Engineer, STEM Resources

It’s time to celebrate National Engineer’s Week or E-Week!

If you aren’t an engineer, you probably wouldn’t know that the 3rd week in February every year is known as “E-Week” or National Engineers Week. The celebration of E-Week began in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers. The purpose is to raise awareness to the contributions to society that engineers make.

FUN FACT: Did you know that George Washington was considered the countries first engineer for his survey work? His birthday is February 22 and E-Week is also that same week.

The National Engineers Week Foundation formed DiscoverE in 1990 to engage engineering volunteers to participate in K-12 programs and partly as a response to a government survey that showed a future shortage of engineering talent. They provide various educational resources to the community for engineering outreach. You can check them out at www.discovere.org.

So, what is an engineer? Many people have trouble defining engineering because it is such a diverse career field! Engineers design, problem solve, improve, fix, research, inspect, etc. to make the world better (think of words like efficiency & optimization).

Most don’t sit at work solving math problems all day. They often work in teams to make the world that we live in better. Engineers are needed in almost every industry. Engineers must have excellent problem solving and critical thinking skills because they use their knowledge, skills and experiences to solve complex problems.

To get some ideas as to what an engineer does, I decided to share my experiences in engineering. I have worked in both automotive and medical industries.

In automotive, I was a Material Quality Engineer and Corrosion Field Quality Engineer.

In my Material Quality Engineer role, I ensured that the raw materials (like paint, adhesives, sealers and raw plastic pellets used to make things like bumpers or instrument panels) supplied to the automotive facilities met design and quality requirements from suppliers. I audited suppliers manufacturing facilities and quality systems, I issued quality standards, developed quality test methods, tested and evaluated test results in a lab and performed analysis with highly technical equipment to determine why a material failed.

Simply, I made sure materials from our suppliers worked in manufacturing and met customer requirements.

As a Corrosion Field Quality Engineer, I evaluated customer complaints and the corrosion on vehicles in the field using data analysis and performing surveys on customer vehicles at dealerships. I worked on teams to solve very complex design and manufacturing flaws to prevent early corrosion on vehicles.

Simply, I looked for rusty parts on cars to determine if they got rusty too early.

When I worked in the medical field, I was a Supplier Quality Engineer. In that role, I ensured that the parts supplied met design requirements. I audited suppliers quality systems and also evaluated parts that did not meet design requirements to determine if they could be remade to meet the requirements. I also was audited by other agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on my work to create a safe and quality product for public use.

Simply, I made sure that parts from suppliers were safe to use in our final medical device.

In all of those roles, I often times worked in teams, I wrote reports and I had to think creatively, quickly and methodically. My complex experiences in math and science (notice I said complex experiences not necessarily that I was good at all math and all science) helped give me the confidence and ability to think creatively when solving various problems that needed to be solved.

I plan to introduce more engineers and also share additional resources that may help you understand engineering and how to introduce it to your child(ren).

If you know an engineer, take the time this week to talk to them about what they do. Ask them about how they became interested in their chosen field and what they enjoy about their job. Also, tell them thank you for their contributions to our society. And most importantly, encourage your child to learn more about engineering with you. Tell your child’s school about National Engineers Week and ask if they have plans to celebrate it with your child’s class and how. Encourage them to check out the DiscoverE website above.

To all of my fellow engineering family and friends, thank you so much for all that you do.

And to my Dad who is an engineer and helped me find my path to engineering, thank you for encouraging me and always believing in me.

Happy National Engineers Week!

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The featured image above was provided by the DiscoverE Organization.

Animals, Experiments, Great Things about Space, Holiday, Math and Numbers, Nature, STEM Resources, STEM toys

My Complete List of STEM Buys for Ages 0-12 (updated 11/28/2018)

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links above at no additional cost to you.

To help you through the holidays, I’ve listed out some of my favorite STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) buys for kids 12 and under.

Books are great gifts for the holiday, if you haven’t checked out my previous book reviews then please check them out here.

Age 0-1 years:

In this age group, I’d recommend toys that encourage their already growing interest of the world around them without being too stimulating. Babies in this age group are typically learning through their senses, gaining increased mobility and trying to perfect gross motor skills. I selected toys that I felt were good for further developing those skills and interests. These can help build the foundation of learning and exploration.

