Skip to content

For the final day of our week long STEAM festival, we are highlighting math. Sarah at Share It! Science is looking for the golden ratio in the garden. Here at Growing with Science we are going to celebrate STEM Friday by featuring some new math books and related activities.

stemfriday

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The expert team of Hilary Koll and Steve Mills have developed a unique series of math books illustrated by Vladimir Aleksic. Each feature gritty, real world applications of math with problems to solve embedded within the story. The challenges vary in difficulty and math skills needed.

In Solve a Crime (You Do the Math) Alex, an undercover police detective, shows how math can help catch a criminal. For example, on one page the reader is asked to use co-ordinates to map the evidence and then look on a grid to calculate the distance between certain items. These problems will require a pencil and piece of paper to do the work.

The graphic-style illustrations are bold and serious, adding to the true-to-life feel. Want to see how it looks? You can check out a sample of some of the pages at Google Books.

Related activities:
Math Mavens Mysteries has a Time for Crime math mystery to get students warmed up, complete with audio clips (index to all math mysteries with level of difficulty).

Age Range: 6 - 8 years
Publisher: QEB Publishing (April 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 160992732X
ISBN-13: 978-1609927325

Fly a Jet Fighter (You Do the Math) follows pilot Katie as she handles data, interprets tables, and reads dials and scales. The goal is to create a squadron of jet fighter aces and complete the mission.

An additional activity to accompany this book might be a making a paper plane (Instructions for nine different models).

Age Range: 6 - 8 years
Publisher: QEB Publishing (April 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1609927311
ISBN-13: 978-1609927318

Launch a Rocket into Space (You Do the Math) follows each stage of the  space mission to make sure the rocket blasts clear of the atmosphere and returns safely. It features astronaut Michael who helps the reader compete the math exercises and learn about everything from fractions to timelines. A few problems will require a protractor to measure angles.

Once again, here's a preview from Google Books:

Each of the books has a glossary and the answers for all the questions are in the back matter.

Although recommended for ages 6-8, these books could also be useful for older children who are struggling with math concepts or don't quite see how the math they are learning might be useful.

The books in the You Do the Math series would be perfect for homeschoolers and after school math clubs because they can be entirely child-directed reading.

Age Range: 6 - 8 years
Publisher: QEB Publishing (June 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 160992729X
ISBN-13: 978-1609927295

Related:

Making Room for Math at Science Buddies has instructions for tons of math activities.

Don't forget to visit our growing list of math books for children (from counting books to high school level) at Science Books for Kids.

______________________________

Disclosures: The books were provided by Quarto Publishing Group USA for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

___________________________________
STEAM-festival-button-latest

Our activity schedule is as follows:

June 22: Science
Growing with Science: Science activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Are You a Scientist?

June 23: Technology
Growing with Science: Technology for Kids
Share it! Science: Exploring Kid's Opportunities in Technology

June 24: Engineering
Growing with Science: Engineering Activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Rube Goldberg Machines- an Engineering Challenge

June 25: Art with a STEM focus
Growing with Science: Art Activities for Kids with a STEM Focus
Share it! Science: Family STEAM Night- Where Art Meets Science!

Today:  Math
Growing with Science: this post
Share It! Science: Golden Ratio in the Garden

We would love to hear your questions or suggestions for STEAM-related projects to share with others. Let's heat up the summer with STEAM!

___________________________________

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

To get ready for World Oceans Day, next Monday June 8, 2015, let's look at two very different children's picture books about sharks. Interestingly, both of these books were illustrated by the author.

First up, we have Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands written and illustrated by Katherine Roy.

Great white sharks are fierce predators and this book reflects reality. Right up front, the cover sets the tone for this book, showing a shark with something in its mouth and a suggestion of red blood in the water. Some of the illustrations within the book show the sharks grabbing and eating seals (see a time lapse video at YouTube of Katherine Roy creating one of the illustrations). Certain children are going to find this thrilling and others are probably not. As with any book with potentially disturbing images, it is a good idea to prepare young readers in advance and let them choose whether they want to continue.

That is not to say that this book is about gratuitous violence. In fact, it contains a number of fascinating scientific illustrations detailing the body of the shark, how its blood circulates to help heat up this cold-blooded fish, how its eyes work, how its teeth work, and what makes its jaws unique. Learning facts about any animal definitely helps make it less fearsome.

Neighborhood Sharks has won many awards and honors, including:

Age Range: 7 - 11 years
Publisher: David Macaulay Studio (September 30, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1596438746
ISBN-13: 978-1596438743

In direct contrast, Wandering Whale Sharks written and illustrated by Susumu Shingu is a gentle book for younger children that follows the largest fish in the world, the whale shark. It was originally published in Japan in 1991, and has recently be translated and republished by Owlkids Books Inc.

Beginning with the lines...

What human beings believe
is the surface of the sea
might just be a ceiling of air
for all the fish living below.

...the reader is taken on a beautiful journey through the ocean depths to meet a placid giant and its friends.

The illustrations largely feature black and blue, giving the feeling of being completely under water. The images are incredibly peaceful and the text lyrical, making the book a lovely choice for reading aloud to a group of children.

