Sign up for free

The Big Blog of Seasonal STEM Books

seasonal stem

These seasonal STEM books are a great starting point for STEM learning. Use them to find out more about real-world STEM and perhaps even inspire an activity!

Simply scroll down to the Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter sections to find out more about each book. Click on the image to find the book on Amazon.






Have we missed a great seasonal book? Comment below and we’ll add it on.

Sweetie STEM

Sweetie STEM - Children Engagement

We all know what a struggle it can be to get children to engage with a concept, particularly when we only have a pencil and paper to help us explain it. The more hands-on we can make it, the better. So…

What better way to get children’s engagement than to use sweets?

Here are a few activity ideas that you can complete with a pack of colourful sweeties. For example, Skittles or Smarties would work well. These activities help to bring learning to life, give the learning a purpose and, perhaps most importantly of all, you get to eat the sweets at the end!

Data Handling

Screenshot 2020 01 03 at 20.07.39
Screenshot 2020 01 03 at 20.07.10
Screenshot 2020 01 03 at 20.07.19

To begin, take your sweets and sort them by colour. Using a few packets together helps to create a larger sample size for your data handling. Younger children will enjoy ordering them into a simple pictograph, illustrating which colour is represented the most. Older children can instead represent this information in a bar chart. If you’re looking for a further challenge, move on to creating a pie chart, calculating the fractions and percentages of each colour. You could also compare your sweetie data with a partner, considering the following questions:

  • What do you notice about your graph?
  • Was there an even distribution of colours across the packets?
  • Which two colours have the maximum difference between them?

Shape, Space and Measure

Screenshot 2020 01 03 at 20.07.58
Screenshot 2020 01 03 at 20.07.49
Screenshot 2020 01 03 at 20.07.26

Estimating and Comparing: Before you open the packet, estimate how many sweets you think will be inside it, including how many of each colour. Then open it up and find out if your estimation was correct! It’s interesting to compare packets, exploring whether there is an even distribution of each colour. Older children could calculate the ratios of different colours.

2D Shapes: Younger children could arrange their sweets to create different 2D shapes, as shown in the photo above. They could then count how many sweets fit into each shape. Another activity could be to create symmetrical patterns with the sweeties, or even to create half a symmetrical pattern for a partner to complete. Just be careful your fingers don’t get to warm and melt the coating off the sweets!

Number patterns: This is a really fun way of exploring patterns! Begin a sequence for your child to complete, discussing what the pattern is and how they knew what colours to add next.


Photo 07 01 2020 15 17 26 rotated
Photo 07 01 2020 15 19 33 rotated
Photo 07 01 2020 15 23 10 rotated

This activity is really easy to resource and the results are always amazing to watch! Arrange your sweets in a symmetrical pattern around a plate, pour warm water into the middle and watch the coating on the sweets diffuse, creating a beautiful pattern in the water.

Share how you got on with these activities in the comments below and add any other sweetie related STEM activity ideas. 

How do you make clear ice cubes?

how do you make clear ice cubes

When it comes to making ice cubes I suspect we all have a similar technique: run the cold tap, fill up the ice cube moulds with cold water, pop in the freezer for a few hours and then remove as needed. In doing this, have you ever stopped to notice that the ice cubes you create are cloudy? In fact, they may well look like these images below:

Which got me thinking….

ice cube questions

The answer is simple and it has a lot to do with both the temperature of the water used to create the ice cubes and the way that the ice is frozen.To demonstrate this I’ve conducted a little experiment.

The Experiment

STEP 1: Take an ice cube tray and fill it with two different temperatures of water. Fill half the tray with water taken directly from the cold tap. Meanwhile the other half of the tray is filled with boiling water, straight from the kettle. Note: recently boiled water rather than water from the hot tap is best for demonstrating this. Adult supervision will be needed when trying this activity with children.

STEP 2: Carefully place your tray on a flat surface in the freezer. Make sure you’ve made a note of which end contains hot water and which contains cold!

STEP 3: Leave for a few hours, then remove and pop the ice cubes out to see the results!


What Are We Learning?

Boiling removes air bubbles from the liquid, allowing the water molecules to stick together even harder in the freezer. Removing these air bubbles also reduces the risk of the ice cube cracking or breaking into smaller pieces, meaning your drink stays colder for longer!

