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Women in STEM books

women in stem books

The gender gap in STEM is widely reported with women underrepresented compared to their male counterparts. One possible explanation for this is are gender stereotypes and biases such as the perception of STEM careers as more masculine, coupled with girls’ negative views of their own abilities in STEM.

STEM industries are some of the fasted growing and most in demand so it is now more important than ever that we break down these biases, starting from a young age. One way to do this is by exposing children to stem themed books with inspiring female characters. Here are some of our favourites:

WOMEN IN SCIENCE

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: A gloriously illustrated celebration of trailblazing women. Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, from both the ancient and modern worlds. The book also contains fascinating infographics and an illustrated scientific glossary.

 

ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Inspired by real-life makers such as Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, Ada Twist, Scientist champions girl power and women scientists, and brings welcome diversity to picture books about girls in science. Touching on themes of never giving up and problem solving, Ada comes to learn that her questions might not always lead to answers, but rather to more questions. She may never find the source of the stink, but with a supportive family and the space to figure it out, she’ll be able to feed her curiosity in the ways a young scientist should.

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: A little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed. A charming story that will give kids the most magnificent thing: perspective!

 

STONE GIRL, BONE GIRL

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Mary Anning is probably the world’s best-known fossil-hunter. As a little girl, she found a fossilised sea monster, the most important prehistoric discovery of its time. Best-selling author Laurence Anholt turns Mary’s fascinating life into a beautiful story, ideal for reading aloud. Sheila Moxley’s luscious pictures vividly evoke the coastal setting and the real-life dramas of this spectacular tale.

 

GIRLS THINK OF EVERYTHING

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: In kitchens and living rooms, in garages and labs and basements, even in converted chicken coops, women and girls have come up with ingenious innovations that have made our lives simpler and better. Their creations are some of the most enduring (the windshield wiper) and best loved (the chocolate chip cookie). What inspired these women, and just how did they turn their ideas into realities?

 

rosie

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Where some people see rubbish, Rosie Revere sees inspiration. Alone in her room at night, shy Rosie constructs great inventions from odds and ends. Hot dog dispensers, helium pants, python-repelling cheese hats. Rosie’s gizmos would astound—if she ever let anyone see them. Afraid of failure, she hides them away under her bed. Until a fateful visit from her great-great-aunt Rose, who shows her that a first flop isn’t something to fear — it’s something to celebrate.

CAROLINE’S COMETS

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) was not only one of the greatest astronomers who ever lived but also the first woman to be paid for her scientific work. When her favourite brother, William, left for England, he took her with him. The siblings shared a passion for stars, and together they built the greatest telescope of their age, working tirelessly on star charts. Using their telescope, Caroline discovered fourteen nebulae and two galaxies, was the first woman to discover a comet, and became the first woman officially employed as a scientist – by no less than the King of England!

THE GIRL WHO NEVER MADE MISTAKES

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Meet Beatrice Bottomwell: a nine-year-old girl who has never (not once!) made a mistake. She never forgets her math homework, she never wears mismatched socks, and she ALWAYS wins the yearly talent show at school. In fact, Beatrice holds the record of perfection in her hometown, where she is known as The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes. Life for Beatrice is sailing along pretty smoothly until she does the unthinkable-she makes her first mistake. And in a very public way!

Margaret and the Moon

MARGARET AND THE MOON

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 hand wrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed.

HELLO RUBY

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Meet Ruby―a small girl with a huge imagination, and the determination to solve any puzzle. As Ruby stomps around her world making new friends, kids will be introduced to the fundamentals of computational thinking, like how to break big problems into small ones, create step-by-step plans, look for patterns and think outside the box through storytelling. Then, these basic concepts at the core of coding and programming will be reinforced through fun playful exercises and activities that encourage exploration and creativity.

FRANNY K. STEIN: MAD SCIENTIST

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Franny K. Stein is not your average girl — she’s a mad scientist. She prefers poison ivy to daisies, and when Franny jumps rope, she uses her pet snake. The kids in Franny’s class think she’s weird, wacky, and just plain creepy. Tired of being stared at, Franny decides to attempt her most dangerous experiment yet – she’s going to fit in. but when a giant Monstrous Fiend attacks the class, everyone knows it’s up to a mad scientist to save the day. But has Franny lost her creepy, crawly ways?