I bought this Touch and Feel: Farm (Touch & Feel) when my daughter was 6 months old and she still loves it at 16 months old! Early on, it encouraged her to explore her senses and work on gross motor skills. Now it is helping her develop language and recognize some animals that live at a local educational farm near us (we bring this book with us when we visit).

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pound and Roll Wooden Tower Toy With HammerThis Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pound and Roll Wooden Tower Toy With Hammer was a popular toy for both of my children under the age of one. These types of toys are perfect for little ones as they begin to learn object permanence and develop hand / eye coordination. It became my child’s very first ‘puzzle’ and it was versatile. As my children grew, they began using the hammer to further develop gross and fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination.

EverEarth Natural Wood Blocks, 80 Pieces are necessary for this age group. They help develop a child’s creativity, help them explore fundamentals of cause and effect, gravity (objects fall down), balance, build hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills, explore colors (if you purchase colored ones) and shapes, etc. These are also versatile for the future. Later on children can use them for sorting, designing, building, creating, experimenting, etc. And if you purchase these, your child could paint their own blocks!

Do you have a place outside your home near a window that would be a great place for this Sorbus Bird Feeder – Classic Tube Hanging Feeders for Finches Bird Seed and More, Weatherproof, Premium Hard Plastic with Metal Hanger, Great for Attracting Birds Outdoors, Backyard, Garden (2 Pack)?  Children at this age are so intrigued by nature.  My children LOVE watching birds come to the feeder especially in the window.  Ours is strategically placed outside their playroom window.  In the winter, feeders help non migrating birds find food.  It’s a great way for children to explore birds more close up and appreciate nature.  I added this to this age group because children love watching birds go to the feeder at this age and it builds a foundation for an interest in nature, but this ‘toy’ could be given to any age group.  Accompany it with an age appropriate bird book and some bird seed!  We have a feeder very similar to this one and it is a hit!

Age 1-3 years:

In this age group, children are typically further refining their motor skills, developing language skills, developing socially and emotionally and just beginning cognitive development skills (understanding how the world works through experience). For this age group, I’d recommend toys that nourish their already natural need to perfect their motor function (especially fine motor), allow for creativity, and support their language development. Many children in this age range love to find ways to express their new found independence – that can be nourished with age appropriate problem solving toys.

Bath Building Tubes

I think most children in this age range, love water. These Boon Building Bath Pipes Toy Set, Set of 5 have been so much fun for both my children at bath time. They are great for teaching cause and effect since they can rearrange the pipes to make water flow various directions through the chain or they can be used separately.

I try to find more complex building toys for my children. Our favorite, by far, have been Magformers Basic Set (30 pieces) magnetic building blocks, educational magnetic tiles, magnetic building STEM toy and LEGO Duplo My First My First Bricks 10848. Both of these toys offer expansion packs so you can continue building their collection. My daughters love mixing and matching the pieces from different packs to create something new.

Puzzles are another great option for kids in this age range. They help develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills. This Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Peg Puzzles (Set of 3) – Numbers, Alphabet, and Colors would familiarize children with numbers, colors, letters and number words. The pegs make it just a little easier for little hands to grab and put them in place on the board.

We have toys similar to this Dinosaur Toys Take Apart Toys With Tools (218 pieces) – Pack of 6 Dinosaurs – Construction Engineering STEM Learning Toy Building Play Set – Toy for Boys & Girls Age 3 – 12 years old and my kids love it! It’s great for developing coordination, cognitive skills and creativity. They can disassemble and reassemble. My only caution is to be sure that your child has past the phase of putting objects into their mouth because some parts and pieces could be a choking hazard.

My daughter picked out this B. toys – Two-ty Fruity! Wooden Abacus Toy – Classic Wooden Educational Counting Toy With 100 Beads – Natural Wood and BPA and Phthalates FREE Beads from the store when she was about 16 months old. It’s never too early to start counting… while they may not understand the concept of counting yet, familiarizing them with counting language and allowing them to move the pieces on the abacus is fun. Later on, kids can use this for learning how to add and subtract small numbers.

