Posts Tagged teachers

STEM Tuesday — Fungi — Book List

Fungi are all around us – in the yard, clinging to branches and tree trunks, and sometimes in the back of the fridge. Scientists are discovering new fungi every year … it’s a mushrooming field.

Funky Fungi: 30 Activities for Exploring Molds, Mushrooms, Lichens, and More by Alisha Gabriel and Sue Heavenrich

The engaging narrative, which masterfully incorporates the science of mycology, is brimming with cool facts (like making shoes from fungi) and tons of fun STEAM activities and experiments – beginning with the creation of a “FUNgus” journal. It’s intriguing sidebars, stunning photographs, illustrations, and graphs, and scientist highlights make this a fun read with something for everyone kid and adult alike.

It’s a Fungus Among Us: The Good, the Bad & the Downright Scary by Carla Billups & Dawn Cusick

Fungi come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are good: they’re a food source for wildlife, they help clean up pollution, and trees depend on them to share water and food with others. We even eat fungi and use some as medicine. Other fungi cause food rot and disease. And some turn animals into zombies!

Forest Talk: How Trees Communicate by Melissa Koch

Trees share more than water and nutrients. They share information through an underground network made up of fungi. It’s called the Wood Wide Web for good reason; it’s as complex as our internet. Aimed at older readers.

The Mushroom Fan Club by Elise Gravel

Light-hearted, with comic illustrations, this book will charm readers into clamoring for a nature walk to find mushrooms. The author introduces two essential rules of mushroom-looking (protect their environment and don’t eat them!) and introduces major mushroom players.

Fungarium: Welcome to the Museum by Ester Gaya, illustrated by Katie Scott

A stunning, oversized book organized like a museum guide with “galleries” on fungal biology (reproduction and spores), diversity, interactions (Mycorrhizas and termites), and their relationship with humans (pathogens, edible, and pharmaceutical). In addition to engaging facts, vividly detailed images, there are three gorgeous ecosystem illustrations featuring the connection and interactions of fungous within mountains, temperate forests, and tropical forests.

Humongous Fungus: The Weird and Wonderful Kingdom of Fungi by Lynne Boddy, illustrated by Wenjia Tang

Like most DK books, this is a feast for visual learners and those who love pages full of factoids. It examines the life cycle of numerous fungus (mushrooms, lichen, mold, moss), their effect and relationship to nature and humans (both beneficial and harmful), and even fungus wars.

Fungi: Colorful Clean-Up Crews (Tell Me More! Science) by Ruth Owen

A quick introduction to fungi for curious kids at a second-grade reading level. From fungus basics to their job cleaning up dead stuff, and how they contribute to the ecosystem

The Book of Fungi: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World by Roberts, Peter and Shelley Evans

Perfect for browsing, this book is as advertised: filled with life-sized photos of mushrooms, plus descriptions and range maps. Written for adults, but a treasure for kids who love to peruse field guides – if you can find it at your library.

Every now and then we come across a picture book perfect for the 8-10 crowd. This month we found two.

Mushroom Rain by Laura K. Zimmerman

From what they smell like to who eats them, this is a fun introduction to the diverse and sometimes bizarre world of mushrooms. Older readers will enjoy the information at the back, including how mushrooms can cause rain.

Rotten Pumpkin by David Schwartz

This book shows how fungi help decompose a pumpkin after it’s happy life as a jack-o-lantern. Great photos of fuzzy mold.

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

Sue Heavenrich, author

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 –Community Science – Author/Scientist Interview with Jessica Taylor

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

Today we’re interviewing Jessica Taylor, Physical Scientist at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. She serves as the Principal Investigator for the GLOBE Clouds program, an exciting community science program that lets citizens around the world get involved in observing and researching Earth’s environment. GLOBE is the initials for the “Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment” program. By the way, outside of her NASA responsibilities, Jessica is also the author of an upcoming STEM children’s book, “How Do Satellites Stay In Space?”

* * *

Christine Taylor-Butler. Jessica, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed for the STEM Tuesday blog. I had an opportunity to sit in on your presentation about the GLOBE Cloud program and think it would be a fascinating asset for classrooms and libraries. Tell me a bit about yourself. What’s your background?

Jessica Taylor – My background is in Meteorology, Finance and Science Education. I went to Florida State University and got all of my degrees from there.

CTB: How did you get involved in Meteorology?

JT: I grew up outside of Tampa, Florida. Tampa is the lightning capital of the world and I just loved watching thunderstorms and thought they were really cool. A teacher encouraged me to research lightning. What I learned was that scientists are still learning about lightning. I thought it would be fun to have a job where you could learn about something that was of interest to you. That’s basically what science is: learning about things that you don’t fully understand yet. That’s how I decided to pursue Meteorology as a career.