When we place the ice cube tray into the freezer, the water in the ice cube tray freezes at the outside of the cube first. This is the first part to cool down in the cold air of your freezer. As the water freezes, it pushes any impurities into the unfrozen part of the water. This means that any cloudiness is pushed to the centre of the ice cube as this is the final area to freeze. One way to counteract this is to use a technique called ‘directional freezing’ where the ice is frozen on one side first so all the cloudiness is pushed in the same direction. For example, if you freeze the ice from the top downwards then the cloudiness is pushed to the bottom, where it can then be chipped off to create a perfectly clear ice cube.

Next time you’re out at a restaurant, take a look at the ice cubes in your drink to see how clear they are!


Origami and STEM

origami and stem

There’s something about origami that really seems to capture children’s imagination. In almost every class across the country you’re likely to find at least one child with a real passion for origami. Many a show-and-tell has been dominated by incredible paper-folding creations, from water bombs to paper dragons. Think back to your own school days. Which of these origami classics do you remember creating?

Origami is the ancient art of Japanese paper folding. For many, a love of origami stems from childhood. As much as we might marvel at this paper art-form,

Do we see its hidden STEM potential?

Origami has evolved to be much more than paper folding. Here are some examples, along with examples of how their STEM potential is applied in the real-world.

In primary school, origami is a fantastic way to explore mathematical concepts including geometry, fractions and angles. Turning a simple square of paper into a piece of completed origami involves a lot of mathematical thinking. Origami instructions involve following steps of folds, often referred to as ‘crease patterns’, in order to create different geometric constructions. Children will need to use knowledge of directionality and angles in order to complete these correctly. Throughout the process they will create other shapes starting from a square including equilateral triangles, pentagons and hexagons. Patterns also feature heavily in origami.

Check out this video about the maths and magic of origami:

Many of the real-world applications for origami can be found within engineering. Take car airbags for example. Did you know that their compact, quick inflating design was inspired by origami? Engineers took inspiration from origami patterns and folding methods to deploy how the airbag is stored and deployed. Engineers are continuing to draw upon origami techniques when developing new structures and technologies.

In 2003, a new, origami-inspired heart stent design was created. Designed around an origami water bomb base, the purpose of the stent was to enlarge clogged arteries and veins. The origami design allows the stent to be expanded to different sizes depending on its application. Likewise, origami-inspired forceps are helping to revolutionise robotic surgery, allowing for delicate, precise cuts.

There are plenty of examples of origami-inspired space technology. One such is the solar array. The combination of different folds expands into a large, flat circular surface. These solar arrays can then be used to convert solar energy into electrical power. More examples of how NASA engineers use origami to design future spacecraft can be found here:

And all this is just the start! So next time you see a child folding their paper to make an origami creation, use it as an opportunity to share with them the hidden STEM potential and real-world applications of origami.

This post has been included in Twinkl’s End of Terms Activities blog.

8 ways to teach robotics



“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

– Malcolm X

In the fast paced digital world in which we live, barely a week goes by without the release of a new device or app. The children of today have grown up with this digital revolution and rely heavily on technology for entertainment, communication and information. As we look ahead it would be foolish to underestimate the impact that technology, automation and artificial intelligence will have on the future workplace. From driverless cars to robotics, the world is changing fast. The question is:

Are we teaching children the the skills they need to prepare them for the technological advances of the future?

Plus, with school budgets stretched to the limit, how can we provide forward-thinking technology education on a budget? We’ve put together a few ideas linked to the world of robotics…


These colourful programmable floor robots are a great way to teach directionality, programming and sequencing and are perfect for the 5-11 age range. A great way to begin is by marking out simple routes for the Bee-Bot to follow. For example, try sticking masking tape onto carpet to create a maze. Once children have got to grips with this, challenge them to devise and program and debug their own more complex routes. Currently retailing for £57.94 here on

Lego Mindstorms

Lego Mindstorms

This educational program helps children to design, program and control robotic creatures, vehicles, machines and inventions. Lego is combined with programmable brick, motors and sensors, so you can make your creations walk, talk, grab, think, shoot and do almost anything you can imagine! These kits are on the pricier side at around £270 here but once purchased can be used again and again.

Lego WeDo

This resource is developed for primary aged children as an introduction to control technology and programming using robotics. The software is clear and intuitive for young children and comes in the form of an app. Click on their website here to find out more and download sample software and curriculum packs for free.

Raspberry Pi

This is a small, affordable computer that you can use for programming. Use it to learn to program with Scratch. You can kit yourself out with a Raspberry Pi here for around £36. Then head to their website to learn how to use this device in the classroom and take advantage of their free online training.


