Today we continue the STEM Tuesday Spin-Off guest blogger addition to the MG Book Village blog. As you will recall, members of the STEM Tuesday group at From the Mixed-Up Files…of Middle Grade Authors will share a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) post that ties middle grade STEM books, resources, and the STEM Tuesday weekly posts to the familiar, everyday things in the life of middle graders.
We’ll look at the things in life we often take for granted. We’ll peek behind the curtain and search underneath the hood for the STEM principles involved and suggest books and/or links to help build an understanding of the world around us. The common, everyday thing will be the hub of the post and the “spin-offs” will be the spokes making up our wheel of discovery. As STEM Tuesday Craft & Resources contributor, Heather L. Montgomery often says, we’ll “Go deep!” on a common subject and take a look at its inherent STEM components.
For this second post, we will take a closer look at something that hopefully every middle grader gets to experience once a day and why it’s important:
The Hub: Recess
Spoke #1: Get Outside/See the World
School is a great place to learn all kinds of interesting things about STEM. Topics might include how earthquakes occur and how mountains are made (plate tectonics), information about the newest Mars Lander, and even a peek into the world of nanotechnology. But sometimes the best type of learning for STEM is hands on. Recess is a great way to experience science up close and personal.
Take a look at the ecosystem around your school. How would you classify it? Is it a forest? A grassland? A swamp?
Here is a great resource to check what you find:
Check out this book for information, too.
To get more info about the science outside that is all around you (and above you), maybe try one of these books:
Spoke #2: Being Healthy
Being active means being healthy. Moving about and exercising is a great way to stay active. Recess is the perfect time to run, jump rope, do cartwheels, or just walk around. When we exercise, our heart rates increase and blood pumps just a little faster throughout our body, giving us energy and increasing our lung power. Movement allows your muscles to stretch and bend, keeping them toned and fit. Exercise creates lots of chemical interactions within your body, which of course, is part of life science.
Website resource: The Many Benefits of Exercise on KidsHealth.org
Other books that might inform/inspire you to exercise:
Spoke #3: Sports and Games
Let’s face it, recess is all about the games! Whether you play soccer, volleyball, or even tag, you are moving about and having fun. Studies show that many kids love playing sports. Sports teach us a lot about how to interact with others. It helps with coordination and fitness, and sports are just plain fun. What is your favorite sport to play?
Website resource: Sports Illustration Kids
Sports books that will fascinate you with fun facts and cool kid athletes
Spoke #4: Olympics
If you want to take the sports topic even further, take a look at one of the ultimate worldwide sporting competitions: The Olympics! These athletes spend their entire days training for their specific event. It might be running, skiing, sledding, or even table tennis. Working hard to meet and athletic goal is a great quality. And you’d be surprised how much science goes into all that training (or maybe not. After all, you probably understand by now that science is ALL around you!)
Here’s a great resource for those interested in the science behind the Olympics
Check out these books for more about the science and the people behind the Olympics:
Spoke #5: Helps You Relax
Even if you can’t get outside for recess, because of the weather, it’s still good to take a break during the day. I find myself writing for hours at the computer. Then when I get up, it’s hard to move because my muscles have been still for so long. Moving about, even if you aren’t running or jumping, is still a good thing. But recess, is not just good for your muscles, it’s also good for your brain to take a break. Maybe you just stretch in place. Or perhaps you do some yoga poses. Give it a try. Close your eyes and clear your mind. Take a deep breath and let it out. Do you feel yourself relaxing? You should.
Website resource: Science Shows the Meditation Helps Children’s Brains and Behaviors
Spoke #6: Physics/Forces and Motion
Movement at recess is related to one of the most basic ideas in the universe: physics. Physics, specifically forces and motion, comes into play every time we move. Remember Newton’s Laws? Those three statements that tell you how every object behaves? They totally apply to recess. You get on the swing and start moving your legs back and forth. That causes your body to go forward and backwards. Yep. That’s Newton’s Law #3, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Why do you keep swinging when you stop moving your legs? Newton’s First Law: An object in motion tends to stay in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force. I told you, science, is EVERYWHERE.
Website Resource: A whole host of blog pages on how Forces and Motion work by Physics4Kids.com
A fun look at physics and how it affects us:
As we can see by taking a closer look at an everyday event like recess, STEM is ALL around us. Next time you go outside, walk down the hallway, or just sit in your classroom take a look at your surroundings. I bet you will find TONS of science, technology, engineering and math in your sight. You are even sitting on an object created by STEM right now (hint: your chair!)
So Be Curious.. and observe… and you will see that STEM is EVERYWHERE! Don’t forget to check out STEM Tuesday for more great STEM book and activities ideas!
Jennifer Swanson is the creator and administrator of STEM Tuesday blog. She is also the award-winning author of over 35 nonfiction books for kids. When not writing, she spends her day at the beach, chasing her dog in the waves and looking for science amidst the sand. You find more information about Jennifer and her books on her website www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com