Tag: STEM Friday (Page 1 of 36)

#STEAM #Kidlit What’s In Your Pocket?

To continue our STEAM children’s book series, let’s explore the childhood adventures of nine scientists in What’s in Your Pocket?: Collecting Nature’s Treasures by Heather L. Montgomery and illustrated by Maribel Lechuga.

When children collect and sort items they find in nature, they are learning important STEAM skills. In this book you will meet a boy who collected rocks and beetles, another who collected seeds and seed pods, and a girl who slept with earthworms under her pillow. Keep reading to find out which famous naturalists and scientists these curious children grew up to be.

They’ve created collections
They’ve made discoveries.
They’ve changed the world of science.

Maribel Lechuga’s vibrant illustrations perfectly capture each child’s wonder and surprise at the new things they stumble on.

The back matter gives a more complete biography of each of the people featured in the text, plus a charming note from the illustrator about how artists also appreciate and observe nature. In her author’s note, Heather Montgomery explains the need for collecting responsibly and gives some rules for respecting nature, respecting your family and community, and for protecting yourself when you gather from nature.

What’s in Your Pocket? is a delightful celebration of the collections made by youngsters who became famous scientists and naturalists. It is sure to inspire the next generation to make their own discoveries. Check out a copy today.

Related Activity Suggestions:

Visit Heather Montgomery’s website for resources for identification of trees, pond critters, and birds, as well as links to activity suggestions.

Activity 1. Make a leaf collection

Fall is a great time to make a leaf collection.  Use fallen leaves as an opportunity to study leaf form and function.

Steps:

  1. Gather the leaves.
  2. Preserve the leaves.
  3. Display your collection.

Be sure to gather the leaves where you have permission to do so. A cloth bag can help hold your leaves while you are collecting.

There are many, many ways to preserve leaves. Personally, I press mine in between the pages of a few large books I keep for that purpose. This is something I learned from my grandmother. I still occasionally find a pressed leaf she tucked away in one of her books, a hidden treasure.

You may:

Be sure to include when and where you collected your leaves and any information you have about the identity of the plant. Keeping detailed records makes your collection more valuable as a scientific resource.

Use your preserved leaves to make and display a leaf collection. For example, see these third grade examples.

For a fun STEAM project, check out this lesson plan inspired by land artist Andy Goldsworthy.

 

Activity 2. Make a Seed Collection

In places with distinct seasons, plants often release their seeds in fall. To start, look for big seeds like acorns, maple keys, horse chestnuts, or walnuts. Here in Arizona we have mesquite pods.

If you can’t get outdoors, search for seeds inside common fruit like apples or pumpkins. Just be aware that learning how to dry and preserve seeds from fruit can be a bit of an art. There are books on saving seeds and many communities have seed libraries with information to help you get started.

A first collection can be stored in an egg carton (also useful for small rock collections). Bigger collections can be held in clean, dry spice jars or in labeled paper envelopes. As with the leaf collection, include when and where you collected your seeds and any information you have about the identity of the plant.

 


 

 

 

The diversity of seeds is amazing. To give you some idea of the different kinds, here at Growing with Science blog I posted a different seed photograph for 257 weeks in a row. First I posted the photographs — without identifying them — as mystery seeds. The following week I posted the identity with information about the plant (Seed of the Week). Many are listed by plant common name in the Seed of the Week archive page.

Activity 3. Make a list of things to collect

Brainstorm a list of other things that people collect.

  • Rocks
  • Seashells
  • Insects (particularly butterflies)
  • Pine cones
  • Bits of bark
  • Driftwood
  • Bones
  • Fossils
  • etc.

Discuss how these collections might be used, such as learning how to identify the items collected or figuring out where they can be found (geographical range).

Do you have a collection? What do you collect? How have collections inspired you?

 

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 4 – 8 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Charlesbridge (September 14, 2021)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1623541220
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1623541224

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review. 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.


Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

STEM Friday #Kidlit The Secret Science of Sports

With the Olympic Games in full swing, kids are probably highly interested in sports right now. It’s the perfect time for middle grade readers to investigate The Secret Science of Sports: The Math, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering Behind Every Grand Slam, Triple Axel, and Penalty Kick by Jennifer Swanson.

