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Isn't it amazing where a good book can take you?

For STEM Friday today we are going to take part in a blog tour for two great books from Peachtree Publishers: Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale and A Place for Turtles by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Higgins Bond.

turtles_stripes

Because both these books stand on their own, I'm going to do separate posts for each and use this post as a jumping off point to help you find the links as they go live. Enjoy!

A Place for Turtles by Melissa Stewart is a wonderful choice for Earth Day. Learn more about turtles at Growing With Science. See Wrapped in Foil for an expanded review.

Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale builds a bridge between art, poetry and science. Peek at the science behind the stripes at Growing with Science. See a review and activity suggestions at Wrapped in Foil.

See an interview with Susan Stockdale at Sally's Bookshelf and an interview with illustrator Higgins Bond at Archimedes Notebook.

The Peachtree Publishers blog has a round up of all the participants in the blog tour.

 

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

For STEM Friday today we are going to take a look at the new children's book Wild Discoveries: Wacky New Animals by Heather L. Montgomery. wild-discoveries

The book features thirty amazing newly-discovered creatures, ranging from hot pink millepedes to see-through frogs like the one shown on the cover. As Heather points out in the beginning of the book, these are not really "new" species, but that scientists have simply recently discovered and named them. The species are organized by region, helping to define habitats. The description of each animal is accompanied by fun facts and details about how they were found. (Unsure of what a species is? See a review of classification.)

Humans love exploration, so finding a new species is a thrill. Scientists often turn up new species by searching in hard to reach places, like the depths of the oceans. Other times they can stumble across a new species in their own back yard! Searching for new species is definitely within the realm of citizen science. In fact, this article from BBC News suggests that 60% of new species found in Europe are discovered by amateur enthusiasts. As Wild Discoveries reveals, age in no limit. Children have helped to uncover new species.

Inspired by these ideas? How would you find a new species yourself?

1. Learn about a group of animals, plants or fungi that interests you.

Choose a group that isn't too popular. Although new mammals and birds are found occasionally (a new monkey, a sengi, and a tarsier are described in the book), your chances of finding a new species increase greatly if you choose to look for animals without backbones, for example. If you learn the common species of a group that occur in your area, you will be able to recognize something new if you stumble upon it.

2. Get out and observe nature, and record what you see.

Keeping a nature journal or blog can be a great way of recording your findings. Take photographs when you find something new. New species have been recognized from photographs on sharing sites like Flickr.

3. Volunteer at a nearby natural history museum, aquarium or similar organization.

Take opportunities to learn with an expert. One of the girls from the book got to name a new species because she volunteered at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

4. Take part in a  BioBlitz.

5. Be realistic. Realize that sometimes it is simply a matter of luck, or as Heather Montgomery writes, being "in the right place at the right time."

Activity for youngsters:
Draw an imaginary new species or one of the species from the book.

Activity for older students:
Research a newly-discovered species. Write a report on what is known about it and how it was found. Even better, create a slide presentation or video and share it with your friends or classmates.

For inspiration, here is one of the cool newly-discovered species:  the green bomber worm.

For more information:

Arizona State University has a Top 10 list of new species each year.

**Heather L. Montgomery's website has related materials and a free lesson plan with 40 pages of great lessons.**

Reading level: Ages 7 and up
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks (February 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0545477670
ISBN-13: 978-0545477673

 

Book supplied by publisher for review purposes.

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

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We are pleased to be hosting STEM Friday this week, a celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books for children. The theme for today is wildflowers, so be sure to click through the link and check it out. (This post contains affiliate links to Amazon).

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We are fast approaching the the centennial of Lady Bird Johnson's birth, December 22, 2012, and it seemed like a perfect time to pull out Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America
by Kathi Appelt and illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein. This is a beautiful picture book biography that overflows with the beautiful wildflowers that Lady Bird Johnson enjoyed so much. (For a full review of the book, see our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil.)

You may wonder how a picture book about a former first lady who loved wildflowers could be used as a jumping off point for STEM. Here are just a few ideas:

Science:

- use the website and the guide in the backmatter of the book to identify all the lovely wildflowers in the illustrations

  • Seed dispersal
  • Ecology issues, such as how introduced and invasive plants change an area
  • Food webs
  • Weather and climate, and how that effects plants

Technology:

  • Use a computer program to design a wildflower garden
  • Construct two weather stations and compare the weather in a wildflower garden versus a parking lot

Engineering:

Wildflower seeds come in many different sizes and shapes. Investigate how wildflower seeds are planted, harvested, processed or threshed, and packaged for sale. Can you think of a machine to do this in a better way?

Math:

Investigating wildflowers can be a wonderful way to promote all aspects of STEM.

Lupine life cycle

Let's take a look at the life cycle of one of Lady Bird Johnson's favorite flowers, the bluebonnet or lupine. Her favorite was Lupinus texensis, the Texas bluebonnet. We are showing the arroyo lupine, Lupinus succulentus, which is a similar plant.

Lupine seeds

sprout into seedlings. The first two smooth oval "leaves" are actually the cotyledons.

Soon the regular leaves emerge and the plants begin to grow.

In a few short months the lupines begin to flower.

Honey bees and other pollinators pollinate the flowers. When the flower has been pollinated, the white part turns red.

Now the petals fall off and the seed pods begin to form. You can see the dark green seeds forming inside.

When they are mature, the pods turn brown. Do you see the ones towards the bottom of the photograph that are twisted? The pods burst open when they are mature and send the seeds shooting through the air. Hopefully, the seeds will land in a good location and grow into new lupines the following year.

Plant some wildflowers so you can follow your own plant life cycles. In the Sonoran Desert the time to plant wildflowers flowers for a spring bloom is right now (November).

Related activities/information:

Be sure to check either Kathi Appelt's (click on the icon next to the "brand new" image) or Joy Fisher Hein's websites for a beautiful and fun activity kit (in .pdf) to download that accompanies the book. The kit includes a word search, card matching game and many ideas for hands-on learning.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Free .pdf curricula to download at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Four curricula for grades pre-k through 6)
Hands-on activities at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers is a beautiful book about an inspiring lady. Hopefully, it will encourage some young scientists and engineers, as well.

Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (February 15, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060011076
ISBN-13: 978-0060011079

Book was provided for review purposes.


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