These ping pong ball sized robotic balls can be controlled by an app and can even use facial recognition technology to drive the ball. They contain LED lights to allow them to glow many colours. The app is quick and intuitive for children to use. They’ll love navigating their Sphero around mazes and obstacles. Currently retailing for £49.99 here on

Vex Robotics

Each kit comes with step-by-step instructions to build and program your robot. Kits include robotic arms, catapults and zip flyers. Each kits varies in price with the hydraulic robotic arm (pictured) currently retailing for £33.49 here on


Scratch allows the user to program their own interactive stories, games and animations. These programming skills are likely to come in hand in the future as the ‘language of robotics’. What’s more, you can connect and program hardware such as Raspberry Pi and Lego Mindstorms through Scratch. If you’re not already familiar with this fab free software then click here to find out.

nasa robotics

Nasa Robotics

The Nasa Robotics website is full of fantastic free resources for educators and children. This includes lesson plans and examples of how robots such as the Mars Exploration Rover have been used in space. Check it out here.

 Have you used a good robotics resource that we haven’t included? If so then comment below.

Teaching Soft Skills Through STEM

teaching soft skills through stem education

The Prince’s Trust recently surveyed teachers, parents and pupils to ask them about the place of soft skills in education. Their Results for Life report (see here) was published in September, and found that:

  • 43% of young people don’t feel prepared to enter the workforce, with 43% of those who feel this way believing their soft skills are not good enough
  • More than a quarter of teachers (27%) think that their students don’t yet have all the soft skills required to do well after school
  • 72% of workers felt they didn’t have all the soft skills to do well in their role when they started working

These findings are nothing new. For years we’ve seen reports telling us how employers value soft skills over technical knowledge in graduates and how soft skills are the main deficit in new graduates’ capabilities.

So what are soft skills and why are they so important?

Hard skills are the teachable abilities that we measure in schools such as reading, writing and mathematics. By contrast, soft skills are harder to quantify and tend to be self-developed. Examples are communication, teamwork, time management, resilience and problem solving. The Results For Life report concludes that such skills are considered to be as important to achieving success in life as good grades, by young people, teachers and workers alike. Whilst hard skills are indispensable, it is soft skills that help candidates stand out from the crowd and succeed in both the workplace and in life. Some employers claim to value them even more than professional experience. These soft skills often carry greater weight when applying for positions of leadership; I’m sure we can all think of a person in a position of leadership who has achieved this more for their exceptional soft skills than their technical abilities.

What can schools do to develop soft skills?

In his foreword to the ‘I CAN’ ‘Skills for Work, Skills for Life’ report (see here) Bob Reitemeier wrote that

despite recent attention from business and education sectors recognising the role soft skills play in work-readiness, the skills gap continues – with young people being overlooked because they lack this core skill set’.

With an education system focused on quantifiable academic success it’s no surprise that soft skills are pushed aside. Young people in the UK are under great pressure to succeed in exams, and spend an increasing amount of time working independently, often with a fear of criticism and failure. As a result, development of soft skills like team working and spoken communication can take a back seat; yet such associated qualities such as humility and self-confidence can improve the overall academic performance that we care so much about. It’s clearly time for schools to integrate the development of soft skills into the curriculum. One way of doing this is through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

Boosting soft skills through STEM Education

STEM-related careers are one of the fastest growing areas of employment and STEM graduates are in a position to earn some of the highest starting salaries. Soft skills are increasingly required in these industries, in particular communication, teamwork, self-organisation and critical thinking. Done well, STEM activities can also be a way of developing soft skills.

Take a recent primary school STEM project. The year six children arrived at school to a crime scene: their school trophy had been stolen and the culprit had left a trail of destruction in their wake. Over the course of the week, the children collaborated together to solve the crime, classifying fingerprints, predicting the height of the criminal from their footprints, using paper chromatography to analyse written evidence and building up a profile of the criminal. They were visited by a policeman and a forensic scientist, found out about their roles in solving crimes, and ended the week by interviewing the suspects and successfully identifying the culprit.

The example above uses an interdisciplinary, project-based learning approach to teaching, based on solving real-world problems. It ticks a lot of boxes in terms of developing the soft skills our young people need. As with many STEM activities, it also involves a certain level of trial and error. However, these setbacks also teach important soft skills, helping children to develop the resilience and perseverance needed in life. One criticism from employees against our education system is that graduates are not adept at problem-solving, expecting to be told what to do rather than figuring it out themselves. STEM education is one way to combat this. When participating in STEM projects, children must learn to work in a team, listen to each other and communicate their ideas to others.

Young people recognise they need better soft skills, employers expect them, and teachers want to deliver them: better STEM education has been on the agenda for a long time, and by focusing on a real-world, problem-based approach, we can get enhanced soft skills into the bargain too.

