Posts Tagged science

STEM Tuesday– Coding– In the Classroom


Although I studied Electrical Engineering in college, I ended up spending most of my time as an engineer working with code. I love coding, and I’m happy to see so many great books about coding for young readers. Here are the books I read.

Coding Games in Scratch: A Step-by-Step Visual Guide to Building Your Own Computer Games
by Jon Woodcock

I love Scratch. It’s a block code, meaning you put the commands together rather like Legos. The code blocks are designed to help keep you from putting the code pieces together wrong. This book does a great job of walking you through the building of computer games in Scratch. If you want to learn basic coding concepts while making fun games, check out this book.

cover image of the book "Get Coding!" featuring two cartoon people, a computer, and a dog

Get Coding! Learn HTML, CSS & JavaScript and Build a Website, App, and Game
by Young Rewired State

This book is packed with information and activities for learning about coding and the web. It even has a related web site – https://getcodingkids.com – to help you through the missions.

 

Bonus Book: Hunting the Cyber Trail: Be a Computer Forensic Scientist
by Alix Wood

Follow a fictional computer forensic scientist as he searches computers for clues to the whereabouts of two missing kids. I love that this book gets into how information is formatted within computers, something I dealt with a lot when I was programming. This book also has lots of activities that are computer-related, but don’t require a computer to complete.

Now for some other activities you can try to get you into a programming frame of mind.

How-To

A computer program is basically a how-to for a computer. Programmers put together instructions that tell computers what they need to do.

A great activity as you start programming is to write a how-to. This could be a recipe, instructions for completing a craft, or instructions for something you do every day, like washing your hands. Once you’ve created your how-to, have someone try to follow your instructions. That’s when you find out if you forgot any instructions or if anything was unclear.

Flow-Charts

Flow-charts are really useful tools for programmers. They’re a graphical representation of a process or algorithm. Learn about flow-chart symbols and create a flow-chart for a process or algorithm. Here are some resources to help:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z3bq7ty/revision/3
https://www.digitaltechnologieshub.edu.au/teach-and-assess/classroom-resources/lesson-ideas/have-fun-with-flowcharts
https://technovationchallenge.org/curriculum/coding-15-flowcharts

Explore ASCII

Remember me mentioning the formatting of information in computers? Well, one of those things is called ASCII – American Standard Code for Information Interexchange. It is a way to represent text characters using numbers. This is generally written in hexadecimal (base 16) numbers.

To learn about hexadecimal, read the beginning of this article: https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/hexadecimal or this: https://www.codeproject.com/Articles/4069/Learning-Binary-and-Hexadecimal. You don’t have to get too deep into hexadecimal to work with ASCII.

Use an ASCII table (either from p. 24 of “Hunting the Cyber Trail” or here: https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/references/ascii-table. (There are lots more versions out there if you want to find something different.)

Get the hang of ASCII by converting your name into hexadecimal ASCII code. Then, write a full message and give it to a friend. See if they can decode your message.

Explore More

There are lots of great resources out there that support programming. One of the biggest is Code.org. They have fabulous activities there, including a bunch that don’t require a computer: https://code.org/files/Hour-of-Code-Unplugged-Activities.pdf

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Janet Slingerland is the author of more than 20 books for young readers, including 3 books about coding. To find out more about Janet and her books, check out http://janetsbooks.com.

STEM Tuesday– Coding– Book List

 

Coding is an essential skill in our fast-paced digital world. With activity books, reference guides, historical narratives, and fiction, this month’s book list is sure to inspire readers to take the next steps in their coding journey.

 

cover image of "Code This" featuring a teenage girl

Code This!: Puzzles, Games, Challenges, and Computer Coding Concepts for the Problem Solver in You 

by Jennifer Szymanski

Code This! contains many puzzles, games, and quirky characters that highlight programming concepts in kid friendly ways. Readers will be engaged as they find hidden treasures, decode ciphers to read secret messages, and more. All in all, a great introduction to coding.

 

 

 

cover image of "The History of the Computer" with icons on black background

The History of the Computer: People, Inventions, and Technology that Changed Our World

by Rachel Ignotofsky

 

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the computing machines that have changed our world, from the abacus to the smartphone. Everyone knows how much computers have impacted our lives, but this book goes on to answer questions like who created them, why, and how they have transformed the way we interact with our surroundings and each other. It’s also packed with fun facts and engaging illustrations.

