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Activities Linking Science with Math 5-8. John Eichinger. (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2009. vii+223pp. $27.95. 2009003257. ISBN 9781933531427. Index; C.I.P. 

This book contains three general science, seven physical science, two chemical science, three earth science, and five life science activities for middle school students. The book is intended for preservice or in-service teachers, but would also work well for parents or youth group leaders. 

Activities Linking Science with Mathematics, Grades K-4. John Eichinger. (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2009. vii+212pp. $27.95. 2009003257. ISBN 9781933531427. Index; C.I.P. 

This book has 20 hands-on activities for students in kindergarten through fourth grade. The activities do not rely on each other and include all disciplines of science, such as general, physical, chemical, earth, and life sciences. The book uses four guiding principles recognized by the National Standards for Science and Mathematics: student relevance, interaction or collaboration, problem-based learning, and integrated instruction.  

Air, Water, and Weather. William C. Robertson. (Illus. by Brian Diskin; from the Stop Faking It! Finally Understanding Science So You Can Teach It Series.) NSTA Press, 2005. 134pp. $18.95. 2005003491. ISBN 0-87355-238-5. Glossary; Index; C.I.P. 

The books in this series are known for providing accurate explanations of abstract science concepts and are clever, often humorous, cartoon illustrations. Topics include pressure, density, the Bernoulli effect, the Coriolis force, jet streams, and others. Like the other books in the series, this one uses the learning cycle as an organizational tool.  

Answers to Science Questions from the Stop Faking It! Guy. William C. Robertson. (Illus. by Brian Diskin.) NSTA Press, 2009. viii+176pp. $23.95. 2009025256. ISBN 9781935155249. Index; C.I.P.

This is a book for science teachers of children as opposed to young adults. It is meant for elementary and middle school teachers, who must teach a variety of topics in science, often with less background than high school or college teachers. In the book, William C. Robertson has adapted columns he has written for the journal Science and Children for an NSTA publication that is perfect for the same audience. He presents topics in a wide range of fields: general science, teaching methods, life science, earth and space science, physical science, and technology. 

The Big Ideas of Nanoscale Science & Engineering: A Guidebook for Secondary Teachers. Shawn Y. Stevens, LeeAnn M. Sutherland, and Joseph S. Krajcik. (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2009. xv+203pp. $27.95. 2009026397. ISBN 9781935155072. Index; C.I.P. 

The goals of this guidebook are (1) to introduce “nine big ideas” that define nanoscale science and engineering (NSE), (2) to demonstrate how these nine ideas can be integrated into the curriculum for grades 7-12, and (3) to propose a strategy for developing a coherent science curriculum. The text does not provide lesson plans or activities or prescribe a curriculum; instead, it focuses on the connections among nanoscience ideas and on the current curriculum. The text is accurate and clear, and the illustrations are excellent. The conclusions reached are soundly rooted in data. This book is a boon to any science teacher of students in grades 7-12. 

Brain-Powered Science: Teaching and Learning with Discrepant Events. Thomas O’Brien. (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2010. xxviii+386pp. $32.95. 2009046351. ISBN 9781935155102. Index; C.I.P. 

Preservice training for science educators often includes testimonials about the value of using discrepant events—demonstrations or activities that have unexpected outcomes—as hooks for stimulating student interest. In Thomas O’Brien’s excellent Brain Powered Science, we find 33 such teaching occasions. O’Brien explains each in commendable depth, first with respect to the basic science that is illustrated by the activity, then to the pedagogical opportunities presented. Teachers will find that the book places students’ enjoyable and memorable experiences of unanticipated or even startling outcomes of science activities within the framework of the unifying principles of a given branch of science. 

Developing Visual Literacy in Science K-8. Jo Anne Vasquez , Michael W. Comer, and Frankie Troutman. (Illus.) Arlington, VA: NSTA Press, 2010. xvi+138pp. $24.95. 2010024752. ISBN 9781935155225. Index; C.I.P. T HH

Powerful information is found within this book. The first chapter describes the research that justifies developing visual literacy. Subsequent chapters show applications of this reasearch in the classroom. The authors develop a system that is a graphic organizer in itself: see? scan? analyze, subsequently broken down into three columns called observations, inferences, and emotions. This system is used to analyze most graphics that students would see in textbooks. The last chapter is titled "Visual Literacy: Next Steps." The authors call for giving students blank paper, instead of only lined paper, on which to draw what they learned. They cite the example of Temple Grand in and her experiences recounted in her book Thinking in Pictures–and Other Reports from My Life with Autism. This book is a must for all science teachers. Many of our modern learners are visual learners and are often called "digital natives." We should address their learning in ways that will enhance their understanding.

