STEM in the classroom, and at home!

Andrea Beaty is a talented lady
And writes childrens books for a living.
She loves math and science and offers kids guidance
On careers and inventions, she’s quite willing.

How many childrens authors can say they have taught kids about the design process, inspired them to build bridges from shoestrings, had her books become instant New York Times bestsellers and had a book read from space?  Andrea Beaty can claim all of those things.  

Beaty’s science-based book series, beginning with Iggy Peck, Architect, tells the stories of the delightful young scientists who attend Blue River Creek Elementary in Ms. Lila Greer’s second grade class.  Each of the three books focuses on one student and their particular talents for one area in what is known as the STEM curricula (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math).  In addition to the delightful stories, each book explores real-world examples of the field, with illustrations by David Roberts.

Beaty herself says that she was inspired to write the follow-ups to Iggy Peck after seeing Roberts’ illustrations of the young architect’s class.  Both Rosie Revere and Ada Twist are students in that first book and Iggy is found in each of theirs, providing a continuity that young readers notice and appreciate.  

While the various experiments taken up by the budding designers are the typical insanity that would come from the mind of a 7-year old (a spray-cheese powered, python-repelling hat, for example), they feel genuine and inspired. All three books have companion experiment books that guide students and parents through over 40 STEM and design projects inspired by the Blue River Creek kids.  Along with the provided lesson plans from publisher, these books are brimming with possibilities for both at-home and in the classroom.

My boys love these books.  My 7-year-old is also in 2nd grade, and he’s hip-deep in school STEM projects.  My wife is a graduate of Georgia Tech (and a helluva engineer), so these books not only appeal to our kids, but to us as well.  

While my favorite bits are the hidden delights that speak to parents (Ada Twist’s pile of books includes Cosmos by Carl Sagan, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, and a biography of Ada Lovelace), my wife was drawn most to young Rosie Revere’s story.  Rosie’s great aunt Rose worked in construction during World War II, making her one of the generation of “Rosie the Riveters” who have inspired women for decades.  My wife’s grandmother was a Rosie, working on planes in the factories around Detroit.  This instant connection, and learning later that Beaty’s inspiration was her aunt Emaline’s own work, really drew my wife in.  

We are the book-giving family for nearly every holiday and birthday and many copies of Rosie Revere, Ada Twist, and Iggy Peck have made their way into many of our friends’ homes to the delight of parents and children alike.

Throughout the month of December, AiPT! will be highlighting some of our favorite science-based books and activities for kids. Looking for that perfect holiday gift that educates while it entertains? Eureka, you have found it!

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