The Science of Soldiers

June 6, 2012

The Science of Soldiers

By Lucia Raatma

The Science of War Series

Compass Point Books, 2012

ISBN #9780756544607

Grades 6-9


“Not everyone is able to be a soldier. It takes a certain kind of m an or woman to put on a uniform and face danger. For this reason soldiers are carefully screened and thoroughly trained before they go on active duty.”

This fascinating book explains the advances in military technology and how technology is being made and used to protect and aid the soldiers in the United States. My interest in the book was heightened by having a son working as a civilian at a military installation and seeing the technology he uses and develops to make safer training situations for the soldiers working there.

Different aspects of the military in all branches are covered, from fitness and basic training to eating and protective gear and equipment. Each category is covered by a chapter and the science behind the developments is carefully explained in a way readers can understand. From night vision to weapons to heating meals, how soldiers live and work is filled with amazing new changes. GPS, Kevlar, body armor, bullet tracing acoustics, rucksacks, and Bluetooth prosthetics all provide necessary means of protecting soldiers, saving lives in battle, and helping returning soldiers recover from injuries.

This is a book that will appeal to middle school  readers and those readers with an interest in the military or with family members leaving for service. It’s written in a factual, narrative style and sidebars add extra information. The back matter includes a glossary, read more section, internet sites, a bibliography, and index. It’s good to know that technology, so prevalent in everyday lives, is also at work to protect the lives of those serving in the military.


Choose one of the new forms of technology discussed in the book and further research it. From the research, write an additional paragraph that would go along as a sidebar in the book. Use the voice and style of the author to convey your facts.

How Stuff Works has some information about technology.

This army site has links to various forms of current technology.

National Science Standards: influence of engineering, technology and science on society and the natural world

Book provided by Capstone


January 11, 2012

High-Tech Olympics

Olympic Series

By Nick Hunter

Heinemann Library, 2012

ISBN #9781410941213

Grades 3-5


“In the Olympic stadium, three athletes stand on the medal podium. They wear medals around their necks, a bronze medal for the athlete who finished third, silver for second, and gold for the Olympic champion. The athletes have proved they are the best in the world.”

Winning a medal at the Olympics takes skill, dedication, and hard work. But without technology, Olympic athletes are at a distinct disadvantage. High-Tech Olympics identifies the variety of technology used to improve the performance of athletes in their sports through health, clothing, and tools used in their individual sports. Divided into different sports, the book tells of the uses technology has provided in that sport. Individual sidebars give additional information about sports and technology in brightly colored boxes, including some para-Olympic information. Also mentioned is how technology has helped limit the tools when they grew too helpful to be safe.

Large photos with captions support the thorough text and later chapters include cheating, the future of technology, drug testing, and the limits of technology. Back matter has an Olympic record spread for different sports and how technology has changes, and index, and a glossary.

As a long time Olympics lover, this book was a fascinating and fun read. Want to include more technology information in your class, home, or library? This book is a wonderful way to do so and is timely with the 2012 Olympics taking place this summer inLondon. Wish you could be there? Read this book!

Activity 1

Introduce the metric system by looking up the units. Then look up the lengths of some of the running races in the Olympics. Convert the metric units toU.S.standard units. Discuss which system is easier to use!

Steve Spangler’s site has some more about technology and the Olympics.

The pictures on this page show the running event lengths.

See more events with metric measures here.

This site has good information about the metric system.

This site has information about conversions. Choose your method.

Activity 2

Explore the technology of one Olympic event and identify ways it has changed, helped, or improved the sport.

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

Book provided by Capstone Press

BIOMIMICRY Inventions Inspired by Nature

January 4, 2012

I’m a Round 2 Cybils judge for the Middle Grade/Young Adult Nonfiction. Congratulations to all the nominees and finalists. See the list of finalists in this category here.

Now back to 2012 SimplyScience.

Biomimicry  Inventions Inspired by Nature

By Dora Lee

Illustrated by Margot Thompson

Kids Can Press, 2011

ISBN #978-1-55453-467-8

Grades 4-7


“Somehow, every other species has made this planet its home without destroying it. If they can do it, why can’t we?

More and more, people are realizing how much we can learn from nature. Mabye what works in nature will work for us, too. These ideas lie at the heart of biomimicry—‘bios’ means life and ‘mimicry’ means imitating.”

Biomimicry explores patterns found in the diversity of nature as the inspiration for technology and inventions that benefit people. From nature’s sustainable patterns, people are inspired to use those patterns to solve current problems on Earth and beyond. The book gives specific examples of ways nature has triggered useful inventions and suggests possibilities for how it may help our future. From Velcro to bullet trains, examples abound. Short, information- packed sections about the different nature-inspired inventions follows an introduction section that organizes the inventions in that group.

Subdued earth tones in the acrylic on canvas highlight the text and the forms in nature that inspired the technology. The art suggests rather than details the natural inspiration, which is well covered in the densely packed pages. The overall look suggests that it is for older readers and not a young children’s picture book. The final spread concludes with a charge to sustain the future of humans on Earth and live within the limits of the web of life on this planet.

This book provides a fascinating look at a range of inventions resulting from nature. It gives a challenge and inspiration to look to nature for solutions to very real problems on Earth. The book includes a glossary and index.


Review some of the ways humans have adapted inspiration from nature using examples in the book. Then have the readers create their own design for an invention based on a form in nature. The “On the Move” chapter provides adaptable suggestions.

Here are some examples of biomimicry.

This site has more information about biomimicry.

National Science Standard: biodiversity and humans; influence of engineering, science, and technology on society and the natural world

Book provided by publisher for Librarians’ Choices book review committee at TWU.

Olympic Technology will be here next week. I left the book behind while traveling!

Extra! Extra! This link has some fun, general teaching ideas about science and math.

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!

Seven Wonders of Space Technology

June 15, 2011

Seven Wonders of Space Technology

By Fred Bortz

Twenty-first Century Books/Lerner, 2011

ISBN #978-0-7613-5453-6

Ages 10-14


“Astronomy is humanity’s oldest science. People have studies the night sky for thousands of years. Ancient monuments such as Stonehenge in England or Chichen Itza in Mexico were probably the great observatories of their time.”

Seven Wonders of Space Technology takes the reader on a journey through space and the technology that allowed science to get there and explore in a way the past civilizations only dreamed about. Bortz’s choices for the seven greatest space technologies stem from the popular seven wonders of the ancient world sort of lists. And he has some compelling reading in his lists.

His introduction begins with the great observatories following some background information about history, the electromagnetic spectrum, and the science of the observatories. The book continues with the International Space Station and how it came about. Satellites, the Moon with its Moon water, the Mars Rover, future study of the planets and beyond, and future technology are covered in the book. The information is fascinating and detailed, yet explained in a manner that anyone can read, learn, and enjoy.

The back matter is rich and varied. It includes a bibliography, further reading, a glossary, index, source notes, a timeline, and websites. This book is for the upper elementary grades and that hard to grab middle school age students. For reference or fun, this book makes the difficult subject of space technology accessible and interesting.


Write an explanation of the issue of water, space travel, and the Moon. Describe the problems and possible solutions to address this problem.

The NASA site

International Space Station site

National Science Standards: Earth in the solar system; abilities of technological design; understandings about science and technology


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