100 People Who Made History

October 31, 2012

100 People Who Made History

By Ben Gilliland

DK Publishing, 2012

ISBN #9780756690038

Grades 3-7 (Publisher lists ages 7-12)


“There are adventurous discoverers who boldly go where no one has gone before, sailing the high seas and finding new lands. Then there are the more stay-at-home types, who toil away in labs and the like and—eureka—discover something that will save millions of lives. Behind every great discovery is a remarkable person, whose courage and determination—and sometime plain luck—made the world the place it is today.”

I opened the book and the page fell to Dimitri Mendeleev, the scientist who developed the first periodic table of the elements. Early pages of the book begin with the great explorers, like Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus, and then moves on to the great early scientists: Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, and Charles Darwin.

Each spread is devoted to a great explorer, philosopher, historian, leader, or inventor in many different fields, including popular culture and the arts. The two pages are presented in a series of sidebars set off by photographs that break the information into small chunks packed with facts. One section details their early life, education, how they arrived at their achievement, and other sets of interesting facts. The bottom text and art on the pages tells of others who came along and used the information to develop further ideas.

The back matter includes a section titled “Let’s Applaud…,” which includes those who didn’t quite make the top 100 of American and Canadian history, a glossary, and index. This book allows readers to “Meet the people who shaped the modern world” and allows them to make their own discoveries of those intrepid explorers who changed the world in some way. 

This book fits easily into elementary and middle school libraries and is well-suited to the Common Core Curriculum. It contains a helpful table of contents grouped by achievements and would be a fascinating read for any age interested in learning more about a specific person. It’s a great jumping off place for biographies and first nonfiction research. I loved the book and I think kids will, too.


Select an explorer from two different categories. List the events in their life. Then make a chart to compare their experiences. 

This site has more information about other people and their achievements.

Here’s another list.

National Science Standard: Core Idea ETS2: Links Among Engineering, Technology, Science, and Society; ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology

CCSS: I.5.3. Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

Book provided by DK Publishing

Citizen Scientists

July 18, 2012

Citizen Scientists

By Loree Griffin Burns

Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

Henry Holt, 2012

ISBN #9780805095173

Grades 3-7


“It’s not a phrase you hear every day, and it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But citizen science is the beating heart of this book, so we’d better start by defining it.”

“Citizen science, then, is the study of our world by the people who live in it.”

Swing a net to catch a monarch butterfly. Count birds in the winter. Identify frog calls in the spring. Sweep a net to identify ladybugs in the summer. You’ll be a scientist, too.

Citizen Scientist is a fascinating narrative combined with carefully explained sets of procedures that sweeps readers into the world of science that they can do. Their participation becomes a significant part of real life scientific research and teaches young people the skills and values of science in their lives.

Burns’s book takes readers on an adventure that leads them directly into the world of science that is found in their own neighborhood. It gives kids the power to contribute to the body of knowledge about the four animals discussed in the book: monarch butterflies, birds, frogs, and ladybugs. Her second person narrative is friendly and encouraging, giving the reader the sense she’s talking directly to them. Each section has a checklist for the equipment and gear needed to study that animal. Additional information is included about the specifics of each of the animals’ studies. This information is enhanced by the lovely photographs by Harasimowicz.

A “Now What?” section give resources for each animal about books and sources for more facts and the groups that organize the information presented in the book. More resources, quiz answers, a bibliography, and glossary round out the back matter.

 I heard Loree talking about this book last year and wondered what it would be like. She’s hit on a terrific format that puts kids directly into science in a fun, meaningful way. This book hits the Common Core Standards perfectly and is likely to inspire budding scientists and novices alike to be involved. It’s a book for everyone—kids, parents, teachers, and librarians. Who knows what future scientist will get her or his start by reading this book?


Choose one of the animals and look up the organizations that work with studying it. Find out more about how you can become involved. Make a model of the butterfly or ladybug, or learn two or three frog calls. Check out a bird book and identify three birds in your backyard. Then maybe you’ll participate in one of the events talked about in the book.

Resources: Check out the extensive list Burns added to the back matter for more information.

Read Loree’s article about involving kids in science at an early age.

Here’s a review from 100 Scope Notes. 

National Science Standards: biodiversity and humans; applied science

Book provided by Henry Holt and Company BFYR

The Scientists Behind THE ENVIRONMENT

February 1, 2012

February 3, 2012 STEM FRIDAY

Welcome to STEM FRIDAY! Leave your links and information in the comments and I’ll update throughout the day.

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff has a review of Step Inside!, a poetry book about animal habitats by Catherine Ham.

Sue at Archimedes Notebook reviews Inside Earthquakes and includes a short interview by author,  Melissa Stewart.

Join Roberta at Growing With Science, where they’re learning all about Desert Tortoises by Elizabeth Black.

Rourke Publishing is featuring  Understanding Biomes by Jeanne Sturm.

Anastasia at Picture Book of the Day has Feeding the Sheep and at Chapter Book of the Day offers Glaciers (Eye to Eye with Endangered Habitats)

Thanks for joining me for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math last FRIDAY. Be sure to check back on March 7 for a special guest post with Fred Bortz, author of Meltdown!

The Scientists Behind the Environment

By Robert Sneddon

Capstone, Heinemann Raintree, 2011

Sci-Hi Series

ISBN:  9781410940469

Grades 6-10 (reading level grade 4)


“We read and hear a lot about the environment in the news. Often we’re told that we should do what we can to protect it. But what do we actually mean by ‘the environment?’ Your environment is everything around you. It includes all the other living things you come into contact with, such as bird, bugs, and your buddies!”