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 and more. Readers will also learn about the Mercury 13, American women selected by NASA in the late 1950s to train for spaceflight. 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.

IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Iggy has one passion: architecture. His parents are proud of his fabulous creations, though they’re sometimes surprised by his materials. But hey! What’s wrong with a tower built of diapers? (Even dirty ones!) Dear Ig has it made until second grade. That’s when he meets his match. His teacher, Miss Lila Greer, frowns upon architecture. Banned from building in school, second grade becomes a bore until one day a fateful field trip lets Iggy Peck show the world his true talents!

PEG + CAT

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: It’s the day of the Tallapegga Twenty, and Peg and her trusty sidekick, Cat, must build a car from various items they find in the junkyard. When they arrive at the racetrack, they see that the other cars are much bigger and cooler than their own. They’ve got a really big problem! To win, they’ll have to use their maths skills – and remember not to give up, even when it seems as though they just can’t win.

OH NO!

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Some kids are too smart for their own good…and maybe for everybody else’s good. When an overly ambitious little girl builds a humongous robot for her science fair, she fully expects to win first place. What she doesn’t expect is the chaos that follows. Mac Barnett and illustrator Dan Santat combine forces to create a hilarious kid’s eye account of the kind of destruction that comes only from a child’s good intentions.

MY NAME IS NOT ISABELLA

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: ‘My name is not Isabella’ explores some of the amazing women who changed history. This heartwarming tale empowers young girls to realise their true capabilities while inspiring them to let their own personalities shine. With strong gift potential: inspiring message that mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and friends will want to pass along to little girls in their lives.

She PersistedSHE PERSISTED

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted.This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor–and one special cameo.

 

 

 

 

Amazing Stories of Women in Space

AMAZING STORIES OF WOMEN IN SPACE

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: From Ada Lovelace in the nineteenth century, to the women behind the Apollo missions, from the astronauts breaking records on the International Space Station to those blazing the way in the race to get to Mars, A Galaxy of Her Own reveals extraordinary stories, champions unsung heroes and celebrates remarkable achievements from around the world.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

 

For more STEM book recommendations click here.

For profiles of inspiring women in STEM click here.

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

SUGGESTED AGE: 7+ years

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 Amazon.co.uk click here             For Amazon.com click here

9. Older Than The Stars

SUGGESTED AGE: 7+ years

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 Amazon.co.uk click here               For Amazon.com 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 Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com 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 Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com click here

6. Cool Astronomy

Cool Astronomy

SUGGESTED AGE: 7+ years

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 Amazon.co.uk click here               For Amazon.com click here

5. Women In Space

Women In Space

SUGGESTED AGE: 7+ years

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 Amazon.co.uk click here                For Amazon.com 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 Amazon.co.uk click here            For Amazon.com click here

3. The Night Sky

The Night Sky

SUGGESTED AGE: 8+ years

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 Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com click here

2. Astronomy & Space

Astronomy & Space

SUGGESTED AGE: 5-11yrs

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 Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com click here

1. The Astronaut Instruction Manual

SUGGESTED AGE: 7+ years

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 Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com 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 Amazon.co.uk click here                  For Amazon.com click here

9. On The Moon

On The Moon

RECOMMENDED AGE: 2-5yrs

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 Amazon.co.uk click here                  For Amazon.com 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 Amazon.co.uk click here                  For Amazon.com click here

7. Looking Down

SUGGESTED AGE: 4-8yrs

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 Amazon.co.uk click here               For Amazon.com click here

6. Goodnight Spaceman

Goodnight Spaceman

SUGGESTED AGE: 3-6yrs

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 Amazon.co.uk click here                   For Amazon.com click here

5. Gravity

Gravity

SUGGESTED AGE: 3-7yrs

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 Amazon.co.uk click here                    For Amazon.com click here

4. The Man on the Moon

Man on the Moon

SUGGESTED AGE: 5-8yrs

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 Amazon.co.uk click here               For Amazon.com 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 Amazon.co.uk click here                  For Amazon.com click here

2. The Darkest Dark

The Darkest Hour

SUGGESTED AGE: 4-7yrs

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 Amazon.co.uk click here               For Amazon.com 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 Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com 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!