Our top 10 space books for 7-11yrs

top 10 space books 7-11yrs

If you’re preparing to blast off into space, you’ll probably want to take a good book. The same can be said if you’re about to embark on a space topic. Luckily for you we’ve got plenty of books to recommend. The books in this list are suitable for 7-11yr olds. To see our recommendations for 4-7yr olds click here.

Ready… steady…. blast off!

10. The Astronauts Handbook

Astronaut's Handbook


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Discover how you become an astronaut, the training you must undertake, how you travel into space and what you do when you’re up there. With a foreword from ESA astronaut Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to embark on a mission to the International Space Station. Published in association with the UK Space Agency.

For click here             For click here

9. Older Than The Stars


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: How old are you? Older than you think. In a way, we are all as old as the universe itself. In fact, every bit of every one of us was created in the Big Bang, billions of years ago. Stunning illustrations and lively verse tell the story of the cosmic connections that tie human beings to the beginning of the universe. Simple, informative prose provides additional facts.

For click here               For click here

8. Margaret and the Moon

Margaret and the Moon

SUGGESTED AGE: 6-9 years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. She knew how many miles it was to the moon (and how many back). She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world. Soon math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She handwrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Apollo 8. Apollo 9. Apollo 10. Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed.

For click here              For click here

7. Pluto’s Secret

Pluto's Secret

SUGGESTED AGE: 6-10 years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: People, children especially, have been baffled, bewildered, and even outraged by the fact that Pluto is no longer called a planet. Through whimsical artwork and an entertaining dialogue format, Pluto’s Secret explains the true story of this distant world. Providing a history of the small, icy world from its discovery and naming to its recent reclassification, this book presents a fascinating look at how scientists organise and classify our solar system as they gain new insights into how it works and what types of things exist within it. The book includes a glossary and bibliography.

For click here              For click here

6. Cool Astronomy

Cool Astronomy


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: 50 fun, simple and entertaining ways to improve your understanding of astronomy for kids of all ages! Discover how telescopes are made, learn about invisible light and study the scale of the universe in a way you’ll never forget! The follow-up to the popular Cool Science and Cool Maths, also by Portico. Inside this mega-jam-packed book are fifty fact-tastic ways to advance and improve your astronomy skills so you’ll never feel alone in the universe again! Learn amazing space-related tricks such as how to watch a solar eclipse safely and mapping stars from your own back garden, right down to expertly simplifying the supermassive numbers and distances involved in the space between space so you’ll never forget them! With Cool Astronomy, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the universe, from Asteroids to Zubenelgenubi… and almost everything in between!

For click here               For click here

5. Women In Space

Women In Space


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Women in Space profiles 23 pioneers, including Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the space shuttle; Peggy Whitson, who logged more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station; and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; as well as astronauts from Japan, Canada, Italy, South Korea, France, and more. Readers will also learn about the Mercury 13, American women selected by NASA in the late 1950s to train for spaceflight. Though they matched and sometimes surpassed their male counterparts in performance, they were ultimately denied the opportunity to head out to the launching pad. Their story, and the stories of the pilots, physicists, and doctors who followed them, demonstrate the vital role women have played in the quest for scientific understanding.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then check out our profiles of some of the women featured, using them as a basis for further research.

For click here                For click here

4. A Users Guide to the Universe

A User's Guide to the Universe

SUGGESTED AGE: 10+ years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Answers to science’s most enduring questions from “Can I break the light-speed barrier like on Star Trek?” and “Is there life on other planets?” to “What is empty space made of?” This is an indispensable guide to physics that offers readers an overview of the most popular physics topics written in an accessible, irreverent, and engaging manner while still maintaining a tone of wry skepticism. Even the novice will be able to follow along, as the topics are addressed using plain English and (almost) no equations. Veterans of popular physics will also find their nagging questions addressed, like whether the universe can expand faster than light, and for that matter, what the universe is expanding into anyway. Gives a one-stop tour of all the big questions that capture the public imagination including string theory, quantum mechanics, parallel universes, and the beginning of time Explains serious science in an entertaining, conversational, and easy-to-understand way Includes dozens of delightfully groan-worthy cartoons that explain everything from special relativity to Dark Matter Filled with fascinating information and insights, this book will both deepen and transform your understanding of the universe.

