Articles posted by lisamorlock

Dr. Renee Horton: Scientist-Author Extraordinaire

September 20, 2019
Dr. Renee Horton’s visit celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon walk.

Author, scientist, role-model: Dr. Renee Horton is whip-smart, hardworking, good-natured, and caring. She visited Des Moines in August. In a trip hosted by the Des Moines Public Library, she stopped by Drake University for a reception in her honor. She shared her book, her experiences with NASA, and her message on STEM and kids.

Horton’s life is the inspiration behind her book series Dr. H Explores. Currently, there are two books out, From Mercury to Mars and From Jupiter to Uranus, with two more forthcoming. Readers can also get Dr. H dogtags and a Dr. H stuffed toy.

What makes this author special is that she lives what she writes. Horton specializes in Materials Science and holds degrees in engineering, math, and physics. She works full-time at NASA as the Space Launch System (SLS) Lead Metallic/Weld Engineer and has won numerous awards for her professional work and community advocacy. And while you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to write books, it sure makes book talks interesting!

After her Des Moines visit, she took to a moment to talk with us about her incredible adventure into STEM literacy.

Visit Dr. Renee Horton’s website to learn more or purchase her books and merchandise.

Q. What inspired you to write for children?

A. I believe that every child is born curious with an active imagination, and we should allow them to explore to find themselves. The books are my way to impact their lives early, to help them stay curious, and create a desire to explore in a creative way.  It’s my way of letting the kid in me have fun. 

Q. What message do you hope to share with kids through your books?

A. First, I hope to provide a positive representation of inclusion of all in STEM while helping kids learn that everyone is different. The second thing I want them to walk away with is that STEM is fun. 

Q. What writing projects are you or will you be working on next?

A. The next writing project for Dr H Explores is Trip to the Moon coming out at the beginning August. Next, Dr H finally gets to meet Pluto in the book scheduled to release in October.  For a personal writing project, I am currently working with Kay Fenton Smith on writing my memoir that will detail my pain, my growth, and my happiness in life. 

For more information or to contact Dr. Renee Horton, please visit her website: https://www.reneehortonphd.com/about.html. We love her opening quote: “When you find your intersection between your talent and your passion, you find your true happiness.” It’s clear that Horton has found that intersection, and her enthusiasm helps pave the way for others on a similar path.

Thanks to the Des Moines Public library for sharing Dr. Horton’s visit with Drake University.

Author Grace Grundmeyer Writes Geode Adventure

September 13, 2019
Meet Grace Grundmeyer, author.
(Photo courtesy of G&R Rock Keepers.)

Authors, even very young ones, are inspired by things that happen in their lives. That is especially true for our talented 10-year-old friend, Grace Grundmeyer. She stopped by the blog to share her debut picture book: The Adventures of Eli and Lincoln: The Hidden Treasure.

Overview:
Grace chose the names Eli and Lincoln, who are friends in the story, to pay tribute to her cousins who passed away. In the book, the boys stumble upon a geode while playing. They find it’s ugly on the outside and hollow on the inside.  Soon, they learn it’s a geode, find out it’s beautiful, and start a rock collection. To make it more visually challenging, there’s a hidden pick ax on every page.

Writing Process
Grace’s story started like most do. She wrote it out by hand on lined paper. But the process didn’t end there. “Once I got the story just how I wanted it,” said Grace, “my parents helped me locate an illustrator and publishing company.  I met with the illustrator a couple times to get each page just right.” After a final proof, she waited for the hard-cover copies to arrive.   “It was fun to see them all printed,” she added. Besides writing and editing the book, she spent a lot of time researching information.

Governor Kim Reynolds, Co-Chair of the Iowa STEM Initiative, stopped by Grace’s booth at the Iowa State Fair. Iowa’s official state rock is the geode.

STEM/Literacy Connections
The book is a perfect supplement to an elementary rock unit, classroom read-aloud, or bedtime story. On the last page, Grace included topics for teachers or parents to talk to kids about, titled Discussion Points. 

Grace shared a few highlights: “Some of the important lessons include how the beauty is on the inside (just like a geode) which can be used to discuss many important topics like bullying, self-esteem, or rock hunting.”

The book also promotes getting outside and going on an adventure. “Although a new adventure may make you nervous,” said Grace, “there are also exciting things that might happen or you may learn by experiencing something new.”

Advice
We asked Grace what advice she has for other people who want to write a book. She passed this along, “If you want to write a book, anyone can actually do it.  It takes time and you have to focus on just how you want it to be when it is all done.  I learned writing a book is harder than I thought, but it can be a fun process.”

