Posts Tagged ecosystems

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– Writing Tips & Resources

 

 

Margo here, working to keep the (A) in STE(A)M. Science purists might think the (A) is unimportant but I’m here to argue that it is Very Important. and I will present reasons why.

For instance, this month’s theme is “rivers.” This week, I have examples of books about rivers that are superior at delivering content to youngsters because of that (A). I selected these books because they are perfect examples of using (A) – creativity in BOOK DESIGN that makes the content easier to understand and enjoy. Remember the spoonful of sugar? Plus having students make their own books is the perfect way to evaluate their learning and understanding of the subject matter (more on that below).

The first book is World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky, illustrated by Frank Stockton. Take a look at this page. The book designer has made the page speak by using color, type design, and compositional tricks. Let’s back up a bit.

In the study of art, you will find that “art” has three components: subject, form, and content. Subject is, well – what it’s about. Subject in a painting might be an apple, in a book – rivers. Content is deeper meaning – the deeper meaning of the apple might be hunger depending how the apple is portrayed. In the book, content could be environmental impact. And form refers to the physical aspects, such as medium (paint or pencil) or such observable concepts as composition and color. Book design comes under the component of form. I argue that appropriate and creative FORM enhances the subject and content. And that (A) art is an essential ingredient in STE(A)M.

In World Without Fish, the subject is of course fish. The content is what is happening to fish, the impact of fishing, and possible solutions to maintaining the oceans environmentally and economically. Now this might be exciting to read just the text, but to some students, it might not. So the publishing team has taken creativity to the form – the book and type design, the colors, the styles and size – to make a book where the content fairly jumps off the page and engages young readers with energy. It includes a comic series that appears at regular intervals throughout the book. So we have the art of “visual narrative” to further the content and engage all types of learners.

The illustrations and creative use of type all serve to draw the reader in.

 

The next book, Explore Rivers and Ponds, by Carla Mooney, illustrated by Bryan Stone, is an activity book with more examples of creative arrangement of content. The design makes the material easier to understand. It’s almost conversational. It pauses to explain vocabulary and includes activities such as ‘bark rubbing,” which looked like a great active art project for getting kids out into nature and interacting directly with the environment. It’s an activity that requires no “art” experience and can produce some great drawings.

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite activities with students is making books. It offers a creative and very satisfying way for students to “show off” what they have learned. Let the students try their hand at creative book design. A very friendly and ecologically conscious guide to making books with kids is Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord’s Handmade Books for A Healthy Planet. An enthusiastic environmental artist, she offers many ideas for book projects. Visit her website for many free activities or visit her YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/skgaylord.

 

A project I did with university students requires publishing software skills, but it’s a great project that combines research, writing, collaboration, proper citing of sources, and, of course, art, and can be scaled down for younger children. I partnered with Dr, Esther Pearson, a member of the Echota Cherokee Tribe and we produced a coloring book called “Native American Lore.” The students did the research and artwork and had the satisfaction of seeing their work in print. We presented it at an educational symposium and proceeds are donated to a non-profit that provides school expenses for the children of migrant workers in Veracruz, Mexico. The students had an amazing sense of accomplishment to see their research and artwork out in the world. This would be great for science topics and promote teamwork and cooperation. You can still find our book on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Please don’t think because you are not an artist, you can’t work (A) into STEM projects. You will find your students have a good sense of art and many will be delighted to help plan. There are plenty of resources such as Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord’s book, and you may find you have more (A) in you than you realize.

 

Books can be found here:

World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky, Frank Stockton (Illustrator) ISBN-13: 9780761185000, Publisher: Workman Publishing Company. https://bookshop.org/books?keywords=9780761185000

Explore Rivers and Ponds! Carla Mooney (Author) Bryan Stone (Illustrator) 9781936749805. Nomad Press (VT) https://bookshop.org/books/explore-rivers-and-ponds/9781936749805

Handmade Books for a Healthy Planet – Sixteen Earth-Friendly Projects From Around The World, Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, ISBN-10: 0984231900, makingbooks.com. https://www.susangaylord.com/store/p7/Handmade_Books_For_A_Healthy_Planet.html

Native American Lore An Educational Coloring Book: Class Research Project Paperback – November 5, 2018 by Dr. Esther Pearson (Author), Margo Lemieux (Author), Riverside Studios Publishing, ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1731183933 . https://www.amazon.com/Native-American-Lore-Educational-Coloring/dp/1731183933/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2N6YKOA8ZYDBD&keywords=Native+American+lore+lemieux&qid=1662756358&sprefix=native+american+lore+lemieux%2Caps%2C94&sr=8-1

Kaleidoscope for Kids https://www.amazon.com/Kaleidoscope-Kids-Magic-Storymakers-Present/dp/B0B3S1Y4XN/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2PBZG4RAZRH13&keywords=Kaleidoscope+for+Kids+book&qid=1662989345&sprefix=kaleidoscope+for+kids+book%2Caps%2C111&sr=8-1

 

 

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Margo Lemieux is professor emerita at Lasell University, former regional advisor for SCBWI New England, and a lifelong learner. Her publishing credits include picture books, poetry, articles, and illustration. Her latest publishing project is an anthology with her writers’ group, the Magic Storymakers, titled Kaleidoscope for Kids.