For click here            For click here

3. The Night Sky

The Night Sky


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Children eight and up will enjoy this conversational but information-packed introduction to astronomy and stargazing, which includes the achievements of the great scientists, the history of space exploration, the story of our solar system, the myths behind the constellations, and how to navigate the night sky. Whimsical color illustrations on every page and handy definitions and sidebars help engage younger readers and develop their interest. The special star wheel helps locate stars and planets from any location at any time of year. This is the third in Black Dog & Leventhal’s successful series including The Story of the Orchestra and A Child’s Introduction to Poetry.

For click here              For click here

2. Astronomy & Space

Astronomy & Space


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: A comprehensive guide to the solar system accompanied by mesmerising photography and intricate illustrations. Children can learn about star groups, explore space and follow the Usborne Quicklinks to find out more. A great book to dip in and out of, for homework and for pleasure.

For click here              For click here

1. The Astronaut Instruction Manual


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Endorsed by authors, teachers, and congressman alike, Mike Mongo’s Astronaut Instruction Manual excites a new generation of space explorers. The book, designed for children between the ages of 6 and 13, is a functioning, interactive instruction manual. Using mad-lib-style fill-in-the-blanks, Mongo encourages his readers to articulate and illustrate their own vision of next-generation space travel. The Astronaut Instruction Manual captures a new era of enthusiasm for space exploration, driven in part by new space celebrities (Commander Chris Hadfield, Elon Musk), and in part by a shift in popular interest in space (SpaceX rockets, The Mars Colonial Transporter, Kerbal).”

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then link it to our profiles of inspiring astronauts, using them as a basis for further research.

For click here              For click here

See our space books & apps page for other great books for this age range such as ‘Phoenix’ , ‘George’s Secret Key to the Universe‘, ‘The War of the Worlds‘ and ‘Cosmic‘.

Our top 10 space books for 4-7yrs

top 10 space books 4-7yrs

If you’re preparing to blast off into space, you’ll probably want to take a good book. The same can be said if you’re about to embark on a space topic. Luckily for you we’ve got plenty of books to recommend. The books in this list are suitable for 4-7 year olds. To see our recommendations for 7-11 year olds click here.

Ready… steady…. blast off!

10. The Way Back Home

The Way Back Home

SUGGESTED AGE: 4-8 years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: When a boy discovers a single-propeller airplane in his closet, he does what any young adventurer would do: He flies it into outer space! Millions of miles from Earth, the plane begins to sputter and quake, its fuel tank on empty. The boy executes a daring landing on the moon… but there’s no telling what kind of slimy, slithering, tentacled, fang-toothed monsters lurk in the darkness! (Plus, it’s dark and lonely out there.) Coincidentally, engine trouble has stranded a young Martian on the other side of the moon, and he’s just as frightened and alone. Martian, Earthling—it’s all the same when you’re in need of a friend.

For click here                  For click here

9. On The Moon

On The Moon


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: This is an artist-led picture book, which introduces young children to the vastness of the universe, how far away the moon is, what gravity is and the concept of space travel through a gentle and captivating story about an imaginative little girl. Combining full colour illustrations with NASA photographs from the surface of the moon, this beautifully illustrated picture book takes young children on an amazing journey into outer space. The story’s use of rhythmic text generates an evocative and friendly tale, taking children on a magical and informative journey.

For click here                  For click here

8. There’s No Place Like Space

There's No Place Like Space

SUGGESTED AGE: 5-8 years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Au revoir, Pluto! In this newly revised, bestselling backlist title, beginning readers and budding astronomers are launched on a wild trip to visit the now eight planets in our solar system (per the International Astronomical Union’s 2006 decision to downgrade Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet), along with the Cat in the Hat, Thing One, Thing Two, Dick, and Sally. It’s a reading adventure that’s out of this world!

For click here                  For click here

7. Looking Down


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: If you were an astronaut traveling far out in space and you looked at the earth, what would you see? A small ball in the huge black universe. That’s where these pictures begin. Then they move closer and closer to the earth, each view revealing new details. Until finally… See for yourself. In this wordless picture book with stunning cut-paper illustrations, Steve Jenkins masterfully depicts the many levels of the universe, from the farthest reaches of space to the most familiar corner of your backyard.

For click here               For click here

6. Goodnight Spaceman

Goodnight Spaceman


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Inspired by ESA astronaut Tim Peake and his sons, and featuring an introduction from Tim, this is the perfect bedtime book! Two space-mad little boys get ready for bed and say goodnight to their toy rockets, launch pads and planet mobiles, before being whisked away into space on an adventure beyond their wildest dreams… Tim Peake is the first official British ESA astronaut. He left Earth on 15th December 2015 to begin a six month long mission aboard the International Space Station. His time in space has been watched by millions and he is inspiring a new generation of explorers, adventurers and questioners.

