Tag Archives: science

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

The sounds of science – these are all brand new picture books that deal with science: the science of sound and light. Share these books during science but also during social studies or just before music lessons.

Sounds All Around, the Science of How Sound Works by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Ellen Rooney. From natural sounds like the buzzing of a bee or the clap of thunder, to instruments and sirens – this book looks at how sounds happen and what they communicate. A nonfiction book for budding readers. ISBN 978-1-5253-0250-3, Kids Can Press

Listen Up! Train Song, by Victoria Allenby is a board book for toddlers, turning all train sounds into a song. A story to share aloud, teaching the importance of rhyme and rhythm in poetry while having fun with onomatopoeia. ISBN 978-1-77278-213-4, Pajama Press

My City Speaks, Darren Lebeuf, art by Ashley Barron is a lovely, colourful picture book for the very youngest readers about all things city. From mailboxes to construction sites, from city parks to sidewalk shops, a sight-impaired girl explores her city and its sounds. Complete with a heartwarming ending. ISBN 978-1-5253-0414-9, Kids Can Press

Lights Day and Night, The Science of how Light Works written by Susan Hughes, art by Ellen Rooney is a wonderful first guide to the science of light. It explains in simple terms how light travels, how light is absorbed or reflected. It tells of the difference between natural and artificial light. A glossary in the back gives more details on terms. The entire picture book is a perfect balance between text and art, story and science. ISBN 978-1-5253-0319-7, Kids Can Press

The Science of Song, How and Why we Make Music, by Alan Cross, Emma Cross and Nicole Mortillaro is a fascinating account of music, what it is and how we make it. From the oldest instrument (a bone flute of 40,000 years old) to rock star holograms, this new nonfiction title chronicles the history of music people have made over the ages, and how it works. Here, finally, is a book that especially music teachers will love! ISBN 978-1-77138-787-3, Kids Can Press

And speaking of sounds and music, here’s a novel about a musical legend, reviewed by teen-aged reader Matilda Colvin:  Kid Sterling by Christine Welldon.

It’s 1906 in America. Sterling Crawford, a 11-year-old trumpet-player, lives with his family in New Orleans. He’s set on learning from Buddy Bolden, an icon who is now remembered as a father of jazz. Being African American, Sterling also grapples with the devastating systemic racism of early-20th-century America. The story of Kid Sterling shines a light on the beginnings of jazz culture through its roots in oppression, solidarity, and courage. Its engaging narrative weaves coming-of-age and historical fiction to the soulfully defiant sound of a jazz trumpet. Kid Sterling is as much about the evolution of a vibrant genre as it is about one determined boy. Buzzing with jazz history and bursting with life, this book will be devoured by young music fans and aspiring jazz artists—as well as anyone who’s interested in the story of a creative kid with a dash of vivid history.  ISBN 978-0889956162, Red Deer Press

Margriet Ruurs is the Canadian author of many books for children. She shares her travels to international schools and her passion for books here: www.globetrottingbooklovers.com

GLOBAL BOOK REVIEWS

Picture Books About Science

Here are some fabulous new, and not so new, titles to use as tools in the classroom with students while studying science. 

When Elephants Listen With Their Feet by Emmanuelle Grundmann is a brand new title that looks at animals’ senses. A 40 page picture book, it has attractive art and lots of text boxes to encourage curious, budding biologists. From fish that pass gas to communicate to the taste buds of pigs and everything in between, this book is full of fascinating facts about senses. ISBN 978-1-77278-123-6

It’s About Time, Pascale Estellon.From one second to one century, this book teaches young children about time. Combining information with activities, it touches on clocks, how to tell time, on calendars and seasons. 

ISBN 978-1-77147-006-3

Putting a whole different slant on telling time is the new release Once Upon An Hour byAnn Yu-Kyung Choi and Soyeon Kim. This bedtime picture book is based on the tradtional Korean practise of timekeeping with the 12 animals of the zodiac assigned to a section each of the 24 hour clock. 