GlodieBlox

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 Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

Lego

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 Amazon.co.uk click here
For Amazon.com click here

Tangram

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 Amazon.co.uk click here
For Amazon.com 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 Amazon.co.uk click here
For Amazon.com 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 Amazon.co.uk click here
For Amazon.com 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 Amazon.co.uk click here.  For Amazon.com 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.

Our top 10 rocks & soils books

rocks and soils

We don’t know about you but right now we’re really digging all things rocks and soils (see what we did there?!) Our book recommendations link perfectly to the UK science curriculum unit on rocks, as well as to topics about evolution, dinosaurs, archaeology and paleontology. Here’s our countdown, starting at number 10…

10. Lets Go Rock Collecting

SUGGESTED AGE: EYFS, KS1 & lower KS2

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Holly Keller has created vivacious new paintings for this favourite Reading Rainbow title about geology. Readers follow two enthusiastic rock hounds around the globe as they add to their collection. Along the way they will learn how sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks are formed. From the Egyptian pyramids to Roman roads, from the diamond ring on your finger to the pebbles under your feet, rocks are everywhere!

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this and then have a go at our salt dough dinosaur fossils activity.

For Amazon.co.uk click here                             For Amazon.com click here

9. If Rocks Could Sing

SUGGESTED AGE: EYFS, KS1 & lower KS2

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Amazing rocks, found on a stretch of beach near the author’s home, comprise this unique alphabet book. A is for Addition, and there are rocks in the shape of real numbers, too. B is for Bird, and there is a bird rock on a nest with an egg. G is for Ghosts, and there is a host of rocks that look like ghosts! Children and adults alike will pore over these fascinating rocks, and will be inspired collect their own.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then have a go at our chocolate rock cycle activity.

For Amazon.co.uk click here                     For Amazon.com click here

8. Archaeology Dig For Clues

SUGGESTED AGE: KS1 & lower KS2

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Archaeologists on a dig work very much like detectives at a crime scene. Every chipped rock, charred seed, or fossilized bone could be a clue to how people lived in the past. In this information-packed Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science book, Kate Duke explains what scientists are looking for, how they find it, and what their finds reveal.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this and then have a go at our Cookie Excavation activity.

For Amazon.co.uk click here                  For Amazon.com click here

7. Digging Up Dinosaurs

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Long ago, dinosaurs ruled the Earth. Then, suddenly, they died out. For thousands of years, no one knew these giant creatures had ever existed. Then people began finding fossils — bones and teeth and footprints that had turned to stone. Today, teams of experts work together to dig dinosaur fossils out of the ground, bone by fragile bone. Then they put the skeletons together again inside museums, to look just like the dinosaurs of millions of years ago.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then have a go at our ‘Digs & Dinos’ Dinosaur Footprint Measuring activity.

SUGGESTED AGE: KS1 & lower KS2

For Amazon.co.uk click here            For Amazon.com click here

6. A Rock Can Be

SUGGESTED AGE: EYFS, KS1 & lower KS2

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Rocks may seem like boring, static objects–until you discover that a rock can spark a fire, glow in the dark, and provide shelters of all shapes and sizes. Laura Purdie Salas’s lyrical rhyming text and Violeta Dabija’s glowing illustrations show how rocks decorate and strengthen the world around them.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then go on a rock walk around the school grounds.

For Amazon.co.uk click here                 For Amazon.com click here

5. Stone Girl, Bone Girl

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Mary Anning is probably the world’s best-known fossil-hunter. As a little girl, she found a fossilised sea monster, the most important prehistoric discovery of its time. Best-selling author Laurence Anholt turns Mary’s fascinating life into a beautiful story, ideal for reading aloud. Sheila Moxley’s luscious pictures vividly evoke the coastal setting and the real-life dramas of this spectacular tale.