For click here                   For click here

5. Gravity



DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: What keeps objects from floating out of your hand? What if your feet drifted away from the ground? What stops everything from rising up into space? Gravity. In this unusual, innovative, and beautiful book, Jason Chin introduces young readers to this fundamental force, taking a complex subject and making it understandable. The perfect book for all young scientists.

For click here                    For click here

4. The Man on the Moon

Man on the Moon


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: 6:00 a.m. Wake up. Have two eggs for breakfast.
8:00 a.m. Arrive at launchpad. Change into special man-on-the-moon suit.
8:45 a.m. Blast off.
8:58 a.m. Arrive on Moon.
9:00 a.m. Start work.

This is how Bob, the Man on the Moon, begins his day. It’s Bob’s job to entertain the tourists (handstands and high moon jumps are a hit), conduct Moon seminars (how long does it take to walk around the Moon on stilts?), sell souvenirs (pens, postcards – the usual), and keep the Moon clean and neat. Some people say that aliens are the ones who leave all the trash, but Bob tells them aliens don’t exist, and he would know . . . wouldn’t he?

For click here               For click here

3. One Giant Leap

One Giant Leap

SUGGESTED AGE: 4-8 years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: As a young boy, Neil Armstrong had a recurring dream in which he held his breath and floated high above the people, houses, and cars. He spent his free time reading stacks of flying magazines, building model airplanes, and staring through the homemade telescope mounted on the roof of his neighbour’s garage. As a teenager, Neil became obsessed with the idea of flight, working odd jobs to pay for flying lessons at a nearby airport. He earned his student pilot’s license on his sixteenth birthday. But who was to know that this shy boy, who also loved books and music, would become the first person to set foot on the moon, on July 20, 1969. Here is the inspiring story of one boy’s dream – a dream of flying that landed him more than 200,000 miles away in space, gazing upon the awesome sight of a tiny earth hanging suspended in a perfectly black sky. On the thirtieth anniversary of the moon landing, Don Brown’s expressive story reveals the achievement of this American legend, Neil Armstrong

For click here                  For click here

2. The Darkest Dark

The Darkest Hour


DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: The Darkest Dark is the debut picture book by Commander Chris Hadfield, international bestselling author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth and You Are Here, with spectacular illustrations by illustration team The Fan Brothers. Inspired by Chris’s decision to become an astronaut after watching the Apollo 11 moon landing at age nine, The Darkest Dark is an inspiring story about facing your fears and following your dreams.

For click here               For click here

1. See Inside Space

See Inside Space

SUGGESTED AGE: 5-11 years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: A flap book of astronomical proportions, packed with facts and information about the stars, planets and the universe. Fabulous double-page topics show our solar system, the Milky Way, how scientists think the universe was created and the latest space travel technology.

For click here              For click here

Developing spatial awareness through STEM education

spatial awareness

STEM skills open the door to a wide variety of exciting career paths including some of the highest paid and most in-demand jobs in the country. What’s more, the demand for STEM graduates is only set to grow. Spatial awareness is recognised as an important skill needed to perform well in STEM careers. For example, pilots need to use spatial thinking to fly a plane, architects and engineers to design buildings and surgeons to navigate the body.

What is spatial awareness?

Spatial awareness is part of our overall perception. It is the ability to see and understand the relationship between shapes, spaces and areas. This includes an awareness of your own body in relation to other objects.

Spatial awareness develops naturally in most children from a young age as they explore the environment around them. As they play with and move objects around, children develop an increased understanding of size, distance and space.

Does an increased spatial awareness improve STEM achievement?

Spatial awareness is important in STEM education and careers as these areas typically involve lots of problem solving. In order to solve these problems, spatial thinking often needs to be applied.

Research is now starting to show that developing a young child’s spatial awareness may help to increase their success in STEM fields in adulthood. Indeed, there are ongoing studies investigating whether low spatial skills explain why some students struggle in specific STEM subjects.

For example, Mathematics involves the use of spatial awareness when looking at concepts such as shapes, area, patterns and sequences. Children who struggle with spatial awareness are likely to find these areas difficult. Researchers discovered that by improving spatial awareness, students can become better at maths as a whole (Cheng & Mix 2014, read the report here).

Spatial Awareness and Gender Differences

Historically males have performed better in spatial awareness tasks than females. Indeed, sex differences in spatial ability are well documented but they are still not fully understood. We know that the idea that spatial ability is fixed is simply not true. However, we also know that there are a greater number of men in STEM careers. Research shows that boys show more of a preference for spatial awareness toys than girls. For example, many boys enjoy playing Minecraft and building Lego models. The BBC documentary ‘No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free’ (Aug 2017) discusses the basis of these gender differences.