CTB: And now you are working at NASA. Wow! How did that happen?

globeprogramJT: Yes. I wound up at NASA because of the GLOBE program. I was a GLOBE student at Florida State. My professor was the principal investigator for GLOBE cloud. That meant he helped to oversee the science part of the program. I got really engaged in doing science outreach and training teachers. That’s how I decided to pursue science education. I asked questions about how people learn. My professor encouraged me to take classes in education. It was through that journey and my connections with the GLOBE program that helped me get the job at NASA Langley. They were looking for someone who had experience in GLOBE.

CTB: So how long have you been involved in the GLOBE program?

JT: I’ve been with the GLOBE program since 2000 when I was a college student and now I’ve been at NASA for ten years.

CTB: So now NASA has a Citizen Science program. Tell me a bit about the GLOBE Cloud program.

Water cycle

Illustration of water cycle.

JT: GLOBE involves communities from over one hundred countries around the world, collecting and sharing data. That helps scientists better understand the environment. The cloud program is part of that initiative. It helps us analyze and better understand clouds and how they work. Did you know that more than 70 percent of the Earth is covered by clouds? They help our planet control its temperatures. For instance, we know certain clouds block some of the sun’s heat from reaching the Earth’s surface. Other types of clouds are higher in the atmosphere let energy pass through and act like insulation. So we have satellites that collect data on clouds, but we also collect data from citizen observers on the ground. We combine that data and put it online where anyone can access it.

Note for our readers: here’s a link to a short intro and video to help students understand how to get started watching clouds: https://www.globe.gov/web/s-cool/home

CTB: Who is your target audience? Would you say this program is aimed at teachers? Kids? Librarians?

JT: Yes! All of the above! GLOBE is a community of students, teachers, the general public, scientists all working together to understand the environment.

CTB: So even children as young as elementary school can participate in cloud observation or a classroom can work together to upload what they are observing outside for comparison with observations made by scientists? Can they go to the website and get additional information?

Globe app

There’s a GLOBE app too!

JT:  Absolutely. We have online tutorials and lots of different hands-on activities that teachers or educators can do. Librarians, for example, could host a citizen science program for students or adults and engage them at looking at the natural world and recording it. For the clouds program, there are guides to help everyone identify the types of clouds. We even have a GLOBE Observer app that helps you make observations, take photos and even measure the height of trees. Then you can submit the data to NASA. We even help you figure out when satellites are above taking measurements. That way you can submit your observations and we can match them with satellite data taken around the same time. You can find the app here: https://observer.globe.gov/about/get-the-app

cloud science books

NASA has free pamphlets in English and Spanish to help you learn about clouds.

CTB: If you had one hope or goal for what this program can do, what do you want people to get out of it?

cloud template

Photo courtesy of NASA

Cloud template

GLOBE has a guide with a punch-out center to help you make cloud observations.

JT: For people to notice, to recognize the environment and that nature is all around you. Even when you live in an urban environment you are still surrounded by nature, the atmosphere for example. Through regular observations of the environment, I’ve found that people get a much greater appreciation for nature and what is going on in the environment. That’s the whole goal of the program. By getting people to ask questions they become better at knowing and wondering what’s happening.

CTB: If a kid wanted to follow in your footsteps, what kind of courses should they be taking right now?

JT: If you want to go into science or meteorology, don’t shy away from science or math courses. Sometimes they’re hard. Somethings they’re REALLY hard. But that’s okay. You can persist and you’ll be able to do it. I know I struggled myself in some of my math classes later on, but I had a support system of people to turn to. Be open to ask questions of your teachers or peers. That’s important. And take as many classes in math and science as you can. Then learn to ask questions. That’s a skill!

CTB: I often tell students and teachers that life is not about the right answer, but seeing the wrong answer and investigating why and how to fix or improve something.

JT: It’s interesting that asking questions is a skill. Most people don’t know that it gets easier with practice. Participating in the GLOBE program helps you develop skills in observation and asking questions. I work in the Earth Science division. Sometimes people don’t think of Earth as one of the planets NASA is studying. But it’s the most important planet because we live here. NASA has a hugely important role to play in monitoring our home planet, collecting that data, making it publicly available and helping to answer questions about how the Earth is connected and how it is changing. We do it all for the benefit of humanity.

CTB: You’ve also written a children’s book in your free time. So you’re officially a STEM author. What’s the name of the book?

JT: The title is How Do Satellites Stay In Space? It’s being published by Flowerpot Press and comes out in September (2022). In the book, I explain the science behind satellites, what data they collect and how we get them into space.

