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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.

Here at Growing with Science, our activities are often inspired by children's books. Today for STEM Friday we are featuring four new titles in the Picture Book Science series by Andi Diehn and illustrated by Shululu (pen name of Hui Li), coming out March 1, 2018. For a review of the books, see our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil.

Activities to accompany and expand upon the books:

Let's discover more about the topics covered by the books through videos and hands-on activities.

1. Sun Energy

Energy: Physical Science for Kids explains what energy is through examples, such as chemical energy, heat energy, electrical energy, and light energy.

sunflower One question the book asks is whether plants use energy. After all, they don't run around, jump or even move.

Or do they?

Young sunflowers (and a number of other plants) do orient throughout the day so their leaves catch the most sunlight. You can see more in this video from Science News:

Plants are amazing because they can "capture" the energy from the light of the sun and convert it into chemical energy that we can use.

Sunflower Activity:  Plant a row of sunflowers in the soil. As they grow, observe how they leaves are oriented throughout the day. (Learn about plant parts, flower parts, pollination, and plant life cycles, as well.)

Related posts:

2. Force of gravity

In Forces: Physical Science for Kids, readers explore the concepts of gravity, friction, and magnetism.

Gravity is the force of attraction between two objects with a mass. It varies with how large the mass is, how fast it is moving, and also how close the objects are.

Let's learn a little more about gravity with this video from Crash Course Kids:

Buggy and Buddy blog has a great activity to show how the force of magnets can overcome the force of gravity.

  • Making parachutes is a good way to investigate the forces of gravity.
  • Making siphons is another way to find out more about gravity (Growing With Science Water Cycle, second activity).

Nomad Press has a children's book, Explore Gravity!, which has 25 hands-on experiments to try.

3. Matter

What are the states of matter? Solid, liquid and gas are the forms we are most familiar with. There is also a fourth state of matter called plasma, and very possibly others (up to six or seven). Plasma is the most abundant state of matter in the universe by far.

If it is so common, then why hasn’t everyone heard of it? One problem may be the term plasma. Plasma is a word also used for the fluid in blood that carries the cells and other materials from place to place. The same word  has two very different meanings, but that happens all the time in the English language.

The state of matter plasma is a gas that has been energized so much some of its electrons have come flying off. It can also be called ionized gas, but that is confusing because it sounds like it is just a special kind of gas. Plasma behaves differently from gas, and is thus a separate state.

In this video, we see the differences between the three states of matter we are most familiar with:

 

Explore the three most familiar states of matter using an ice cube

Place an ice cube or two on a flat surface outside on a warm, sunny day. Revisit it every twenty minutes and observe what happens.

Public domain photograph by George Hodan

Expected result:  The solid water (ice) should melt to liquid water. After it has finished melting, if the day is warm enough the liquid should evaporate, which means it has turned to gas (water vapor).

Related post about plasma

4. Waves

Waves: Physical Science for Kids relates the physical waves that we can see to light, microwave, and radio waves.

In our previous post, Exploring Waves with activities, we discussed how the water in waves doesn't actually move across the surface, but instead cycles up and down in place. This can be a difficult idea to grasp, but Andi Diehn nails it in her book about waves. She likens ocean wave movement to fans doing "the wave" at sporting events. Each person remains in the same seat, but by rising and lowering creates a wave of movement across the stadium.

To see the properties of electromagnetic radiation and how it travels in waves, see:

Conclusions:

These Picture Book Science books introduce, define, and clarify the scientific vocabulary.  This is important because the physical science topics that these books cover are not mutually exclusive and the overlap can lead to confusion. For example, light energy travels in the form of waves; the force of gravity moves objects, giving them potential and kinetic energy; waves in the ocean can be harnessed to produce electrical energy, etc. Having a clear understanding of the concepts is an important first step to scientific discovery.

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To explore the physical science even more, try 25 Items for a Hands-On Physical Science Bin

Disclosure: This book was provided 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 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.