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

I, Galileo

September 26, 2012

Nonfiction Monday is at Shelf-employed.

I, Galileo

By Bonnie Christensen

Illustrated by author

Alfred A. Knopf, 2012

ISBN #078037586753

Grades 3-5

Nonfiction picture book

“Imagine a world with no clocks, thermometers, or telescopes. A world where everyone believes the earth stands still as the enormous sun travels around it once each day.”

Written in the voice of Galileo Galilei, the famous “father of modern science,” I, Galileo shows the brilliant yet human side of this radical thinker who was considered a heretic and imprisoned at the end of his life. The book traces Galileo’s work with his father to his interest in mathematics rather than medicine, as his father wished, to his studies that revolutionized astronomy.

Over time, people began to distrust Galileo and he went before the Inquisition, well-handled for young readers by Christensen in the lovely narrative text. Initially I was concerned at using first person to tell this story, but Christensen’s voice as Galileo’s manages to convey the information while keeping it authentic but readable for this age.

Back matter includes an afterward, chronology, Galileo’s experiments, inventions, and discoveries, along with a glossary, bibliography, and websites.

This is a wonderful book toread to introduce science to elementary aged readers and provides an insight into a world long past. It would be a good way to introduce standing up for your beliefs as well as promoting interest in science. This book is one that should be in every library.

Activity 1

Choose an invention or experiment and look it up to learn more about that invention. You may have to look up the individual inventions as you research.

Activity 2

Read about the phases of the moon and draw and label each phase.

This site has good information and diagrams.

This site gives some general information about Galileo.

This site has background on Galileo.

National science standards: forces and motion; influence of engineering, technology, and science on society and the natural world

Book provided by publisher for Librarians’ Choices Committee

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.

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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