 

 

STEM Tuesday — A River Runs Through It– In the Classroom

 

River systems are an essential part of Earth’s ecosystems. Rivers provide water and habitats for animals and plants. Their flowing waters are a source of transportation and power for the communities that live nearby. Rivers are even a place for celebrations, festivals, and recreational activity. Life would not be the same without rivers.

A River’s Impact

Rivers have shaped life all over the world. Students can explore the impact some famous rivers have had in these books:

Ten Rivers That Shaped the World  by Marilee Peters, illustrated by Kim Rosen

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgAs the rivers of our world twist and turn, they also mold our history. Readers can take a metaphorical dive into 10 fascinating rivers that shaped our lives and learn fun facts along the way such as why people in India have gathered to bathe in the Ganges for thousands of years. The book shows readers that rivers can be extraordinarily powerful, not simply because of their fast-flowing currents, but because of their ability to make civilizations rise or crumble. Through a colorful and engaging layout, this book teaches both geography and world history.

Where is the Mississippi River? by Dina Anastasio, illustrated by Ted Hammond

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgPart of the popular Where Is? series, this chapter book traces the history of the Mississippi River from its formation during the Ice Age into the present day. Over time, the “mighty Mississippi” has been a home for wetland wildlife, an important route for trade and military campaigns, and an inspiration for classic literature. Engineering connections are embedded into a section about flooding disasters and various efforts to design flood-prevention structures like levees and spillways.

 

Great Rivers of the World by Volker Mehnert, illustrated by Martin Haake

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThis gorgeous atlas travels down 17 rivers in six continents, from the Rhine in Europe to the Murray in Australia. Each river is introduced with a full-page map, a short narrative, and  fascinating facts about its history and ecology. With eye-popping icons of landmarks, animals, plants, and people, readers will always find more to discover and explore.

 

Activity #1

What rivers are closest to where you live? Identify and research a nearby river. What impact has the river had on the local community? What is the river’s history? How was it used in the past? How does that compare to how it is used today? What industries rely on the river? What problems are associated with the river? How can these problems be solved? Present what you have learned.

Activity #2

Rivers are full of plant and animal life. Plants provide food and shelter for many animals. Some animals and plants live under the water, while others live on the water’s surface. Other animals and plants live on riverbanks near the water. What animals and plants live in the river near you? Take a fieldtrip to the river and see how many different plants, animals, and insects you can find. How does each fit into the river’s ecosystem?

Healthy Rivers

A healthy river is essential for the communities and ecosystems that rely on it. Students can learn about efforts to conserve water and improve the health of our waterways in these books.

Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers & Wetlands by Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A. and Philippe Cousteau with EarthEcho International

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWritten in conjunction with ocean spokesperson Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the illustrious Captain Jacques Cousteau, this call-to-action book is both interesting and commendable for its well-researched content. The book educates readers about the earth’s water crisis and gives them tangible tools and inspiration to transform their ideas into action. This includes practical suggestions they can implement today in order to benefit our planet’s water system. The content is not only theoretical but also experience based, as it shows readers of the value of community service. The book also includes many stories, interviews, and resources on the topic

My River: Cleaning up the Lahave River by Stella Bowles and Anne Laurel Carter

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgThis engaging book tells the story of Stella Bowles, a sixth grade Nova Scotia student who became an environmental activist. She focused her science fair project on her campaign against sewage pipes draining straight into the LaHave River. She doggedly advocated for all three levels of government (municipal, provincial, and federal) to step up and do something about the issue, and after fighting for two and a half years, she succeeded in rallying supporters into funding a $15.7 million cleanup. This is an excellent book about not only environmental activism but also having the courage to stand up and speak out when you see something that isn’t right.

Activity #3

What steps can you take to improve the health of rivers in your community? Investigate existing river health efforts in your community and see how you can volunteer. Many communities have groups that work together to clean and restore river ecosystems. Joining one of these teams will give you a chance to see how one person can make a difference in local rivers. What other changes in daily life can you make to protect river health? Brainstorm ways to conserve water, reduce water pollution, and more.

 

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Carla Mooney loves to explore the world around us and discover the details about how it works. An award-winning author of numerous nonfiction science books for kids and teens, she hopes to spark a healthy curiosity and love of science in today’s young people. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids, and dog. When not writing, she can often be spotted at a hockey rink for one of her kids’ games. Find her at http://www.carlamooney.com, on Facebook @carlamooneyauthor, or on Twitter @carlawrites.