SUGGESTED AGE: KS1 & KS2

IDEAS FOR USE: Read our profile about Mary Anning here and use this as a basis for further research.

For Amazon.co.uk click here             For Amazon.com click here

4. A Rock is Lively

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: From the creators of the award-winning An Egg Is Quiet, A Seed Is Sleepy, A Butterfly Is Patient and A Nest Is Noisy comes this gorgeous and informative introduction to the fascinating world of rocks. From dazzling blue Lapis Lazuli to volcanic Snowflake Obsidian, an incredible variety of rocks are showcased in all their splendour. Poetic in voice and elegant in design, this book introduces an array of facts, making it equally perfect for classroom sharing and family reading.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then have a go at our salt dough dinosaur fossils activity.

For Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com click here

3. Girls Who Looked Under Rocks

SUGGESTED AGE: KS1 & KS2

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Profiles the lives and influences of six female naturalists: Maria Sibylla Merian, Anna Botsford Comstock, Frances Hamerstrom, Rachel Carson, Miriam Rothschild, and Jane Goodall.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read our profiles about some of these women, using them as a basis for further research.

For Amazon.co.uk click here               For Amazon.com click here

2. What’s Under The Bed?

SUGGESTED AGE: EYFS, KS1 & KS2

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: What’s Under the Bed? travels to the mysterious world that is just beneath our feet. Follow the underground adventures of two children and their cat to explore secret caves, fossils and even silver, gold and diamonds before eventually discovering what really is under the bed.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then have a go at our Cookie Excavation activity.

For Amazon.co.uk click here                  For Amazon.com click here

1. The Rock Factory

SUGGESTED AGE: KS1 & KS2

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: This series uses cartoon-style illustrations and humorous narrative text to make key topics in Science and Geography accessible and engaging. This approach encourages children to read about and understand complex ideas. This is the story of how a special sort of stone formed deep inside the Earth, and came to the surface thousands of millions of years later. The Rock Factory looks at how minerals turn into rock crystals, how the Earth is structured and how volcanoes happen. This book also contains an experiment, useful websites and an index.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then have a go at our chocolate rock cycle activity.

For Amazon.co.uk click here             For Amazon.com click here

Our top 10 dinosaur books

Our top 10 dinosaur books

Most children go through a ‘dinosaur phase’ at some point in their early lives. We don’t blame them – dinosaurs are incredible! We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 dinosaur books. Our list contains a mixture of fiction, non-fiction, picture and chapter books. Each book will help your children to find out more about dinosaurs and will link perfectly to our Digs & Dinos activities. Here we go…

10. Harry and the Bucket Full of Dinosaurs

harry and the dinosaurs

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Harry finds some dusty plastic dinosaurs in Nan’s attic. He cleans them, finds out their names and takes them everywhere – until, one day, the dinosaurs get lost! The lost property man gets a surprise when Harry proves the dinosaurs are his by calling them over to him.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this then have a go at our ‘Digs & DinosDinosaur Ice Excavation activity.

SUGGESTED AGE: EYFS & KS1

For Amazon.co.uk click here             For Amazon.com click here

9. The Dinosaur’s Diary

the dinosaurs diary

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Surviving and finding a safe place to lay her eggs is difficult for Hypsilophodon with dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex around. When she falls into a mysterious pool and finds herself on a modern farm there are still problems. Finally she finds a safe place to hatch her babies, but how can she keep thirteen baby dinosaurs safe and secret? When the farmer catches one – Hector – and plans to take him to the vet, it’s up to Hypsilophodon and her fiesty daughter, Henrietta, to get him back. After a daring rescue, Hypsilophodon takes all her youngsters back through the mysterious pool to her own world.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this then have a go at our ‘Digs & Dinos‘ Salt Dough Dinosaur Bones activity.

SUGGESTED AGE: KS1 & lower KS2

For Amazon.co.uk click here           For Amazon.com click here

8. Dinosaurs from Head To Tail

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Archaeologists on a dig work very much like detectives at a crime scene. Every chipped rock, charred seed, or fossilized bone could be a clue to how people lived in the past. In this information-packed Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science book, Kate Duke explains what scientists are looking for, how they find it, and what their finds reveal.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this then have a go at our ‘Digs & Dinos‘ Dinosaur Measuring activity.