Age 3-5 years:

Children in this age group have (and are continuing to) greatly expand their language. They also have a huge imagination, love creative play and are extremely active. As far as cognitive development, they are capable of sorting objects by size, shape, color, etc. They also enjoy counting, begin understanding the concept of time and what it means to split something in half. Some can even begin counting money. They are not logical thinkers, so they typically “learn by seeing and doing”. This is a wonderful age to introduce experimentation and teach hypotheses, however simplicity and repetition is key. Kids are learning through play at this age.

Learning Resources Code & Go Robot Mouse is a problem solving and critical thinking toy that introduces children to the concept of coding. Kids lay out the maze for the mouse to find the cheese, then select and layout the order of the movements with cards. After the cards are laid out, they ‘program’ the steps into the mouse and watch how it moves. This toy challenges children to think critically and problem solve. It is also totally hands on and experimental. Also, keep your eyes out for this Fisher Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar Toy.  DISCLAIMER: I have not tested the Code and Go Mouse myself.

My daughter is really into space. Check out this cool Smithsonian Space 2019 Wall Calendar! A calendar is such a cheap, inexpensive learning tool for children to learn numbers, counting and understanding the concept of time. I found my daughters calendar last year in the discount bin at Target. This coming year, I splurged a little bit and ordered it off of Amazon. We incorporate our calendar into our nighttime routine with her. It’s helped with number recognition and counting.

Single Learning Resources Jumbo Magnifying Glass for Kids (One Magnifying Glass of Random Color Per Order)

A magnifying Single Learning Resources Jumbo Magnifying Glass for Kids (One Magnifying Glass of Random Color Per Order) has been one of the best interactive learning toys for my toddler. She brings it outside with her on warmer days and she examines nature with it – fallen leaves, flowers, grass, tree nuts, bark, insects, etc. She also uses it inside, for example, to examine her clothes, books, toys and the floor. She pretends to be a detective too. We’ve pretended to be underwater divers looking for “treasure” with it also. If you get one of these, watch your child’s imagination take over.

Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Made Easy Activity Kit: Princess – 100+ Stickers, Wooden Frame is really great for kids in this age range. These are hands on and teach number recognition as well as fine motor skill development and cognitive skill development. Check out my post on Learning numbers and early math for additional information.

Do you want to encourage your child to love chemistry? This Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set, 22 pieces looks great for allowing kids to do some experimenting while learning various experimental terms like beaker, eye dropper, flask, etc. It comes with simple experiment cards for your child to enjoy and test. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

Marble runs are perfect for this age group. It develops their creativity, fine motor skills, and problem solving and cognitive skills. I love this Marble Genius Marble Run Super Set – 100 Complete Pieces + Free Instruction App (85 Translucent Marbulous Pieces + 15 Glass Marbles) because it is transparent (kids can see the marble move through it) and it has so many starter parts and pieces.

If your child loves space like mine, they will absolutely adore this Discovery Kids Planetarium Projector for Children with Rotating Stars Night Sky Mode and Stationary Slides Mode with Planet, Constellation, Solar System, Nebula, Spaceship, and Star Slides. The planetarium is shaped like a space ship and has two projector modes: 1) the moving side has a dome that rotated and projects stars like the night sky and 2) the stationary side allows for 4 included reel discs for children to view space images like a nebula, the planets, the moon, the sun, galaxies, etc. The only downside is that the reel disc don’t have a cheat sheet to know what you are looking at, so you’ll need to do your homework ahead of time like we did.

My children love this Fisher-Price Medical Kit. We’ve even brought it to the doctors office with us! It’s a great toy for imagination and acting out doctors office visits. It introduces children to simple tools that doctors utilize to check patients. It includes a blood pressure cuff, thermometer, otoscope, bandage, syringe and stethoscope.

If your child is already into Duplo Legos, another alternative to the Marble Run mentioned above is this BATTOP Marble Run Building Blocks Construction Toys Set Puzzle Race Track for Kids-97 Pieces.  It works similarly to a marble run but attaches directly to your childs Duplo Legos set.  I opted for this option for my children because they absolutely love their Duplo Legos. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself yet.

