I want to thank @MsABahri for sharing the link to these free Women in STEM posters on Twitter (still not calling it the other name, sorry not sorry). There are nearly 100 free downloadable posters on this site from Ingenium Canada, and I am sorry to say that most of the names are new to me. Fortunately, each poster in the series has an image as well as a caption to help us all learn more about each of these amazing people. In addition, you can go to this page for lessons that can be used with the posters, and 3 of the posters have been made into coloring sheets that you can download.
Don’t forget to check out the STEM videos, the interactive Timeline, and the other educational resources while you’re on the site. If your students are studying the ocean, there is also an #OceanDecade link that has specific posters and lessons for that topic.
You can also take the “Implicit Association Test” to get an idea of your own implicit bias when it comes to men and women in different careers.
I was recently given the opportunity to review a nonfiction book by Caitlin Sockin, Dig It! Archaeology for Kids. The title is scheduled for release on April 25, 2023, but you can pre-order it now. The recommended reading age window is 10-16, and I feel like that’s absolutely on target. If you teach or parent children in grades 4 and up who have shown the slightest interest in archaeology, this 100 page book will become an indispensable resource for them. Of course, history, geology, and art play big roles in the study of archaeology, so devotees to those topics will also find many rewards when reading this book.
Writing nonfiction for kids is an especially challenging task as the author needs to develop a format that will deliver facts while maintaining the reader’s engagement throughout the book. Sockin achieves this by perfectly blending photographs and illustrations with fascinating information that will intrigue even well-read amateur archaeologists. Thoughtfully broken into bite-sized pieces, the material in Dig It! combines details of the work of archaeologists with tantalizing examples of some of the most famous archaeological sites discovered around the world. Readers can digest the book in small sections, or devour it from cover to cover in one session. Unlike a dry textbook, Dig It! is equally rich with both information and entertainment.
Although 10-16 year olds may be the ideal readers of Dig It!, I think adults will also find the book absorbing. Though I’m not an expert on archaeology by any means, I approached reading the sample with the idea that a children’s book about the subject would not teach me many new things — and was delighted to find out that I was wrong. For example, I had no idea that there is a Woodhenge in England in addition to Stonehenge, or that the clues that archaeologists look for include artifacts, features, and ecofacts. (By the way, Dig It! does a good job of explaining new terms in layman’s language on the pages the words first appear, and also has an excellent glossary at the end.)
Throughout the book you will find questions that prompt curiosity and QR codes that can be scanned to visit interactive websites related to archaeology. In addition, there are recommended additional resources that can be done in school or at home, such as science experiments, models, and games. I like the sections that suggest career options for people interested in archaeology and outline why archaeology is important so that readers can envision how something they might currently view as a hobby can actually transform into a meaningful career for them.
How do you get children to enthusiastically read nonfiction books about dusty relics of the past? Ask Caitlin Sockin, because in Dig It! she has cracked the code.
Several years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually (except for 2019) every November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, including my ongoing 2022 list, you can visit this page.I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students and one for Books for Gifted Children or Anyone who Loves to Learn.
So, if you landed on this post in 2022, there are technically two more shopping days until Christmas, 2022. Your options for shipping something in time have grown astronomically risky and/or pricey. And fighting the crowds at a shopping mall holds little interest for you. Maybe you saw yesterday’s post on subscription ideas, but perhaps none of those seemed to fit the bill for the child you have in mind. So, you decided to take your chances by waiting for my last Gifts for the Gifted post of 2022 to be published, hoping this will be the perfect idea.
If you have a decent printer at home, a good supply of cardstock or printer paper, adequate ink, and a few dollars, I just might have an idea for you.
Rob Ives is a paper engineer who has published quite a few books and has a website. His website has tons of projects that you can download and make, including origami and paper automata, which are paper models with moving parts. You could, of course, order one of his cool books. But if you’re worried about getting a gift on time, you might want to purchase one of his downloads for a few dollars instead.
Paying members of the site can download projects for free. (Be sure the currency matches your country by going to the top right of the web page.) Or, you can pay per project that you download. I found a perfect Christmas one that cost me $3.50 for the PDF. It’s the “Hopping Reindeer.” All you need to do is download and print the PDF, and follow the instructions on the “Hopping Reinder” page to make your own festive automata that hop up and down as you turn the paper crank.
Children delight in making these, and it’s definitely an opportunity to bond, as well as to learn about simple machines and physics. There are plenty of other paper-only projects on the site, or you can check out the ones that just need a few other household supplies.