SUGGESTED AGE: KS1 & lower KS2

For Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com click here

7. Dinosaur Bones

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: With a lively rhyming text and vibrant paper collage illustrations, author-artist Bob Barner shakes the dust off the dinosaur bones found in museums and reminds us that they once belonged to living, breathing creatures. Filled with fun dinosaur facts (a T. Rex skull can weigh up to 750 pounds!) and an informational “Dinometer,” Dinosaur Bones is sure to make young dinosaur enthusiasts roar with delight. Along with the rhyming, read-aloud text comes nearly 30 fun and amazing facts about dinosaurs. Also included is a “Dinometer,” describing information about different dinosaurs such as its height, weight and footprint size.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this then have a go at our ‘Digs & DinosSalt Dough Dinosaur Bones activity.

SUGGESTED AGE: EYFS, KS1 & lower KS2

For Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com click here

6. How Big Were Dinosaurs?

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take a Velociraptor for a walk, or try to brush a Tyrannosaur’s teeth? We think of dinosaurs as colossal giants, but how big were they REALLY? With kid-friendly text and seriously silly illustrations, this fact-filled book puts dinosaurs next to modern animals so that you can see exactly how they size up. And a huge fold-out chart compares the dinos to each other, from the tiniest Microraptor to Argentinosaurus, the largest animal to ever walk the land.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then have a go at our ‘Digs & Dinos’ Dinosaur Footprint Measuring activity.

SUGGESTED AGE: EYFS, KS1 & lower KS2

For Amazon.co.uk click here                 For Amazon.com click here

5. Prehistoric Actual Size

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: What is it like to come face-to-face with the ten-foot-tall terror bird? Or stare into the mouth of the largest meat eater ever to walk the earth? Can you imagine a millipede that is more than six feet long, or a dinosaur smaller than a chicken? In this -actual size- look at the prehistoric world, which includes two dramatic gatefolds, you’ll meet these awe-inspiring creatures, as well as many others.IDEAS FOR USE: Have a go at our ‘make your own fossils’ STEM project!

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this then have a go at our ‘Digs & DinosDinosaur Measuring activity.

SUGGESTED AGE: EYFS, KS1 & lower KS2

For Amazon.co.uk click here            For Amazon.com click here

4. How The Dinosaur Got To The Museum

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Acclaimed author/illustrator Jessie Hartland presents the fascinating 145-million-year journey of a dinosaur: a Diplodocus longus, from its discovery in 1923 in Utah to its arrival in the hallowed halls of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this then have a go at our ‘Digs & Dinos‘ Dinosaur Ice Excavation activity.

SUGGESTED AGE: EYFS, KS1 & lower KS2

For Amazon.co.uk click here            For Amazon.com click here

3. Digging Up Dinosaurs

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Long ago, dinosaurs ruled the Earth. Then, suddenly, they died out. For thousands of years, no one knew these giant creatures had ever existed. Then people began finding fossils — bones and teeth and footprints that had turned to stone. Today, teams of experts work together to dig dinosaur fossils out of the ground, bone by fragile bone. Then they put the skeletons together again inside museums, to look just like the dinosaurs of millions of years ago.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then have a go at our ‘Digs & Dinos’ Dinosaur Footprint Measuring activity.

SUGGESTED AGE: KS1 & lower KS2

For Amazon.co.uk click here            For Amazon.com click here

2. Stone Girl, Bone Girl

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Mary Anning is probably the world’s best-known fossil-hunter. As a little girl, she found a fossilised sea monster, the most important prehistoric discovery of its time. Best-selling author Laurence Anholt turns Mary’s fascinating life into a beautiful story, ideal for reading aloud. Sheila Moxley’s luscious pictures vividly evoke the coastal setting and the real-life dramas of this spectacular tale.

SUGGESTED AGE: KS1 & KS2

IDEAS FOR USE: Read our profile about Mary Anning here and use this as a basis for further research.

