S1E2 : Science Verse : Study One – STEM-themed Picture Books

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Science Verse by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Lane Smith
Published by Viking, a division of Penguin. 2004

There is much reason in the rhymes that make up the 18 unique poetic verses in Jon Scieszka’s Science Verse ; illustrated by Lane Smith.

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Words by Jon Scieszka.
From Science Verse. 2004

Many of the poems are plays off of classic nursery rhymes; but hey…it’s creative, scientifically accurate, and a great way to introduce kids to a plethora of scientific concepts; as well as providing teachers with an informal way to assess what students’ individual science interests are too:  Which poems stand out for the student? Which words do they ask about? Which pictures do they question the purpose of?

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Illustration by Lane Smith
from Science Verse. 2004

 I first read Science Verse, this summer with a student who’ll be entering 3rd grade. He made connections from two poems to what he had learned in Science class the previous year. He questioned the first poem entitled “Evolution”, stating that he thought that we human beings began as “Amebo or something” (Amoeba). We pondered our origins for a moment and then began to read more poems. Eventually we actually came to a poem entitled “Amoeba”, and he corrected his “Amebo” reference and remembered learning that the organism is neither boy or girl.
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            Science Verse is not designed to be read from front to cover in one sitting. It’s a volume of poetry. I like to think of it as an encyclopedic resource for Science teachers; using a poem at the beginning of specific Science units to introduce vocabulary in a stimulating, rhythmic way.  Cross-curriculum at its most splendid.

The pictures are a’ight. I’m more into the verse. Perhaps I’d re-write selected poems on the dry erase board or something, or on large oaktag, like teachers do, and include images of children that resemble my students.

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          This copy is from the library, Boston Public – South End branch,  but I’ll buy my own for this up-coming school year.  I recommend introducing it even as early as Kindergarten. We’ve got readers at four years of age, others begin at eight. Regardless of curriculum standards and developmentally appropriateness, there’s no reason for us, as the gatekeepers of knowledge, to ceiling our students’ learning environments. ‘Boundaries’ and ‘STEM’ have nothing in common really anyways. So let’s keep pushing those academic boundaries in the classroom.

    Speaking of ‘pushing’,….thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

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