The Deep Sea is a fascinating website designed by Neal Agarwal (@NealAgarwal). Neal has placed the creatures of the ocean at their typical depths, and you can scroll down from 18 meters at which you find Atlantic salmon and manatees all the way to the deepest part of the ocean at 10,901 meters deep. Little pieces of trivia are interspersed here and there, such as when you reach the point that is equal to the distance to the height of Mount Everest.
Students who are intrigued by the ocean and/or unique animals would love this site, and you can also integrate math with comparisons to other distances. For example the world’s current highest building, the Burj Khalifa, is 828 meters high. When you get to around that depth, you can find Giant Oarfish, which can grow to 11 meters long. Have students brainstorm ocean creatures they know and estimate where they might be found in “The Deep Sea.” To learn more about deep sea creatures that may or may not be on The Deep Sea site, check out this slideshow from the Smithsonian Institute that includes the frightening-but-cute yeti crab.
By the way, Neal Agarwal has a variety of other interactive sites that might interest you here. There’s a 3d “Design the Next iPhone” where you can not only drag and drop components that you want to had, but you can also create a video where your phone is “announced.” If you like the philosophical discussions generated by the classic “Trolley Problem,” try “Absurd Trolley Problems” for some macabre humor. And there’s more! I’m definitely adding his site to my “Fun Stuff” Wakelet. Although I must admit, comparing my hourly wage to other on the “Printing Money” site was not quite as fun…
Zooniverse bills itself as the “largest platform for people-powered research.” It hosts a multitude of projects to which volunteers can contribute data that will help researchers in various fields. You may have heard of citizen science. Zooniverse takes this concept, and extends it to literature, art, and other areas of study as well.
Many of the resources are targeted toward college students, but there are several projects that would be suitable for younger children and a wonderful way to encourage them to learn more while feeling like their actions have a purpose. For example, the first project that I investigated was “Penguin Watch.” The goal is to identify Rockhopper adults, chickens, and eggs, as well as any other animals that may appear in the images that you are shown. Once students understand the task, it is just a matter of clicking on the right color and then the animal in the image to make the count. It’s actually slightly addictive and strangely therapeutic.
One incredible second grade teacher, Fran Wilson, developed an entire unit for her students around another project, “Floating Forests.” In a science lesson on habitats, she began by sparking the children’s interest in sea otters. As the students learned more and became more invested in the preservation of this delightful creatures, they did research and other hands-on projects before the teacher eventually introduced them to a way that they could help by counting kelp forests on satellite images. Her blog post is an excellent blueprint for a way to engage students in something that they find meaningful and relevant. She provides many links as well as examples of student work along the way.
In 2020, Zooniverse provided this blog post of online learning resources that they had curated from their site, including a list of age-appropriate projects for 5-12 year olds. Please be aware of their note, “there is no age limit for participating in Zooniverse projects, but children under the age of 16 need parent or guardian approval before creating their own Zooniverse account.” I was able to participate in the Penguin Watch project without an account, so it is possible to use the site without signing in.
You may decide that Zooniverse won’t work as a class activity, but keep it in mind for independent projects, such as Genius Hour. Also, explore the project types as they are not all science — and not all based on imagery. For example, I found a fascinating one on the “Maturity of Baby Sounds.” I would even suggest, in some instances, having Zooniverse as an option in a calming area in your classroom where students can go if they are feeling like they need to cool down or are over-stimulated.
Two of my favorite picture book authors have teamed up again to produce another non-fiction masterpiece, Swoop and Soar. You may recall the fantastic book by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp, Beauty and the Beak, which I reviewed back in 2016. That story related the uplifting journey of an eagle who was given a 3d printed prosthetic after her beak was shot off by poachers. Jane Veltkamp, the raptor biologist who led the team that engineered the new beak (and who has lifetime care of Beauty), returns in Swoop and Soar when a pair of osprey chicks are orphaned by a storm.
Reading about the plight of the chicks and Veltkamp’s clever and science-based plan to find them new parents in the wild is fascinating and suspenseful. Once again, Rose and Veltkamp distinguish their book from other non-fiction by crafting a personal story around the scientific facts, and highlighting it with amazing photography on every page.
Swoop and Soar is an excellent companion to Beauty and the Beak. Both books are perfect for teaching STEM, with compelling narratives and intriguing information about raptors, conservation, and careers in science.