Age 5-8 years:

Children in this age group have developed better reasoning skills and will continue to gain more confidence in reasoning. They have also learned new skills like reading and writing, which makes it easier for them to work more individually on complex activities. Selecting toys that allow them to continue improving these skills and selecting ones that continue to expand their creativity is critical for this age group to continue building confidence in their skills.

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Anyone that has been following my Fairy Garden Project will understand why I purchased this tool set for my 3 year old daughter. I put it in this age group because younger kids will definitely need help using these tools, but older kids (in this age group) will not need as much supervision. I actually bought this tool set from my local Lowe’s recently. It includes everything my child would need to help work on various household projects with us and also has many needed tools for our Fairy Garden project his winter.

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Does your child enjoy digging, dinosaurs or want to be a paleontologist? I’d suggest checking out Jurassic World Stem Playleontology Kit. Kids get the opportunity to dig, chisel and brush away dirt to reveal the dinosaur bones of a T-Rex. It can then be displayed on the display stand included. Once assembled, the mouth of the T-Rex will open and close. They get to experience what it is like to be a paleontologist. A book on dinosaur bones would be a great accompaniment to this toy. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

How amazing would it be for your kids to make their own ice cream and learn science simultaneously? I found this Play and Freeze, Ice Cream Ball- Ice Cream Maker, (77349)Maker and I can’t wait to try it out with my kids when they are older! This is a hands-on experiment where kids learn the science behind freezing and movement. They must read and follow the instructions for it to work. The result is delicious ice cream in 30 minutes. Don’t forget to check out the included recipes and buy the ingredients in advance too! DISCLAIMER: I have not yet tested this toy myself.

I remember when I was this age, I LOVED getting mail. Buying a subscription to a magazine would be exciting for kids in this age group. If they love learning and reading facts about animals and science, I’d suggest checking out a National Geographic Kids subscription. If you’ve never checked out the images in these books, you need to. The photographs are stunning.

ThinkFun Math Dice Junior Game for Boys and Girls Age 6 and Up – Teachers Favorite and Toy of the Year Nominee is a fun mental math game for kids learning and honing in on their addition and subtraction skills. Kids in this age range love games and this one looks like it would be fun to play as a family and would prepare them mentally for their middle school years. DISCLAIMER: I have not yet tested this game myself but have read the game details and game reviews.

Who remembers The Magic School Bus: Greatest Original Episodes? These movies are still wonderful learning tools for children. In this DVD, children are taken through space, the human body and the eye of the storm. These episodes are so easy for children in this age range to understand and keep their attention. We have this DVD and my children love it.

Age 8-10 years:

Middle schoolers are typically able to apply more logic and reasoning skills. They are also typically a bit more methodical in their thinking and approach than younger children and they are very fluent readers. More advanced toys that require them to read and follow instructions, problem solve issues and use their creativity would be great for this age.

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 100 STEM Projects | 4-Color Project Manual | 30 Snap Modules | Unlimited Fun is amazing!! I have this toy listed under this age range mostly because it does require some creative methodical thinking to work on this alone but this could easily be adapted for younger children if you are willing to work with them on it. Another option for more simplicity would be to check out Snap Circuits Beginner Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 20 STEM Projects | 4-Color Project Manual | 12 Snap Modules | Unlimited Fun which, based on reviews, has simpler diagrams to follow and may be easier for a bright young child. Children build various circuitry based on the diagrams provided and enjoy the success of completion or use problem solving skills to troubleshoot issues. All parts snap together, so it’s safe for children. I bought this to work on with my 3 year old and it was actually a lot of fun. Of course, attention span is limited at that age, but it primed her interest for electronics which was my goal for her age.

K’NEX were popular when I was a kid and it’s nice to see that they haven’t lost their popularity. If you are looking for a building toy for this age group, check out the K’NEX – 35 Model Building Set – 480 Pieces – For Ages 7+ Construction Education Toy (Amazon Exclusive). K’NEX allows kids to build objects that actually move. This set allows for creativity and helps develop more advanced cognitive skill.

