Posts Tagged children’s bookstores

STEM Tuesday– The Science of Art– In the Classroom

Art may at first seem in opposition to logical pursuits like mathematics and engineering, but innovation comes from inspiration and creativity. Sometimes art can even help scientists see possibilities that seem absolutely illogical. Integrating art into STEM education opens doorways that allow inspiration and connections to come through. It can just be fun for student too. How can you use STEAM activities in your classroom? Check out some of our STEM Tuesday books for this month and try these activities with your students.

 

The Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci by Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan and Micah Rauch

With a mix of invention, experimentation, and art, Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest thinkers of all time, gave the world a number of new insights into science, engineering, and much more. With STEM activities and questions to think about, this book encourages children to look at our world in a deeper and more connected way.

 

Activity

DaVinci created a machine to help artists accurately portray perspective in a scene. He called it a Perspectograph. Have students create their own simple Perspectographs (and use them to make art) with this activity!

What you’ll need:

  • acetate sheets
  • tape
  • window
  • eye patch or scarf
  • marker
  • chair
  • white paper
  • pencil
  • paint or colored pencils
  1. Fist tape the acetate sheet to a window. Put a chair in front of the window. Place the back towards the window.
  2. Then cover one eye with an eye patch or scarf. Sit on the chair so that you face the window. Now put your chin on the chair back and keep still.
  3. Trace what you see outside onto the acetate sheet. Do not move your head.
  4. Next, tape a piece of white paper over the acetate. Trace the drawing onto the paper.
  5. Color the picture with paint or colored pencils. Make sure to look outside toes the true colors of distant objects. They are darker than closer objects appear.

 

 

Folding Tech: Using Origami and Nature to Revolutionize Technology by Karen Latchana Kenney

Origami, the ancient art of paper-folding is increasingly being used to stunning effects to solve some of the most pressing problems in the world today. This book takes a look at all those technologies that use folding – proteins, space probes, self-assembling robots, and many more.

 

Activity

There are so many interesting activities available that combine math and origami already, so I thought I’d list a few here for you to try.

 

Inside in: X-Rays of Nature's Hidden World - Schutten, Jan Paul

 

Inside In: X-Rays of Nature’s Hidden World by Jan Paul Schutten and Arie Van ‘t Riet

Who knew X-rays could be so jaw-droppingly beautiful! Using amazing X-ray photographs, this book shows us creatures and their natural habitats in unique ways. This book is a perfect blend of science and art.

 

 

 

Activity

Leaf prints can help you see the engineering inside a leaf. They reveal the structure of its veins and midrib. Try this activity to reveal the insides of a leaf.

What you’ll need:

  • various kinds of leaves
  • paper
  • markers
  • rolling pin
  1. Place the leaf on a table with its back side facing you.
  2. Now color the back side of the leaf.
  3. Carefully turn the leaf over and place it on a piece of paper.
  4. Slowly roll the rolling pin over the leaf one time. Do not let the leaf move.
  5. Remove the leaf to see your print below. Can you identify parts of the leaf’s structure.

 

These are just a few STEAM activities to try in your classroom. Find inspiration for other ideas by reading all of the books on this month’s reading list!

 

Karen Latchana Kenney loves to write books about animals, and looks for them wherever she goes—from leafcutter ants trailing through the Amazon rain forest in Guyana, where she was born, to puffins in cliff-side burrows on the Irish island of Skellig Michael. She especially enjoys creating books about nature, biodiversity, conservation, and groundbreaking scientific discoveries—but also writes about civil rights, astronomy, historical moments, and many other topics. Visit her at https://latchanakenney.wordpress.com.

 

STEM Tuesday– Extinction– Book List

They say “extinction is forever” – but is it? These books address the very real threat of extinction of the living organisms that share our planet. They also show what we can do about it, how some species have recovered, and some even ask whether we should bring back “lost” species.

Animals at the EDGE: Saving the World’s Rarest Creatures by Marilyn Baillie

Dinosaurs are not the only animals who’ve gone extinct; the last marsupial Tasmanian tiger died just 75 years ago. Meet the scientists searching for proof that eleven rare animals (the last of their kind) still exist. Discover what they’ve found and their next steps in either finding or surveying and protecting these amazing animals. The conversational tone, mini biographies, “field note” sidebars, and map make this a wonderful introduction to these animals.

Gone is Gone: Wildlife Under Threat by Isabelle Groc

After explaining extinction and tallying losses, the author examines the numerous ways scientists track and evaluate species numbers and their habitats, as well as the threats each faces. Then highlights the efforts by scientists and citizens which have rescued species (eagles, condors, and right whales) and current efforts to save many others (northern white rhinos, tortoise, and ducks). “Act For Wildlife” sections focus on ways kids, and others, have made a difference.

