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For STEM Friday this week we have a middle grade science book, The Secret of the Bird's Smart Brain. and More! (Animal Secrets Revealed!) by Ana Maria Rodriguez.

Using a fun format where each chapter reveals a surprise about a different group of animals, the author has found five science stories which often turn conventional wisdom upside down. In the first chapter, the term "bird brain" has a whole new meaning when scientists find that small size has nothing to do with power. In the following chapters readers discover whether birds have a sense of smell, how and why mama bears act during different seasons, and how pig grunts and alligator bellows may have more to say more than we originally thought. The last chapter ends with a hands-on activity for kids to try.

Although it is the animals that draw young readers in (the kunekune pigs are adorable!), the true stars of each chapter are the scientists who are discovering their secrets. The book shows details of how each group of scientists studies the problems, from counting brain cells to recording pig grunts.

The Secret of the Bird's Smart Brain...And More! is the next best thing to taking a field trip with a biologist. Check out a copy today.

Related Activity Suggestions:

Investigate Kunekune Pigs (Chapter 4)

Kunekune pigs are a rare breed from New Zealand. They are prized because of their small size and ability to use grass (to graze) as their main source of food.

Here are two kunekune piglets from the Dallas Zoo:


What do you think the little "tassels" of hair under the chin is all about?

The scientists in the book studied the grunts. You can hear the sounds the pigs make in this video.

Can you hear other sounds in the area besides the pig, like the kids and the chickens? How do you think scientists tune in to just the pig sounds when they want to study them? (See answer below.)

Don't these pigs have interesting colors?  The New Zealand Kunekune Association's page on coat color genetics has a detailed explanation of how genes interact to produce coat colors.

Investigate Bird Brains and Bird Behavior

Age Range: 8 - 11 years
Publisher: Enslow Pub Inc (August 15, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0766088529
ISBN-13: 978-0766088528

Answer:  Scientists trained the pigs they wanted to study to go one at a time into special sound-insulated huts so they could record individual pigs without a lot of extra background noise. Read chapter 4 to find out more.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the author 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.

1

Here at Growing With Science we love both creepy crawlies and science poems, so imagine our excitement when we discovered the new middle grade book, Leaf Litter Critters by Leslie Bulion and illustrated by Robert Meganck.

Each two-page spread in the book features a vocabulary-rich science poem about the leaf litter ecosystem, as well as a "Science Note," which is a paragraph or two of background information to support the poem.

For example, here's one of the poems (most are much longer):

Rove Beetle

Velcro-tongued predator
snags maggots, mites, snails, and slugs
soil pest control
requires a flexible
appetite and abdomen

The accompanying "Science Note" explains how rove beetles fit into the "brown food web," and also how their abdomens differ from those of most beetles.

The digital illustrations add a fun element. They range from somewhat realistic to full-blown cartoon.

Leaf Litter Critters is a serious text that might just entice some readers who prefer fiction to explore a less-than-glamorous ecosystem. It's also perfect for those who enjoy their poetry on the sci-ency side.

Don't forget our giveaway for the picture book What Do They Do With All That Poo? ends tomorrow! The giveaway is now closed.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (March 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 156145950X
ISBN-13: 978-1561459506

Related Activity Suggestions:

See our previous compost science projects for kids post.

Want more information? Visit our growing list of children's books about composting and decomposition at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. 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.

7

To finish our week on body structure and function, we have a new picture book:  What Do They Do With All That Poo? by Jane Kurtz and illustrated by Allison Black. Check out the book giveaway below the review.

 

From around the time they start potty training, children become fascinated with bodily functions. They also often go through a bathroom humor phase. This new picture book (publishing next week) discusses animal "poo" with just the right mix of serious and fun that it is sure to engage readers of this age.

For the text, Jane Kurtz uses a two level approach. Across the top of the pages is a bouncy rhyme, which is fantastic for educators who want to read the book aloud to young children. Across the bottom of the pages are denser sentences geared for older readers who want to find out more information.

Using twelve animal examples,  -- from bats to rhinos --  Kurtz explains how the variation in their poo results from differences in the animals' nutrition and digestion. For example, panda poo is mostly undigested bamboo, so it is green and not smelly at all. On the other hand, penguin poo is fishy.

Insect poo is called "frass."

The author also includes information about how zoos handle the disposal of animal wastes, including composting. There's even a surprise or two at the end.

Allison Black's illustrations are cheerful and inventive. She says her dad was a veterinarian and he used to store poo samples in the fridge, so she could call on her experiences for the book.

What Do They Do With All That Poo? is a perfect book to accompany a trip to the zoo, farm, or wildlife habitat. Check out a copy today!

Age Range: 3 - 8 years
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (June 19, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1481479865
ISBN-13: 978-1481479868

More Stuff:

For a discussion of the digestive process in humans, see yesterday's post

Check out the square (actually cubic) wombat poo mentioned in the book in this video.

 

Giveaway!

Want to enter the giveaway for the book? Simply login to the Rafflecopter box below -- making sure you leave a valid e-mail address -- by 12:00 a.m. EST June 18, 2018. Rafflecopter will randomly pick one lucky winner who will receive a copy of What Do They Do With All That Poo?, courtesy of Beach Lane Books  (U.S. addresses only, please). The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please leave a comment if you have any difficulties.

Author information:  Jane Kurtz was born in Portland, Oregon (where she now lives), but when she was two years old, her parents decided to move to Ethiopia, where she spent most of her childhood. Jane speaks about being an author at schools and conferences—in all but eleven of the United States, so far, and such places as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, France, Germany, Romania, Russia, Oman, England, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Japan. She helped start Ethiopia Reads (EthiopiaReads.org), a nonprofit that is planting libraries for children and printing some of the first easy-reader books in local languages in Ethiopia. She is the author of many books for children, including Water Hole Waiting and River Friendly River Wild, winner of the SCBWI Golden Kite award for picture book text. To learn more, visit her website: janekurtz.com.
Twitter: @janekurtz

 

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