Even More Everyday Science Mysteries: Stories for Inquiry-based Science Teaching. Richard Konicek-Moran. (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2010. xvii+186pp. $24.95. 2009047851. ISBN 9781935155133. Index; C.I.P. 

Teaching elementary and middle school science through inquiry‑based learning is universally lauded, but oftentimes very difficult to practice. Richard Konicek‑Moran continues to provide quality advice and specific examples on how to implement inquiry‑based instruction with his third volume, Even More Everyday Science Mysteries. Like its predecessors, this book presents 15 stories, evenly divided between the physical, earth, and life sciences, on familiar phenomena that can be easily studied by students from kindergarten to grade 8. The current volume is an outstanding teaching tool that should be on every elementary and middle school teacher’s bookshelf. 

Everyday Science Mysteries: Stories for Inquiry-Based Science Teaching. Richard Konicek-Moran. (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2008. 188pp. $19.95. 2008004614. ISBN 978-1-93353-121-2. Index; C.I.P. 

This book for teachers provides an unusual approach to science as inquiry and a new and innovative way to capture students’ attention and immerse them in the processes of science. This book begins with an introduction to inquiry and the use of mystery stories in the classroom. The two-page stories are constructed so that the students become the sleuths. Each story ends in a question, and students must work to identify the “suspects” (make predictions or hypotheses) and run an “investigation” (gather data) to find out “whodunit” (the results). This is a great book for teachers who are looking for innovative ways of drawing students into science as inquiry. 

Forensics in Chemistry: The Case of Kirsten K. McCubbins, Sara and Angela Codron. (Illus.) Arlington, VA: NSTA Press,2012. 177pp. $24.95. ISBN 9781936137367. Index.

McCubbins and Codron offer a solution for high school faculty wishing to supplement a second-year chemistry course with performance-based assessments and hands-on inquiry learning. They provide a curriculum that is simultaneously engaging to students, offers meaningful direction to instructors, and balances open-ended inquiry against direct guidance. Readily accessible traditional lab supplies and equipment for colorimetry, electrochemistry, and stoichiometry are easily repurposed for use in investigating a reasonably plausible "murder" case. Suspects with their attendant means, motives, and opportunities are presented and systematically eliminated by students (even while new evidence may be "discovered" with each new exercise). Evidence is evaluated by "real" physical tests as well as the analysis/interpretation of the "results" of instrumental analysis (nuclear decay, elemental analysis, IR spectra). Each chapter includes case information (moving the murder back-story along), highlights of relevant chemistry knowledge, national standards, and a teacher's guide with the usual experimental materials and apparatus, student instructions and questions, expectations/answers, and grading rubrics.

The Frugal Science Teacher, PreK-5: Strategies and Activities. Linda Froschauer (Ed.). (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2010. xi+164pp. $22.95. 2009044630. ISBN 9781936137015. Index; C.I.P.

This edited volume shares ideas from numerous authors regarding multiple ways of conducting hands-on science activities using low-cost or free materials. The book’s chapters were selected from top activities published in a variety of sources, such as Science and Children, and compiled into five sections: “Student-Created Constructions,” “Teacher-Created Constructions,” “Teaching Strategies that Maximize the Science Budget,” “Instructional Lessons that Maximize the Science Budget,” and “Funds and Materials.” This book should be an excellent resource in any elementary science classroom. 

Inquiry: The Key to Exemplary Science. Robert Yager (Ed.). (Illus.; from the Exemplary Science Series.) NSTA Press, 2009. xvii+299pp. $24.95. 2008052430. ISBN 9781935155041. Index; C.I.P. 

This volume, edited by the noted science education researcher Robert E. Yager, is the latest in the Exemplary Science series published by the National Association of Science Teachers. The theme of the book is inquiry, as it has been, and as it should be, incorporated into science classrooms. The book provides a rich variety of programs that feature approaches to science investigation as a means of changing concepts, processing skills, and experiencing authentic science. This is a must-have volume for any science educator or administrator who is considering or engaged in inquiry. 

