STEM Collection for K-5: Science/Technology Resources (Print)

Here’s an annotated bibliography for some great science/technology resources that one can add to their school’s STEM collection, along with some seeds for teachers/media specialists.

science mysteries tesla livesofscientists rosierevere ohno 101 science

Barnett, M. (2010). Oh no! Or, how my science project destroyed the world. New York, NY: Hyperion.

A little girl’s winning science fair project – a robot – causes unexpected problems. Book’s humor and illustrations will appeal to readers; connect science to literature. Grades K-3. $13 (Titlewave) ISBN: 978-0-9678020-3-9

Seeds:

  • This would be a good book to read as an introduction to the school’s annual science fair or classroom science projects. Brainstorm other science fair/project ideas, and discuss some of the issues that might arise from these endeavors.
  • With younger students, can discuss why they might want a personal robot. What would they like their robot to be able to do? Have students sketch out a design for their robot, label parts, and write a short paragraph about what it can do.
  • Incorporate other robot activities – start collecting recyclables a couple of weeks in advance, then have students design/build their own robots from the recyclables. Have them write a short paragraph describing what their robot does. Other ideas can be found on Pinterest and around the Internet.
  • Can lead to other resources about robots and scientists’ attempts to design them to perform basic, everyday tasks. With older students, can discuss some challenges scientists face when designing robots.
  • Other books/movies about robots or science experiments gone awry – what are some underlying messages the writers of these books/movies are trying to tell us about science, technology, innovations, etc.:
    • Books:
      • The Robot Book by Heather Brown (2013)
      • Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen (2012)
      • DK Eyewitness Books: Robots by Roger Bridgman (2004)
      • Hello, Robots by Bob Staake (2004)
      • Sleepy Time Olie by William Joyce (2001)
      • Cosmo and the Robot by Brian Pinkney (2000)
      • etc.
    • Movies
      • Big Hero 6 (2014)
      • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1 & 2 (2009, 2013)
      • E (2008)
      • Robots (2005)
      • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
      • etc.

Honors/Awards:

  • Kirkus Book Review Stars, 2010
  • New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2010
  • Golden Duck Award for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction Literature, 2011
  • Society of Illustrators Original Art Award, 2010

Beaty, A. (2013) Rosie Revere, engineer. New York, NY: Abrams Books for Young Readers.

A budding inventor, Rosie dreams of becoming a engineer despite some challenges and her fear of failure. Celebrates girls in the sciences, creativity, critical thinking skills, persistence/resilience (AASL 21st-century learner disposition), etc. Connects curriculum to real-life problem solving skills; National science standards and Common Core aligned. Grades K-5. $9 (Amazon) ISBN: 978-1419708459

Seeds:

  • The endpapers of this book are done in graph paper. Give out graph paper to students and have them invent their own contraption. Brainstorm different problems they might be able to solve with their invention, or other reasons they might have for inventing something (e.g. to solve a problem, to improve a process, for entertainment, etc.). Label parts and write a paragraph about what their invention does.
  • Collect recyclables a couple of weeks before the unit. After reading this book, have students build something out of the recyclables and write a paragraph about what it is, what it does, etc. Students can then present their creations to the class. (Might want to set some guidelines about what these contraptions can or cannot be. e.g. cannot be a weapon, can be built using household products, etc.)
  • Discussion: Do you think girls make good scientists/mathematicians/engineers? Why or why not? Why do you think girls historically have been discouraged to go into these types of study/careers? Older students can research a well-known woman in history (could extend outside of science and engineering) and write about her contributions and why they are important to our world today.
  • More resources can be found at Titlewave: http://www.titlewave.com/ccssresource?SID=15e04be911b6cc70665c01fa6e025b94&resourceid=2413

Honors/Awards:

  • Parents’ Choice Award, 2013
  • Amelia Bloomer Project List, 2014

Becker, H. (2008). Science on the loose: Amazing activities and science facts you’ll never believe.

