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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Physics with Chris Ferrie

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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At first glance, The Everyday Science Academy series, by Chris Ferrie, appears to be for very young children. But the series brilliantly simplifies complicated scientific principles for kids up to Grade 6. Each book features a cartoon-like version of the scientist himself, Dr. Ferrie, talking to a red kangaroo, with a few short paragraphs per page. Bolded vocabulary appears throughout and each book ends the same way, with a glossary, a 5 question summative quiz, a few “Test it Out” experiments using everyday objects, and a section: “What To Expect When You Test It Out.”

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Statistical physics is the subject of Let’s Clean Up. A messy room is the springboard for questions, such as, “If two things on your shelf are out of place, then can you count all the ways two things can be out of place?” It introduces the young reader to the concept of entropy. A clean room has low entropy because there is only one way for it to be clean. Red Kangaroo says, “So my messy room has high entropy because there are 15 ways for me to make a mess!” Experiments at the back use marbles in a pizza box or food colouring in water to demonstrate these concepts.

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Celebrating STEM

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

*****

This list includes all kinds of STEM’ers—science enthusiasts, builders, inventors, real life engineers—in both fiction and non-fiction texts.

In Fairy Science, by Ashley Spires, Esther is the only fairy in Pixieville who believes in science. According to Esther, magical rainbows are actually the dispersion of light; water droplets on plants, viewed as a bad omen, are simply condensation; spirit faces in the rocks are a result of erosion. She teaches her fellow fairies the scientific method, the periodic table and demonstrates gravity. But it takes a wilting tree and Esther’s data-based life-saving research to convert a few fairies to her way of thinking. This tale includes a bean experiment at the back. (Grades 1-3)

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Come Back to Earth, Esther! written by Josée Bisaillon depicts Esther as a normal girl with an astronomy obsession. She recreates solar systems at mealtime (e.g. a pancake and a strip of bacon looks like Saturn; half-bitten coo …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Drawing the Line

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

*****

Developing an understanding of line as a design element is part of the visual arts curriculum. These books are pitched primarily at a K-3 audience.

1 2 3 I Can Draw!, by Irene Luxbacher, is a superb teaching tool. Beginning with a visual list of necessary materials, it shows different types of lines, how to create drawings out of shapes, and how to construct different facial expressions. The books moves on to simple figure drawing, adding movement and texture. The grand finale: how to put all the techniques together. There’s a note to teachers and a pictorial index.

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For K-2, Scribble, by Ruth Ohi, begins with a scribbly line invading a group of shapes. The scribble asks the shapes to play, convincing them they’d be better off with a line. The line becomes waves, a tether, a beast, and eventually, the binding factor in a final picture.

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