Imagine that a pitcher throws a baseball toward you. Think of all things that need to happen for you to hit it with a bat. Your eyes watch the pitcher and the baseball as he or she winds up. Your brain must figure out the speed of the ball, its direction, and angle. Then your brain sends signals to your muscles to reposition the bat to correctly connect with the ball to make it go in the direction you want with the force you want. Understanding the concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math will help make that happen better every time.

The book covers a wide range of topics using examples from a variety of sports. Starting with how body type affects athletic performance, you will learn about such things as the aerodynamics behind competitive swimsuits,  how advances in the chemistry of carbon have led to faster bicycles and better tennis rackets, to how to test reaction time.

Here are some professional athletes testing their reaction times. Amazing!

Bottom line:

Not everyone is an Olympic athlete, but everyone benefits from exercise. The Secret Science of Sports is likely to get young readers off the couch, away from the screen, and outside trying some of the activity suggestions. It’s a win-win.

To Extend the Book:

Science Buddies has a list of suggested Sports STEM Science Activities

 

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 8 – 12 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Black Dog & Leventhal (July 20, 2021)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0762473037
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0762473038

Disclosure: An audio version of this book was provided by the author. 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.

#STEMfriday #kidlit: Fearless World Traveler

Today we have a new picture book biography, Fearless World Traveler: Adventures of Marianne North, Botanical Artist by Laurie Lawlor and illustrated by Becca Stadtlander.

You may not have heard of Marianne North, but she was a fascinating woman. She grew up privileged and sheltered in England. Her father was a member of Parliament who owned multiple homes. On the other hand, her parents said she had no need for an education and insisted she get ready for marriage. Instead, Marianne taught herself to paint and immersed herself in nature whenever she got the chance. After her father passed away, Marianne began to travel the world. She made up for lost time by accurately painting every plant she could find. In the remaining years of her life, she produced more than 848 paintings, most of which she donated to Kew Gardens (see photograph of some of the display below).

Why is North’s work considered to be scientific? It is because she advanced the field of botanical illustration. Her technique of painting specimens in their natural environment rather than isolated on a light background was groundbreaking. The fact, she documented so many rare plants with such accurate detail that several of them are named in her honor.

As for the book, Becca Stadtlander’s lush illustrations are a fitting tribute to Marianne North’s art. Readers will want to get lost in them. And Marianne North’s story is captivating. Readers will want to visit it again and again.

Fearless World Traveler will appeal to a variety of young readers, including those interested in history, travel, plants, art, and science. Pick up a copy and join the adventure!

Suggested STEAM Activities:

1. Make a botanical illustration.

For inspiration, first visit the Kew’s Virtual Gallery to see scans of Marianne North’s paintings, organized by place and by plant type.

Gather some plants. Consider houseplants or vegetables, too. Note:  avoid sampling plants you can’t readily identify because some plants can be poisonous. Also, make sure you have permission to gather plants. Collecting plants can be forbidden in certain public spaces, such as parks.

Examine the plants from a scientific standpoint. What kind of plant is it? Does it have any unique features? Identify the parts of the plants (previous post) and other details (inside plants post).

There are many instructions for drawing and painting plants for different grades or ages online. The video below has a nice introduction to botanical illustration and explains how to use plaster cloth to make a botanical impression.


The lesson is available for download as a PDF at the Blick website.

 

2. Incorporate scientific illustrations in a nature journal.

If you are interested in nature journals, speed over to the Exploring Marianne North website. Toward the bottom of the page they are currently offering a PDF booklet put together by volunteers. It chronicles some of North’s travels, a wonderful mix of history and art. The illustrations are amazing!!! Caveat:  the text is in old-fashioned cursive, so may be difficult for young children to read.

LitLinks blog also has some great ideas about how to introduce children to the art of keeping a nature journal.

3. Make a leaf collection

There are many, many ways to make a leaf collection.

Plants and art are a perfect mix.

 

Reading age : 6 – 9 years
Publisher : Holiday House (May 11, 2021)
ISBN-10 : 0823439593
ISBN-13 : 978-0823439591

Public domain image of the Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens from Wikimedia.

 

Disclosure: This book was provided by 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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