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This week for STEM Friday we have physical science activities inspired by the new book:  The Kids' Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities that Make Science Fun!by Kelly Doudna.

The Kids' Book of Simple Machines is the perfect hands-on science book for early elementary-aged children. It has concise explanations of the science of simple machines,  clear step-by-step instructions, and enticing colorful photographs of the projects. In addition, the background information in the different sections introduces children to famous scientists and inventors, from Archimedes to the Wright brothers.

The six simple machines covered are the lever, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, wheel and axle, and screw. After a brief introduction to each type in the front, the following chapters give more in-depth information, numerous examples of the different simple machines, and several activities and projects to explore the concepts more fully.

Whether you are teaching science in the classroom, after school, or at home, The Kids' Book of Simple Machines is a well-designed and useful resource. The young makers of the world are going to have hours of fun trying out the activities in this book.

Related Activities:

1. Archimedes Screw

One of the simple machines from the book is the screw.

Screws1_(PSF)(Public domain image from Wikimedia)

A screw is an inclined plane wrapped around some sort of central core. In addition to holding pieces of metal or wood together, screws can also be used to move objects. Propellers are types of screws that help move boats through water or airplanes through the air.

One of the earliest examples of a screw being used to move things was invented by the Greek scientist Archimedes. We all know that water moves down slope because of gravity. Archimedes figured out a way to move water against gravity using a device that now bears his name, the Archimedes screw.

Check out this video of a simple Archimedes screw made by a young girl:

Instructions for making an Archimedes screw may be found at:

2. Simple Machines Quiz

After reading this introduction to simple machines at Idaho Public Television,  figure out what kind or kinds of simple machines are illustrated here  (Public domain images are from Wikimedia).

Answers are at the bottom of the post.

A. What kind(s) of simple machine(s) are these scissors?

Scissors3_(PSF)

B. How about this wheelbarrow?

Wheelbarrow_(PSF)

C. What kind of simple machine is an adze?

Adz_(PSF)

D. How about this press, which might be used to squeeze the juice out of apples?

Press_2_(PSF)

Learn more with The Kids' Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities that Make Science Fun!by Kelly Doudna

Age Range: 5 - 9 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Mighty Media Kids (August 25, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1938063597
ISBN-13: 978-1938063596

Disclosure: The 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.

Answers:

A. Scissors:  You are correct if you answered lever or wedge. Scissors are complex machines consisting of double levers and wedges (the blades).

B. Wheelbarrow:  Also a complex machine, a wheelbarrow combines a wheel/axle with a lever.

C. Adze:  The blade of the adze is a wedge.

D. Press:  The simple machine found in this press is a screw.

How did you do? If you'd like to learn more about simple machines, please let us know.

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This week for STEM Friday we were inspired by a book, Magnificent Minds: 16 Pioneering Women in Science and Medicine by Pendred E. Noyce. It is a collection of biographies of women who made important discoveries in fields of STEM and health care.

Moving chronologically from the birth of midwife Louise Bourgeois Boursier in 1563 to the death of chemist and drug discoverer Gertrude Elion in 1999, the author has taken a novel look at the accomplishments of these women. For example, Florence Nightingale is known for her nursing skills, but Noyce suggests those skills were improved by Nightingale's reliance on statistics and evidence-based research.

The book is organized into chapters that are separate biographies of each of the women. Because the chapters stand alone, readers can easily page to an individual subject of their choice. Also, at the beginning of each chapter is a well-researched timeline that gives details of not only that woman's life, but also with significant events that occurred during her lifetime. For example, the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris and Bell's invention of the telephone occurred during Sofia Kovalevskaya's lifetime. The timelines help tremendously to add context.

Magnificent Minds will thrill those interested in history, particularly the history of STEM and medicine. It would also make a good choice for encouraging girls and young women to pursue STEM careers.

Related Activity:

Why highlight women scientists? Let's take a quiz.

A. Do you recognize this woman who made important contributions to STEM? What was her contribution?

Ada_Lovelace_portrait(Public domain image from Wikimedia)

B. How about this woman? What was her field of expertise?

FlorenceMerriam1904(Public domain photograph retrieved at Wikimedia)

She was born in 1863.

C. Do you recognize the scientist below? She was born in 1902.

Barbara_McClintock_(1902-1992)(Acc. 90-105 - Science Service, Records, 1920s-1970s, Smithsonian Institution Archives Persistent URL:Link to data base record Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives View more collections from the Smithsonian Institution.)

How did you do? Did you struggle to identify them? These women were groundbreakers with great passion for their subjects of study. People are now beginning to appreciate their unique contributions.

Answers:

A. Augusta Ada Byron, Countess Lovelace

Showing a talent for mathematics, Augusta Byron helped with and wrote about some of the early analytical machines that were precursors to computers. She was thought to have published the first computer algorithm. Her work was cut short by illness and her death at a young age. Her biography is featured in Magnificent Minds.

B. The second scientist is ornithologist and writer Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey.

Augusta Bailey is known for writing some of the earliest field guides to birds. She also campaigned against the widespread use of bird feathers in fashion. She is not covered in Magnificent Minds, but you can read more about her at this Women of Courage profile.

C. The last scientist is Nobel Prize winner, Barbara McClintock.

McClintock studied the genetics of corn and uncovered gene movement, or the so-called "jumping genes." Her biography is also covered in the book and our previous post.

Additional Resources:

The National Academies as an interactive website about Women's Adventures in Science.

Check our list of 21+ Children's Books about Women Scientists at Science Books for Kids.

21-books-about-women-scientists-150x150

Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 180 pages
Publisher: Tumblehome Learning, Inc. (March 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0989792471
ISBN-13: 978-0989792479

Disclosure: The books was provided electronically 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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This week for Meet A Scientist Monday let's take a look at a book that introduces us to ten women scientists.

Super Women in Science by Kelly Di Domenico contains the biographies of women scientists who made outstanding contributions to their fields of study. Starting with the tragic story of Hypatia, born in the year 355, through the first African-American woman in space, Mae Jemison, this book briefly summarizes the lives of women in the light of the times in which they lived. Each chapter summarizes the life of a single woman, listed in chronological order.super-women-in-science

Some of the women, like Rachel Carson, are household names. In other cases the author has chosen a less well-known scientist. For example, instead of a biography of primatologist Jane Goodall, Di Domenico introduces us to Birute Galdikas, a woman who studies orangutans in a similar ground-breaking way that Goodall studies chimpanzees. It is fun to learn about someone new.

Most of the women had to struggle against bias to continue working in science. For example, Maria Goeppert-Mayer won the Nobel Prize in 1963 for physics, but had to work as a volunteer because no university would hire her early in her career. Hearing the same setbacks due to gender bias again and again is a bit disheartening, but it does reflect the realities of the times.

Part of the high-quality Women's Hall of Fame Series, this particular volume does have a few minor flaws. For example, in the second chapter on fossil-hunter Mary Anning, some of the scientific names are not properly capitalized. The list of sources in the back, however, are extremely helpful for children who get excited about the life of one of these women and want to find out more.

Super Women in Science is likely to be inspiring not only children interested in science, but also those interested in history. Although listed as a middle grade book, I think older children will also find it useful.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 102 pages
Publisher: Second Story Press (January 1, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1896764665
ISBN-13: 978-1896764665

nonfictionmonday

This post was prepared for Nonfiction Monday, a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. (I usually participate in this carnival at my Wrapped in Foil blog.) For more information, stop by Anastasia Suen's Nonfiction Monday page. This week's carnival is at Bookish Blather.

Thanks to the publisher for providing this older book for review.