2017 - momgineer

Monday, September 25, 2017

9 STEM Picture Books that Spark Imagination

STEM Books to Read to Young Kids to Spark Imagination

There are so many amazing and inspiring STEM books for kids; I am a little envious that these weren't around when I was a kid! Some of these you have probably heard of but I hopefully there are a few that are new to you that you can check out from your local library or add to your classroom bookshelves. These books were chosen in particular for their ability to stir the imagination in kids aged 3-6 through their vivid illustrations and touching stories.

Disclaimer: I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you downloads of value and information about educational resources. The links below are Amazon affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.

Building STEM Picture Books  - Just Right for Pre-K and Little Ones

1. Construction by Sally Sutton
There are several books in this series from Sally Sutton, so be sure to check them all out. This is a great book to introduce building concepts to little ones with bright and colorful illustrations and enticing vocabulary.

2. dreaming UP by Christy Hale
Build with blocks and see what they could become as full scale buildings and structures! This is an absolutely wonderful find for your students' first STEM class.

3. Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
This one is all about play, imagination, and of course, FUN! Kids will relate to Molly Lou and may be inspired to create some of their own toys to play with.

Inspiring and Story STEM Picture Books Featuring Girls and Women

4. The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett
This is a great book if you are exploring Growth Mindset concepts or if you have kids that struggle with perfection. It's okay to make mistakes, and that is so important to understand when trying out STEM activities.

5. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
This wonderful story has sure gained in popularity since it debuted! One of my favorite stories on this list and sure to be yours, too. It will touch your heart and remind kids that sometimes the best improvement is to scrap what you had and start over.

6. Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine by Gloria Whelan
Though Queen Victoria is not the one designing the machine, kids will love this book for it's quirky rhymes and illustrations, and for its wonderful ideas!

Tinkering STEM Picture Books

7. Coppernickel, the Invention by Wouter van Reek
This story is all about the KISS principle. KISS, or Keep it simple, sweetheart (I prefer sweetheart over stupid), is a very important thing to learn when dealing with STEM activities though often it takes a lot of elaborate failed designs to end up back at something simple. Tungsten the dog, has got this principle down and it is a learning opportunity for Coppernickel.


8. Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming
Talk about perseverance! Based on inventor Lodner Phillips, this book shares how even with an idea it may take several iterations to get a design just right. If you have any aspiring inventors, this is a book they will want to read again and again.

9. Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall
This is a fun book, akin to Molly Lou Melon, and one boys may better identify with as the title character is also a boy. This is a fantastic read to tie in to the idea of reusing and repurposing and is ideal for little ones.

Pin these book ideas for later:

Clip art in above image from Photo Clipz
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Research Project for Kids - Study a Famous Scientist or Inventor

A Biography Research Project with a STEM Focus

Biographical research projects might feel overwhelming to kids, especially if it's the first time they have tried this type of activity. I created this activity as a first exposure to studying a famous person. It is all contained on one sheet of paper, so that is something that does not overwhelm kids. There are also a couple of different formats to choose from: a folding brochure format or a poster format.

Why scientists and inventors? Obviously I am passionate about STEM fields, but in finding out more about these important contributors, kids may become inspired to pursue a similar career or at least take more of an interest in it. Sports figures, performer s such as singers and actors, and other professions inspire kids from an early age. Why not scientists and inventors? Without them, we wouldn't have high-tech sports gear, a way to watch sports events, or the technology to record and play back music and movies!

Here's how it works!

First, choose the scientist or inventor to study. I have provided a list in the resource I created, or you can find a great list for kids on ducksters.com.

Now it's time to do the research. I love utilizing the library to find general information books about various scientists and inventors, but you should also be able to find individual books about many of these inspirational figures. Find the basics, such as when they lived, where they lived, and some other background information about them. Then go a little deeper and find out what important invention they dreamed up or scientific contribution they made. Maybe their discoveries or ideas weren't considered viable or important in their time. Maybe they died penniless and unknown. Some had fame and fortune, as well as respect. Others may have been dismissed for being too revolutionary or for being a woman or a person of color.
The next part of the project is so much fun, because it is time to present the findings with others and do a fun scavenger hunt! Display the research projects around your room, so that students can read about the scientists and inventors and fill out the scavenger hunt page. If you don't have the resource below (you can find it here) you can create a simple scavenger hunt to hang up, with questions such as:

Can you find a scientist who lived before you were born?
Can you find an inventor who invented something you have used?
Can you find a scientist who is from a country other than the one you live in?

Find the resource on Teachers pay Teachers:
Or pin this idea for later:
Famous scientists and inventors biographical research project! Kids use an easy-to-follow format to learn about a scientist or inventor and then share their findings with classmates. | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Simple Fall STEM Activity with Paper - A Leaf Glider!

Simple STEM Challenge with Paper: Design and Create a Leaf Glider

This is a very simple STEM project that can be done using only a few simple materials. It offers high engagement and kids always have fun launching their gliders to see how far they fly and what kind of path they take.
First, gather up the materials:

You can have students gather fallen leaves to trace or just cut leaves out of paper. Then create a glider! Which leaf will work best? How can you fold or transform it? Here are some design examples:
What skills do students work on? In addition to following the Engineering Design Process to complete this challenge, students will get a hands-on feel for concepts like aerodynamics and drag, hone fine motor skills with cutting and folding, and utilize measurement skills by tracking the distance their gliders travel. You can add in a math component by having them launch their gliders ten times and finding the average distance traveled.