Spatial Awareness STEM Games for Children

Although educators recognise the importance of spatial awareness, it is a skill that is seldom taught or monitored in schools. We’ve put together our recommendations for games that enhance spatial awareness and promote STEM education. They would make great activities for children who have finished their work early or for reward time. In fact, why not schedule some time each week to play them? In doing so, you could help to narrow down the spatial awareness gender divide and improve your children’s ability in STEM subjects!


Construction: GoldieBlox

WHY WE RECOMMEND IT: This product is part of a book series and construction set starring Goldie, the kid inventor. The product builds spatial skills, basic engineering principles and confidence in problem solving. It was created by Debbie Sterling, a female engineer from Stanford University. It aims to inspire the next generation of female engineers.

For click here

For click here


Construction: Lego

WHY WE RECOMMEND IT: This classic children’s toy allows them the freedom and creativity to build whatever they want. In addition to being fun, following instructions to create a lego model has been found to be a great way to develop spatial skills.

For click here
For click here


Puzzles: Tangram

WHY WE RECOMMEND IT: The 7 piece tangram puzzle is the world’s oldest and most well known silhouette puzzle. As children recreate the figures in the booklet, they will not only build on their understanding of shape but also increase their spatial awareness by manipulating objects.

For click here
For click here

wooden tetris

Puzzles: Tetris

WHY WE RECOMMEND IT: Tetris is an addictive way to develop spatial awareness. The game improved eye-hand coordination and colour and shape recognition. Children must get all the blocks back together on the board with different solutions each time.

For click here
For click here

Paper Folding: Origami

WHY WE RECOMMEND IT: Paper folding is an excellent way for children to develop fine motor skills and spatial reasoning. It is also a fun way to teach symmetry.

For click here
For click here

15-Minute STEM

15min STEM

WHY WE RECOMMEND IT: ’15-Minute STEM’ is packed full of quick, easy-to-resource STEM activities, all of which help to develop spatial awareness in children. Some of our faves are the marshmallow challenge, newspaper towers and paper plane bullseye. For click here.  For click here.

Other Ways to Increase Spatial Awareness

  • Classroom Games:  ‘I Spy’ and ‘Simon Says’ are a great way to develop spatial awareness and language. Play a game of ‘Robots’: an item is hidden nearby. The child acting as the robot has to find it by following directions such as ‘walk three steps to the left’, ‘look under the table’. This game develops spatial language.
  • Outdoor Games: playing marbles or bowls helps to develop judgement of space. Activities such as throwing beanbags into hoops help children to judge distances. Participating in obstacle courses helps children develop an awareness of their body in the space around it.
  • Outdoor Play Equipment: this also helps to develop gross and fine motor skills.
  • Map Reading: activities involving maps help children to gain an increased understanding of the objects and space around them.

Further Reading

  • ‘Finding the Missing Piece: Blocks, puzzles and shapes fuel school readiness’ (Verdine et al, 2014) click here
  • ‘Spatial Thinking and STEM Education: When, why and how? (Uttal et al, 2012) click here
  • ‘How Much Can Spatial Training Improve STEM Achievement?’ (Uttal et al, 2015) click here

Lefties in STEM

lefties in stem

August 13th is international left-handers day and as a left-hander myself I can think of no better way to mark this than by celebrating some of the many famous lefties in STEM. But first a few facts:

  • Left-handers make up approximately 10% of the world’s population.
  • We don’t have a definitive reason as to why people are left-handed although it is thought to be genetic.
  • The brain is cross-wired so the right hemisphere controls the muscles on the left side of the body.  Some people argue that ‘right-brained’ people (left-handers) are more creative and intuitive while ‘left-brained’ people (right-handers) are more logical and analytical. However, this is not scientifically proven.
  • There are a significant number of left-handed USA presidents including Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
  • Fictional characters portrayed as left-handed include Ned Flanders and Bart Simpson (The Simpsons), Kermit the Frog (The Muppets), Chris Griffin (Family Guy) and Arnold (Hey Arnold).

We’ve profiled some of our top lefties in STEM!

Neil Armstrong

NAME: Neil Armstrong

BORN/DIED: 5th August 1930 – 25th August 2012

JOB: Astronaut and engineer.

