Posts Tagged writing

STEM Tuesday– Genetics– Book List

 

 

Genes play an important role in determining what makes us us. Dive right into these books, which are great resources on genes, DNA, and cutting-edge technology that holds a lot of promise for the future.

Genetics (A True Book: Greatest Discoveries and Discoverers) 

by Christine Taylor-Butler

Scientists now know that genes are the blueprint for life, but many years ago they didn’t. They discovered it when they attempted to change the traits of living things by altering their genes. Learn about the a-ha moments these scientists had; and more, with this engaging text

 

 

 

The DNA Book

by Alison Woollard

A colorful, interesting book with an in-depth look at DNA and its role in our lives: what DNA does, why we look like our parents, how DNA evidence helps catch criminals, genetic engineering, and more.

 

 

 

The Human Genome

The Human Genome: Mapping the Blueprint of Human Life

by Carla Mooney, illustrated by Tom Casteel

All about the human genome, and how understanding it has added to our knowledge in fields like medicine and human history. With hands-on STEM activities, and discussions on the social and ethical issues of genomic science, this book is a fascinating peek into the world of genetics.

 

 

 

The Code Breaker -- Young Readers Edition

 

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna and the Race to Understand our Genetic Code

by Walter Isaacson, Adapted for young readers by Sarah Durand

An account of how Nobel Prize Winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched CRISPR, a tool that can edit DNA, and a discussion of its potential, and the associated moral implications.

 

 

 

 

CRISPR: A Powerful Way to Change DNA

by Yolanda Ridge, illustrated by Alex Boersma

An engaging book, with detailed illutsrations that explains CRISPR, and the potential it has in the fields of medicine, food and conservation.

 

 

 

Blood, Bullets and Bone: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA

by Bridget Heos

A history of modern forensic science right from the 1700s to modern times, with its advanced technology, including DNA testing, which has changed the world of forensic science.

 

 

Biodiversity: Explore the Diversity of Life on Earth with Environmental Science Activities for Kids (Build It Yourself)

by Laura Perdew (Author), Tom Casteel (Illustrator)

Calling all middle schoolers who are curious about life on earth and its biodiversity. This hands-on STEM-based book is filled with activities to engage critical thinking, as well as lead readers to explorations of the biodiversity around them. 

 

I Can Be a Science Detective: Fun STEM Activities for Kids 

by Claudia Martin

Simple hands-on experiments on how to catch a thief, extract DNA from strawberries, and much more!

 

Extract DNA with Rosalind Franklin: Women in Science Interactive Book With Illustrations

Rosalind Franklin is a known chemist and x-ray crystallographer who is passionate about DNA. She loves sharing her knowledge about this fantastic discovery:  she was the first person to discover the shape of DNA! With her expert guidance, readers will be able to experiment at home and make discoveries for themselves. 

 

 

 

She Persisted: Rosalind Franklin

 

She Persisted: Rosalind Franklin

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Chelsea Clinton, Alexandra Boiger (Illustrator), Gillian Flint (Illustrator)

A biography of the amazing woman who persisted in following her dreams to become a scientist and played an important role in the discovery of the shape of the DNA.

 

 

 

 

Saving the Tasmanian Devil: How Science is Helping the World’s Largest Marsupial Carnivore Survive

by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

This book describes how scientists are working to prevent and eradicate genetic diseases, and helping to save Tasmanian Devils, which are dying in large numbers due a deadly disease.

 

 

 

De-Extinction: The Science of Bringing Lost Species Back to Life

by Rebecca E. Hirsch

This book explains how scientists are trying to reverse extinction and bring back species to life, using techniques like cloning. It also discusses the pros and cons of de-extinction.

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Summers is a wildlife enthusiast and an author. Contact her at: https://susan-inez-summers.weebly.com/

 

 

Shruthi Rao is an author. Her home on the web is https://shruthi-rao.com

 

 

STEM Tuesday– Nuclear/Atomic Science– Interview

I’m delighted to interview Julie Knutson for STEM Tuesday! Julie and I have worked together on three books and each time she impressed me with her super-thorough research and passionate curiosity of whatever topic she was writing about, whether that was globalism, World War I, or Marie Curie!

The Science and Technology of Marie Curie explores Curie’s life and work—not only the discoveries she made while working with her husband that made them both famous, but also the work she continued after his death. For example, did you know Curie developed a transportable X-ray that was used in World War I to help surgeons avoid unnecessary surgery on the battlefield?