You may recognize the names John Muir, Rachel Carson, and Wangara Maathai. However, James Lovelock, James Hansen, and Vandana Shiva may not be so familiar.

The Scientists Behind the Environment begins with an explanation of the environment and extends it to its broadest form. It continues with a definition of ecology and touts the value of conservation and sustainable development. Then the scientists arrive.

Each of the scientists discussed are introduced and followed with an interesting set of facts, sidebars, and photographs showing their work and contribution to our environment. The book is a fascinating exploration of each persons’ work and addresses common and controversial topics.

This is an excellent book to accompany a study of the environment, pros and cons of ecological actions, biographies, and current events. The layout is reader-friendly and invites a quick perusal or reading for details. It’s the perfect book for strong elementary readers, middle school, and early high school.


Choose one of the lesser known scientists and read a biography about that person or research their contributions. Develops a way to show those contributions and present the information in an interesting manner.

National Science Standards: Application of science, along with the individual fields.

Book provided by Capstone.

Secret of the Bloody Hippo…and More!

July 27, 2011

Secret of the Bloody Hippo…and More!

By Ana Maria Rodriguez

Enslow, 2009

Animal Secrets Revealed! series

ISBN #978-0-7660-2958-3

Grades 5-9

“Peyton West was hooked. It was a wonderful idea! People had been wondering about why lions have manes for more than two hundred years. But nobody had the answer. Nobody had gone where lions live in the wild to do the experiments that would answer the question. Now she had decided to find the answer herself.”

In Secret of the Bloody Hippo, the scientific method is employed to find the answer to five animal mysteries in this fascinating book for middle school aged young people. Rodriguez takes the reader through the investigation of different scientists as they explore the reasons for specific animal behaviors. The studies include why lions have manes, the purpose of the guttural pouch in horses, the reason for giraffe scents, why hippos appear to sweat blood, and how animals can see in the dark.

The information in the book isn’t something readers run across every day and it made for an interesting read. It provides straightforward science and shows how questions are answered in a scientific manner. It’s a solid nonfiction book for that aged student and should appeal to boys, girls, animal enthusiasts, and reluctant readers. Sidebars, photographs, and experiments liven up and support the text. Back matter includes chapter notes, glossary, further reading, internet sites, and an index. Rodriguez’s book would make a terrific addition to middle school and public libraries. See more about her at her website.


Find out more about interesting animal behaviors. Look up tartigrades to find out how durable they are, explore why starfish can regenerate arms, why bees dance, why primates groom one another, or why some frogs swallow their own eggs.

These sites can help find answers to the topics.






National Science Standards: structure and function in living systems; diversity and adaptations of organisms

 Book provided by author


Super Women in Science

August 11, 2010

Super Women in Science

By Kelly Di Domenico

Second Story Press, 2004 (second printing)

ISBN #1-896764-66-5

Grades 4-8


      “Imagine trying to be a scientist during the 19th century, when men were even trying to use science to prove that women were inferior. They said that because a woman’s brain is shaped differently than a man’s, she must be less intelligent. Well, Marie Curie was a scientist at that time and her work with radioactivity earned her two Nobel prizes!

       The attitude that women were not smart enough to be scientists prevailed for a long time, but many women simply ignored it. They were curious about the world around them and wanted to play a part in discovering and understanding all its wonders.”

Any girl interested in science, or in pursuing her own dreams, even if they aren’t science, should read this book. It made me proud to be a woman who studied science, although my career led to teaching it. These fascinating stories of women who made their own way while overcoming great odds in the interest of science shows their struggles, the discrimination they faced, and the dedication they had to persevere and leave their mark on the scientific community.

Super Women in Science relates the path each woman took in developing her interest in science and her contribution to the body of science we have today. I first learned of Rosalind Franklin when I was working on my science book, You Can’t Wear These Genes. Franklin’s work in radiography was shown to Watson and Crick without her knowledge by her so-called colleague, leading them to realize the double helix shape of DNA. As a biology major, I knew of the two men. But I’d never heard of Rosalind Franklin, her work, or her struggle to be taken seriously by the men with whom she worked. It took an interview with a friend’s daughter in molecular biology to point this out.

The book begins with Hypatia–yes, that far back—to 355-415! It continues with Mary Anning, Harriet Brooks Pitcher, Rachel Carson, Rosalind Franklin, Birute Galdikas, and Mae Jemison, among others. Most of their discoveries were familiar; it was the names that were unknown to me. The writing is clear and concise, with science terms or vocabulary relating to the different fields of science explained within the text. After an introductory paragraph, each chapter is filled with the woman’s story set in the context of that time and how she overcame the resistance to being in her particular field of science. Small sidebars add short facts to the text.

This exciting book should be in every elementary and middle school library. Not just filled with facts, it’s an inspiring and hope-filled book with every chapter and woman scientist portrayed. I very often like the books I blog about a great deal, but I loved this book. I wish it had been around when I was young.

Activity 1

Categorize the discoveries by the fields of science in which the women from the book worked. See if there was any sort of correlation you can find. Which areas of science seem most interesting to you?

Activity 2

Use this site to look up some less familiar women scientists. Choose one and research further about her contributions to science.

Visit Nonfiction Monday at Apples With Many Seeds to see more great posts.

National science standards: science as a human endeavor; history of science

Book provided by publisher


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