More Info
Grace welcomes the opportunity to talk to others about her book and geodes in general. Visit her website for contact information on speaking engagements. To learn more about geodes, to buy a copy of the book, or get some geode jewelry and bling, visit Grace’s website: www.gandrrocks.com. You can also find her book online at Mascot Books‘ website or Amazon.

Nature rocks! Grace’s whole family enjoys going on an outdoor adventures.

Book Review: The Radium Girls

July 31, 2019
Find this best-selling book, The Radium Girls by Kate Moore, at the library or in bookstores.

Avid reader and soon-to-be-middle-schooler, Averie, sat down with the Hub to review The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. Besides being a big fan of Marie Curie, Averie enjoys swimming, being outside, and animals. She recommends this book for anyone who is a fan of science and social justice.

General Overview:
Q: What is the book about?
A: The Radium Girls is the story of early twentieth century girls that worked on painting luminous watch dials with radium paint. they got extremely sick and filed a lawsuit.

Before the world realized the radium was a dangerous element, it was used in small amounts to paint clocks and dials for instruments used during WWI. The Government prized it for its glow-in-the-dark quality. At the time, women didn’t have many job options, but with so many men in active duty, they were needed to help with the war effort. Young, single women could made a lot of money if they landed this position. Each day the women went to work, they were slowly ingesting small quantities of the highly toxic material, and all eventually grew very sick.

The clock is ticking: women paint luminous dials in 1932. Photo from https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/06/the-radium-girls-still-glowing-in-their-coffins/

In the end, even though the women could barely get out of bed or walk around, they sued their employer and justice and won!

Inspiring Read
Q: What makes this book so good?
A: It is an inspiring story about justice and the power of perseverance.

One unique element that fascinated Averie was the photo of the girls before they became sick.

Q: Who else might enjoy this book?
A: Anyone who has an interest in history and justice.

Author Jill Esbaum Weaves Facts into Nonfiction Magic

February 12, 2019

Picture books engage curiosity and set the stage for adventure and exploration. They allow children to think like scientists, asking questions and searching for answers. The best books teach the love of reading, but they also challenge us to connect with the world. National Geographic knows a thing or two about that, and so does Jill Esbaum.

You’ve likely seen Jill’s books in libraries, schools, and stores. She’s an award-winning Iowa author who has published 13 fiction and 22 nonfiction books, including Tom’s Tweet, which was named the Iowa Goldfinch Award and I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo, which earned a Chrystal Kite Award. While being well-known for her gift of creating colorful characters, lively language, and perfect rhyme, Jill has turned her talents toward weaving facts into magical prose for National Geographic children’s books.

Jill recently stopped by the blog to talk about her work with National Geographic, including her book: Little Kids First Big Book of Why 2. She was kind enough to answer a few questions.

 

Q: What makes the Little Kids First Big Book of Why 2 unique?

A: The goal of National Geographic’s Little Kids Big Book series is to help kids aged 4-7 understand the world, which is why there are titles covering everything from ANIMALS to OCEANS, from BUGS to SPACE. The first WHY book (written by Amy Shields) was such a hit that NG wanted another to continue providing answers to some of kids’s most often-asked questions. WHY 2 has 4 chapters, including ME, MYSELF, & I; FUN AND GAMES; AWESOME ANIMALS; and NATURE ALL AROUND.

The toughest thing about writing one of these books is coming up with brand new questions! There are 56 of them here, with many more facts sprinkled across each page, as well as call-out questions intended to get kids thinking.

Q: What are some ways teachers and parents could use this book? 

A: Each title in the Little Kids Big Book series has a wealth of back matter, including a spread that suggests to parents ways they might extend the fun beyond the book. For example, WHY 2 has a spread titled “Why do I yawn?” At the back of the book is a fun activity that encourages kids to experiment with whether or not yawning is contagious.

Another spread in the book is “Why are dinosaur names so long?” and a corresponding activity encourages kids to pretend they’ve discovered a new dinosaur in their backyard and come up with a name for it. Within each chapter are also easy, small experiments called “Try This!” 

Q: How many hours go into the research and creation of a book like this?

A: Researching and writing one of these books takes hundreds and hundreds of hours. The research is especially important, of course, as National Geographic has a long-standing reputation for quality and accuracy. Fortunately, I love researching, tracking down the hows and whens and whys on any given subject.

