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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Study One: STEM-themed Picture Books

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Future Technologist

My interests in picture books come in phases. I get an idea of what I want my students to learn and then I begin hunting out the perfect picture books to support my teaching.  Hopefully, I can blog my studies, over a period of time, with each blog entry being another book. Currently, I am all about uncovering the perfect picture books that can spark my students’ interests in STEM-centered thinking and activities. Science Technology Engineering and Math. STEM. It’s the latest buzzword  buzz-acronym in the  K-12 world, so you may have heard it. Or maybe you haven’t heard it yet, but are still sufficiently fostering students’ minds in science, technology, engineering, and math activities.

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Future Marine Biologists

Each blog entry within a study will begin its title with the study number and entry number in short form. Example: S1E2 would represent “Study One, Entry two”. Followed by the blog entry’s unique title, and then ending with the study number and title of study. For example, the study number and title of my first study is, “Study One: STEM-themed Picture Books.

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Future Biochemists

I’m a Boston Public School (BPS) teacher, so it’s BPS’ student population that I have in mind, when researching STEM-themed picture books. Fortunately, Boston has such a diverse student body, that whatever your student population is, the books I study and blog about are surely to be relevant and highly beneficial to whomever you teach as well. My goal will be to discover less known picture books, and less known scientists. My second goal is to include books that are highly relevant, authentic, and well-written. Unfortunately, every good-intentioned picture book, is not written in a way that is purposeful, or mindful of it’s readers’ academic needs. If a good-intentioned and enticing picture book is not up-to-snuff, then I will state it as such in my post. I want to push caution, to my blog readers, towards ill-allegorical picture books masquerading as educational.

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Future Environmental Scientists

And with that, I leave you with a preview of some of the picture books I will be blogging about during Study One: STEM-themed Picture Books. One of the books I preview below, is not up-to-snuff for the classroom. Do you know which one it is, even before I blog about it? Let me know if you do! I would love for you to contribute your insights on the book’s shortcomings.

Some of the STEM-themed books I will be blogging about throughout the upcoming school year:

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Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl
By Tonya Bolden
2005
Published for Abrams
New York

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The Beeman
By Laurie Krebs. Illustrated by Valeria Cis
2008
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Boston, MA and London, UK

Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo's Mission to Pluto By Oneeka Williams, M.D. Illustrated by Valerie Bouthyette 2013 Publisher: Mascot Books Herndon, VA.

Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo’s Mission to Pluto
By Oneeka Williams, M.D.
Illustrated by Valerie Bouthyette
2013
Publisher: Mascot Books
Herndon, VA.

Senefer: A Young Genius in Old Egypt By Beatrice Lumpkin Illustrated by Linda Nickens 1992 Africa World Press, Inc. Trenton, NJ

Senefer: A Young Genius in Old Egypt
By Beatrice Lumpkin
Illustrated by Linda Nickens
1992
Publisher: Africa World Press, Inc.
Trenton, NJ

I'm Gonna Be! By Wade Hudson Illustrated by Culverson Blair 1992 Publisher: Just Us Books Orange, NJ

I’m Gonna Be!
By Wade Hudson
Illustrated by Culverson Blair
1992
Publisher: Just Us Books
Orange, NJ

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What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors
By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld
Illustrated by Ben Boos and A.G. Ford
2012
Publisher: Random House

A Weed is A Flower By ALIKI 1988 Publisher: Aladdin 1965 Publisher: Turtleback Books

A Weed is A Flower
By ALIKI
1988 Publisher: Aladdin
1965 Publisher: Turtleback Books

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind By William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon 2012 Publisher: Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Books. New York

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind
By William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
2012
Publisher: Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Books.
New York

These books pictured above, are by no means a full representation of the books, I plan to study, relating to the STEM fields. These are all just books that I already know, and have read. Let’s see what else I discover in the weeks to come.

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Future Engineer. Future Architect

Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

* All photos taken by me,  The Picture Book Pusher.