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Good things come in threes. For STEM Friday and the Year of the Dog, we have the third National Geographic Kids book about dogs published this year,  Dog Science Unleashed: Fun Activities To Do With Your Canine Companion by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and with photographs by Matthew Rakola. (See our previous review of the first two.)

Building on common activities that dog owners already do with their pets like bathing them, playing with them and feeding them, Jodi Wheeler-Toppen has come up with over 20 science explorations to discover more about dog biology and behavior. For example, you can learn more about what colors dogs see by hiding different colored balls in a grassy lawn and watching how easy it is for the dog to find them. Another activity involves making dog treats for your dog.

Safety is first with all these activities. The author remind kids to watch for signs the dog is upset or uncomfortable, and to quit the activity if the dog is unhappy. Also, make sure the dog has access to water and plan lots of breaks even if the dog is enjoying himself.

In addition to the activities, the book is full of cool scientific information. Did you know that dogs have a special vomeronasal organ (also called Jacobson's organ) in their noses that allows them to smell special pheromones?

As to be expected from National Geographic, the photographs are fantastic. The photographer followed kids and their super-photogenic dogs as they tried out the activities. The results are inspiring.

The bottom line is that Dog Science Unleashed is a great choice for dog lovers, as well as budding zoologists and veterinarians.

Delving Deeper:

More about the Vomeronasal Organ

Recently scientists and veterinarians have been able to synthesize some of the pheromones (scents used by animals to communicate with one another) detected by this special organ in a dog's nose. For example, pheromones may be added to puppy potty training pads to help attract the puppy to them. Other pheromones, called "dog appeasing pheromones," may help calm dogs down. You can now find products at pet supply stores in the form of sprays, wipes, and even special collars. Think of ways you can learn more about dog pheromones.

Want to read more about dogs? Try our growing list of children's books about dogs and dog science at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (August 7, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1426331533
ISBN-13: 978-1426331534

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher's representatives 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. Note: this is a new link as of 10/2018.

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Right in time for National Puppy Day (March 23) and to celebrate the Year of the Dog, National Geographic is publishing not one, but two great nonfiction children's books about our furry friends, dogs.

It's a Puppy's Life by photographer Seth Casteel is a picture book with an irresistible combination of adorable photographs of puppies and romping, bouncy partially-rhyming text.

Pups need to eat to grow big and strong...
a nibble,
some kibble,
then time to move on.

As we would expect from National Geographic, the photographs are fantastic, funny and cute. The author/photographer of the wildly popular Underwater Dogs, Seth Casteel obviously has a passion for his subjects. We see puppies playing, sniffing, making a mess, and sleeping.

Where's the science? In the back matter are 32 thumbnails of the photographs used in the book with captions that identify each by breed. The puppies range from basset hounds to Yorkshire terriers, allowing readers to explore the concept of inheritance and variation of traits, a Next Generation Science standard.

Even the most reluctant reader is going to enjoy It's a Puppy's Life. It is an obvious choice for anyone who is a dog enthusiast, plus would be a great choice to share for National Puppy Day!

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (March 20, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1426330693
ISBN-13: 978-1426330698

Dog Days of History: The Incredible Story of Our Best Friends (Animals) by Sarah Albee is intended for older children.

Albee starts out with a discussion of where dogs come from. The scientific name for dogs is Canis lupus familiaris, which indicates it is a subspecies of wolf (Canis lupus). In fact, dogs share most of their DNA with wolves, but show incredible variation in appearances.

Progressing in chronological order, the following chapters explore the relations of people and dogs in the ancient world, middle ages, etc., through modern times. Albee features famous dogs through history, like Lewis and Clark's dog, Seaman. The final chapter wraps up with the role of dogs in modern culture and a glimpse of the future of dogs.

The book is illustrated with a combination of high-quality stock photographs and art featuring dogs from a variety of times and places.

The back matter is extensive, including "A Note About the Research," which explains that many stories about dogs seen on the Internet may be exaggerated or fabricated. She includes a fun list of the words used in various languages to represent the sounds dogs make, from "arf-arf" or "bow-wow" in English to "wff-wff" in Welsh. As appropriate for a history book, there is an extensive three-page "Bibliodography" (too cute), plus references for all the quotes.

Dog Days of History will thrill both dog lovers and history buffs. It is a handy reference young readers are likely to return to again and again.

Age Range: 9 - 12 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (March 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1426329717
ISBN-13: 978-1426329715

Related Dog Science Activities/Lessons:

  1. Dog Coat Color Genetics - this British website delves deeply into genetics. If nothing else check out all the different dog coat colors
  2. Extensive lesson on Artificial Selection and Dog Breeding from UCMP for older students
  3. NatureWorks has some nice fact sheets about the other members of the Canidae, including: Arctic Fox, Coyote, Gray Fox, Red Wolf, and Red Fox.
  4. Fun Dog Behavior Test:  Check whether your dog(s) is (are) right or left pawed. Offer your dog a treat or toy slightly under a chair or piece of furniture (with an opening big enough so it can easily get a paw under without injury or chance of getting trapped). Which paw does it use to retrieve it? Is it consistent? Or keep records of which paw your dog uses when it starts walking. Research how this might relate to other behaviors.

Check out our growing list of children's nonfiction books about dogs at Science Books for Kids.

childrens-books-about-dogs

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher's representatives 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.

Last year members of our 4-H club designed simple mazes and let our pet mice try them out. Because of that past experience, we were totally in awe and inspired when we saw this mouse in action.

I have two comments. First, this is a special mouse. We found each of our mice had distinct personalities. For example, our present mouse, Squiggle, would be way too shy to do this. We did have a mouse named Spot, however, who would have loved to have this sort of stimulation.

Second, note the black dots about the course. I suspect the mouse has left droppings because it has run the course before. Mice have a keen sense of smell, and by leaving the droppings it was probably able to get cues from them. I know wild mice have been shown to create piles of debris to act as trail markers.

Check our post on pet mice for more information about activities you can do with a pet mouse.

Thanks to our friends, the Millers, for pointing out this amazing mouse video!