KEY FACTS: Neil Armstrong was born in Ohio, USA. He developed a love of flying from the age of 2 when his father took him to an air show. He earned a student flight certificate when he was 16yrs old, before he had his driver’s licence! He was an active boy scout and went on to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Armstrong studied aeronautical engineering at university and spent some time as a fighter pilot for the navy. in 1962, Armstrong applied and was accepted onto a NASA astronaut program. He famously travelled into space on the Apollo 11 mission and was the first man to walk on the moon.

ACHIEVEMENTS: The first man to walk on the moon. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honour a civilian can earn from the US government.

NAME: Marie Sklodowska-Curie

BORN/DIED: 7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934

JOB: Physicist and Chemist

KEY FACTS: Marie Curie grew up in Poland and did well at school. Marie wanted to go to university and study to become a scientist but it was expensive and at the time, university was thought of as mainly for men. Eventually Marie earned her degree in Physics from a university in France. Marie did lots of experiments and discovered two new elements for the periodic table! She named them Polonium (after her hometown of Poland) and Radium (because it gave off such strong radiation).

ACHIEVEMENTS: Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1903 for her work on radiation. She was the first woman to ever get this award. In 1911 she was awarded a second Nobel Peace Prize for her discovery of two new elements.

Mark Zuckerberg

NAME: Mark Zuckerberg

BORN: 14th May 1984

JOB: Internet entrepreneur and computer programmer.

KEY FACTS: Zuckerberg was born in New York and excelled at school. He began to use computers to write software while at middle school and went on to study computer science at Harvard. While he was there, he launched a website called ‘facemash’ where students could choose the best looking person from a choice of photos. However, Harvard closed the site down and Zuckerberg apologised publicly for using photos without permission. By Jan 2004 he had begun to write the code for Facebook. Facebook has since gone from strength-to-strength, making Zuckerberg one of the richest people in the world.

ACHIEVEMENTS: Zuckerberg is the co-founder of Facebook and is currently ranked by Forbes as the 5th richest person in the world. He and his wife give a lot of their wealth to good causes.

NAME: Benjamin Franklin

BORN/DIED: 17th Jan 1706 – 17th April 1790

JOB: Political thinker and founding father of the USA, scientist and inventor.

KEY FACTS: Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston Massachusetts in the USA. He stopped going to school when he was 10 and gained most of his education from reading books. Throughout his career he excelled in many areas. He is best known as one of the founding fathers of the USA. He was also a scientist and inventor. He was interested in lots of areas including meteorology, wave theory of light and electricity. He designed an experiment to prove that lightening was electricity by flying a kite in a storm. He went on to invent the lightening rod amongst other things.

ACHIEVEMENTS: He earned the title of the ‘First American’ for his work as a founding father of America. He invented the lightening rod, glass harmonica (a glass musical instrument), Franklin stove (a metal fireplace designed to produce more heat and less smoke) and bifocal glasses (with near and long distance lenses).

NAME: Leonardo Da Vinci (Italian)

BORN/DIED: 15th April 1452 – 2nd May 1519

JOB: Artist, inventor, scientist.

KEY FACTS: Leonardo was born in Florence, Italy. Little is known about his early life. When he was 14 he became apprenticed to a famous artist and went on to become a famous artist himself. However, he was interested in lots of other areas including architecture, mathematics, engineering, geology, astronomy and paleontology. He kept journals full of his sketches which included scientific sketches and drawings of ideas he had for inventions.
Leonardo was fascinated by fossils. He was ahead of his time in recognising that they contained the remains of prehistoric animals. He recorded these observations in his journals. Da Vinci was ambidextrous, perfecting the ability to write with both his left and right hand.

ACHIEVEMENTS: He is regarded as one of the most famous artists in history with paintings including ‘The Last Supper’ and the ‘Mona Lisa’. He is also remembered for his designs for inventions such as a flying machine.

Bill Gates

NAME: Bill Gates

BORN: 28th October 1955

JOB: Entrepreneur, programmer, businessman.

KEY FACTS: Bill Gates grew up in Seattle, Washington, USA. He took an interest in programming as a teenager, spending lots of time on the computer in his school. He went on to take graduate level computer science courses at Harvard. Gates took a ‘leave of absence’ from Harvard to start his own computer company (Microsoft) with his business partner. His involved him designing software and writing code. Microsoft launched its first retail version of Microsoft Windows in 1985 and went on to manage the company until 2006. It went on to become incredibly successful, earning Gates billions.

ACHIEVEMENTS: Gates is the founder of Microsoft and is one of the world’s highest-earning billionaires. He gives approximately half of his wealth to charities and good causes.

Other famous lefties in STEM include Buzz Aldrin, Steve Jobs and Henry Ford.