STEM Friday #Kidlit Numbers in Motion

 

 

Today’s picture book biography puts the M in STEM:  Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg.

 

Laurie Wallmark specializes in biographies of women in STEM and for this book she has chosen a lesser-known subject for much-deserved recognition.

Sophie Kowalevski grew up observing the pages of calculus problems her father had used to paper her bedroom walls. The desire to understand the intriguing symbols propelled her to study advanced math. Later she became a prominent mathematician — the first to earn a doctorate at an European university — and professor in a time when women weren’t even allowed to enter many college campuses. Sophie broke down barriers for women who came after her.

Public domain image from Wikipedia.

Why Sophie?

In a recent interview, author Laurie Wallmark mentioned that she looks for two criteria when considering a subject for a picture book biography. First, she looks at how much material is available for research. In this case Laurie found a rich source of information because Sophie Kowalevski wrote extensively, including about her own life in her own words. Laurie found so many facts that there are four full pages of back matter,  which spills over into the end papers.

Next Laurie looks for hooks that will make the subject’s life interesting to young readers. She realized that Sophie’s work using mathematics to describe the motion of spinning tops would be fun and understandable to non-mathematicians. She was right!

Illustrations

Sophie grew up in Russia. Yevgenia Nayberg was a perfect choice to illustrate her life because she studied art in Russia. She uses a light touch with Sophie’s life, then makes Sophie’s math vibrant. In one scene the tops look like they are going to spin right out of the book. Her approach makes sense because those were the things Sophie cared the most about.

Numbers in Motion will inspire budding mathematicians and historians alike. Readers will likely end up wanting to learn more about this remarkable woman. Investigate a copy today.

Related:

For a STEM activity to accompany the book, make or find tops and play with them.

This video shows how to make a simple top with a CD and a marker. Hacks:  try to find markers with a rounded tip and the better you balance it, the better it will spin. If your marker is narrow, fill the gap by rolling tape around it as evenly as possible. No clay? Hot melt glue will also work to hold the marker in place, although it is a more permanent solution.

You can also decorate it (another video). Or if you have the DIY gene, try more methods to make spinning tops.

Visit our growing list of children’s books about women who count at Science Books for Kids.

 

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: Creston Books (March 3, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1939547636
ISBN-13: 978-1939547637

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.Opens in a new window Note: this is a new link as of 1/2019.

#Kidlit Flash and Gleam: Light in Our World by Sue Fliess

Sue Fliess is one of our favorite authors and we have regularly featured her awesome picture books here at Wrapped in Foil. Her most recent,  Flash and Gleam: Light in Our World  illustrated by Khoa Le, is perfect for celebrating National Poetry Month and also as a jumping off point for STEM activities.

In what she describes as one long poem, young readers wake with the sunrise, then explore sources of light throughout the day and throughout the world. From candles to the stars, they discover where light is found and what it does.

Now we have a special treat. With permission from Millbrook Press, watch Sue Fliess read and discuss her book.

 

What more can we say? Check out a copy of Flash and Gleam: Light in Our World as soon as you can.

Related Information and Activities

1. Read all about how Flash and Gleam came to be.

2. Make a Light List

Light can be difficult to explain because although we can see it, we can’t touch it.  By making a list of all the places we see light or things that give off light, we can begin to discover what those all have in common and what the characteristics of light are. Use the examples Fliess lists in her book to get started, like rainbows, the sun, and fireflies. See if you can think of some that she missed.

3. Learn more about poetry for National Poetry Month (April), for example visit Kenn Nesbitt’s Poetry4Kids for lessons and activities. Then use your light list to create a list poem.

Learn more about list poems here (scroll to number 3).

Example:

Things that give off light:

Flashlights in a tent at night
Aurora australis – southern lights
Volcanoes erupting lava
Glowworms in a cave
Anglerfish deep under water
The sun, moon, and stars
Your smiling face

by Roberta Gibson

4. Check out some glowing light science activities at Growing with Science.

Did you find any sources of light not discussed in the book? What are they?

 

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 2
Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Millbrook Press TM (March 3, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1541557700
ISBN-13: 978-1541557703

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

#kidlit On a Snow-Melting Day Inspires Both Science and Poetry @Steamteam2020

 

Have you seen Buffy Silverman’s delightful picture book, On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring, yet?

If not, you’re in luck. With permission from Millbrook Press, Buffy Silverman reads her book aloud and shares science activity suggestions.

What a perfect way to celebrate spring!

On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring

Related Activities

1. There is something about spring that inspires poetry. In fact, April is National Poetry Month.

national Poetry Month

Check the National Poetry Month website for the Dear Poet Activity and videos of poets reading their poems. Write your own ode to spring.

See more poetry activity suggestions and related books in our National Poetry Month category.

2. For a list of STEAM activity websites and suggestions, visit the STEAM Team 2020.

Age Range: 4 – 9 years
Publisher: Millbrook Press TM (February 4, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1541578139
ISBN-13: 978-1541578135

 

New #kidlit #Nonfiction Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

For the the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2020 we have a new title that is sure to create a buzz, Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann.

If you have any interest in nonfiction picture books or honeybees at all, you need to read this one. Both the text and the illustrations are phenomenal!

The concept is straightforward enough, follow the life of a single adult worker honeybee from emergence from the pupal chamber, starting with:

One summer morning deep in the nest,
a brand-new honeybee
squirms,
pushes,
chews through the wax cap of her solitary cell and into…

Just because the story follows an adult, doesn’t mean that the life cycle is missing stages. The worker becomes a nurse bee and tends to the eggs and larvae, so the full life cycle is represented.

After reading this book, my first reaction was that this is a textbook example of how children’s nonfiction should be written. It is full of active verbs, sensory details, and a lovely thread of repetition (about flying) that keeps the reader turning pages. Plus, following the life of a single bee gives it a relatable and memorable structure.

If readers will find anything objectionable about the book at all, it is that it takes the honeybee’s life right to her end. Her death is sad, but tastefully done. The next spread shows a new worker emerging.

Illustrations in Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera are amazing!

Eric Rohmann’s illustrations knock it out of the ballpark. The detailed close-ups make the reader feel like they are right in the hive with the bees. The gatefold-spread section of the honeybee going on her first flight is beyond breathtaking.

The backmatter includes a guide to honeybee anatomy, a section about helping honeybees, and more facts about honeybees.

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera is the ultimate book about these fascinating and important creatures. You don’t want to miss this one!

Related Activities

Fly over to Growing With Science Blog for honey bee STEAM activities .

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Neal Porter Books (February 4, 2020)
ISBN-10: 0823442853
ISBN-13: 978-0823442850

Disclosure: The book was provided by our local library. 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.