If your child loved their marble run and they love challenges, then the ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run Logic Game and STEM Toy for Boys and Girls Age 8 and Up – Toy of the Year Award Winner might be a great toy for them. It is a much more intense complicated maze set up with 60 challenge cards. The pieces can be arranged many different ways which is what makes this challenging. This toy claims improve spacial awareness and logic. Based on the videos I reviewed, I would agree. Check out the video in the link to see how it works. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You! has several household scientific experiments that are safe for children to do with some adult supervision. Experiments are organized and easy to understand. If your child is planning for science fair this year, this might be a good book for them. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally reviewed this book.

Age 10-12 years:

Children in this age rage typically have a very developed cognitive ability. They can gather thoughts, opinions and facts and formulate their own organized thoughts. They also typically use and practice more mental math and start learning more advanced math concepts in school. Any additional practice you can provide for additional skill practice in a fun way, while learning new concepts, would be helpful to confidence building.

Practicing more advanced mental math would help children in this age. This game, Math for Love Prime Climb, is a game that requires children to do mental addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Younger children can play with an adult. It is a game that combines skill, luck and strategy. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally tried this game.

Discovery Propulsion Rocket by Horizon Group USA is a reusable rocket launcher that uses household products for launching. Fun ways to use this launcher would be timing how long for take off, timing how long it’s in the air and measuring how far the rocket launches. This would also be a great toy to research energy and Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally tried this product.

While I personally have not read this book yet, I have read numerous reviews and have a reliable resource that First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong is an excellent book. Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon but he was also an incredibly talented engineer and astronaut. He was a man that lived through the infancy of the space program. This book is also a major motion picture. DISCLAIMER: This book is on loan and on my reading list!

If you are looking for something similar to snap circuits but a bit more challenging, check out Snap Circuits Snapino – Making Coding A Snap | Snap Circuits & Arduino Compatible | Perfect Introduction to Arduino Coding | Great STEM Product.  It introduces coding concepts to their electronic design.  Each project has detailed instructions explaining how to connect the circuitry and also how to write the code in the program that your child can download onto their own computer. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself yet. 

As always, these are suggestions for each age range. Some children may require more or less challenging toys based on their needs and skill level. Some of these products (noted above), I was not able to review or test myself, however I did a thorough review of each to make my recommendation. I was able to test most products with kids in the younger age groups but not the older ones.

If you have any questions, please contact me at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

Book Review, Germs, STEM Resources

Reading ‘STEMs’ Learning – “Do not lick this book!” Book Review

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Click to purchase this book on Amazon!

Several weeks ago, I was browsing through a parenting magazine and I saw a book listed as one of the best picture books of the year. Since it seemed to be STEM based, of course, I had to check it out!

“Do not lick this book!” is an extremely FUN, interactive and informative book to read!! It introduces germs and viruses in a fun interactive way by following a germ called ‘Min’ on an adventure. Min meets lots of new germ friends along the way. Children interact with the book by pretending to physically place Min and Min’s friends in various places, then exploring those places and meeting new germ friends.

The author, Idan Ben-Barak, holds several degrees including microbiology, the history and philosophy of science and library studies. He lives in Melbourne, Australia. The illustrator, Julian Frost, is world known.

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There are several pages in this book that have very impressive high resolution microscopic images – specifically using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). So kids can see things, like a shirt, in very very high resolution. Some of the things that the germs say in the book that Min meets along the way are very witty and funny. My three year thought this book was absolutely hilarious and we read this book quite often. She ends up roaring in laughter through each page!
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If your child is between the ages of 3-8, I would recommend this book as one to check out. As an adult, I LOVED reading this book to my child. It was a lot of fun to pretend and learn together. I am also personally glad that I purchased it because we have been reading it over and over again.

Have you read this book before? What did you and your child think? Is this a book you want to check out? Let me know in the comments or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

DISCLAIMER: As an Amazon Associate and I may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links above. I was not requested to review this book and I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Museums, Nature, Uncategorized

Built to Survive: Biomechanics at Cleveland Natural History Museum

We went to the Cleveland Natural History Museum on Sunday, October 21 to view their newest exhibit – Built to Survive: Biomechanics.

Many (if not all) scientific inventions, ideas and theories originate because scientists have observed the incredible way nature functions around us.  This exhibit left me with a feeling of wonder and amazement and both girls came out excited and ready to continue exploring the museum.

