Infinity and Me

November 14, 2012

Infinity and Me

by Kate Hosford

Illusgtrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

Carolrhoda Books (Lerner), 2012

ISBN #978-0761367260

Ages 5 and up

“How many stars were in the sky? A million? A billion? Maybe the number was as big as infinity. I started to feel very small. How could I even think about something as big as infinity?

Uma loves her new red shoes, but she can’t help wondering how big infinity really is. Using comparisons with familiar objects, she gets an idea about how big it really is. This beautifully illustrated picture book is a terrific way to introduce young children to the indefinite concept of infinity. The text flows smoothly and does an excellent job of explaining an abstract concept. In the end, Uma gets an up-close idea of how big infinity really is.

This book fits a wide range of ages and would appeal to listeners and readers alike. It could trigger a fascinating discussion in class and is a good way to introduce a Common Core lesson in any classroom. Try this one. It belongs in every school library!


Use a strand of cooked spaghetti for this activity. After it has cooled, stretch the spaghetti strand out. Measure it and then cut it in half. Measure the halves in standard and metric units. Continue cutting the half in half until you are unable to cut it further. Then talk about how it might be possible to cut it even down to a size you can’t see any more.

CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.A.2 Measure the length of an object twice, using length units of different lengths for the two measurements; describe how the two measurements relate to the size of the unit chosen.

Book provided by Blue Slip Media.

*This will be my last post for SimplyScience. I’m shuttering the blog because my writing career is getting so busy–that’s a good thing. Thank you to everyone who has read and shared my work. I’ll be leaving the archives up and who knows? Perhaps I’ll return in a year or so. Thanks to all of you!


Enterprise STEM

November 16, 2011

Enterprise STEM

By Shirley Duke

Let’s Explore Science series

Rourke, 2012 (is available now)

ISBN #978-1-61741-781-8

Grades 4-6


Enterprise STEM is one of my latest books and my author copies arrived last week! It’s a timely topic and I learned a great deal about the subject while writing it. There hasn’t been much written for children on this topic, so I’m pleased and excited to not only have been a woman in a STEM subject myself but to have had the opportunity to write about it.

Everyone has probably heard of STEM by now, but knowing what it is helps clarify its significance. It is NOT stem cell research, although that does fall into one of the STEM subjects. STEM is the future and it’s important to know what it is.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. The enterprise part of the subjects is included in the body of knowledge and steps it takes to acquire that knowledge by the people who work in it.

“I’d rather clean my room than do math.”

“Taking out the garbage is more fun than science.”

These comments reflect the attitudes of some students in schools today. Yet the falling far behind in world rankings in math and science scores.

The book defines Enterprise STEM and the subjects it incorporates. It tells characteristics of people who would be successful in STEM fields. It includes information about the collaboration among teams of scientists in a variety of fields and how they work to solve real world problems. It contains information about people working in STEM occupations and what they do and shows some of the technology that will help in the future. The final chapter includes ways students can get involved in STEM subjects at an early age so that as they work in these fields, they will be able to direct the future.

Short sidebars give additional information relating to STEM in some way. The book has a glossary, photos with captions, an index, websites to visit, and about the author—that’s me!

The next time someone mentions STEM, you’ll be familiar with the topic and able to discuss ways to incorporate these important subjects in your own field.


Look up and research products that came about as a result of the space program or developed by accident. Create a presentation that includes technology to share the findings.

NASA has a good list of products here and on the spinoff page.

This site has nine accidental discoveries, but you have to click through each one.

National Science Standards: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology; Influence of Engineering, Technology and Science on Society and the Natural World

Book provided by Rourke Publishing as author copies—and the author is me!

Math vs. Words

September 14, 2010

Exciting news! I’ve been asked to be a guest blogger on the award-winning web series “The Secret Life of Scientists.” The NOVA web series on PBS  kicks off this Wednesday, September 22.

Plus, it’s Nonfiction Monday. See Wrapped in Foil for all the great nonfiction posts and books in the children’s literature world this week.

And finally, I’m judging nonfiction picture books for the Cybils this year. I’ll be on the first round panel, so I think I’d better clear a few bookshelves. I can’t wait to see what’s nominated!


These are my books.

I love words, but I hate math. I struggled in math, and even considered changing my major from science to avoid the math. Glad I didn’t, but I still double check myself at times using my fingers. I think Ms. Calvin in 4th grade was the cause! Even though she did bring in slides of her extensive travels.

However, I turned out to be a good elementary math teacher for the struggling kids. I went through every single step and that seemed to make it clearer. Real math teachers often rush through the obvious steps, but they weren’t obvious to me. I understood how those kids felt.

Now I’ve come across these two books. I wish they’d been around when I was in elementary and junior high school (geometry made me cry) and when I taught math.

So what’s a science blog doing with math? Quantitative data–data that deals with numbers. Science requires keeping information and a great deal of it is math. Genetics, anyone? These two books can help equally the quick-thinking child or one who requires more explanation.

Math, A Book You Can Count On, reaches the early elementary–aged kids.

Help Your Kids With Math addresses the basics and then moves on to higher levels, including algebra, statistics, and more scary terms and functions you must know in higher mathematics.

So take a look at them both. Maybe they will open new doors–or maybe they will help someone who also hates math learn to like it a little more.



A Book You Can Count On!

By Dan Green

Created by Basher

Kingfisher, 2010

ISBN # 978-0753464199

Ages 7-12


This book takes the reader page by page from numbers to data, and everything in between. Narrated by a cartoony character, the text is humorous and informatively kid-friendly while defining the concepts. The opposite page illustrates the math concept until the data chapter, where the illustrations grow smaller to better include the more detailed information. The book includes an index, a glossary, and a tear-out math poster. I can see a kid poring over the information and reading just to find out how it’s said in a funny way.


Plant a bean seed, a radish seed and a corn seed in three separate cups. Water regularly. Collect the data on a day by day chart. When the first seed comes up, use a metric ruler to measure it. Keep the data for each plant every day for a month. Then graph the data. Use a different color for each kind of plant. The line graph will show the changes over time. Then compare the differences and write word problems with the data. You can do something with ratios, too, I think!

Practice creating a few line graphs using the data here.

This site has some good information, too.


Help Your Kids with Math

DK Publishing, 2010

ISBN # 9780756649791

Ages 8 and up


This book starts with an introduction to numbers and the basic operations. It goes on to explain using text and excellent visuals all the other math concepts, progressing from the simple functions to the higher level math concepts, including algebra, statistics, and probability. The text is dense and informative, explaining in detail each concept so that it builds on the previous one. The extensive reference section holds huge amounts of information, with a glossary and index that follow.

The book says it’s for parents struggling to understand their kids’ math, but I liked it for those great readers who might better learn the math by reading about it. This would be a wonderful reference text and there should be one in every math classroom.


Have the students develop their own activity relating to one of the topics from the book. Have them calculate the answer, and then demonstrate the activity to the others. An idea might be to measure a column in the building and calculate its diameter, or create a folded geometric shape and calculate the surface area. You may come up with a better idea—or the kids might!

National Science Standards: science as inquiry

Books provided by publishers–Kingfisher and DK Publishing


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