One research tip I often share with kids at school visits:  When researching something, look beyond the facts people already know. Dig for juicy facts that make you say, “Wow, I didn’t know that!” 

Q: What’s your favorite part of this book?

A: I’m always happy when a book has a chapter about animals, because I learn so much! In this book, I enjoyed learning about things like the miraculous abilities of a dog’s nose. Did you know each nostril smells independently? That while human noses have 6 million “smelling cells” that send signals to our brains, a dog’s has 300 million of them? Sniffing another dog can tell them the age of the other dog, whether it’s male or female, what it has been eating, and even the dog’s mood. Amazing!

But this book has pages and pages filled with facts like this. That makes them so fun to write. I love becoming an expert on dozens of topics….Too bad I can’t retain every single thing I learn. But I am pretty good at trivia events. 😉

 

Besides writing (and trivia), Jill is an incredible writing teacher, hosting weekend retreats, workshops, and conference sessions. She hosts a blog called Picture Book Builders, featuring the best new books, introducing readers to authors and illustrators, and reflecting on the best of craft. Jill also welcomes author visit invitations, where she talks to kids about writing, research, revision, and more!

Want to learn more about Jill?

Purchase the book.

Visit her website.

Follow Jill on Twitter.

Sign-up to receive Picture Book Builders Blog notifications.

Infusing Mathematics into Storytime

December 4, 2018

I recently had the privilege of attending a Colloquium on Early Mathematics Learning with Dr. Megan Franke from UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.  The workshop was put on by Grand View University’s Jacobson Institute for Innovation in Education.  Dr. Franke is the 2018 Jacobson Visiting Scholar.

During the workshop, Franke demonstrated some ways to infuse any story time with mathematics, beginning with a Describe, Draw, Describe.

Describe, Draw, Describe

Geometry is all about relationships and movement in space.  Picture books offer opportunities to have conversations with young learners about spatial relations.

According to Stanford University’s DREME TE website, which is a math resource for early childhood educators:

Spatial language provides children with essential tools to describe their environments and negotiate their wants and needs (“No, I don’t want that one, I want the one under it!”). And, it turns out, adults’ and young children’s use of spatial language predicts children’s skills at spatial problem solving later on. Spatial language includes words describing location/position (under, in front of), attributes (long, high, side, angle, same, symmetrical), orientation and mental transformation(left, turn, match), and geometric shape names (rectangular prism, triangle, sphere). [Photo from DREME TE blog]

Dr. Franke demonstrated an activity she called Describe, Draw, Describe. It’s a technique that anyone can couple with story time to help kids practice their spatial and communication skills.  Note that the activity is not about copying the original image, it’s about practicing spatial relations.

Franke used the book There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins as her example.

Here’s how Describe, Draw, Describe works:

  1. After reading a picture book, pick one place in story to go back to.
  2. DESCRIBE: Return to that page or picture and ask “What do you notice?”
  3. DRAW: Ask students to “Draw what you see.”
  4. DESCRIBE: When they are done drawing, invite them to “Talk about what you drew.”

Tips for Educators and Parents:

When reading as story as a catalyst for a mathematics conversation, Dr. Franke suggests:

  • During the story, pick one place to pause and ask a math question, which could be based on numbers, spatial relationships, shapes, etc. Be mindful of interrupting too much and think carefully about your questioning.
  • Don’t intervene too much! Make it your practice to put the story first, keeping it alive by limited interruptions.
  • Pick one place to go back after the story is over. (This is where you do Describe, Draw, Describe)

Note: Draw, Describe, Draw can also be done using works of art for an art and mathematics infusion.

Scaffolding Skills: Early Childhood and Beyond

Reading picture books is a strategy to help develop mathematical language. It puts the terms into context and provides a visual way to remember them. When students have the language of spacial relationships, they have a scaffold to support geometry skills. This helps them articulate directional relationships, draw models, and understand use of space and time.

Consider this strategy when drawing simple geometric shapes and turning those shapes into 3-D renderings. An example is when a square becomes a cube so that a student can determine volume. They can draw a better model if they understand spatial relationships, and modeling is the key to simple and complex geometric shapes.

To the left are a few more books that lend themselves to spatial skills, but any picture book can be used.

 

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Want to Learn More?

For more information about this resource and more can be found at http://prek-math-te.stanford.edu/.  The DREME TE resources are intended for teacher educators, and are available free with a log in.

Post by Dr. Sarah Derry, SC STEM Hub Manager and parent to three energetic boys.