 

 

book cover featuring a portrait of Ada Lovelace on purple

DK Life Stories: Ada Lovelace 

by Nancy Castaldo

 

In 1843, Ada Byron Lovelace wrote the first computer program… long before technology was advanced enough to try it out! Part of DK’s “Life Stories” series, this engaging biography brings to life the curiosity, imagination, and scientific contributions of this coding pioneer. Sidebars, quotes, definitions, maps, and photos give readers more historical context about the world where she grew up.

 

 

three books. The top one is purple and is titled "Kids Get Coding"Kids Get Coding 

by Heather Lyons and Elizabeth Twedale

This Lerner series includes eight short, illustrated books that bridge the gap between unplugged activities and computer-based skill development. Some of the titles in the series include “Learn to Program,” “Coding, Bugs, and Fixes,”  “Online Safety and More,” and “Coding in the Real World.” A character named Data Duck walks kids through basic concepts within each book, and a companion site gives readers the chance to try out their new skills with book-specific projects.

 

 

cover image of "Book Cover" with nine women on red backgroundGamer Girls: 25 Women Who Built the Video Game Industry 

by Mary Kenney, illustrated by Salini Perera

 

Gamer Girls introduces readers to the dynamic women who created iconic video games and changed the industry forever. From Roberta Williams to Mabel Addis Mergardt, this book highlights the history of how women got started in this industry, and then profiles 25 of them. The text is easy to read and engaging, and it’s accompanied by eye catching illustrations.

 

 

book cover of "My Life as a Coder" featuring a cartoon boy typing at a computerMy Life as a Coder 

by Janet Tashjian, illustrated by Jake Tashjian

 

My Life as a Coder is the ninth book in Janet Tashjian’s fictional My Life series. It stars reluctant reader Derek Fallon. In this particular book Derek receives a new laptop. However, it has no Wi-Fi so he can’t use it for gaming. If he wants to play computer games, he’ll have to learn how to code them himself. This premise will inspire readers as they watch Derek struggle but eventually get the hang of the world of tech and coding.

 

 

cover image of the book "Girls Who Code"Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World 

by Reshma Saujani

 

Girls who Code champions females and girl-empowerment. The book includes easy to grasp explanations of various coding principles as well as real life stories of girls and women who work for such companies as Pixar and NASA. It goes on to detail what a huge role computer science plays in our lives and how much fun it can be. It also features bold illustrations on every page.

 

 

yellow book cover with text, "Coding Games in Scratch"Coding Games in Scratch: A Step-by-Step Visual Guide to Building Your Own Computer Games 

by Jon Woodcock 

 

For students who are just getting started with coding, Scratch is a great block-based program to use. This practical guide provides illustrated tutorials that show readers not just what to do but also why!  It introduces strategies for problem solving, collaborating, and thinking creatively.

 

 

cover image of the book "Get Coding!" featuring two cartoon people, a computer, and a dogGet Coding! Learn HTML, CSS & JavaScript and Build a Website, App, and Game

by Young Rewired State

 

The beginning of this book contains a plea for help from the fictional Professor Harry Bairstone, who has just found a precious gem called the Monk Diamond. As readers progress through the chapters, they will embark on a quest to help him keep the Monk Diamond safe from nefarious jewel thieves. Along the way, they will complete short coding projects and learn how to use three of the most important programming languages used in web development and design: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

 

cover image of "Python for Kids"Python for Kids, 2nd Edition: A Playful Introduction to Programming 

by Jason R. Briggs

 

This kid-friendly guide aims to make Python fun to learn and use! Python is one of the most widely used text-based computer programming languages in the world, and this book walks students through the basics of text-based programming in a comprehensive but digestible way. The sample code problems feature everything from gorillas to secret agents, and the main text is accompanied by colorful illustrations, puzzles, definitions, and a section on troubleshooting.

