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Today for STEM Friday we are featuring a 2018 Best STEM Book K-12 (National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council)How Could We Harness a Hurricane? by Vicki Cobb.

Hurricanes have certainly been in the news. This middle grade title is for kids who are looking for a deeper understanding of extreme weather. It not only explains what a hurricane is, but also offers discussions about whether we can stop hurricanes from forming, whether we can harness their energy, and whether we should we even try to "mess with Mother Nature."

What I love about it is that it's filled with hands-on experiments for those kids who learn by doing. For example, there's an experiment to show how hot water flows through cold water (We did a similar, but less complicated experiment years ago).

You can get a good idea about what the book covers in this book trailer:

How Could We Harness a Hurricane? asks some difficult questions and penetrates into the science of big weather. It is perfect for older kids who want to seriously learn about hurricanes.

Hurricane Science Activity for Kids

How do meteorologists figure out how to categorize hurricanes?

They use the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, which uses wind speed.

It seems like we've put hurricanes into categories forever, but it has been only about 45 years. The scale was developed in 1971 and introduced to the general public in 1973. It was developed by Herbert Saffir, an engineer, and Robert Simpson, who was a meteorologist and director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The only factor taken into consideration is how fast the winds are blowing.

How do the meteorologists measure wind speeds in hurricanes? These days pilots fly specially-equipped planes into the storm and drop instruments called dropsones.

Public domain illustration from NASA retrieved at Wikimedia

The dropsonde has GPS capability so the scientists who monitor the data it transmits can calculate how fast and in what direction the wind is carrying it.

On the ground, we use a device called an anemometer to measure the wind speed.

Anemometer

You can buy or build an anemometer. There are instructions on how to make an anemometer using muffin tins on the Growing with Science website, or one using paper cups at Education.com.

Take your equipment outside. Record the wind speed at different temperatures and different times of the day. Is it easy to measure? How does wind speed change?

Check with local weather reports to see if your results match what is posted. Why might they be similar or different?

You can also experiment with mini-hurricanes on the surface of bubbles (parental supervision needed.)


How cool is that?

Related Resources:

Looking for more children's books about weather? Visit our growing list at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 9 - 12 years
Publisher: Seagrass Press (August 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1633222462
ISBN-13: 978-1633222465

Disclosure: This book was provided by Quarto Kids 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.

In honor of the longest night (December 21), we are introducing a new book for middle graders Dark Matters: Nature's Reaction to Light Pollution by Joan Marie Galat. It is the perfect time to ponder the importance of darkness.


Dark Matters sheds light on a relatively new science,"scotobiology," which is the study of how darkness and light effect the health and behavior of living organisms. Scotobiology was officially established in 2003, although scientists have known of the impacts of artificial light for decades.

Set up a bit differently than most nonfiction, each chapter in Dark Matters starts with Joan's reminisces about her childhood experiences with night and lights. The personal stories draw in young readers and help give perspective to the more technical informational sections that follow. They also remind the reader that our environment is changing from one generation to the next. Young children may never have seen the Milky Way because light pollution is so prevalent.

After establishing what light pollution is, Galat reveals how excessive artificial lights at night can harm not only nocturnal animals such as bats and fireflies, but also day-active animals, such as birds. In some places birds end up singing all night because they are confused by excessive lights. In other places migrating birds crash into tall building at night, plunging to their deaths in vast numbers. Throughout the book she reveals many examples of how our environment is being harmed by excessive artificial light.

The book trailer gives you a good idea of the topics it covers:

Dark Matters explores an important topic that is relatively new and hasn't received much attention. Check out a copy today.

Related Activity:  Investigate the Night

In our area in the summer the Desert Botanical Garden holds flashlight tours of the garden at night. It is an enlightening experience because the garden becomes a very different place in the dark. The humidity goes up and the wind goes down. The temperatures start to drop. Suddenly your senses of smell, hearing, and touch come alive and your night vision kicks in. Night-blooming plants flower and nocturnal animals scamper. It's amazing.

Look for similar nighttime excursions to participate in near your home. As well as flashlight tours, look for outdoor astronomy demonstrations and night hikes. Don't forget to write down your thoughts and observations after you are done.

Links for more information:

  1. Check out the links and activity suggestions at Joan Galat's Website
  2. Find out about the "dark side" of LED lights -- the blue light they make depresses melatonin, an important hormone -- at Science Friday
  3. Revisit previous posts about nocturnal animals and/or animals effected by light pollution here at Growing with Science:

And be sure to visit our growing list of children's books about nocturnal animals at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 10 - 18 years
Publisher: Red Deer Press; 1 edition (July 30, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0889955158
ISBN-13: 978-0889955158

Disclosure: This book was provided by the author/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.

Although it's a day early, we are also participating in STEM Friday.

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

For STEM Friday this week we have a new picture book about ants, Just Like Us! Ants by Bridget Heos and illustrated by David Clark.

Although the cartoon illustrations may make it look like this isn't a serious book, don't be fooled. It covers all the facts and concepts you would expect in a nonfiction book in a way that will attract the most reluctant of readers. To make it even more enjoyable the author compares what ants can do to what humans do, putting ants in perspective.

Just Like Us! Ants is not simply a rehash of previous children's books about ants, either. The author reveals recent scientific discoveries, such as how bigheaded ant larvae process food for the colony or how fire ants build rafts to float on water.

Check out this video from BBC that shows fire ant rafts and some of the dangers they encounter while in the water.

(By the way, the winged ant they discuss once the colony makes landfall is not actually the colony's queen. She is a sister ant that will fly off to start her own colony in the near future. Some ant biologists call the female winged ants "princesses.")

Back to the book, it you are looking for a fun and informative introduction to the world of ants, then Just Like Us! Ants is for you.

Ant-Themed Hands-On Activities:

Want to learn more about ants? Check out our growing list of ant books for kids.

Age Range: 4 - 7 years
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 3, 2017)
ISBN-10: 054457043X
ISBN-13: 978-0544570436

Another review at Wild About Ants

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.