20181021_125601When we walked in, there were four display cases that explained how nature works mechanically to push (i.e. snot pushes out dirt and germs from your body), distort (i.e. gravity distorts the discs in your spine but lie down and they expand), bend (collagen, cellulose and/or keratin in nature gives strength to hollow objects in nature like feathers) and press (i.e. coral can withstand pounding waves because it’s made of very hard calcium carbonate).

Near this area was a game called,“PUSH THEM TO THEIR LIMITS!”.  My 3 year old loved this area!  She could select two objects and then decide which one would win in compression, tension and bending tests.  Then she was able to push a button to run the test and see how each object performed for each test.  I personally loved this game too because it brought me back to my materials engineering roots.

 

20181021_130413Next we moved on to learn about the “circulatory” systems in various animals and also in trees.  Did you know that trees use xylem in each ring of the tree to pump up nutrients to the rest of the tree?  We were able to see through a microscope what the xylem looks like.

The highlight in this area for the kids was pumping “blood” from the heart of a giraffe all the way up it’s neck – it helped explain the concept of blood pressure and how hard a giraffes heart must pump in order to get blood all the way to it’s brain.  I personally was shocked at how hard I had to pump the heart to get it to reach the top.

We learned about why the size of a deer ranges depending on the climate it lives in, we watched a video on how animals survive in the dessert, learned about ‘levers’ in the human body and how they function mechanically, I was able to test my own grip strength (no wonder I need my husband to open those jars for me… haha…), gain more insight into prosthetics (and robots) and we were able to become birds and flap our wings!

They also had a neat area that explained heat loss and insulation of the body and we were able to stand in front of an infrared camera to see how “hot” or “cold” we were.  Check out this “HOT” couple!  Haha!

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There was SO MUCH to explore and learn in this exhibit!  I know if I made another trip, I would find even more to learn and understand.

At times, it was a bit of a challenge to make it through the exhibit with two very young children – 1 and 3 years old – but we managed ok.  I would recommend that if you have more than one young child, to be sure that you have another adult with you and try to choose times when the exhibit won’t be too busy.  Sunday afternoon was perfect for us.  The girls were so excited to play with the interactive pieces and they seemed perfectly spaced throughout.

This exhibit will be available at the Cleveland Natural History Museum until April 28, 2019!  So you will have plenty of time to plan your trip.  Admission to this exhibit is included with general admission and members get in FREE.  There is so much more to explore in this museum!!  Check out their admissions page on their website for more information on hours and pricing.

We have a membership to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and attended out of our own interest.  This post was not a request from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and I received no compensation for this post.

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Book Review

Reading ‘STEMs’ Learning – Andrea Beaty Book Review

This week, I’m reviewing three (3) books.  The books are: “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, “Iggy Peck, Architect” and “Ada Twist, Scientist”.

I’ll tell you if I think you should BUY IT, BORROW IT, or SKIP IT.

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About the Author / Illustrator:

The author is Andrea Beaty.  She actually has a very similar background to mine – she majored in technical fields in college (in her case, biology and computer science) and also loved to write.  She eventually began writing children’s books and now many of her books are best sellers.  The illustrator, David Roberts, makes fantastic illustrations that are very visually appealing to children.  They are wonderful picture books!  The first book in the series that we read was “Rosie Revere, Engineer” and we loved it!

About the Books:

Each of the children in these books are second grade classmates in Miss Lila Greer’s classroom and each has some type of passion (inventing, testing or building) that relates to three different STEM careers – an engineer, a scientist and an architect.  Each book outlines the creative and inquisitive spirits of each of the children, the catastrophes they face and then a resolution at the end.

20181016_144511Rosie Revere, Engineer:  BUY IT

This book is extremely creative and the rhymes are fluid.  The words rolled right off my tongue when reading them and the lessons in the book are life lessons.  One of my favorite quotes from the book, “The only true failure can come if you quit.”  There is also a prelude for some history you can teach your child, as the ‘real’ Rosie the Riveter (from WWII) makes an appearance as Rosie’s Great-Great-Aunt Rose.  From an engineers perspective, I felt it gave a very good introduction into an engineers best qualities.  And I felt this book was especially empowering to young girls.