This blog is dedicated to connecting STEM and literacy. If you have ideas for this blog OR would like to be a guest blogger, please email the Hub.

SCI Book Recommendation–Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code

August 1, 2018

SCI Scale-Ups

     The Science Center of Iowa (SCI) set out to do ground-breaking work all across Iowa. If all students couldn’t get to the SCI, then the SCI would try to reach all students.
     To accomplish this, they created STEM curriculum for PreK-12 students: Pint-Size Science and Making STEM Connections. Both programs are part of the Iowa STEM Initiative’s Scale-Up Program, and both feature incredible books.
      We caught up with Jolie Pelds (pictured right), SCI’s Director of Innovative STEM Teaching. Pelds introduced us to the books featured in this year’s kits and her new favorite read–Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code written by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Katy Wu. When I asked Pelds why she liked it so much, she said “just look at the first page” (see it below).

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code

“If you’ve got a good idea, and you know it’s going to work, go ahead and do it.”
–Grace Hopper
     Who was Grace Hopper? Even the end sheets tell the story: “Rule breaker. Chance taker. Troublemaker. AMAZING GRACE.” Beginning as an young girl interested in how everyday things worked, Hopper took things a part to learn more about them. Her parents encouraged her curiosity.
     At age seven, Hopper dismantled several clocks in her house to find out what made them tick. She finished high school two years early and then attended Vassar College. Dedicated to making a difference in the World War II effort, Hopper enlisted in the U.S. Navy and embarked on a lifelong military career writing computer programs.
    The book is full of delightful anecdotes. For example, after finding a moth trapped inside a navy computer, she coined the phrase computer bug.
“She didn’t wait for someone else to figure it out–she came up with solutions herself!”
–Jolie Pelds
     “It’s an awesome book,” said Pelds, “because she’s a rebel and a hacker in the way she thinks. She had the ability to take something difficult and make it easier. She didn’t wait for someone else to figure it out–she came up with solutions herself!”
     Hopper’s legacy lives on today. She revolutionized how we use computers, creating what would become COBOL, a common programming language that is still used around the world. Hopper served as a trailblazer for others, especially women, who wanted the challenge of solving difficult problems while defying expectations of the era.

Enter to WIN a CODE/STEM prize extravaganza! 

From Rosie Revere, Engineer to How to Code a Sand Castle to On a Beam of Light: the Story of Albert Einstein, do you have a favorite STEM picture book? If so, please send us an email with the 1.) title, 2.) author, and 3.) why you like it so much. All emails received will go into a drawing for a Code.org/STEM prize extravaganza!
  • Open: August 1, 2018
  • Deadline: all emails must be received on or before August 10, 2018
  • Email: lisa.morlock@drake.edu
  • Announcements: all prize recipients will be notified via email by August 12, 2018

Get This Book: What’s Math Got To Do With It?

May 30, 2018

The Hub asked Drake professor Dr. Maryanne Huey for ideas on working with young students on math confidence. She recommended the incredible resource: What’s Math Got To Do With It by Jo Boaler. Currently, Boaler is a professor of mathematics education at Stanford University. She also created a website called YouCubed and given TED Talks.

This is one of those rare, important books that every new parent and teacher should read. Boaler explains the importance of introducing math literacy at a young age. She identifies classrooms that consistently develop strong math students and how those teachers do it, and she looks at what parents can do to constantly enrich math at home.

Boaler cites a recent study in which the United States ranked 36 among 64 developed countries across the world. She says that when middle school students asked if they’d rather do math or eat broccoli, over half said they’d rather eat broccoli. While this is humorous, what’s not funny is that many students go into the world with insufficient math skills. The top paying, fastest-growing jobs in the world require employees with strong math skills. If you want a great career = learn math!

But the best part of the book, for me, involves the challenges interspersed through the book. Here are three to check out, but know all of her recommendations are awesome.

1. Page 16: Fibonacci’s Sequence

We loved showing the Golden Ratio, as it’s proof math is everywhere. From the spiral of a snail shell to the spin of hurricane to the way a flower bloom opens, evidence is everywhere! Here’s a website that helps explain this concept. You’ll never walk outside again without thinking about math.

2. Page 170: Tangrams

Introduce geometry in a fun way with tangrams. Preschool kids love the colors and older kids enjoy the puzzle challenge of the project. There’s a website that offers free, online tangrams for teachers and parents to use.

