Tag Archives: STEAM

STEM Tuesday Wild and Wacky Science — In the Classroom

This month’s STEM Tuesday Theme: Wild and Wacky Science has the potential to lead readers in all directions! What a fun Book List the STEM Tuesday Team found for us this month.

Here are a few ways to use this month’s books in the classroom, extending learning beyond simply reading. Enjoy these suggestions, and as always, we welcome your additional suggestions in the comments below!

Follow a Friend on Facebook! 

After reading Unstoppable: True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals by Nancy Furstinger, you’ll want to adopt one of these furry heroes! Since convincing parents to get new pets of any kind can be a monumental task, it might be easier for your class to befriend a furrrball on Facebook. Here are links to the Facebook pages of several of Furstinger’s friends.

Chris P Bacon, Pig on Wheels @CPBaconWheels

Brutus the Rottweiler @betterpawsforbrutus

Molly the Three-Legged Pony @mollythe3leggedpony

Vincent the Cat @walkingvincentcat

Albie, Felix, and Fawn, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary @woodstockfarm

 Chart Your Allergies! 

First, read Itch! Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch by Anita Sanchez.

Then, practice data-collecting, chart-making, graphing, and data analysis skills by doing a classroom allergy assessment.  Start by asking students to create their own survey. What questions will you need to ask to find out who is allergic to what? Create the survey together, complete the surveys, and gather the data. Next, chart or graph (or both!) the results for a visual and numeric display of what gets under your skin. Who’s is inclined to itch when the cat comes in? Do menacing mosquitoes munch on many or just a few of the members of your class?

Dig Deeper!  Get the DNA 411!

In Forgotten Bones, Uncovering of a Slave Cemetery, Lois Miner Huey takes readers on a fascinating journey that begins with the discovery of and leads to an amazing amount of information about the thirteen slaves buried on what was once the Schuyler Family Farm near Albany, New York.

Much of what the scientists on the scene and in the lab near Albany were able to determine about the slaves was came the DNA samples from seven of the adult skeletons.  But what do you really know about DNA? Plan ahead for National DNA Day, April 25th, by checking out this website for several great DNA-related activities to do with kids. 

Make a Book Trailer.  Some of this month’s book picks have cool book trailers available on You Tube.  Watch these one-minute advertisements for wild and wacky nonfiction and make your own book trailer. There’s a lot to be said about getting the most out of just sixty seconds of screen time! Can you make a trailer that is certain to send readers running to the library to check out the book you’ve read? Here’s a link to a helpful tutorial to show How to Make a Book Trailer in iMovie.


This week’s STEM Tuesday post was prepared by

Michelle Houts delights in the wild and wacky side of finding fun facts for young readers. She writes both fiction and nonfiction and often finds the nonfiction harder to believe than the fiction. Find her on Instagram and Twitter @mhoutswrites and on the web at www.michellehouts.com.

Winners of the STEM Tuesday Book Blast!


THANK YOU for all of the wonderful comments about STEM!  We are thrilled to hear of your excitement for our new blog and hope you will join us this Tuesday, November 7th, for our very first post.

As a reminder, you can sign up to follow us  on the left-hand side of this page, down at the bottom. That way you get not only the STEM Tuesday posts, but all of the other posts that keep you up-to-date with what’s happening in the Middle Grade book world from our awesome host blog, From the Mixed Up Files!

Also, look for us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Now let’s get to the really important stuff:


Marjorie L. wins    by Nancy Castaldo


Kimberly M. wins   by Mary Kay Carson


Molly S. wins   by Amber J. Keyser


Eleanor G. wins  by Jennifer Swanson


Niccole wins  by Michelle Houts


Lauren M. wins  by Heather Montgomery


Jennifer O. wins  by Carolyn DeCristofano



You will all be contacted shortly by the authors of the book to coordinate receiving your prizes.

Again, thanks everyone for your enthusiasm for STEM Tuesday.

SEE YOU… well, this TUESDAY



Woods to Words – A Summer Adventure

Next month is July, when we’ll be deep in that magical, lazy time of summer. I can just picture it. Watermelon juice dripping down my chin as I sit, feet kicked up on the deck rail, tall glass of iced tea at my side, and the grid map and binoculars in my lap. Wait. What?

It’s okay, stay with me here! I’m still talking about that magical summer, and some of it might be lazy, I promise! Let me share with you my kind of summer fun this year.

It’s Woods to Words, a science and poetry summer camp. Though it’s offered for a range of ages, I dreamed it up to delight middle grade students in particular.

The school’s camp description is pretty spot-on:

Join our literary nature-lover Mrs. Stein for a week of scientifically-inspired creative writing!  Develop an appreciation for nature as you map the woods, watch wildlife through binoculars, and hunt through the forest with a magnifying glass in hand. Hear the world like never before as you use onomatopoeia to produce nature soundscapes. Writers will have an opportunity to share their hand-crafted books at the end-of-week author celebration.

Yes, that’s right – our lazy days of summer will be spent in the school’s forest making scientific observations – and making poetry! On day one, we’ll create a site map and a shape poem. An “onomatopoetical” exercise and an art project for our book covers will stem from the sound maps we’ll create. I’m excited to build a team word bank from our square-foot observation exercise, which we’ll continue to use for inspiration as we write each day.

Young people are natural observers and I can’t wait to harness their innate curiosity in a camp setting, tapping into their drive to learn new things. Add nature read-alouds and fun games like “Whose Dinner Am I?” and we’ll have a well-rounded camp experience. Anyone know any fun science songs?

My own writing and art are driven by the observations I make, and its a natural leap to blend one passion for another. I’m excited by the opportunity to incorporate these passions into an informative, fun and relaxed camp setting.

So how about you? Will you kick back this summer and gaze at a site map while sipping your iced drink and writing poetry? I can’t wait to start.

For further reading:

What Schools can Learn from Summer Camps

What is STEAM?

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Education

In fourth grade, Valerie Stein touched an ancient artifact from an archaeological dig. Though she never got to travel the world in search of buried treasure, she ended up journeying to new and exciting places between the pages of books. Now she spends her time researching history, in museums and libraries, which is like archaeology but without the dirt. Valerie’s book, The Best of It: A Journal of Life, Love and Dying, was published in 2009.  Both her current work and an upcoming middle grade series are historical fiction set in Washington State. Valerie is proprietor of Homeostasis Press and blogs at The Best of It.