beach science

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For STEM Friday we are featuring a new children's picture book, About Marine Mammals: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill and illustrated by John Sill.

The Sills are a talented couple who have been collaborating on books in the award-winning About... series and the About Habitats series. If you have seen their work before, you know what to expect. John Sill's gorgeous watercolor illustrations catch the readers' eyes. Then they turn to Cathryn Sill's clear, uncomplicated language. In remarkably few words she explains the scene and draws readers into it.

The "Afterward" in the back matter contains more detailed information about each of the previous scenes with a paragraph about each next to thumbnails of the illustrations. For example, did you know polar bears can be considered to be marine mammals? They swim between blocks of floating ice looking for other marine mammals such as seals.

Planning a trip to the beach? About Marine Mammals would be a perfect book to get children inspired about ocean creatures before the trip, learn more about what they see during the trip, and reinforce memories and learning after the trip. Not traveling? It would also be a wonderful way to take a trip to distant, cool places in your imagination.

Related posts and activities:

  1. Earlier post about humpback whales with 3 suggested science activities.
  2. Week of ocean-themed STEAM activities
  3.  Astro, The Steller Sea Lion

ocean-themed-childrens-books

See our growing list of ocean and beach science-themed children's books at our sister blog, Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 4 - 7 years
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (August 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1561459062
ISBN-13: 978-1561459063

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

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Sometimes rather than focus on a certain kind of animal, children want to investigate the groups of living organisms found in a particular habitat. This approach allows for a bigger picture of nature, from similarities and differences between animals found in specialized habitats, to how they all fit together into a food web.

Today we are participating in STEM Friday (see below) by featuring two new children's books  published this month that highlight habitats. Both these books from Animal Planet are loaded with big color photographs and plenty of entertaining sidebars, sure to entice young readers. "Just Like Me" sections highlight how the featured animal and humans are similar, further bringing the child into the book. The back matter of both is also impressively robust. They have suggested activities to accompany the book, an extensive list of resources, a large glossary, and a comprehensive index.

The first is Animal Planet Polar Animals (Animal Bites Series) by Laaren Brown, which focuses on the polar regions.

As you can see from the images on the cover, this books deals with animals in cold places from polar bears in the Arctic to penguins in the Antarctic. In fact, maps of the two poles are included, as well as a sidebar with the average summer and winter temperatures in both regions.

Do you know what a bergy bit or a growler are? Not only does the book cover animals, but also other unique aspects of the habitat. (Bergy bits and growlers are different types of ice that can be found floating in seawater.)

Polar Animals is an enjoyable introduction to the animals in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. It has something from everyone because it offers both a fast facts and breathtaking photographs for the casual reader, and sufficient in-depth information for the more serious reader.

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Publisher: Animal Planet (March 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 161893161X
ISBN-13: 978-1618931610

Animal Planet Ocean Animals (Animal Bites Series) by Laaren Brown explores the unique creatures found in oceans.

In this case, the habitat is organized by depth of the water where the creature occurs. Most of the ocean creatures are found in the "Sunlight Zone" near the surface, but Brown also introduces what she calls the deeper "Twilight Zone," and the deepest "Midnight Zone." She also discusses the specialized organisms of hydrothermal vents.

In addition to introducing interesting animals, like the whale shark, the author also introduces important concepts. For example, many animals form large groups to help them survive in the vast oceans. Fish form schools, dolphins gather in pods, and sea birds fly together in flocks.

Ocean Animals makes a large and complex topic manageable for children to understand. In addition to being a resource for libraries, it would also be a good gift book to accompany a trip to the beach or an aquarium.

We'll be adding this to our growing list of ocean-themed children's books

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Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Publisher: Animal Planet (March 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1618931628
ISBN-13: 978-1618931627

Disclosure:  The books were provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

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Today for STEM Friday we are featuring The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans (Scientists in the Field Series). Author Elizabeth Rusch introduces us to a number of scientists who are working hard to convert the mechanical energy of ocean waves into electrical energy. See a full review at our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil.

Waves are actually very complex and we are still learning about them.

How do waves form?

The waves in the ocean form due to wind blowing on the surface. The shape and size of the waves depend on the force and steadiness of the wind, and the distance over which the wind travels, called "fetch." The shape of the wave is also influenced by the depth of the water, especially as it meets the shore.

Activity 1. Exploring Waves

Gather:

  • Plastic bin
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Dropper

You may use a sink or bathtub to hold the water, but because you will be blowing across the surface, a plastic bin situated on the waterproof surface of a counter or tabletop will probably be easier to maneuver around. This would be an ideal activity to try outdoors.

bin-with-water

Fill the bin 3/4 full of water.

Ask the children if they have ever been to the ocean and seen waves. If they have not, consider showing a video (YouTube has dozens).

ocean-waves-ca

Brainstorm about how to form waves. If water splashes are not a problem, allow the children to free-explore their ideas about how best to produce waves. They will probably put their hands in and swirl the water.

Now reveal that waves are formed by wind blowing over the water. Have the children blow and see how the waves look different from those they produced using their hands.

Did they form in parallel lines like in the video above?

Once the children have seen waves, add a drop of food coloring to the water and have them blow waves again. How does the water move? Do all layers move the same way?

Many texts will tell you that the water in the deeper part of the ocean does not move forward as a wave passes by, but simply travels in a circle or oscillates. Proof is given when an object floating in the water simply bobs up and down, rather than moving forward.

waves-oscillating

 

If you look closely at the second video, however, you will see that the top layer of the water with the food coloring moves across the surface with the waves. Why?  One possible solution is that the bin is too shallow and the waves are behaving more like those at the shore, where the circular motion is disrupted. Can you think of any other reasons?

Activity 2. Water Vortices

Older students might want to try the experiments with vortices suggested in this video by Physics Girl (has a pop-up ad):

Isn't that incredible? I can't wait until it is warm enough to try it myself.

If your children like these activities with waves, be sure to pick up The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans (Scientists in the Field Series) . It introduces young readers to an exciting new technology that will capture the energy of waves and convert it to useful electrical energy. The book will definitely inspire young readers who want explore waves and oceans. It is also a great resource for adults who want to learn more about this relatively new area of research on a potentially renewable source of energy.

Age Range: 10 - 14 years
Grade Level: 5 - 9
Series: Scientists in the Field Series
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0544099990
ISBN-13: 978-0544099999

You might also be interested in other books we have reviewed from the Scientists in the Field series. 

 

scientists-in-the-field-series-book-reviews

Disclosures:  The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.  I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

 

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.