Inside-Out: Environmental Science in the Classroom and the Field, Grades 3-8. Robert W. Blake, Jr. (Ed.). (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2010. xxiv+165pp. $22.95. 2009051811. ISBN 9781935155119. Index; C.I.P. 

Inside-Out landed on my desk just as our school was wrapping up its environmental program for the year. The book is a complete instructional manual for starting a comprehensive watershed project at any school. The text is geared toward grades 3-8, but certainly has applications for high school. Starting any environmental program from scratch can be daunting. Many school systems promote “project-based learning” (PBL) or “project-based science” programs; yet teachers can be overwhelmed by the scope and sequence involved in any environmental project. Here is a complete primer; each chapter is logically organized around a yearlong watershed program beginning with topography and ending with ideas for “action” projects. 

Kyoodoz Pre-Algebra Multiple Choice Questions. Yvonne Low. (Illus.) Kyoodoz, 2010. 200pp. $25.00. 2010903026. ISBN 9780977117239. Index; C.I.P. 

Kyoodoz Pre‑Algebra Multiple Choice Questions is a workbook type of curriculum that is part of a series of mathematics books. Some of the other books in the series are Pre‑Algebra Maven, Geometry Solutions Book, and Algebra Solutions Book. Kyoodoz Pre‑Algebra Multiple Choice Questions is a 200-page workbook that includes questions with step-by-step solutions, symbols that pay attention to various math tips, and operations; cartoon panels that provide reminders and tips; and additional practice questions after each chapter. This is a wonderful workbook that can provide students with key words, shortcuts, and reminders that will be vital in being successful in algebra. 

Math. William C. Robertson (Ed.). (Illus. by Brian Diskin; from the Stop Faking It! Finally Uunderstanding Science So You Can Teach It Series.) NSTA Press, 2006. x+190pp. $19.95. 2005033676. ISBN 0-87355-240-7. Glosssary; Index; C.I.P. 

This book is intended for current and future teachers of grades 3-8, as well as for parents. The book seeks to help such an audience attain an improved conceptual understanding of topics in or related to the mathematics curriculum at those levels. Topics include number bases, basic ideas of fractions and their operations, negative numbers, variables and their manipulation, mixture and “train” problems in algebra, areas of some geometric figures, and the idea of a limit and the area under a curve from calculus.  

More Chemistry Basics. William C. Robertson, with Michael S. Kralik and Ann Culter, consultants. (Illus. by Brian Diskin; from the Stop Faking It! Series.) NSTA Press, 2010. xii+153pp. $24.95. 2009052866. ISBN 9781933531472. Glossary; Index; C.I.P. 

More Chemistry Basics is the ninth book in the Stop Faking It! series of basic science teaching and concepts for students and teachers of science. The book covers major concepts in chemistry, with an avoidance of math complexities and the subsequent entanglements for the less math-gifted student. This book would help the experienced instructor or even the inexperienced instructor just starting out with classroom or laboratory instructional methods or presentation skills. 

Once Upon a Life Science Book: 12 Interdisciplinary Activities to Create Confident Readers. Jodi Wheeler-Toppen. (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2010. vii+161pp. $22.95. 2009053311. ISBN 9781935155096. Index; C.I.P. 

Reading a science textbook is often difficult at best. This book gives not only logical and research-based reading strategies, but also logical and researched-based science lesson strategies (p. 28). Reading strategies are also presented to help the reader in a plan that is strikingly similar to Karpus’s “learning cycle,” which has regained a following in the inquiry-based science movement of today. What results is the best thing about this book: The author actually models Karpus’s ideas in each of the 12 activities presented. 

Outdoor Science: A Practical Guide. Steve Rich. (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2010. ix+140pp. $24.95. 2009046466. ISBN 9781935155126. Index; C.I.P.

This recent publication of NSTA Press is a wonderful resource for teachers who are interested in expanding students’ outdoor experiences with science. The author has selected many activities that can be done in the average schoolyard or science classroom. Examples of topics for lessons include butterfly life cycles and behaviors, bird counts, and habitat-animal surveys. One of the most valuable aspects of this book comes in the first two chapters, which detail how to create an outdoor learning space for science, mathematics, and social science and how to find the resources to accomplish the task. The book is a complete resource for instituting outdoor learning experiences in a science curriculum and is a valuable addition to any science teacher’s curriculum library.