The back matter consists of a page of factual information about whale sharks, such as how big they are, where they are found, and how fast they swim (around 2 1/2 miles per hour). Like whales, whale sharks swim the worlds oceans feeding on krill and tiny fish with their large mouths. Unlike whales, they are fish and do not have to return to the surface to breathe. The last sentence in the back matter is particularly poignant as the author points out there is much we don't know much about these fish and currently they are vulnerable to extinction.

Wandering Whale Sharks is the type of informational picture book that is likely to appeal to a variety of audiences. Highly recommended!

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: Owlkids Books (March 17, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1771471301
ISBN-13: 978-1771471305

Related:

Short, but informative video about whale sharks (there may be a pop-up ad)



ocean-science-week-badge

Be sure to check our Growing with Science ocean science and beach science categories (with some overlap) for many ocean and beach themed-activities.

We also have a growing list of children's books about oceans at Science Books for Kids.

Finally, we recently had Beach Book Week at Wrapped in Foil, with a list of beach science books and a review of The Beach Book: loads of things to do at lakes, rivers and the seaside.

Disclosures: The books above were from our local library. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

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

2

For STEM Friday we're going to the birds again with a new middle grade book, Birdology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds (Young Naturalists) by Monica Russo and photographs by Kevin Byron.

If you are already familiar with Chicago Review Press books for kids, you will recognize the format. Each section reveals information about a topic, such as feathers, and then provides suggestions for making observations and for appropriate hands-on activities to reinforce learning.

Birdology gives an introduction to many aspects of bird biology, such as their anatomy and special characteristics, where to look for them, what they eat, bird migratory behavior, etc. In the final section it explores common careers that involve working with birds.

The author is very careful to point out that it is illegal to collect or possess feathers, nests or eggs of wild birds. All the activity suggestions keep this important consideration in mind.

Educators will be interested in the Teacher's Guide and Resources in the back matter. Monica Russo is an experienced teacher, which is evident because the Teacher's Guide includes suggestions for how to accommodate a student who is afraid of birds. That is not something a beginning teacher is likely to have encountered.

Kevin Byron's photographs are inspiring (see activity suggestion below). You almost wish more space had been devoted to them, although that might have left less room for the fabulous activities. See what I mean by checking out the barn swallow in flight on page 76.

Birdology is a must have book for beginning ornithologists, and basically any older child interested in science and nature. It would be wonderful paired with a citizen science project such as the Great Backyard Bird Count. Educators will also want a copy for ideas for quick projects that are appealing and well-designed, and that could work with multi-aged groups.

Age Range: 7 and up
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (January 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 161374949X
ISBN-13: 978-1613749494

Related activity suggestions:

1. Anting by birds

Imagine you are watching some big black birds called crows. Suddenly one spies an ant mound, runs over to it and starts flopping around on it while ruffling its wings. Then it grabs some of the ants and starts thrusting them up into its feathers. What is wrong with this crow? Has it eaten some bad food? What is it doing?

In fact, the bird is using the ants’ defensive chemicals as a personal bug killer. Birders call this behavior “anting.”

Birds can be host to various itchy lice and mites. Scientists have long thought that by anting birds kill these parasites, but few are willing to do the experiments to prove it. However, one man actually took the lice off several birds he had observed anting and compared them to the lice on some birds that hadn’t anted. He found many of the lice from the anting birds died, but only a few from the non-anting birds.

When the birds actively pick up the ants and wipe their wings with them, it is called active anting. Other birds simply squat or lie on an anthill shaking their wings and tails, and stirring up the ants. This behavior is called passive anting.

You can see an example of passive anting in the following video (there is background music):

Doesn't the behavior look odd at first?

When you are watching birds, be sure to keep your eye out for birds that are anting. Document your observations in a nature notebook, sketchbook, with photographs, or with video and then share them with others.

2. Bird Photography

Birds are often small and active, but with patience and experience, children can learn how to photograph birds.

Tips:

With any camera, start with larger birds that are easy to spot and are not likely to fly away. Water birds might be a good choice.

mallard-duck

Think about the background. Again, water birds make this easier because the water is generally uniform and gives good contrast.

heron background issuesSee how much easier it is to spot the mallard in the top photograph, where the heron gets lost in the second photograph?

heron-headNo pesky background in this photograph.

goose-head

Add interest to a photograph by concentrating on the head and eye of the bird. If  you study Kevin Byron's photographs, you will see he does this.

Encourage your budding photographers to keep records of what kinds of birds they photograph, where and when the photograph was taken, what the birds were doing, etc.

Talk about the photographs, too. Compare the beak of the heron versus the goose. Do you know what each kind of bird eats? (Herons eat fish whereas geese graze on vegetation.) Who knows what else you might discover!

________________________________________

Previous Growing With Science posts with bird-related activities:

 

More Resources:

Check our Pinterest board of bird-related activities.

Looking for more bird books for children?

childrens-books-for-young-birdwatchersA growing list of bird books for kids at Science Books for Kids

Taking-Flight-childrens-books-about-bird-migration-300x270plus a list of children's books specifically about bird migrations.

 

Disclosures: The book above was from our local library. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

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