For Amazon.co.uk click here             For Amazon.com click here

1. Monster Stones

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: This series uses cartoon style illustrations and humorous narrative text to make key topics in Science and Geography both accessible and engaging. This approach encourages children to read about and understand complex ideas. This book takes the reader back millions of years to tell the story of a dinosaur’s death. Through this story, we discover how fossils are formed. We also learn how they are discovered, removed, researched and preserved in museums. This book also contains an experiment, more great facts to know, useful websites and an index.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this then have a go at our ‘Digs & Dinos‘ Salt Dough Dinosaur Bones activity.

SUGGESTED AGE: KS1 & KS2

For Amazon.co.uk click here          For Amazon.com click here

5 ways to teach STEM with QR codes

5 ways to teach stem with qr codes

Nowadays QR codes can be found everywhere. We see them on websites, flyers, packaging, adverts, in restaurants and shops… the list is endless! We’ve got some great ideas for how you can bring them into your classroom. Try them out and we think you’ll agree that QR codes provide an exciting and memorable way to bring learning to life.

what is a QR code?

QR code stand for quick response code. These nifty little codes originated in Japan but can now be found all around the world. Simply scan the image using your smartphone or tablet and it will take you to a specific digital destination. This might be an app, website, text message or audio message. In fact, why not go on a quick QR search around your classroom and see how many examples of these codes you can find nearby?

what technology do i need?

In order to get started with the following activities you will need two important bits of technology; the tools to create a QR code and an app to scan the code with.

QR code generator: In order to create QR codes, we recommend using http://www.qr-code-generator.com/ This website is free to use and gives you the option to link your code to various digital destinations such as a website, PDF, image, MP3 or text. Remember to make sure your code is ‘static’ so that the destination is fixed. Other QR generating websites offer the option of customising and changing the colour of your QR code. Be aware that darker codes on a lighter background scan best.

QR code app: Free apps such as QRbot can be downloaded via a smartphone or tablet device to enable you to scan and read QR codes. Some apps also offer additional functions such as keeping a log of the QR codes that were scanned or being able to generate QR codes.

QR code scavenger hunt

Our first activity is guaranteed to increase children’s engagement and will keep them talking about it long after the lesson has ended. What’s more, it can easily be adapted depending on the lesson purpose. Simply generate your QR codes and hide them around your classroom, ready for your class to find and scan. Essentially, any lesson can easily be turned into a QR code scavenger hunt. For example, a maths lesson on identifying types of angles can become an exciting STEM challenge by generating each angle as an image on a QR code. Your class will love moving around the classroom to find and identify the angles and can record their answers in their books.

Another idea is for the QR codes to contain quiz questions related to an area of study. This can be achieved by using the ‘text’ option on your QR generator. Once scanned, children should write their answer to the question before moving on to scan the next one. Alternatively, the QR codes might contain answers to a list of pre-prepared questions. Children should match the question to the answer, recording them in their books.

 

create codes to share answers

Our second QR code activity is also extremely versatile and can be adapted to suit most lesson activities. The purpose is to create QR codes that will help children to complete their work. We’ve seen this activity used in lots of different ways. For example,

  • To provide answers to lesson activities (see image 1). Once children have completed their work, they simply scan the code to find the correct answers. This not only provides them with instant feedback but also saves the teacher lots of marking time!
  • To link children to websites that will help them with their work (see image 2). We all know how long it can take children to type a web link into google. By scanning the QR code, children are instantly transported to the correct website and can use the information to help them with their work.
  • To link children to relevant YouTube videos (see image 3). Learning about an inspirational stem person? Why not link the children up with pre-chosen videos about their achievements, giving them time to scan and watch the videos. They can then use their new knowledge to create fact files, posters etc.

add interactivity to books

Adding QR codes to books is a great way for children to ‘go beyond the text’. Taking the book ‘Rosie Revere, Engineer’ as an example, the QR codes below could be inserted into the front of the book. The first links to a short YouTube video designed for children, entitled ‘What is an Engineer?’ The second links to a website full of engineering activities that could be linked to this book. Why not add some QR codes to some of the books in your classroom to help your class learn more about some of the themes in the book?

interactive QR code displays

QR codes also serve as a great way to make your classroom displays more interactive. Codes can be generated to link the reader to relevant books, websites and videos. They can also provide answers to questions on the display. A quick image google search should provide you with plenty of inspiration. Children will enjoy scanning the codes and interacting with the display.

create your own QR codes

Instead of the teacher doing all the work, why not hand the power over to the children? Creating QR codes is a great learning opportunity for your class, helping them to understand more about web links, video url’s and QR codes. Challenge them to come up with their own QR codes to add to a classroom display or insert inside a book.