ISBN 978-4598-2127-9

50 Climate Questions, Peter Christie, with fun art by Ross Kinnaird, poses an, often funny, question on each page with the answer chockful of information from ice ages to today, including temperatures, weather, greenhouse gasses and global warming. Besides questions, the book also has answers on how we can change our ways.

ISBN 978-1-55451-374-1

In a similar vein, but for older readers, Paul Fleischmann looks – in his book Eyes Wide Open – at the politics and psychology behind environmental headlines. Besides opening eyes to issues such as reducing carbon emissions, the book brings awareness of differences in media coverage of the issues. Great for (highschool) classroom discussions.

ISBN 978-0-7636-7545-5

Design Like Nature, Kim Woolcock and Megan Clendenan is another brand new, fabulous title in the important Orca Footprints series. Its subtitle is ‘Biomimicry for a Healthy Planet’. This book explains that humans design buildings and cities that change the environment. But what if we designed like nature, learning to design stronger, better, brighter and more sustainable by using nature’s examples? From solar power to natural dyes, from bullet trains to medicine this book looks at reducing our footprint and making the impossible, possible by learning from nature.

ISBN 978-1-4598-2464-5

For budding marine scientists, the book Orcas Everywhere by Mark Leiren-Young is a valuable resource. Exploring the ‘Mystery and History of Killer Whales’ this book has great photos and facts on all aspects of orcas: a look at aquariums, hunting skills, communication as well as what we can do to protect these valuable mammals of the sea.

ISBN 978-1-4598-1998-6

Science as a Political Statement

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I had the honour of meeting with a group of scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this summer, and I can tell you that it’s no secret within the organization that using the term ‘transgender’ in your budget proposal this year doesn’t fare well for funding prospects. This isn’t necessarily a brand new barrier; deciding what gets studied (and published) has always been a matter of politics, often favouring the dominant narrative and priorities of those in power (not typically transgender people).

Harvard palaeontologist, Stephen J. Gould, writes in his thought-provoking book, The Mismeasure of Man[1], about a history of “scientists” using the platform of their profession to further political agendas. For example, 19th century Europeans conducted “studies” attempting to prove the fallacy that certain races are genetically superiour. Gould explains the ways that bias and falsification can turn “biological evidence” into dangerously misleading “facts”, and how readily these distortions may become justification for discrimination. While we like to think of science as apolitical, it isn’t. What we decide to study/fund/publish is driven by the values of those in charge of bringing research to light[2]. Gould makes a case that power maintains itself through science.

The Washington Post this week reported that the Trump administration is prohibiting CDC officials from including some specific words on budget proposals: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based. There was no explanation accompanying the announcement, so the CDC and the rest of us are left guessing why. The mission of the CDC is to, “Protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S.” The organization covers all things health-related from general well-being to very specific, urgent zika virus research, and pretty much everything in between. (They also host an extensive resource on traveler’s health.)

According to the Washington Post article, in lieu of the terms ‘evidence-based’ or ‘science-based’, CDC analysts have been told to use the phrase: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes”. Which community does this refer to, I wonder? Probably not the transgender community – just a guess. While I understand that a political administration has some leverage within U.S. public organizations, I would also hope that the professionals in charge of carrying out their mission to protect the health and safety of a nation are encouraged to do so in a way that is both evidence-based and science-based, not discriminatory or politically-motivated.

May educators everywhere continue to teach their students about the scientific method, about the pitfalls of biases, about the critical importance of reliable and valid results, and about the inclusion of underrepresented populations. Perhaps the CDC of today is being dissuaded from working on such projects, but I hope that our current students, when they are professionals in their fields around the world, will gain attention and funding for their studies about populations that are vulnerable, issues of diversity, transgender people, and other under-researched topics, and that they may do so openly using evidence-based and science-based methods.

[1] Gould, S. J. (1981). The Mismeasure of man. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

[2] Suhay, E. & Druckman, J. N. (2015). The Politics of science. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 658(1), 6-15.