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Looking at STEM Through the Lens of Children's Books

From Our Keynote - Jane Yolen

Book 1

"A tornado, a blizzard, a forest fire, and a hurricane are met, in turn, with resilience and awe in this depiction of nature's power and our own. In the face of our shifting climate, young children everywhere are finding themselves subject to unfamiliar and often frightening extreme weather (Yolen, 2019)." Our 12th annual ECSTEM Conference is celebrating  our home, Planet Earth. Our planet is changing, and as temperatures rise, we are seeing environmental impacts on the weather, plant and animal life, and rising sea levels. I Am The Storm by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple communicates shifting weather conditions to young children in a way that is honest and empowering. 

What makes a good book?

what makes a good book

 There are many things to take into consideration when choosing a new book for children.  Do you look at the title first?  Are you drawn in by the illustrations?  Do you know who the book is for; maybe you have a particular child in mind that is working through something?  Does the literature in your classroom or home celebrate and acknowledge the children you are reading it to? Do you, as the reader, prefer books that rhyme, or that are funny?  

We have created a simple checklist that we use when considering a new book?  We hope that you find this helpful when adding to your library as well.



 "Science is the greatest of all adventures stories, one that's been unfolding for thousands of years as we have sought to understand ourselves and our surroundings. Science needs to be taught to the young and communicated to the mature in a manner that captures this drama. We must embark on a cultural shift that places science in its rightful place alongside music, art, and literature as an indispensable part of what makes life worth living."       -Brian Greene



Human Body



Simple machines are the very first machines built by humans to make life easier.  The very definition of technology is just that: "the application of science knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry."

wheel and axel




inclined plan


block city


"Unit blocks have long been recognized as one of the most valuable early childhood classroom materials available. Block play addresses multiple domains of learning and development, including social, emotional, cognitive, and language development.  But perhaps the most powerful contribution is in the area of STEM learning.  When children explore and build with blocks, they exercise spatial reasoning, engage in the engineering and design process, and grapple with laws of physics."   -Betty Zan

Building a house blocks



It is not enough to count, or have numerals prominent in our classrooms; we must enrich the children's everyday experiences with mathematical learning.  The children must be able to practice math concept s throughout the day in meaningful and intentional ways.  Literacy is a wonderful way to enhance our learning environments within this domain. 

inch by inch


the doorbell rang
give me half



Covid-19: Let's Talk About the Plan; A recourse to help young children understand the pandemic, is a book filled with photographs of real people living through the era of Coronavirus.  There are questions at the end to help support children with questions they may have.



Birds are a wonderful life science to study.  They can be found in any neighborhood all over the world.  Birds are one of nature's engineers.  When they build a nest they follow the design process by defining a need, choosing materials, building, modifying and testing   Connecting children to the world around them provides them with a personal relationship to nature and an appreciation of the complexity of living things.



It's time to say goodbye.  Time rushed by as Bunnies turned to Dolphins, Dolphin to Penguins. Penguins to Koalas, Koalas to Raccoons, Raccoons to Beavers and Beavers to kindergartners.
It's also time to say goodbye to Annie.  Annie has been a Beaver teacher for 3 years and has decided its time to go back to school to pursue her dream to become an occupational therapist. We will miss her dearly.  These goodbyes remind me how important it is to slow down and take time to enjoy the little things.  Take a minute and check out this charming book at the front desk.



During the hot summer months, the Children's Center at Caltech has been investigating water.  We can't think of any substance that children love to investigate more than water.  When we look at water through the lens of STEM the possibilities are everywhere.  Literacy is one of the many ways we come to understand the world.  We want to share two of our favorite books on water.  One is factual and one is magical, but both are great!