We’d love to hear about how you have been using QR codes in your classroom. Add your comments below or share your thoughts with us via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

5 ways to promote STEM education in your school

 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 county. What’s more, the demand for STEM graduates is only set to grow. STEM education is a fantastic way to bring 21st century skills into the classroom and foster in our children a long-term interest in these subjects.  It helps children to develop their science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills through solving practical, real world problems. What’s more, it promotes critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and perseverance; skills that are useful throughout our lives. The question is:

If the answer is no, don’t fret! We’ve put together five ideas to get you started. We’ve made sure they’re quick and easy to implement so you can have them set up for the  new academic year.

It’s easy to underestimate the influence of a book on a child’s understanding of the world. Stories help to shape children’s perspectives and form their understanding of cultural and gender roles. What better way to teach the importance of STEM skills than through a book? There are lots of fantastic fiction books around that your class will love. Books with female lead characters are a great way to subtly raise the profile of women in STEM. Check out some of our book recommendations here.

YOUR CHALLENGE: Order a selection of STEM books and aim to read at least one a week with your class.

Instead of battling to get children away from screens, it’s time we embraced this love for technology and made more use of it in the classroom. There are lots of fantastic, free STEM apps to download onto school iPads. What’s more, most come with tutorial levels, meaning you don’t need to be a computer whizz to work out how to use them. Check out our STEM apps section for inspiration here.

YOUR CHALLENGE: Give your ICT technician a list of apps you’d like downloaded and plan to use them with your class next term.

The aim of our 15min STEM activities is to be quick, easy to resource and educational. Each activity is short (15mins to be precise!) so you don’t need to worry to much about matching it to learning objectives or juggling it into the school timetable. Not only does each activity introduce children to an area of STEM, they will also encourage them to work collaboratively in order to solve a problem. You can find our 15min STEM activities here.

Your Challenge: Try a 15min STEM challenge with your class each week.

There’s a real buzz around Project Based Learning. Put simply, it’s all about giving children extended time to respond to a problem set within a real world context. We believe this approach goes hand in hand with STEM learning. For example, teach a science unit on ‘evolution’ with a dinosaur footprint discovery in the school grounds. The children will need to work collaboratively to explore what created the footprint, how it got there and how it differs from their own. Over the next few months we will be adding lots of PBL ideas to our website. Check out our ‘digs and dinos’ area as an example here.

Your Challenge: Plan a PBL stem opportunity for next term.

school community

Us teachers try our best but unfortunately we can’t be experts in everything. Sometimes the best way to bring a subject to life is to place our class in the hands of someone with real world experience in that area. You’d be amazed how of many parents and carers within your school community have STEM experience. Why then do we have a tendency to keep these people at arms length? Spread the word and you’ll most likely find volunteers willing to lead workshops or q&a sessions linked to their career.

Your Challenge: Distribute a letter to parents, asking for volunteers to work with classes (you may want to link this to the particular areas of STEM you are studying). Then take them up on the offer!

6 summery STEM books

Summer is truly upon us now and what better way to mark the season than with some summery STEM books! We’ve focused on texts that celebrate nature and have suggested activities linked to each book that will get children outside, starisland.org/buying-xanax-usa/ exploring their surroundings. Enjoy!