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

Author Lydia Lukidis

Lydia Lukidis is the author of 50+ trade and educational books for children. Her titles include DANCING THROUGH SPACE: Dr. Mae Jemison Soars to New Heights (Albert Whitman, 2024), DEEP, DEEP, DOWN: The Secret Underwater Poetry of the Mariana Trench (Capstone, 2023) and THE BROKEN BEES’ NEST (Kane Press, 2019) which was nominated for a Cybils Award. A science enthusiast from a young age, she now incorporates her studies in science and her everlasting curiosity into her books. Another passion of hers is fostering a love for children’s literacy through the writing workshops she regularly offers in elementary schools across Quebec with the Culture in the Schools program. For more information, please visit www.lydialukidis.com.

 

 

author Callie DeanCallie Dean is a researcher, writer, and musician living in Shreveport, LA. She writes stories that spark curiosity and encourage kids to explore their world. For more information, please visit https://www.calliebdean.com.

 

 

STEM Tuesday– Material Science– Interview with Author Jennifer Swanson

Super Gear Book

 

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

Today, I’m delighted to interview the founder of STEM Tuesday, Jennifer Swanson!

Jennifer is a huge fan of STEM and loves to write about technical topics. She did just that in her SUPER GEAR: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up! book with Charlesbridge Publishing.

Super Gear Book

 

 

A book about nanotechnology and sports… how did you put those two topics together? 

  Well I’ve always loved technonogy and I love sports, too. In fact, I’ve played tons of sports my whole life. Those I haven’t played, I’ve watched. I’m a huge fan of the Olympics, too. We used to watch it as a family. Do you remember when Michael Phelps wore that full-body swimsuit in the 2008 Beijing Olympics? I do! It was fabulous and he won tons of medals with it. So did his teammates. Sooo many records were broken that year. I was definitely intrigued. What was that amazing swimsuit made of? Turns out, it was developed with nanotechnology. 

Did you know anything about nanotechnology at the time? 

Not much. But as I said, I was very intrigued by the suit, so I set about learning more. That’s how I am with pretty much all of the topics I write. I read about something cool in the news and I just have to learn more about it. You know, understand how it works and also WHY it works. Usually as I learn more, I get really excited about the technology and all of the applications it has and then, well, I have to write about it. That’s what happened with this book!

Nanotechnology is a pretty technical topic. Was it difficult to sell this idea?

Sort of. I mean, when you have a fairly technical topic, you really have to come up with a great hook. One that will cause even people who aren’t interested in STEM to be intrigued by your topic. The best way I’ve found to get editors and agents interested in technical topics is to put the hook in the title. A great title grabs their attention fast! And that gets them to read the rest of your proposal. So, that’s a good first step. (Of course, the writing is everything, so the rest of your proposal has to be written well, too). 

What are some cool things you learned about sports and the nanomaterials that are used in them?

First of all, this book came out a few years back, so the applications for nanomaterials have actually expanded significantly since then. Nanotechnology is used to create almost all of the materials in many different sports. It allows for stronger, more durable, and yet flexible materials, which then support athletes in their performance. 

For example, golf is one sport that uses a lot of nanotechnology in its materials. Everything from the dimples on the ball, to the core inside the golf ball, to the head and shaft of the golf club is specially designed with nanomaterials, like carbon fibers. This allows players to hit the ball farther, higher, and with much more accuracy than ever before. Just do an internet search of golf balls and nanotechnology and see how many different balls use the words nanotech or carbon fibers, or graphene. It’s pretty incredible. 

Nanotechnology is in so many other objects, too. How did you decide on sports as your focus? 

Well, aside from loving sports, I figured that was my biggest hook. Yes, nanomaterials are used in many objects in medicine, recycling, and even in energy. But the one topic I thought might most resonate with kids was sports. 

And then I played up that connection in my proposal. I did a search for sports words and phrases like Team Up! and Play Ball and Tee it Up, etc. I find that makes people smile when they read and also shows that I did my research on the topic. 

 

What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

I hope they find nanotechnology as exciting as I do. That they learn about these cool materials and also that they think about the engineering that made them every time they pick up a bat, golf club, tennis racket or put on a swimsuit. 

 

Author Jennifer Swanson

Jennifer Swanson’s love of science began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. While no longer working from the garage, Jennifer’s passion for science resonates in the fascinating 45 nonfiction books she has written for children.

Learn more about Jennifer at www.jenniferswansonbooks.com

 

 

Check out her two new STEM books releasing this year!

 

 

cover art shows an astronaut in full gear against a dark background with title in neon letteringLEGO AMazing Earth book