This book contains fun, sometimes messy, experiments that students can carry out using ordinary household items, along with the scientific principles behind them. Covers concepts such as chemical reactions, genetics, senses, as well as an overview of the science inquiry process. Grades 3-5. $10 (Titlewave) ISBN: 978-1-897349-19-9

Honors/Awards:

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens, 2009
  • Cybil Award finalist, 2008

Burns, L. G. (2012) Citizen scientists: Be a part of a scientific discovery from your own backyard. New York, NY: Henry Holt.

Students learn about citizen science and how they can conduct in actual scientific studies such as the Audubon Bird Count and FrogWatch USA. Includes suggestions for 4 projects (one for each season). Connects learning in science classrooms to the real world; encourages inquiry-based learning and critical thinking skills. Grades 3-5. $9 (Titlewave) ISBN: 978-0-8050-9517-3

Seeds:

  • Discuss “citizen science”: what is it, who can participate, qualifications, etc. Why might this movement be important? What role can our class, you, or your family play in this?
  • Research some citizen science projects that your classroom can easily be involved with. Discuss each and choose one to participate as a class. Similarly, have students research different citizen science projects that they and their families can get involved with. Students and their families can sign on to a project and have students write a report on the experience (what they chose, what they did, was it a success, why or why not, etc.). Talk about some of the things we might need to consider before choosing a project – is the project seasonal, is it restricted by location/geography, does it require special equipment, etc. (Some ideas can be found on the National Wildlife Federation web page: http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Conservation/Citizen-Science.aspx)
  • Discuss the scientific inquiry process and what it means to really “observe” something. What are some of the tools a citizen scientist might need/use (e.g. magnifying glass, binoculars, field notebooks, pencils, etc.)? What is data collection and why is it important?

Honors/Awards:

  • NYPL Children’s Books 2012
  • School Library Journal Book Review Stars, 2012
  • NSTA’s Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, 2013
  • Green Earth Book Award, 2013

Cate, A. L. (2013) Look Up!: Bird watching in your own backyard. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

A humorous introduction to bird-watching goes beyond being a guidebook to encouraging students to head into their own backyard to observe and sketch what they might find. Connects science curriculum to real-world learning; encourages life-long learning. Grades 3-5. $12 (Amazon) ISBN: 978-0763645618

Seeds:

  • Discuss the scientific inquiry process and what it means to really “observe” something. What are some of the tools a citizen scientist might need/use (e.g. binoculars, sketch books, pencils, camera, field guides, etc.)? What is data collection and why is it important? What kind of questions might we ask about when it comes to birds and bird watching?
  • Discuss “citizen science”: what is it, who can participate, qualifications, etc. Why might this movement be important? What role can our class, you, or your family play in this?
  • Research some citizen science projects that your classroom can easily be involved with. Discuss each and choose one to participate as a class. Similarly, have students research different citizen science projects that they and their families can get involved with. Students and their families can sign on to a project and have students write a report on the experience (what they chose, what they did, was it a success, why or why not, etc.). Talk about some of the things we might need to consider before choosing a project – is the project seasonal, is it restricted by location/geography, does it require special equipment, etc. (Some ideas can be found on the National Wildlife Federation web page: http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Conservation/Citizen-Science.aspx)

Honors/Awards:

  • ALSC Notable Children’s Books, 2014
  • Cybil Award, 2013 winner
  • Sibert Informational Book Medal, 2014 honor
  • Other best lists

Fleming, C. (2013) Papa’s Mechanical Fish. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Based on the real-life inventor Lodner Phillips, this story tells of Papa, who, after many failed inventions, builds a submarine and takes his family on a fishing trip to the bottom of Lake Michigan in 1851. Connects science curriculum to real life people. Grades K-3. $13 (Amazon) ISBN: 978-0374399085

Seeds:

  • Collect recyclables a couple of weeks. After reading this book, have students build something out of the recyclables and write a paragraph about what it is, what it does, etc. Students can then present their creations to the class. (Might want to set some guidelines about what these contraptions can or cannot be. e.g. cannot be a weapon, can be built using household products, etc.) What is the purpose behind their creation – does it solve a problem, make something easier to do, etc.?
  • Discuss what it means to be persistent/resilient even when you face challenges (a AASL 21st-century disposition). Why should we persevere rather than quit? Have students write a paragraph about a time when they ran into a difficulty or faced failure and persisted anyway.