Let’s learn more about this amazing woman who made great scientific strides during a time when women weren’t always respected (or funded) as much as their male colleagues.

 

Andi Diehn: What fascinated you about Marie Curie to write a whole book about her?

Julie Knutson: At the beginning of the research process, I came across personal details about Curie’s life that really drew me into her story. From her attendance at an “underground” Polish university at a time when women were banned from higher education to her embrace of the cycling craze of the 1890s, I came to see Curie as a complex, multi-faceted human with varied interests and commitments. This pushed me to want to learn more about her not simply as a scientist, but also as a person very much of her time and place.

Marie Curie book coverThe end result of that research? This book!

AD: Curie was making incredible strides during a time when women weren’t always welcome in the scientific community – why is it important for us to learn about her work and life now?

JK: Curie’s life offers us so many lessons, one of which is the importance of surrounding yourself with people who encourage and foster your interests and talents. Family, friends, mentors, teachers, classmates, her spouse: the “village” around her allowed her to defy the conventions and norms of her time and place. I hope this example encourages young readers to form and join their own networks rooted in shared curiosity!

Marie and her daughters

Marie Curie and her daughters

AD: Your book has lots of activities – why include activities in a nonfiction book for kids?

JK: Observing, questioning, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing, drawing conclusions . . . these are the cornerstones of the scientific method. The activities in this book prompt readers to actively practice this process. This builds not only a “lived” understanding of complex topics like atomic structure, but also solid habits of mind that they can carry with them as young scientists.

WWI ambulance

A petit Curie, a portable radiology system used on battlefields during WWI.

 

AD: I was surprised to learn about Curie’s role during World War I. What do you think her work with portable X-ray machines shows us about her character?

JK: One of Curie’s guiding principles was “Science in the Service of Humanity.” Throughout World War I, Curie’s actions reveal her as a person who not just professed this mantra, but really lived it. At the beginning of the war—when Paris was invaded—she secreted a vial of radium from her lab to safety in a town 375 miles away, protecting this critical resource. After suspending her research, she coordinated a fleet of mobile X-ray units, which were used to identify the sites of bullet and shrapnel wounds, as well as broken bones.

Here, we see Curie identify a problem and use her knowledge and skills to solve it . . . in the process, saving countless lives in the process.

AD: If you could share one thing about Marie Curie’s life with everyone you know, what would it be?

JK: There’s so much more — beyond the Nobel Prizes — to learn from Curie’s life and story; I’d encourage readers of all ages to delve into it! She’s a figure of endless depths, who exceeds the honors and accolades for which she’s best known.

Marie Curie comic strip

***headshot of author Julie KnutsonJulie Knutson is an author and educator with a wide-ranging background in history and the social sciences. She holds an undergraduate degree in cultural studies from NYU, a master’s degree in Political Sociology from The London School of Economics, and additional post-graduate degrees in education and art history from Rice University in Houston. Julie’s passion for global citizenship, world history, and human rights stems from these formative academic experiences and from her time as a classroom teacher.

Julie is an active member of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), having served as the Chair of its Middle School Teacher of the Year Award in 2018. She also maintains membership in Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Andi Diehn***

Andi Diehn grew up near the ocean chatting with horseshoe crabs and now lives in the mountains surrounded by dogs, cats, lizards, chickens, ducks, moose, deer, and bobcats, some of which help themselves to whatever she manages to grow in the garden. You are most likely to find her reading a book, talking about books, writing a book, or discussing politics with her sons. She has 18 children’s nonfiction books published or forthcoming.

STEM Tuesday– Nuclear/Atomic Science– Writing Tips & Resources

 

This month’s theme is nuclear/atomic energy. In searching for ways to bring the arts into STE(A)M, I found books for older readers that focus on the “politics” of energy and offer opportunities for activities. Certainly that is relevant in today’s world where what we know as good science is being questioned. It’s not new. Galileo went to prison because he said the earth rotates around the sun. Scientists make discoveries and then those discoveries go out into the world in various ways. Politics, religion, culture, and economics can influence their uses and interpretations.

Each book here focuses on past consequences of scientific discoveries. My books this month are for older readers and the STEAM activities are ones which would require the students to have research, writing, and visual communication skills.