American Jaguar: Big Cats, Biogeography, and Human Borders by Elizabeth Webb

A jaguar in the U.S.? This book starts with the discovery of a jaguar near the Arizona border and examines the hazards of habitat fragmentation on animals and plants and the work of scientists, citizens, and governments to create corridors (protected areas or over/underpasses) to save numerous species from genetic islands and extinction. Geared for slightly older readers, it uses the history of science and scientists, legends, case studies, conservation connections, and calls to action, as well as great photographs, charts, & graphs to make it very accessible.

Giraffe Extinction: Using Science & Tech To Save the Gentle Giants by Tanya Anderson

Discovering a 40% population drop (in just 30 years), scientists are racing time to study, count, and track nine subspecies of giraffes. The book details the genetics, spot identification software, specific case studies, and spotlights seven conservation efforts. It also offers citizen science suggestions and provides an awesome giraffe guide detailing each of the subspecies physiology, spot patterns, and extinction risk. The photos, charts, and graphs are both gorgeous and heart-breaking.

DeExctintion: The Science of Bringing Lost Species Back to Life by Rebecca Hirsch

Can we and should we bring back a wooly mammoth, passenger pigeon, or Tasmanian tiger?
Or maybe use the technology to prevent current threatened extinctions, such as reviving the “vanished” American chestnut trees, whooping cranes, and the black-footed ferret (once thought extinct, until a small population was discovered in 1981). An interesting look at cloning, DNA mapping and manipulation, and how frozen tissue collections have been used to create diversity in Giant pandas. Hirsch also addresses extinction in two other books: Where Have All the Birds Gone? : Nature in Crisis, in which she notes the warning signs of extinction events; and Where Have All the Bees Gone? featured in an earlier STEM Tuesday post.

Condor Comeback by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Tianne Strombeck

In 1987 the California Condor was declared officially “extinct in the wild.” Fortunately, scientists, volunteers, and everyday people worked together to return condors to the wild. Through it all, readers learn about condor society, behavior, and biology.

Save the People! Halting Human Extinction by Stacy McAnulty, art by Nicole Miles

This is a book about the potential demise of our planet: events that have occurred, are currently underway, and – hopefully – will never happen. Written with humor and sass, the author outlines a few “favorite threats” to the human species: plague, asteroids… But the biggest, most immediate threat is human-caused climate change. She lays out the problems and potential solutions and offers a To Do list at the end.

Rewilding: Giving Nature a Second Chance by Jane Drake and Ann Love

A handbook for those who want to halt extinction in its tracks. This book shows how it is possible to create core areas for wild species, corridors to connect them, and ways to support the keystone species in those habitats. Examples of rewilding include projects in urban environments as well as vast spaces.

Champion, The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree by Sally M Walker

American chestnut trees were once plentiful in our eastern forests, until 1904 when a fungus wiped out entire forests. But when that fungus showed up in Europe, some infected trees survived. Now scientists want to know if it’s possible to breed a blight-resistant variety, and others are exploring biotechnology options, such as inserting a fungus-fighting gene into the chestnut’s DNA.

For kids who love to choose their own adventures:

Can You Protect the Coral Reefs? : An Interactive Eco Adventure by Michael Burgan

Coral reefs face threats of extinction from increasing ocean temperatures and pollution. In this choose-your-own-adventure, readers learn about coral reefs and then choose a scientific research project to join (there are 3 of them, and you can come back to join another). There’s a lot about ocean research packed into this interactive informational book.


This month’s STEM Tuesday book list was prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich, who writes about science for children and their families on topics ranging 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, a children’s author, blogger, and poet who is passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she watches birds, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at www.mariacmarshall.com

STEM Tuesday — A River Runs Through It– Author Interview

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

Today we’re interviewing Patricia Newman, author of the new book A RIVER’S GIFTS: THE MIGHTY ELWHA ROVER REBORN, illustrated by Natasha Donovan. “An illuminating glimpse at the Elwha River and its gifts…Beautifully illustrated and informative,” says Kirkus in a starred review.

Andi Diehn: I love how this is a story of scientific progress told alongside the story of a culture, the Strong People, who witness the destruction of their river and work for its return. How did you find a balance between discussing the engineering of the dams and story of a people?

