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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Science Book Round-Up in Honor of Albert Einstein's Birthday and Pi Day! #STEM

Disclosure: I was sent these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Well, this year Pi Day was a snow day for most of the schools around me including Hazel's. Luckily by late morning it was safe to be on the roads. We headed out to celebrate Pi Day at the Capital One Cafe where they were serving pizza pie and various pies. Did you know that Albert Einstein as born on March 14, 1879? And of course there was also the sad news today that Stephen Hawkings passed away this morning. (Source) In honor of all of this I thought it was time to share the pile of science books I have been collecting!! We will look at experiments, the human body, pinball, dinosaurs, underwater and space. Plus some of these books have ties to Women's History Month and more!! We will start with dinosaurs since chronologically that makes sense. The book is from the series Science Comics and it is Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers by M.K. Reed and illustrated by Joe Flood.




 Have you ever wondered how people started studying dinosaurs? This book is for you. It is graphic novel that shares the history of people and dinosaurs. It starts with the time period and the difference between the existence of both as well as the discoveries of fossils and bones to begin the discovery of these amazing animals that roamed Earth well before the first man existed. 

The book goes through the discoveries of dinosaurs and why so many fossils and bones began showing up at the start of the Industrial Revolution (1800s). It shares the stories of various scientists like Mary Anning, William Smith, Dr. Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, Professor Mignon Talbot, Charles Darwin, Othniel Marsh and more. I love how many women play important roles in paleontology!  There are even more in the book but also check out Dare to Dig for even more! I also love how this book shares a diverse look at paleontology. There are various people from around the world in it. 

Now I will admit graphic novels are not my favorite genre but I know Hazel loves them and she really loves these Science Comics. They are comics about one of her favorite subjects to learn about--science!! This one has less of the comic strip feel because it is more of pictures with words in boxes like the picture above. I am very impressed with how much information is shared in this book. The suggested ages are 9 to 13.

Our next book is from National Geographic Kids and it is Try This! Extreme by Karen Romano Young. It is a book of experiments to do at home or in school. It is divided into chapters: Snow and Ice, Survival Skills, Feel the Force, Animal Powers, Special F/X, Water Way to Act, and Hot Stuff. Each chapter has at least five experiments. Then at the end of the book there are three bonus experiments, a section of Try This at the Science Fair with everything from finding the experiment to writing it up and the booth, and the STEM Standards for each experiment.
The experiments are set up with a question, safety check including difficulty and who else you need (friends or adult), concepts, how long it takes, things needed, another question and then the steps. They also share their tries and results. The experiments are full of photographs of diverse kids doing the experiments. 
I decided to try two of the experiments to see how the instructions are. The first one I tried is from the Feel the Force chapter and is Magic Arms. In this experiment one stands in a doorway and push his or her arms against the doorway for one minute. When you step away your arms just float up. It is the strangest feeling.

The second experiment I tried was from the Special F/X chapter. I had the wrong type of bags for the experiment, but had fun making it anyway.

The instructions are very clear and the book is very well written. It has many fun ideas in it. Some of the items are not necessarily what you will have hanging around your house though. It is a great book to add a bit of science discovery at home or in your classroom! The suggested ages is 10 and up.


Our next kit shares about the human body. It is a box that has many things in it including a book. It is Adventures in Science: Human Body by Courtney Acampora.

Inside the box is a double-sided poster with stickers to add to the poster, the book, a set of cards and the pieces of a plastic replica of the skeleton. The book goes through the various parts of the human body from cells, genes, tissues, skin, hair, nails, bones, joints, muscles and more. It includes things like digestion, getting rid of waste and even exercise and keeping healthy. There are photographs and explanations about the functions of each body part. 

The posters have the human body in different ways. One shows the skeleton and the other the organs. The stickers include the organs and the various parts of the skeleton and are meant to help a child learn the body parts and where they are.

There are also a set of cards that are like flashcards. On one side there is a body part name and picture and on the other side it tells about that body part.

Then there is the model skeleton. It comes in pieces and the instructions for putting it together are not very good. They are a picture with some arrows, but no words. I found it a bit confusing, but went back to look at the skeleton section of the book and figured it out from there. It is also not very sturdy and does not stay together well. It would not hold up in a classroom all that well unless the parts are glued together.