Preschool Pathways to Science: Facilitating Scientific Ways of Thinking, Talking, Doing, and Understanding. Rochel Gelman et al. (Illus.) Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 2010. xiv+126pp. $29.95. 2009024084. ISBN 9781598570447. Index; C.I.P. 

This book with clearly presented information offers a framework for guiding young children. By describing different sessions, showing the planning, and discussing the results of a lesson on the outside and inside of an Apple, author Rachel Gelman details the framework well. The illustrations are useful and include students’ work, blank and completed forms, and photographs of teachers and students. This work shines in the precision of the presentation of how people do science. With the aim of embedding the scientific method in the preschool experience, teachers are encouraged to chart observations, predictions, and the results of checking the predictions. Specific, concrete examples of lab journals are presented.

STEM Student Research Handbook. Darci J.Harland. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press,2011. 218pp. $23.95. 2011023245. ISBN 9781936137244. Glossary; Index; C.I.P.

The entire process of scientific experimentation is spelled out in great detail: background research, hypothesis generation, research design, proposal writing, data analysis, and communication of results, both written and oral, are covered…no test tube is left unturned! While it would take an ambitious high school student, the intended audience, to sit down and work through the content, there is great value in the multipurpose use of this book as a reference guide for STEM graduate students and professionals. Questions, charts, and tables intended to help a novice high school student develop a research plan could be equally as helpful to an overwhelmed graduate student stuck on what questions to ask next. An entire chapter is devoted to learning how to organize a lab notebook, and let’s be honest, what level of STEM professional doesn’t need to review this skill? "Graphing for Dummies" is not the actual title of a chapter in this book, but it very well could be, as the author walks readers through several types of graphs fully explaining why they are, or aren’t, appropriate for certain data sets (take notes, STEM professionals!). No matter where you are along the student-professional STEM spectrum, there is always a skill that could use some polishing, and the resources in this book are a great place to start the process.


Take-Home Physics: 65 High-Impact, Low-Cost Labs. Michael Horton. (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2009. xxiv+295pp. $24.95. 2009013538. ISBN 9781935155058. Index; C.I.P. 

Michael Horton’s Take-Home Physics has many fine qualities. The introductory instructions are particularly valuable and benefit both novice and experienced teachers. Horton’s use of level-2 inquiry is entirely appropriate, and his advice to let the book support, and not substitute for, a physics curriculum should be heeded. The book has an impressive array of activities to support any physics curriculum. Many of the experiments presented use simple, creative ways to explore fundamental physics concepts and provide enough evidence to reach valid conclusions. The book will be most productive in the hands of someone with a strong background in physics to provide supporting information and help connect the concepts. 

Uncovering Student Ideas in Science: 25 New Formative Assessment Probes, Vol. 4. Page Keeley and Joyce Tugel. (Illus.) NSTA Press, 2009. xix+184pp. $27.95. 2005018770. ISBN 978-1935155010. Index; C.I.P. 

Uncovering Student Ideas in Science: 25 New Formative Assessment Probes, by Page Keeley and Joyce Tugel, presents new science assessment probes that expand on those from the previous book in this series. The science probes provide information about student learning, promote interaction among students, help link key ideas in science, and encourage changes in the instructional approach to teaching science in the classroom. I recommend this volume in the series to curriculum coordinators, lead teachers in science, and other adults who help children learn science. It is a treasure trove of high-quality assessments. Ultimately, science educators will improve their instructional effectiveness as a result of using the probes from this book and reflecting upon their students’ accomplishments. All of the books in the series should be an essential resource for all K-12 science teachers.

Uncovering Student Ideas in Life Sciences, Vol. 1: 25 New Formative Assessment Probes. Page Keeley. (Illus.) Arlington, VA: NST A Press, 2011. xxi+162pp. $28.95. 2010052477. ISBN 9781936137176. Index; C.I.P.

Page outlines how to use familiar biological topics as probes to uncover preconceptions and help students develop thinking skills as they move toward a more accurate and deeper scientific understanding. This excellent resource book should be an integral part of every teacher’s library. It provides preservice and beginning teachers with the support they need and, at the same time, offers the experienced teacher the opportunity to be creative and innovative. If you truly believe that acquiring thinking skills is far more important than merely acquiring knowledge, this book will provide you with the means and strategies for doing so.