3. Page 211: Race to 20

This is a simple game two people can play in the car. In the game, two people race to reach 20, staring at 0 and using integrals of 1 or 2. While you’ll eventually realize the key to success, the game can be modified by changing the ending number or the integrals used.

Not everyone needs to major in life, but the problem-solving skills learned transfer to all of life’s situations.

In the last chapter, Boaler talks about math’s future: “Let’s move together from the mathematics trauma and dislike that has pervaded our society in recent years to a brighter mathematical future for all, charged with excitement, engagement and learning.”

Kids are born to love numbers. From the first time they hold up their pointer finger when asked their age, to figuring out how much candy they can buy with piggy bank savings. And it takes all of us to nurture their curiosity and ability. If you want to learn how, check out this book.

Humans Helping Nature: If Sharks Disappeared + Me and Moto

April 9, 2018

“Modern day storytellers carry the message of environmental stewardship to future generations,” states the Nature Generation website. I’d go a step further and say that the readers of these books will also become our environmental stewards. Recently, this group started a book award, and the 2018 Green Earth Book Award List was just released. It has something on it for everyone! Introducing a child to nature books is the first step to creating an environmentally conscious and scientifically literate adult. 

This week, we have a guest blogger for you. Emma, a fourth grader, is helping us out with a post. She loves animals, nature photography, and books. Her favorite food combination is chips and queso. And her favorite place to go in nature is the beach. Emma, at left, is waiting for the perfect shot. “You have to be patient to get a good picture,” she says.

In her own words:

Hi, my name is Emma. This past week, I read lots of books. I think you should read these two: If Sharks Disappeared and Moto And Me. They all talk about how humans can help save animals.

  1. If Sharks Disappeared
    Written and illustrated by Lily Williams

In this book, the main character is a little girl who talked about what would happen if sharks disappeared. Sharks are very helpful! Most sharks typically eat slow, weak prey. If sharks don’t eat them, pinnipeds would take over the ocean. Pinnipeds are animals like seals and walruses. They eat lots of fish. Soon the fish would be gone, then the pinnipeds would die out. Plankton would take over the ocean, and it would become a thick sludge of pink mess. Yuck!

Sharks have been around for 450 million years. Currently, over 400 different species exist. We need sharks in the world, so don’t buy anything with shark in it, like jaws, oil, fins, soup, etc.). It’s the least we can do.

  1. Moto and Me
    Written by Suzi Eszterhas

In Moto and Me, Suzi Eszterhas, a wildlife photographer, went to Masai Mara, a wildlife reserve in Kenya to photograph animals. One day, a park ranger was taking a jeep with people in it on a safari. Moto’s mom was taking Moto to safety, when she heard the sound of a vehicle approaching them. She quickly dropped Moto off on the side of the road, and then skidded away.

When the safari jeep went past, the ranger saw Moto and thought the mom would come back and get him, but after a long while, Moto’s mom didn’t come back. So, the park ranger, who was still sitting there with the safari jeep, picked Moto up (he was only 2 weeks old) and took him back to the ranger station. This trip took hours. When Moto arrived, the rangers knew Suzi Eszterhas, the author, had been studying wildcats. They called Suzi, and asked if she wanted to be a foster mom. Suzi said YES!, and took him in.

One day, Suzi didn’t see Moto, and she knew that a leopard had been prowling around, and she thought: “Oh no he’s dead!” Then, one day she went on safari, and saw Moto. It was such a happy reunion. About a year and a half later, when Suzi returned to the US, rangers where still watching Moto. One day Suzi heard that Moto was now a father, and had kittens of his own! He is all grown up and safe in Africa.

 

 

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We are seeking READERS! If you’d like to read a book on the 2018 Green Earth Book Award Shortlist (or any STEMie-type book), we want to hear from you! Email lisa.morlock@drake.edu and share your thoughts on the story. You can answer a few simple questions or even create your own post. Happy reading!

 

Book Review: What Can’t Wait

February 12, 2018

Click here for teacher/writer resources.

By day, Dr. Sarah Derry manages the SC STEM Hub and a busy family life. Still, she makes time to read each night, and her choices often involve books with a STEM element.

Today, she’s sharing one of her favorites: What Can’t Wait, by award-winning author Ashley Hope Pérez. The book is a fictional narrative that explores some of the real-world challenges faced by youth under-represented in STEM.

One of the things Derry likes about the book is that contains an important example that girls like math and are good at it! “This book helps illustrate social factors that can complicate a student’s academic success,” she said.  “I wish I had read it before my first year as a high school teacher.”

Derry on a quest for the book.