Honors/Awards:

  • Best Picture Books, 2013
  • Children’s Books of the Year, 2014 Ages 5-9
  • NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, 2014

Kamkwamba, W. (2012) The boy who harnessed the wind.

A fourteen-year-old Malawi boy saved his village from drought by figuring out a way to use wind to harness electricity. Connects science to real-world problem solving; teaches persistence/resilience in midst of adversity; biographies/autobiographies. Grades K-5 $13 (Amazon) ISBN: 978-0803735118

 

Seeds:

  • Discuss how William Kamkwamba was able to identify a problem in his community and how he went about solving it. Was he able to solve the problem overnight? (No, it took him several years to figure out how to harness the wind.) What if he quit the first time he failed or the first time someone told him no? Have students write or talk about an instance where they persevered and what they were able to accomplish.
  • Discuss windmills and other ways we generate electricity/energy. Is one form better than another? Why or why not? Older students can research on green/clean energy.
  • Brainstorm some problems the world is facing today. Assign each issue to a small group of students and have them discuss ways they would go about solving the problem. Have students present their ideas to the class. Identify solutions that are doable and encourage students to do it!
  • Older students: Teacher can do a class read-aloud of the full-length memoir (same title) written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.

 

Honors/Awards:

  • Amazon Editors’ Picks for Best Books of the Year, 2012
  • NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, 2013

Krull, K. (2013). Lives of the scientists: experiments, explosions (and what the neighbors thought). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

A fun look at well-known scientists and their often-eccentric personalities and anything-but-dull lives. Quirky stories will appeal to reluctant readers and budding scientists alike. Can serve as introduction to biography genre. Offers real-world connections. Grades 3-5. $14 (Amazon) ISBN: 978-0152059095

 

Seeds:

  • This can be an introduction to a unit on biographies/autobiographies (discuss the difference). Students can be asked to write their own autobiography, or research a scientist (or president, artist, historical figure, mathematician, etc., depending on the subject) and write a short biographical paper on the person. Brainstorm types of things to include in the paper that the readers will find interesting.
  • Discuss fiction vs. non-fiction, truths vs. myths. How might you go about verifying that these stories of famous scientists are, in fact, true?
  • Can also talk about how to select appropriate resources – if students are asked to do a research paper on a scientist’s particular contribution to the world, would this be a good source of information or not? Why or why not? Talk about other resources that might be more appropriate.

 

Honors/Awards:

  • Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2014
  • Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, 2014

Lipkowitz, D. (2011) The LEGO ideas book: Unlock your imagination. New York, NY: DK Children.

The book provides numerous ideas for LEGO creations beyond the box instructions, including six themes: transportation, building, space, kingdoms, adventure, and useful makes. Encourages creative play; engineering. Grades K-5. $15 (Amazon) ISBN: 978-0756686062

 

Seeds:

  • Can be used in conjunction with LEGO bricks at a station in the library media center to be used during free play time.
  • Can also be used for guided builds. For example, students can be asked to build a biome or habitat that they have learned about in their science class. Or, build a picture frame using dimensions and units students learned in math.

 

Honors/Awards:

  • IRA & CBC Children’s Choices Selection, 2012

 

Pflugfelder, B. Nick and Tesla 5-item series. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books.

In this illustrated series (with 24-32 pages of blueprints/instructions for gadgets readers can build themselves), twins Nick and Tesla solve neighborhood mysteries by doing some detective work and building gadgets with common household objects. Appeals to students who like reading novels and who also enjoy science/technology and inventions. Encourages lifelong learning and reading for pleasure; connects science to real-world critical thinking and problem solving skills. Grades 3-5. $55 (Titlewave)

Romanek, T. (2001) The technology book for girls and other advanced beings. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press.