Satellite Cover

sample satellites

“A friendly, enlightening text for future scientists or anyone curious about space.”Kirkus Reviews

 

 

CTB: Jessica, thank you for giving us a peek into your work with the GLOBE Cloud program. And for your marvelous new book for young scientists. Any last words for our school and library audiences?

JT: Just keep being curious and asking questions. And if you want to learn more about how to get involved, you can go to https://www.globe.gov/

CTB: Note to readers. NASA provides a wealth of information to help students, teachers and libraries learn about science and scientists. All available free of charge. NASA scientists are passionate about helping the community. And now you know about them too! Become a GLOBE Observer/Citizen Scientist! Happy exploring!

 

Jessica Taylor

Courtesy of NASA

Jessica Taylor is a Physical Scientist at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. She leads the Science Directorate’s Science Education team. This team engages teachers, students, and the public in authentic NASA science experiences. Jessica serves as the Principal Investigator for GLOBE Clouds and My NASA Data programs. Jessica loves her work because she helps make Earth science exciting and meaningful to everyone. Jessica received Bachelors degrees in Meteorology and Finance, and a Masters degree inScience Education for Florida State University. Prior to joining NASA, Jessica worked at the College of William and Mary’s STEM Education Alliance and served as Director for School Improvement at the Florida Department of Education. A fierce advocate for encouraging girls towards fields in STEM she is affiliated with the PBS SciGirls program. Jessica now lives in Virginia where her family watches and observes the clouds together.

 

author christine Taylor-butler

Photo by Kecia Stovall

Your host is Christine Taylor-Butler, MIT nerd and author of Bathroom Science, The Oasis, Save the Tigers, and many other nonfiction books for kids. She is also the author of the middle grade sci-fi series The Lost Tribes. Follow @ChristineTB on Twitter and/or @ChristineTaylorButler on Instagram

STEM Tuesday –Community Science – Writing Tips & Resources

The community bit to science is often the ignored, undervalued piece of the scientific process. Collective knowledge needs to be collected and then dispersed among the collective.

Totally confusing, right? 

Well, it is if you think about science as we’ve been generally taught…as a static thing. We’ve been ingrained to think of science as only a rather dull series of steps. How many times have you had to list the steps of the SCIENTIFIC METHOD on a test? I wish I had a dollar for every time I did!

  • Observation
  • Discovery
  • Hypothesis
  • Test
  • Conclude
  • Communicate

Sarah Greenwood, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

 

But science is so much more than just a few memorized steps in a process. What has often been overshadowed in science is the “aliveness” of science. We too often think about science as an individual or small group activity of people isolated in a laboratory, office, or at a site going about their business. We think of science as static. The same misconception holds true for technology, engineering, and mathematics. Lifeless and mundane egghead stuff.

But STEM is so much more. It’s vibrant and alive! It’s all around us. It affects all of us. Science is a tool we use to explain the world around us. Technology, engineering, and mathematics are the tools we use to help science define our world and then manipulate it. And STEM needs you

As much as science affects the community, community affects science. Whether it’s an individual or group participating in a scientific study to collect data points for a research group or science information being presented to a population, the community plays a vital role.

It’s TEAMWORK!

What better way to learn and appreciate science than by participating in science? Shared experience. Now, that’s the value of community science. With many eyes, bodies, and brains at work, the more alive the science is. Community science spreads the load in both directions. It helps cover the necessary ground to turn an unknown into a known by gathering and then distributing the information.

Within the realm of community science, there is a multitude of opportunities covering just about any interest. From open code sourcing software to bird counts, to data analysis, to at-home CRISPR gene-editing, there’s something for everyone. Find your particular jam and give it a shot.

Community Science for the win!

  • Teamwork
  • Spread the load
  • Cover the ground
  • Gather the information

Teamwork makes the dream work!

 

Mount Rainier NPS, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Mike Hays has worked hard from a young age to be a well-rounded individual. A well-rounded, equal opportunity sports enthusiast, that is. If they keep a score, he’ll either watch it, play it, or coach it. A molecular microbiologist by day, middle-grade author, sports coach, and general good citizen by night, he blogs about sports/training-related topics at  www.coachhays.com and writer stuff at  www.mikehaysbooks.comTwo of his science essays, The Science of Jurassic Park and Zombie Microbiology 101, are included in the Putting the Science in Fiction collection from Writer’s Digest Books. He can be found roaming around the Twitter-sphere under the guise of @coachhays64 and Instagram at @mikehays64.

 


The O.O.L.F Files

This month’s version of the O.O.L.F.(Out of Left Field) Files provides resources to get involved in community science projects. 

Looking for a community science project? Check out these resources!

The one and only Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count!

CRISPR at Home – Gene editing for anyone!

The Cornell Ornithology Lab