 

 

 

Radium girls coverThe first is The Radium Girls: The Scary But True Story Of The Poison That Made People Glow In The Dark (Young Readers’ Edition 2020, Sourcebooks Explore) by Kate Moore. This book is not for the faint of heart, with archival photos and heart-rending accounts. It is rich with content, bibliography, and story. While the discovery of radium was useful to mankind, abuse of the substance led to tragedy.archival photos

In 1917, there was competition for the jobs at the Radium Luminous Materials Corporation in Newark, New Jersey, where the girls who worked in the watch studio made good money. They painted the numbers on watch faces with paint that glowed in the dark. Radium, discovered by Marie Curie, was a miracle of new technology. It was especially important because the watch dials could be seen by soldiers fighting in World War I.

In order to get a good point on the paint brush, so as to paint the tiny numbers, the girls used their lips to make a fine point on the brush. Some of the girls were concerned. Their clothes glowed in the dark. They got sores in their mouths and acne.

The personal stories in the book are engaging and thought provoking. Also sad and direct. Some of the photos are shocking. At over 700 pages, the book is a comprehensive collection of materials, including bibliography, archival photos, and reading group guide.

 

 

 

Radium Girls play cover

I first heard of the Radium Girls when I attended the play in 2018 at Lasell University. The young actors performed the sad and informative story with deep feeling. (https://the1851chronicle.org/2018/04/26/radium-girls-turns-the-dial-towards-feminism/).

In order to bring the A into STEAM, writing or performing a play is a great way to create a multidisciplinary educational experience for any topic. Having to explain a concept to others always helps students to a better understanding of a topic themselves. A full length script for Radium Girls is available through Dramatic Publishing.( by D.W. Gregory https://www.dramaticpublishing.com/radium-girls)

If you think of writing a play and that intimidates you (it would me!), I found a number of resources on the Teachers Pay Teachers website (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com). You can search for “writing a play” and you have many options. I haven’t used any of these but the materials I have ordered from them in the past have been useful in my teaching.

 

 

Fallout coverAnd looking to continue the theme of including art, it amused me to think of atomic rhyming with comic. So I selected Fallout: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Slizard, and the Policial Science of the Atomic Bomb ( Jim Ottaviani (Author), Janine Johnston (Illustrator), Steve Lieber (Illustrator), Vince Locke (Illustrator), Bernie Mireault (Illustrator), Jeff Parker (Illustrator), Jeffrey Jones (Illustrator) by GT Labs. This is for older readers and I think some previous knowledge of the development of the atomic bomb will help the reader to follow the story.

The comic platform, with its countless illustrations, brings the characters to life. We can feel the emotional conflicts of the scientists, especially facing the demands of the war interests. To me, the black and white drawings were reminiscent of film noir and helped to place the time frame pre-1960. It is especially valuable for reluctant readers who can get visual cues from the pictures.

To be clear, the book is more about political science (a branch of social science) and it does include information about the development of the bomb. It’s always good to bring in the humanity aspects of science to keep it in perspective.

 

 

 

There are studies about the effectiveness of comics in education. Comparing Effectiveness and Engagement of Data Comics and Infographics, downloadable from https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3290605.3300483. They say Our results suggest participants largely prefer data comics in terms of enjoyment, focus, and overall engagement and that comics improve understanding and recall of information in the stories. (by Zezhong Wang, Shunming Wang, Matteo Farinella, Dave Murray-Rust, Nathalie Henry Riche, Benjamin Bach).

free downloadThe Center for Cartoon Studies (https://www.cartoonstudies.org/) offers a free downloadable book called The World is Made of Cheese, The Applied Cartooning Manifesto, as well as other materials on comics. The materials are user friendly and you don’t have to be an “artist” to make a comic. Most published comics are collaborations anyway, so find a partner. And the goal is to create a page or book that tells a story (fiction or nonfiction) communicates ideas, and provides the satisfaction of being creative. In my experience, students enjoy making (and reading) comics and there are more choices available every day.

 

 

 

 


Kaleidoscope front cover

Margo Lemieux draws, paints, reads, and writes all the time. And, following her own advice, she is doing a cartoon assignment in the spring for her university class. She also does editing and publishing. Her most recent project is an anthology for her long-time witers’ group, The Magic Storymakers, titled Kaleidoscope.