20181016_144559Iggy Peck, Architect:  SKIP IT OR BORROW IT

The storyline in this book and the overall moral were just okay, especially since Rosie Revere was our first book to read in the series and left such a wonderful feel.  My daughter didn’t ask as many questions and I didn’t find that the words were as fluid as Rosie Revere.  Generally though, I do think it touched on some of the passions of a great architect but fell short of my expectations.  I think if we had skipped this book, we wouldn’t be missing out and I would not have purchased this book had I read it in advance.  I didn’t think it was awful, so I’d say if architecture is your child’s thing, then borrow it.

20181016_144628Ada Twist, Scientist: BORROW IT

We enjoyed the fluidity of this story and its moral.  The moral of the story is that a great scientist makes hypotheses, tests them and then draws conclusions by continuously asking ‘why’.  I think this book is worth the read, but review it ahead  of purchasing and possibly before reading it to your child (some readers felt that there might be some unintentional, negative cultural bias in the book that I did not notice until after I read some reviews).  My favorite quote in this book was, “She asks lots of questions.  How could she resist?  It’s all in the heart of a great scientist.” 

Additional Resources Available:

Did you know that astronauts read books to children from space? “Rosie Revere, Engineer” is one of the books that is read by an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS).  It is supported by the Global Space Education Foundation called Storytime from Space.  The astronauts also perform educational demonstrations to compliment the science concepts found in the books they read to children in the videos.  Check it out in the link above!

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Experiment from Andrea Beaty’s website that could accompany “Ada Twist, Scientist”.

Also, Andrea Beaty’s website contains a plethora of educational resources that accompany the books – from posters to bookmarks to teacher curriculums and child activities.  One link that I found on the website lead to a really neat idea – setting up a “tinkering station” for your child.

Have you read any of these books to your children?  Which of the three are your favorite / least favorite? 

Do you want me to do more reviews like this? 

Let me know in the comments or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

All opinions and reviews of these books in this blog post are my own.  I was not asked to make a review and I was not compensated for my review.  

DISCLAIMER:  I am an Amazon Associate.  As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases made using the links above at no additional cost to you.

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Fairy Garden, Inexpensive and Versatile, Nature

Building Fairy Bridges…

London bridge is falling down… falling down… falling down… London bridge is falling down, my fair lady! 

My toddler started to sing this as I shared the first piece we would make for our fairy garden – a BRIDGE!  My hope, though, is that we don’t end up with a ‘London bridge‘!

Since my toddler is only 3 years old and attention span is limited, I decided to focus on teaching and introducing just two (simple) parts to this project – measuring with a ruler and some simple elements of structural support for our bridge.

Branch Selection:

My toddler was very anxious to get started, so I made the decision on which branches to use.  A great discussion point with an older child or one with a longer attention span would be looking at the diameter, the surface and shapes of the branches and deciding which branches would be best for building.  I personally selected branches that were relatively straight (did not have knots or bends) and close to the same diameter.  In our yard, those branches came from what we believe is a sugar maple tree.

If you wanted to use materials that are exact dimensions, you could also purchase wooden dowels from your local hardware store.  These are relatively in expensive to purchase.

Measuring:

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My toddler marking our first branch. (Of course we had to use a pink tape measure and a pink marker so that they were “pretty marks”. Haha!)

I determined that a two inch width would be wide enough for our fairies.  We started off with finding the two inch mark on the ruler together and then measuring two inches down the first branch by marking them.

She lost interest after two branches but this was not a failure!  Not only was this one of her first introductions to a ruler and measurement, she now pretends to measure all kinds of things around the house with my sewing tape measure.

After she lost interest in our measurement activity, I abandoned measuring and just went straight to cutting and approximating the sizes to cut.  This made the bridge look more “natural”.

To cut, I had my toddler start off with using a miter box and saw.  Unfortunately our small saw was too dull so we changed plans and instead, I ended up using outdoor cutting shears.  Her grip strength was not enough to use the shears herself so I did it.

Construction:

Since our bridge would be arched, we talked briefly during construction about how the bridge would need to be supported on the ends (this would be considered a type of ‘abutment‘) and also underneath (acting as beams).