Patricia Newman: When I write about the environment, I always discover a wonderful overlap between science, history, culture, and current events. This connection to all parts of our lives draws me to nature writing. That said, I do have to make some decisions regarding the pacing of the story—some details are omitted while others are expanded upon. During the research phase of A RIVER’S GIFTS, I took my lead from my experts who co-mingled science and culture. In this region, it is impossible to talk about the Elwha River without also considering its cultural significance.

AD: What inspired you to write this particular story?

PN: My husband came home from work one day with a book idea after a conversation with one of his colleagues. After 38 years of marriage, my husband has developed exceptional book-idea antennae! The story had it all. Nature. Environmental justice. Water (a happy place for me). A conservation success story. All those pieces and their assorted layers made this idea a go.

AD: You do a great job describing the tension between some forms of progress – such as electric lights in homes and businesses – and the adverse effect of that progress on the natural world. What are some other examples of progress versus environmental health?

PN: I remember an economics professor in college explaining the term “opportunity cost”—what we give up by choosing one thing over another. Life is filled with opportunity costs. I don’t blame the early Elwha River settlers one bit for preferring a life with electricity over a life without it. I grumble when my electricity goes down for a few hours! But we also need to include nature into our calculations when we make decisions.

For instance, at the time the Elwha Dam was built, Washington had a law stating all dams must include fish ladders to allow salmon to pass. For some reason, government officials waived this law for Thomas Aldwell, builder of the Elwha Dam. Why? No one knows. And in hindsight, this waiver is particularly maddening because the law was written with consideration for nature.

Including nature in our plans probably won’t be the easiest or cheapest solution. Look at gas-powered vehicles. They’re convenient. They’re fast. But they come with an enormous opportunity cost. We’re sacrificing clean air and clean water. Our temperature is rising because excess CO2 left over from burning fossil fuels clogs the atmosphere. Arctic ice is melting as the ocean warms. Heat waves, fires, and droughts dominate the news.

Way back, we chose leaders who prioritized progress over nature. Now, when we elect new leaders, we need to consider balancing progress and nature to live more sustainably.

Patricia Newman

AD: Are there other dam dismantling success stories? Any examples of dam dismantling gone wrong?

PN: Dams themselves aren’t evil. They provide a clean source of energy for millions of people, but they do come with consequences. River flow and flood patterns change. Fish populations change. Changes in the river channel change the surrounding forest. Dams are man-made structures that interfere with the natural functions of nature, functions we often don’t fully understand.

Every dam removal is a success story because we return a river to its free-flowing state to manage flooding, resupply the water table, manage wildlife populations, and nourish the ecosystem. Nearly 1,800 dams have been removed in the U.S. since 1912. I don’t know of any dam removals gone bad, but I do know of several projects that, like the Elwha River Restoration, are taking years of legal wrangling and governmental maneuvering.

AD: These illustrations are both gorgeous and scientifically fascinating! Why did the team think it important to add labels to the different species?

PN: I’m glad you like Natasha Donovan’s work. She is Métis and lives in the general area of the Elwha River, so she was able to create from her heart. In her art I can hear the river flow and feel its power.

In my original proposal, I provided lists of trees, plants, and wildlife for possible spot illustrations in the margins. I thought readers would feel the scope of this project if they knew about the vast array of biodiversity being saved. Art Director Danielle Carnito had the brilliant idea to add the labels directly to Natasha’s illustrations. The small but informative labels gave Natasha a lot more room for her gorgeous art.

spread from A River's Gift

AD: Why include real photographs of the dam being built and dismantled, not just illustrations?

PN: As a nonfiction author, “real” is important to me. Illustrations seemed a better fit for A RIVER’S GIFTS overall because the book begins back when the river first formed tens of thousands of years ago. But I worked from photographs. My research files are loaded with photos that show a sense of time and place. I think the photos provide a telling look at the size of these dams and the engineering magic that occurred to build them.

AD: One of the takeaway lessons from this book is that it’s never too late. We can undo past mistakes once we know better, such as dismantling dams. Why is this important to explore in children’s literature?

PN: We are all under attack by environmental headlines that spew gloom and doom. That’s why I write about our CONNECTION to nature. I want my readers to understand how it sustains us and how our habits affect it. With understanding, comes a sense of gratitude for nature and all its gifts. With gratitude comes action. And with action comes hope. Nature will heal itself if we move out of the way. We just need to learn which way to jump.

 

Patricia Newman is an award-winning author of nonfiction books for children.

Natasha Donovan is an illustrator with a focus on comics and children’s illustration.

Today’s host, And Diehn, is an editor at Nomad Press and has published 11 nonfiction books for kids.