Posts Tagged STEM education

September New Releases!

September always means back-to-school time for my family, and that’s something very different this year across the country. Many kids are learning remotely–and books can be a great way to supplement their virtual schooldays. Books can even help students do the hands-on science experiments or art projects they’re missing from the in-school experience. So today, I’d like to highlight some educational middle grade books coming out this month. They’re filled with ideas to challenge and engage students  about different subjects they may be learning in school this year.

 

Everything You Need to Ace Chemistry in One Big Fat Notebook

Jennifer Swanson: Workman Publishing, Sept. 1, 2020

This Big Fat Notebook covers everything you need to know during a year of high school chemistry class, breaking down one big bad subject into accessible units. Learn to study better and get better grades using mnemonic devices, definitions, diagrams, educational doodles, and quizzes to recap it all.

Including: Atoms, elements, compounds and mixtures, the periodic table, quantum theory, bonding, the mole, chemical reactions and calculations, gas laws, solubility, pH scale, titrations, Le Chatelier’s principle …and much more!

 

Kiyo Sato: From a WWII Japanese Internment Camp to a Life of Service

Connie Goldsmith: Twenty-First Century Books, Sept. 1, 2020

“Our camp, they tell us, is now to be called a ‘relocation center’ and not a ‘concentration camp.’ We are internees, not prisoners. Here’s the truth: I am now a non-alien, stripped of my constitutional rights. I am a prisoner in a concentration camp in my own country. I sleep on a canvas cot under which is a suitcase with my life’s belongings: a change of clothes, underwear, a notebook and pencil. Why?”―Kiyo Sato

In 1941 Kiyo Sato and her eight younger siblings lived with their parents on a small farm near Sacramento, California, where they grew strawberries, nuts, and other crops. Kiyo had started college the year before when she was eighteen, and her eldest brother, Seiji, would soon join the US Army. The younger children attended school and worked on the farm after class and on Saturday. On Sunday, they went to church. The Satos were an ordinary American family. Until they weren’t.

On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The next day, US president Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan and the United States officially entered World War II. Soon after, in February and March 1942, Roosevelt signed two executive orders which paved the way for the military to round up all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast and incarcerate them in isolated internment camps for the duration of the war. Kiyo and her family were among the nearly 120,000 internees.

In this moving account, Sato and Goldsmith tell the story of the internment years, describing why the internment happened and how it impacted Kiyo and her family. They also discuss the ways in which Kiyo has used her experience to educate other Americans about their history, to promote inclusion, and to fight against similar injustices. Hers is a powerful, relevant, and inspiring story to tell on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

 

The Great Bear Rescue: Saving the Gobi Bears

Sandra Markle: Millbrook Press, Sept. 1, 2020

Acclaimed science author Sandra Markle offers a fascinating look at Gobi bears―the rarest bears on the planet. These adorable animals face threats ranging from illegal gold miners to climate change. Find out more about these bears, which are considered a national treasure in Mongolia, and learn what scientists are doing to help this critically endangered species.

 

 

I Survived The California Wildfires, 2018

Lauren Tarshish: Scholastic, Sept. 1, 2020

The people of Northern California were used to living with the threat of wildfires. But nothing could have prepared them for the devastating 2018 fire season, the deadliest in 100 years and the most destructive in history.

In the 20th I Survived book, readers join eleven-year-old Josh as he leaves his New Jersey home for the rural northern California town where his cousins live. Still reeling from the life-changing challenges that propelled him and his mother across the country, Josh struggles to adapt to a more rustic, down-to-earth lifestyle that couldn’t be more different from the one he is used to.

Josh and his cousin bond over tacos and reptiles and jokes, but on a trip into the nearby forest, they suddenly find themselves in the path of a fast-moving firestorm, a super-heated monster that will soon lay waste to millions of acres of wilderness and — possibly — their town. Josh needs to confront the family issues burning him up inside, but first he’ll have to survive the flames blazing all around him.

 

Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art Experiences in the Styles of Great Masters

MaryAnn F. Kole and Kim Solga: Chicago Review Press, Aug. 4, 2020

Fun and easy art-appreciation activities abound in this resource that features over 60 great artists across the ages. A concise biography for each artist tells why his or her work is important, and a kid-tested art activity tries out the artist’s approach. Young artists will sketch inventive designs in the style of da Vinci and draw in a nature notebook like Audubon. To understand Rodin, they will create a clay carving. Picasso will inspire a fractured friend, and Kahlo shows the magic in self-portraits. Projects stress the creative process and encourage kids to try unusual techniques such as block printing, pointillism, and mixed media artworks as they learn about architecture, drawing, painting, photography, and sculpture. Discovering Great Artists includes easy-to-follow icons to indicate the experience, preparation, and materials necessary for each project, as well as guides to the style, movement, or era of each artist. Introducing children to the greatest artists has never been more engaging!

 

25 Women Who Dared to Compete

Rebecca Stanborough: Compass Point Books, Aug. 1, 2020

Discover 25 women who challenged the stereotypes of what it means to play like a girl. These women worked to even the playing field and steppped up to score points for women all around the world.

 

 

An Ellis Island Time Capsule: Artifacts of the History of Immigration

Rachael Teresa Hanel: Capstone Press, Aug. 1, 2020

The artifacts of Ellis Island tell the story of millions of immigrants who passed through its halls on their journey to a new life in the United States. A 1900 photograph of the Statue of Liberty, an antique stethoscope, and a jigsaw puzzle are some of the primary sources that can help students better understand the experience of journeying through Ellis Island in the early 1900s. Explore these and more in this Time Capsule History book!