We ended up using a hot glue gun for attachment.  The reason for this was to keep the attention span of my toddler, since hot glue (especially high temperature hot glue) is great for use on wood but more importantly, it cures within 2 minutes.  If I had an older child, I would go more in depth in material selection – researching glue strength, cure time, melting temperatures, etc.  And we would also talk about other ways to attach the sticks together – perhaps using twine or rope. 

I am curious if the glue we used will be able to with stand warmer temperature in our area next summer.  If not, it will be a great talking point if the bridge fails next summer.

I held the bridge and she put the glue where I instructed.  She loved using the hot glue gun herself.

We used a couple thinner arched twigs as the beams, which also helped form the shape of the arch.  We also added sticks to the ends, underneath each arched twig as the abutments.

Our abutments were not exactly the same diameter on each end so the bridge was tilting to one side.  In order to help it stand straight and not tilted, we added some vertical beams.  These vertical beams  ended up being very cute visually.  My daughter decided that we needed a railing for the fairies safety.  For the railing, I cut off pieces of vine from my honeysuckle.  See below.

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We were able to make a total of two bridges.  One shorter one and one longer one.  I am excited to see how they hold up over the summer next year.  My toddler is equally excited to play with these!

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What do you think of our bridges?  Can you think of other ways to build these bridges or other fun educational aspects to building that I didn’t?  Do you have an idea for a fun element to include in the fairy garden?  Let me know in the comments or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

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New Blogger

My why…

We entered the “why” phase in our household several months ago.  Every parent that has or had a toddler, is familiar with this sometimes dreaded, exhausting phase.  We try our best to embrace the curiosity.  We want both our children to have the confidence to ask “why” as they grow older.  The best of the best scientists and problem solvers ask “why”.  If you have a child like this or if you are going through this phase, I highly suggest the book, “Ada Twist, Scientist” by Andrea Beaty (the other books in this collection are outstanding too).

Question MarkThis week, I’m going to touch on “why”.  But not the “why” you are thinking of or how I framed this blog post… a different kind of “why”.  Since I started this blog about a month ago, I’ve received a lot of really great positive feedback from so many of my amazing and supportive family and friends, several former co-workers and even total strangers.  (Which, by the way, I’ve appreciated every single one – it’s the reason I’ve continued.  So thank you for the support and for the shares!)  But one common question I have received is, “why did you decide to do this?”.

Let’s travel back to the summer before my senior year in high school.  At that time, I was narrowing in on universities and I was pretty sure that I wanted to major in journalism.  I wrote for the newspaper of my high school, often wrote editorial comments to my local newspaper and I was even part of an Explorers program with one of the large local TV news stations in my hometown.  I loved writing.

Then, my Dad (an engineer) approached me about a Summer Engineering Camp at my local university (now, my college alma mater) for high school girls.  I really hadn’t considered engineering until then.  And I honestly didn’t know what engineering was, so I decided to check it out.  I LOVED it and that following week, I declared that I was going to major in engineering.  Not only was it interesting but I truly felt that I could change the world. (And, in a small way, I was able to do that in my career before becoming a Mom.)

That one experience and decision has led me down so many wonderful paths in my life.  I only wish that there had been more opportunities available to not just my parents but other parents to introduce these concepts sooner – especially to young girls.

My love for writing has always been there but the experiences of my life (many I didn’t even touch on here) are what led me to this.  I feel that it is so important to introduce children to STEM careers and problem solving concepts early – while their curiosity is still high.  This will in turn build their confidence later in school and in life.  As parents, we are their first teachers.  And more parents and caregivers should feel that they are also able to help their young kids – without always spending tons of money.  And I know I’ve stressed young kids but if your children are older, it’s not too late to get them exposed either… I was a senior in high school!

I became an engineer because I wanted to change the world and help others.  This is one way that I feel that I can do that with my background…

Who knows… maybe I’ll inspire the parents of the next doctor, nurse, astronaut, engineer, biologist, Nobel prize winner… ok, that might be stretching it… but you understand what I’m saying… 

I don’t know where this blog will lead me in the future but I’m open to the possibilities!

I promise that next week, I’ll get back to more exciting STEM posts for you and your children.  As always, all opinions in this post are my own.

Tell me about your experiences getting introduced to the STEM fields or tell me about struggles you might have introducing STEM to your kids in the comments below or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com

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