEEDS US. Visit her at www.nancycastaldo.com. 

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photo of author and STEM Tuesday contribuor Carolyn DeCristofanoCarolyn DeCristofano, a founding team member of STEM Tuesday, is also a children’s STEM author and STEM education consultant. She recently co-founded STEM Education Insights, an educational research, program evaluation, and curriculum development firm which complements her independent work as Blue Heron STEM Education. She has authored several acclaimed science books, including Running on Sunshine (HarperCollins Children) and A Black Hole is NOT a Hole (Charlesbridge).