Through a program called Teach for America, Derry found her calling in STEM education. As a high school teacher in the Houston schools, Derry realized first-hand some of the struggles urban students face in their journey toward academic success. This book parallels those real-life stories.

The main character, Marisa, has an affinity for calculus.  She is the 17-year-old daughter of immigrant parents and, potentially, the first in her family to attend college.  Throughout the narrative, the reader witnesses Marisa’s struggle to define her expectations for herself among the conflicting expectations of her teachers, friends, y familia.

Derry recommends What Can’t Wait for a wide audience, which follows the growing trend of YA books moving into adult fiction. “This is the perfect book for middle/high school students and educators,” said Derry. “Whether they come from a background that is under-represented in STEM or not, the theme of defining oneself among the expectations of others (real or perceived) is universal.”

Author Ashley Hope Perez

This is just one of Pérez’s three critically-acclaimed books.  In addition to What Can’t Wait, check out The Knife and the Butterfly and her most recent, Out of Darkness. She currently teaches world literature at Ohio State University and conducts research in the areas of Latin American literature, Latina/o literature, and narrative ethics.

Here’s what Kirkus Reviews thought about Pérez’s book:
“Pérez fills a hole in YA lit by giving Marisa an authentic voice that smoothly blends Spanish phrases into dialogue and captures the pressures of both Latina life and being caught between two cultures…. Un magnífico debut.”

Children’s Librarian Erica Eis on Great STEM Books–Part II

December 12, 2017

Erica Eis, Forest Avenue’s Children’s Librarian is back today to share some great STEM book picks for older readers. With an expertise in literacy and a special interest in STEM, Eis has chosen a few of the best titles to share with you this holiday season. They are all available through the DM Public Library check-out system.

If you’re looking for the perfect gift, Eis suggests considering a STEM book. Find out what the child is passionate about: dinosaurs, space, the ocean. Look for curated lists that are created by librarians, teacher organizations, schools, or universities.

“Whenever a kid tells me she or he can’t find a good STEM book,” says Eis, “I say, ‘Challenge accepted!’ Whatever their interest, there’s a book that fits. STEM books provide an entry to school curriculum and get kids to think critically. If you’re curious about the world, there’s a STEM book for you!”

Grades 3-6

The Octopus Scientists by Sy Montgomery

from Goodreads: With three hearts and blue blood, its gelatinous body unconstrained by jointed limbs or gravity, the octopus seems to be an alien, an inhabitant of another world. It’s baggy, boneless body sprouts eight arms covered with thousands of suckers—suckers that can taste as well as feel. The octopus also has the powers of a superhero: it can shape-shift, change color, squirt ink, pour itself through the tiniest of openings, or jet away through the sea faster than a swimmer can follow…These thinking, feeling creatures can help readers experience and understand our world (and perhaps even life itself) in a new way.

Erica says: “What makes this book interesting is that it features a scientist that studies a particular animal. The author spends time with the scientist. The format of this book introduces young readers to the textbook format, with chapters and picture captions.”

Besides being full of great photos and information, this book helps kids navigate scientific reading.

 

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacquiline Kelly

from Goodreads: Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones. With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Erica says: “This is a great book for those who like Little House and American Girl books. With references to Origin of the Species, this book shows that, even at the turn of the century, girls in STEM can’t be stopped.”

The use of scientific methods and universal themes in this book bridges the gap between Calpurnia’s era and ours.


Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream
by Tanya Lee Stone

from Goodreads: What does it take to be an astronaut? Excellence at flying, courage, intelligence, resistance to stress, top physical shape — any checklist would include these. But when America created NASA in 1958, there was another unspoken rule: you had to be a man. Here is the tale of thirteen women who proved that they were not only as tough as the toughest man but also brave enough to challenge the government. They were blocked by prejudice, jealousy, and the scrawled note of one of the most powerful men in Washington. But even though the Mercury 13 women did not make it into space, they did not lose, for their example empowered young women to take their place in the sky, piloting jets and commanding space capsules.

Erica says: “With storytelling parallels to the space race, the author pulls from primary sources, interviewing those women who are still alive. In addition, photographs are paired really well with the information.”

This is a great introduction to high school textbooks and use of primary sources. The book contains magazine articles, photos, cartoons, telegrams (left), letters, interviews and more. Yet, it’s interesting enough to pull in younger readers with a high interest in space.

 

For more great STEM book ideas, check out these lists:

National Science Teachers Association

Children’s Book Council

New York Public Library

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