Best STEM Books: NSTA National Science Teachers Association

The Science Teacher, February 2017 | Go to article overview

Best STEM Books: NSTA National Science Teachers Association


This is the inaugural year for the "Best STEM Books" list. Interest from readers and publishers alike has been "off the charts." The impetus for the list is the profound difference between the purely science books on the annual list of Outstanding Science Trade Books (jointly created by the National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council) and the titles we honor here.

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On the surface, STEM appears to be a clear-cut acronym for content that draws on science, technology, engineering, and math. But the fact is that many thoughtful readers have their own unique notion of what STEM means. Notwithstanding those definitional differences, the panel of judges that selected the titles below did so because each book reinforces STEM thinking--modeling innovation, demonstrating authentic problem-solving and assimilation of new ideas, all while exploring solutions that show progressive change or improvement. Best STEM Books is a joint project of several organizations: the American Society for Engineering Education, the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, the National Science Teachers Association, the Society of Elementary Presidential Awardees, and the Children's Book Council (ASEE, ITEEA, NSTA, SEAP, and CBC). The list provides knowledgeable recommendations to educators, librarians, parents, and caregivers about the best trade books with STEM content.

We invite you to explore this extraordinary list of Best STEM Books.

* Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. Laurie Wallmark. Illustrated by April Chu. Creston Books. 40pp. Trade ISBN 978-1-939-54720-0, $17.99. (K-5)

"Ada was born into a world of poetry, but numbers, not words, captured her imagination." The first sentence in the book says it all. Ada was an inventor, and numbers were her friends. Thinking and creating helped her persevere through sickness. Ada used her love of mathematics to write the first computer program. Author's Note. Timeline. (KR)

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Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer. Fiona Robinson. ABRAMS. 40pp. Trade ISBN 978-1-419-71872-4, $17.95. (1-5)

Ada was the world's first computer programmer--who knew? Ada's Ideas demonstrates what happens when someone is both creative and persistent. Ada perseveres and achieves her dreams. The illustrations and the text invite the reader to engage with Ada as she applies her math and science learning to new challenges. (KR)

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer. Diane Stanley. Illustrated by Jessie Hartland. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books. 40pp. Trade ISBN 978-1-481-45249-6, $17.99. (K-3)

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Long before the computer age, Ada Lovelace developed the code (first computer program) for Charles Babbage's famous analytical engine. Her inventive spirit and creative mind come alive in this strikingly illustrated biography that captures Ada's life story from imaginative child to brilliant scientist and mathematician. Includes Author's Note, Bibliography, Glossary, and Important Dates. (SAB)

Ben Franklin's Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention. Barb Rosenstock. Illustrated by S.D. Schindler. Calkins Creek. 32pp. Trade ISBN 978-1-620-91446-5, $16.95. (3-5)

A delightful tale of a famous American as a young man and his first invention. Motivated to swim faster, young Ben observed aquatic creatures in the river near his home. Ben's hard work and commitment to improve his swimming fins show young readers firsthand how the scientific method and engineering design can be used to build a profoundly simple but wonderful first invention. Author's Note. (DLI)

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Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World. Jack Andrake. HarperCollins. …

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