 

STEM Tuesday– Symbiotic Relationships– Author Interview

STEM Tuesday–Symbiosis– Interview with co-authors Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton

 

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 interviewing authors Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton, co-authors of Odd Couples, part of their “Things That Make You Go Yuck” series. Although busy with lots of projects–Jenn writes and illustrates science text books, and Charlie is a computational biologist–they say they collaborate on their books to meet a “fundamental ‘need’ to be creative.” Self-proclaimed science nerds who met through stand-up comedy, they bring humor to their books. In a time when basic biology has revealed its scary side, it’s a relief to be able to laugh a little while enjoying the fascinating tales of interrelationships in this book.

(*I had a lot of questions and Jenn and Charlie had a lot to share. This interview has been edited for brevity.–CCD)

 

Pictuer of the cover of Odd couples.

Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano: What’s Odd Couples about—and what was most important to you in deciding to write it?

CH: Odd Couples is part of a series of “Things That Make You Go Yuck!” books, all about interesting and unusual critters and plants. This book explores some of the cooperative – and competitive and completely bonkers – relationships between organisms. With Odd Couples and all the Yuck! Books, we wanted to show young readers that even the “yucky” bits of nature can be fascinating, inspiring and sometimes oddly beautiful.

JD: Every second is life or death in the wild, and sometimes organisms have to work together to survive. Odd Couples covers everything from weird mating habits to strange friendships (and  frenemy-ships). From a crab that waves sea anemones around like pom poms to ward off predators to sloths that have strange friendships moths that lays eggs in sloth poop, Odd Couples covers the oddest of the odd.

CCD: You are two co-authors of a book named Odd Couples, so of course I have to ask: What kind of an odd couple are you? How would you describe your creative partnership?

CH: Oh, we’re odd. We met around fifteen years ago doing amateur standup comedy around the Boston area among a crowd of fellow misfits. We began collaborating on creative projects a few years ago, which has turned out to be much more productive than telling jokes at a coffee shop at midnight on a Tuesday. We’ve taken a “sure, let’s try it” approach to projects, leading to working together on writing books as well as short plays, producing a web series and short films, and various other oddities-in-progress.

JD:  In biological terms, we’re in a parasitic relationship. The parasite is whomever is not paying the tab that week.

CCD: What’s one of your favorite organism relationships from the book? Why is it a favorite?

CH: We researched a number of parasites for Odd Couples, which is a really… interesting way to spend your Saturday afternoons. My favorite is a flatworm called Ribeiroia that infects frogs during one phase of its life cycle. The worms’ next stage of development occurs in birds. To improve their odds of getting there, the worms affect infected frogs’ development, causing them to grow extra, gangly useless legs that hinder their hopping. These frogs are less likely to escape birds trying to eat them, which is good for the worms – though not as much for the Franken-frogs. It’s basically a Bond movie villain strategy for getting ahead.

JD: My favorite animals are spiders. (Yes, really. I had pet tarantulas when I was younger.) So, I have to go with the peacock spider. It’s an adorable little arachnid who basically does the Y.M.C.A. dance to attract a mate. Scientists recently discovered a new species of peacock spider that has markings that resemble a skeleton. You know, because spiders need to double-down on their creepy reputation.

CCD: Can you say a little about how your writing partnership works? For example, who does what when?

CH: On most projects, we discuss an outline and detailed plans for writing. I promptly forget most of it, and Jenn reminds me of the parts she says that we both liked the best. It’s not the most efficient process, but it works. While writing, we generally pass material back and forth – in the case of Odd Couples, we agreed on a format and researched the organisms we wanted to include, then split them up to each write about our favorites. Sort of like a fantasy sports draft, only with more spiders and parasites.

JD: Nothing happens until food and drinks arrive. It’s very possible that our waiter/waitress is our muse. Several hours later, we have something that resembles an outline typed out in Jenn-ese on my phone. I translate it to something that resembles English, and from there it’s a 50/50 split. We’ve been writing together for so long that we’ve developed a joint voice, and we sometimes forget which part each of us wrote. There have been more than a few times we have seen/heard a joke in something we’ve written and wondered which one of us was responsible for that nonsense.

CCD: What’s next for you as authors?

JD: Another infographics book (is) waiting in the wings after Awesome Space Tech.

(Awesome Space Tech, also an infographics project, is Jenn and Charlie’s latest book. –CCD)

CCD: Well, I’d bet that your humor and serious science creds have led to yet another book that will inspire, entertain, and fascinate kids. Your symbiosis certainly benefits others! Thanks so much for your time!

Win a FREE copy of Odd Couples

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!

 

 

Snapshot of co-authors Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton in a comic pose.

Boston-based collaborators, Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton are co-authors of Prufrock Press’s series, “Things That Make You Go Yuck!” and, in Charlie’s words, “several other, far more ridiculous projects.”

By day, Jenn writes science textbooks, assessments, and lab manuals for grades K–12. By night, she writes comedy screenplays, stage plays, and other ridiculous things with Charlie Hatton. Her favorite creepy crawlies are spiders.

Charlie is a bioinformatician who slings data for a cancer research hospital–as well as a science fan and humorist. He enjoys working with genetic and other data to support cancer research, learning about new and interesting scientific areas, and referring to himself in the third person in biographical blurbs.

 

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photo of author and STEM Tuesday contribuor Carolyn DeCristofanoCarolyn DeCristofano, a founding team member of STEM Tuesday, is 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).