The Case of the Soda Explosion and Other True Science Mysteries for You to Solve

The Case of the Soda Explosion and Other True Science Mysteries for You to Solve by Darlene R. Stille is part of a fascinating new series that allows child detectives to read, think about, and solve real world mysteries.

For the first challenge, the author presents the details of an actual weather mystery using controlled vocabulary. Children are encouraged to spend some time evaluating what the storm might be, as well as investigating what might have caused it, before turning the page to find the answer.

Darlene Stille has done a great job of picking twelve mysteries that will definitely capture a child’s interest. A few are straightforward enough that a child will have a good chance of figuring out the answer without having to do a lot of extra research. Others require quite a bit of thinking, and the answers might even surprise a few adults. Mixing it up helps keep the child engaged.

Each mystery is illustrated in a novel way that highlights aspects of that particular mystery, and also helps define and separate each case from the others.

The mystery format is wonderful because children tend to retain information more fully when they have a question to be answered in mind.

The Case of the Soda Explosion is perfect for either the school or home library because it is entertaining and enlightening. Both fans of mysteries and budding scientists are sure to find it very appealing.

Ages:  8-10
Publisher: Capstone Press (January 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 142967623X
ISBN-13: 978-1429676236

The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

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

Basher Science: Oceans: Making Waves!

Look what came out this week:  another fun Basher Science book, Oceans: Making Waves! by Dan Green and Simon Basher, with illustrations by Simon Basher.

If you are not familiar with the Basher Science series, Simon Basher creates illustrations that have the flavor of Japanese chibi. They are sure to intrigue visual learners, especially those interested an manga and anime. Each “character” (organism or ocean feature) describes itself in the first person voice and in a light, conversational tone.

Don’t be fooled by the tone, however, the book is well-organized and packed with interesting facts. Starting with a heartwarming bow to “Captain” Jacques Cousteau, the authors proceed to describe the general features of oceans and seas in “Water World.” Waves, currents and tides are the subjects of “Ocean Motion,” and then the following chapters discuss groups of organisms in different habitats, such as the “Shoreline Gang” and the “Open Water Crew.” In the final chapter, “Ocean Explorers,” the authors explore the human part of the equation, as well as some environmental issues. With a final nod to visual learners, the book also includes a poster with many of the characters from the book.

Oceans: Making Waves! is for everyone, but it really fills the gaps for students who may struggle with more stuffy textbook-style nonfiction. The illustrations pull them in and the light tone keeps them reading. It is also great for younger advanced readers who can handle the vocabulary, but aren’t ready for huge blocks of uninterrupted text. In a world of meat-and-potatoes nonfiction, Basher Science books are the sushi.

Related hands-on activities:

  1. Let’s make waves (for younger children)
  2. Wind and waves (more advanced)
  3. Tide-pool invertebrates and other beach science activities at Growing With Science

My review of another Basher Science book, Chemistry:  Getting a Big Reaction

Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Kingfisher (March 27, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0753468212
ISBN-13: 978-0753468210

The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

Take a look at the bright, cheerful titles in the Basher Science series:

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

Cooking Gets High Tech with Food Technology

Do you know a budding food scientist? Food Technology (Sci Hi Science & Technology) by Neil Morris is just the book for him or her. It is a high-interest look at many aspects of food technology, from food additives and chemistry to production and packaging. Turns out a lot more science goes into our food than we might realize.

Neil Morris did not shy away from controversial topics in this book. There is a two-page spread discussing genetic modification. He reveals that in order to make cheese that is acceptable to vegetarians, manufacturers had to find a way to avoid using rennet. Rennet is an enzyme that comes from the stomachs of animals, most often from calves. It is used to make curds from milk. Scientists took the appropriate genes that make rennet work and added them to microorganisms. He says that the resulting cheese is labelled safe for vegetarians, but isn’t labelled GM because the microorganisms that are modified do not end up in the final product. Food for thought!

The book is visually-interesting, with color photographs and plenty of informative sidebars. The copy I reviewed did have a few problems with illustrations bleeding over and covering text (pp. 17 and 20), but that did not detract unduly. I enjoyed the insider’s view of how food is made and tested before it is sent to the shelves.

Food Technology is an interesting and informative summary of many different topics related to food technology and science. It would be a great resource for someone looking for ideas for a science fair or for writing a report. It also is likely to spark an interest in finding out more about the fascinating field of food technology.

For related hands-on activities, try these articles:
Food Science 101: the Basic Ingredients of Food Science

Kitchen Science Activities

Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Library Binding: 48 pages
Publisher: Heinemann-Raintree (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1410942740
ISBN-13: 978-1410942746


The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

This week’s STEM Friday round up is at Practically Paradise.

Great New Leveled Readers for Spring

Just in time for spring, Kingfisher has some great leveled readers coming out (scheduled for release March 27, 2012). Take a look at these fun titles: Kingfisher Readers L1: Butterflies by Thea Feldman, Kingfisher Readers L1: Baby Animals by Thea Feldman, Kingfisher Readers L2: What Animals Eat by Brenda Stones and a delightful board book, Baby Animals: In the Sea by Editors of Kingfisher.

Each of these books have high quality color photographs. The butterfly book is particularly vibrant and colorful. It has has some wonderful close-ups of the butterfly life stages, and would be a fabulous accompaniment to a unit on life cycles or insects.

Baby Animals is perfect for spring when many baby animals are being born. Along with adorable photographs, the text introduces vocabulary for the names of various baby animals. I also like that Thea Feldman ended the book with human babies, which helps children relate to the ideas presented.

What Animals Eat is Level 2 and contains more challenging concepts and vocabulary, such as the terms herbivore and carnivore. Note: It also contains photographs of lions and tigers with meat, although it isn’t too bloody. You might want to preview the book to see if it appropriate if you are working with sensitive children.

Baby Animals: In the Sea would be a fabulous accompaniment to a trip to the beach or an aquarium, or as a keepsake to remember the trip by.

If you are participating in Read Across America today, be sure to include some STEM nonfiction like these Kingfisher titles.

Kingfisher Readers L1: Butterflies by Thea Feldman

Reading level: Ages 5 and up (level 1)
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Kingfisher (March 27, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0753467496
ISBN-13: 978-0753467497

Kingfisher Readers L1: Baby Animals by Thea Feldman

Reading level: Ages 5 and up (level 1)
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Kingfisher (March 27, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0753467550
ISBN-13: 978-0753467558

Baby Animals: In the Sea by Editors of Kingfisher

Board book: 14 pages
Publisher: Kingfisher; Boardbook edition (March 27, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0753466899
ISBN-13: 978-0753466896

Kingfisher Readers L2: What Animals Eat by Brenda Stones

Reading level: Ages 5 and up (Level 2)
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Kingfisher (March 27, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0753467593
ISBN-13: 978-0753467596

Butterflies, Baby Animals, and What Animals Eat were provided by the publisher for review purposes.

This week’s STEM Friday round up is at NC Teacher Stuff.