Overall I think this kit is a great kit to add to a human body unit. It shares a bit about the various parts and is a wonderful introduction. The suggested age is 6+. 


Our next kit helps us look at science in a fun way. (It reminds me of the physics classes that went to the amusement park to see physics in action.) It is Pinball Science by Ian Graham and illustrated by Owen Davey. The fun part is the reader first builds a cardboard pinball machine that works. 

The instructions to build it are pretty clear. Some places could have better explanations but overall it was easy enough to figure out. Hazel had fun playing with it after I put it together. After the instruction comes the explanations of the science. There is everything from simple machines, forces and energies, bouncing, uphill and downhill and more. It talks about speed and acceleration and things like matter, mass and weight. There is a lot of science packed into a simple pinball game. There are also You Can Do It! sections with simple experiments to try at home. 

Talk about a fun way to learn science!! This book has it all. It is suggested for ages 7 to 10. I think a 7-year-old would have trouble putting together the pinball machine on his or her own though.


Our next book is Astronaut Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact by Jennifer Swanson. Have you ever considered how space science and sea science are similar? I know I hadn't. This book however shows you similarities between the two studies. There are things like pressure, temperature, oxygen, darkness, and more in both. Then there are things like gravity and buoyancy. Both fields need to study topography. The topography of the ocean floor helps us understand the topography of other planets. I know I never thought of things like this and love that this book is sharing the combined knowledge that scientists are using to help one another in different fields. 

This book is full of gorgeous photographs from both underwater and space. It also has things to try at home in in class to get a better understanding of the science. The explanations are clear and the comparisons are quite amazing.

I love seeing the ideas of underwater and space right next to each other and being able to see the similarities and differences. There are also comparisons of things like living in space and underwater as well as communication and technology in both.

This is such an interesting book and the information shared about both branches of science is amazing and done in such a great way. 


Our next book is another in the Science Comics series. It is Rockets by Anne Drozd and Jerzy Drozd. This is a graphic novel on the history of rockets. It studies all sorts of rockets from the past 2000 years and includes a bit on Sir Isaac Newton and his theories on motion. 
This one is more of the comic style and has many talking animals. There is so much science packed into the comics though. As you can see in the above pages there is friction, force and Newton's First Law of Motion. The book has chapters named What Makes Rockets Go, Rockets as Entertainment, Rockets in Warfare, Rocket Inventors, Rockets in the Space Race, Rockets in Exploration and the Future of Rockets.  It has so much history and science mixed in. In honor of women's history month I am going to recommend checking out Mary Sherman Morgan who is in this book. The book also mentions Katherine Johnson, Margaret Hamilton, and Valentina Tereshkova. Some women to check out this month!!

I love how these books teach so much science and history in a graphic novel that even reluctant readers will enjoy. They are also full of entertainment and humor.

Our final book for today is Dr. E's Super Stellar Solar System by Bethany Ehlmann with Jennifer Swanson. Wait!! Bethany Ehlmann! We shared a bit about her last year for Women's History Month. 

This book is a combination of graphic novel and regular book. It has comic strips at the beginning of its chapters.

Then it has chapters full of explanations and photographs. The information is written in a fun and intriguing manner that draws the reader in. 

The book focuses on our solar system. Dr. Ehlmann's specialty is Mars however she certainly knows plenty about the rest of our solar system. There are various Try This in the chapters with experiments or activities to help better understand the science being explained. 
The book has chapters like Our Cosmic Neighbors, Dwarf Planets, Meteors, Asteroids and Comets, Planets, Frozen Worlds, Erosion and Weathering, Volcano Worlds, Let's Explore, Craters, Climate and the Importance of Water and Only the Beginning. This book talks about the possibility of life on another planet and what would be required to support life. It also talks about the make up of the universe around us. It shares information about the many discoveries that have been made in the past years. I know a lot has changed since I really studied our solar system and this book explains it all in a clear way. I also love the amazing photographs.

So if you want to add some science to your reading and work at home or your classroom, be sure to check out all of these amazing books and kits. The range of topics and information in all of them is great and I know you will enjoy them!!

We will end with a Happy Pi Day and Happy Birthday to Einstein!!