Targeted to girls, this book shows how much technology is embedded in our daily lives, and how items like the TV remote and automatic doors actually work. Sidebars discuss interesting careers in technology, and there are many ideas for activities and science fair projects. Connects science/technology to the real world; encourages girls in STEM. Grades 3-5. $10 (Amazon) ISBN: 978-1550746198

 

Honors/Awards:

  • NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children, 2002
  • Parents’ Choice Award, 2001
  • Children’s Books Canada Science in Society Book Award, 2001

Rusch, E. (2013) Electrical wizard: How Nikola Tesla lit up the world. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

The story of how Serbian-American scientist Nikola Tesla used his childhood fascination with electricity to invent alternating current and many common household devices that use electric power in our homes. Encourages lifelong learning and inquiry-based problem solving; also an introduction to biographies. Grades 3-5. $15 (Titlewave) ISBN: 978-0-7636-5855-7

 

Seeds:

  • Discuss some of Nikola Tesla’s ideas/inventions and how our everyday lives might be different without them.
  • Introduce unit on electric circuits. Use with Snap Circuits kits.
  • This can be an introduction to a unit on biographies/autobiographies (discuss the difference). Students can be asked to write their own autobiography, or research a scientist (or president, artist, historical figure, mathematician, etc., depending on the subject) and write a short biographical paper on the person. Brainstorm types of things to include in the paper that the readers will find interesting.

 

Honors/Awards:

  • Children’s Books of the Year, 2014
  • NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, 2014

 

Swanson, D. (2009) Nibbling on Einstein’s brain: The good, the bad & the bogus in science. Toronto, ON: Annick Press.

This book introduces the idea that there can be good science and bad science, that some research – however “official” they might appear – can prove to be faulty, misinterpreted, biased, and unreliable. Encourages critical thinking and ability to evaluate and select appropriate/authentic resources. Grades 3-5. $10 (Titlewave) ISBN: 978-1-55451-186-0

Seeds:

  • This can be used in the science classroom to teach about the scientific inquiry process. Discuss the importance of forming the right questions, designing the right experiments, data collection and observations, etc. When reading an article or trying to choose a side in a scientific debate, how can factors like authorship and research methodology help us decide whether something is ultimately useful/authoritative or not?
  • Can also be used in the media center for lesson on authority/authenticity of information – the importance of verifying your sources, how to verify it, etc. Talk about bias and point of view, and how these can affect the resource you are using. Can incorporate a “Fact or Fiction” activity where students have to determine whether a statement is true or false by looking for evidence.
  • This could be used outside of science – in social studies, history, information literacy, etc.

 

Honors/Awards:

  • Best Books for Children, 2002
  • ALA Booklist Top 10 Sci-Tech Books for Youth, 2002
  • Los Angeles’ 100 Best Books, 2001 IRA Children’s Literature and Reading SIG
  • Children’s Books Canada Science in Society Book Award, 2001 shortlist
  • White Ravens Award, 2002 winner

Wyatt, V. (2008). The science book for girls and other intelligent beings. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press.

Though this book can be great for all readers, its goal is to spark girls’ interest in science through experiments in zoology, botany, geology, chemistry, and physics. Readers learn about different science careers that use critical thinking skills, deductive reasoning, and inquisitive minds. Connects classroom learning to real-life situations and problem-solving strategies; encourages life-long learning. Grades 3-5. $18 (Amazon) ISBN: 978-1550741131

 

Honors/Awards:

  • Silver Birch Award nominee, 1994

 

Yoder, E. (2013). One minute mysteries: 65 short mysteries you solve with science! Washington, DC: Science, Naturally!

This collection of 65 short mysteries provide a fun way for students to develop critical thinking skills and will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. Covers themes such as life science, earth and space, physics and chemistry, and connects science to real-life problem solving. Common Core aligned for using content knowledge, critical thinking skills, and constructing a response. Grades 3-5. $7 (Titlewave) ISBN: 978-1-938492-00-6

 

Seeds:

  • Teachers can use these as “Science Riddle of the Day” or as a warm-up activity before a science lesson. Can also be an activity choice for early finishers.
  • If using as a group activity, have students work individually or in pairs first to develop their solutions, then have them share their thinking with the rest of the class. Talk about how one person might approach a problem differently than another.

 

Honors/Awards:

  • Children’s Books of the Year, 2014 – ages 9 to 12
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