Add more rigor into this activity with the STEM challenge resource (or get the pack of fall STEM challenges) on Teachers pay Teachers:

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Top 3 Fun Halloween STEM Activities for Kids

Halloween STEM Builds!

Do you love doing holiday-themed building challenges? Use building bricks in 2D designs for younger kids, or 3D for kids who are expert builders. Here are some fun ideas to get started for Halloween:

What do you think of first with Halloween? I know one of my kids' favorite traditions is carving their jack-o-lanterns.

It is trickier than it seems to get the expression right, so it's a great one to work on with persistence. The above jack-o-lanterns are what I mean by 2D. They aren't really 2D but they are flat. Creating a spherical shape with bricks is far more challenging and should only be attempted if you have expert builders. Also, orange bricks aren't always easy to come by, but remind your kids of white pumpkins! I have grown these in my garden before and they are quite striking.

If you are thinking you need an easier challenge, try a spider:

Maybe the spider has 8 legs of different length, or is red. It might not even look that much like a spider when it's done, which is okay! It's all about exploring with space and building, finding the pieces to make it "just right."

Some kids do well with a defined challenge, such as the two above, but others really soar when the challenge is open-ended. Design and create a creature! Some kids will stick with a traditional Halloween creature, like a bat or a cat. Others might be into zombies or skeletons or vampires. Why not? Let them see what they can come up with:

If you are looking to make this a more educational activity, I have developed a set of STEM mats with design criteria. Students will measure their creations, count bricks, and build according to the mats.

Or, pin the image to save it for later:

What are STEM Mats? Watch the video to find out, and get a sample STEM mat to try it out.

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Hatchet Novel Study with STEM Activities

Project-Based Learning for a Unique Hatchet Novel Study

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, is a classic survival story that resonates with tweens and teens alike. It lends itself well as a middle school read aloud or book club choice, and offers ample project-based learning activities so that your students can experience Brian's adventures right alongside him.

I have read and reread this book multiple times, each time exploring ways to make this book really come alive for kids. While there are many possibilities for STEM challenges, I have narrowed it down to three building challenges that can be done either full scale or small scale. If you can get out in nature to do this it will make even more of an impact and give the kids a real feel for what it might be like to solve problems with items found in nature. Watch the video or read on!

Disclaimer: I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you downloads of value and information about educational resources. The link below is an Amazon affiliate link. You can read my full disclosure here.

I also wanted to make sure to add in some math and science activities that could have helped Brian in his isolation. **Spoiler Alert** If you have not yet read this book, you may want to stop here. I will be referring to several happenings in the book, so be forewarned. 

When we aren't yet too far into the book, and Brian has successfully survived the first leg of his adventure (crash landing), he at first thinks a search and rescue team will find him before long. At one point, though, he realizes that he could be quite far off course of his original flight path. How far off course? This is the first exercise in the Hatchet STEM resource I created to accompany this book. 

The page shown above is one of three options so that kids can work at the level that is appropriate for them. 

Brian quickly realizes he needs a shelter, so the first STEM challenge is to create a lean-to shelter. This one is amazing to do outside if possible! It can be quite challenging to create one that will hold up to weather and animals.
In addition to shelter, the other main important survival issue is food. Can you design and create a bow?

The bow ties in nicely to two science experiments, springs and refraction (when Brian tries to catch the fish but they are at a different location than they appear). For these, I created a simple Hooke's Law experiment that you can do with springs or rubber bands to measure the deflection of a spring and calculate the spring constant, and then a refraction experiment to explore how light bends through water.
For the Hooke's Law experiment, measure the deflection of a spring depending on the weight applied. You can do this as I've shown above, hanging a spring off a craft stick supported be two cardboard tubes. For the refraction, use a laser pointer to shine a light on graph paper or a coordinate plane, record the results, then place a glass of water in the line of the laser light and see where the light lands.

The final STEM challenge ties in to the end of the book when the plane's tail becomes visible and Brian seeks out the survival pack in the plane. Design and create a raft:
In addition to the challenges, there are engineering vocabulary cards and background information to go with the challenges. Another great challenge to do after this one is to create an FM receiver/radio. It could be fun to create a transmitter too, but likely not a good idea based on local laws in your area. You can find a few simple FM radio kits, such as this Snap Circuits one (which I favor, because you can build and rebuild it over and over):

or this one from WeMake if you are doing this as a homeschool project or group science fair project:

I hope you can use some of these activity ideas while studying Hatchet. If you would like the supporting resources that I have created, please click on the image below to head to my Teachers pay Teachers shop, where you can purchase them:
Not interested in the paid version? No problem! Pin this post so you can come back later to remember all the challenges I've shared above:
Hatchet Novel Study with STEM Project Based Learning. 3 STEM challenges, 2 science experiment, and math extension activities to really dive into this survival tale. | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!