6. Shaping up For Summer

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Maths in Nature is a lovely four book series, which explores seasonal and natural beauty through maths concepts, which are made engaging with energetic and colourful paper collage illustrations, poetic language and thoughtful questions. Each book also includes nature notes at the end, which give more information about the animals and plants featured in the seasonal scenes. Colourful, cut- paper collage art uniquely evokes the natural world, while two levels of text – one a lyrical story, the other asking children to problem-solve – bring the reader to a full understanding of the maths concept being covered. The engaging “What if?” format of these informational picture books is sure to delight five- to seven-year-olds.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: This book is all about spotting the mathematics in nature so where better to start than by heading outside and looking for natural shapes. Provide each child with a table depicting each shape along the top and encourage them to draw or write down their findings for each shape.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

5. It Starts With A Seed

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: In gentle rhyme, It Starts with a Seed evocatively explores the growth of a tiny sycamore seed. Taking a journey through the seasons and years, we follow the seed as it transforms from a seedling to a sapling, then a young tree, until it becomes a large tree with its branches and roots filling the page. As the tree grows, it is joined by well-loved woodland creatures – squirrels and rabbits, butterflies and owls – who make it their home. Beautiful and evocative, It Starts with a Seed is a factual story that will touch children with its simple but enchanting message of life and growth. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: Today we find the seed as a fully grown sycamore tree. Go outside and see what trees you can find in the school grounds. Then make your own paper spinning seed from a strip of paper! Check out our 15min STEM section to find out how.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

4. A Nest is Noisy

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: From the award-winning creators of An Egg Is Quiet, A Seed Is Sleepy, A Butterfly Is Patient, and A Rock Is Lively comes this gorgeous and informative look at the fascinating world of nests. From tiny bee hummingbird nests to orangutan nests high in the rainforest canopy, an incredible variety of nests are showcased here in all their splendor. Poetic in voice and elegant in design, this carefully researched book introduces children to a captivating array of nest facts and will spark the imaginations of children whether in a classroom reading circle or on a parent’s lap.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: Start by discussing what animals build nests. Children may be surprised to know that it’s not just birds. For example, alligators and orangutans build nests too! Then go on a sound walk around your local area, recording the different noises that can be heard and looking for evidence of nests. Finally, create your own nests or bird boxes, gathering up natural materials to place inside them.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

3. Swirl By Swirl: Spirals in Nature

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: What makes the tiny snail shell so beautiful? Why does that shape occur in nature over and over again – in rushing rivers, in a flower bud, even inside your ear? With simplicity and grace, Krommes and Sidman not only reveal the many spirals in nature – from fiddleheads to elephant tusks, from crashing waves to spiralling galaxies – but also celebrate the beauty and usefulness of this fascinating shape.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: Create your own spirals outside using natural materials such as sticks and sand. Then think about what animals have spirals or are able to curl their bodies into spirals. Explore the outside area to see how many of these creatures spirals you can find.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

2. Wild Fibonacci

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34. . . Look carefully. Do you see the pattern? Each number above is the sum of the two numbers before it. Though most of us are unfamiliar with it, this numerical series, called the Fibonacci sequence, is part of a code that can be found everywhere in nature. Count the petals on a flower or the peas in a peapod. The numbers are all part of the Fibonacci sequence. In Wild Fibonacci, readers will discover this mysterious code in a special shape called an equiangular spiral. Why so special? It mysteriously appears in the natural world: a sundial shell curves to fit the spiral. So does a parrot’s beak. . . a hawk’s talon. . . a ram’s horn. . . even our own human teeth!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: This book works well with older children who will be able to understand the pattern behind the fibonacci sequence. Once they have got this, encourage them to go outside and take pictures of natural objects that follow the fibonacci sequence such as flower petals and fir cones. Children could take this further, researching examples of this sequence in humans and animals.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

1. Bees, Snails and Peacock Tails

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Come explore the hidden shapes and patterns in nature. The peacock’s flashy tail is a masterpiece of colour and shape. A buzzing beehive is built of tiny hexagons. Even a snake’s skin is patterned with diamonds. Poet Betsy Franco and Caldecott Honour winner Steve Jenkins bring geometry to life in this lively, lyrical look at the shapes and patterns that can be found in the most unexpected places.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: This book is a great introduction to shapes and symmetry in nature. Younger children will have fun spotting examples of this in their natural surroundings. Meanwhile older children may be able to make links between the amazing patterns in nature and the fibonacci code.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

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