Exploration: STEM

The world around us is intricately bound by rules of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It can be beautiful when we approach it with curiosity and an appetite for knowledge. Here is a list of books to inspire that curiosity in folks of all ages. And hey, most of the activities and concepts can be explored in your own home!

Kids Activity Books

The Curious Kid's Science Book: 100+ Creative Hands-On Activities for Ages 4-8

What happens if you water plants with juice? Where can you find bacteria in your house? Is slug slime as strong as a glue stick? How would your child find the answers to these questions?

In The Curious Kid's Science Book, your child will learn to design his or her own science investigations to determine the answers Children will learn to ask their own scientific questions, discover value in failed experiments, and -- most importantly -- have a blast with science. 

Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family Friendly Experiments from Around the House

Conduct physics, chemistry, and biology experiments with tools and ingredients found in any kitchen! These 52 labs created by mom and scientist Liz Lee Heinecke introduce fundamental scientific principles in a fun and accessible format.

Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects

Supporting STEAM education initiatives and the Maker Movement, the National Parenting Publication Award-winner Maker Lab includes 28 kid-safe projects and crafts that will get young inventors' wheels turning and make science pure fun.

Elementary School STEM Books

Ada Twist, Scientist

"A winner for storytime reading and for young children interested in STEM activities."

— School Library Journal

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women

This updated edition of the bestselling Girls Think of Everything, by Sibert-winner Catherine Thimmesh and Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet, retains all the integrity of the original but includes expanded coverage of inventions (and inventors) to better reflect our diverse and technological world.

Calling All Minds: How To Think and Create Like an Inventor

From world-renowned autism spokesperson, scientist, and inventor Temple Grandin -- a book of personal stories, inventions, and facts that will blow young inventors' minds and make them soar.

Have you ever wondered what makes a kite fly or a boat float? Have you ever thought about why snowflakes are symmetrical, or why golf balls have dimples? Have you ever tried to make a kaleidoscope or build a pair of stilts?

Science!

Science as you've never seen it before.

Illustrated with the latest CGI technology, this children's encyclopedia brings a groundbreaking new visual approach to the world of science. Crystal-clear computer-generated artworks pack the pages to reveal and explain spectacular aspects of the scientific world. Bursting with astonishing 3-D images, Science! reveals core science in stunning detail, from nanoparticles and elemental forces to the phenomenal wonders of the universe.

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth 

This book describes planet Earth with simple words and illustrations. It allows the child to understand and appreciate how he/she fits in on this large planet in space, sharing it with other people and animals. The message is plain and simple; “Make sure you look after it, (Earth) as it’s all we’ve got.”  

Recommended by Virgie

Tony T-Rex's Family Album: A history of Dinosaurs

This enchanting, humorous history of dinosaurs is told by the last surviving dinosaur on Earth, Tony T-Rex.
Tony T-Rex’s Family Album is a tongue-in-cheek history of dinosaurs as told by Earth’s last surviving dinosaur. Tony pens a no-holds-barred family history, and the stories that surface reveal the defining characteristics of some of the most memorable creatures from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

Middle School STEM Books

See You in the Cosmos

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

 

 

Warcross

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry 

From the basics of physics to big questions about the nature of space and time, celebrated astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson breaks down the mysteries of the cosmos into bite-sized pieces. Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry describes the fundamental rules and unknowns of our universe clearly—and with Tyson’s characteristic wit, there’s a lot of fun thrown in, too.

Why Is Milk White?: & 200 Other Curious Chemistry Questions

Covering a wide variety of everyday chemistry concepts from the very simple to the more complex, this question-and-answer primer provides straightforward, easy-to-understand explanations for inquisitive young scientists’ questions. A dozen unique experiments to try at home—from lifting latent fingerprints from a “crime scene” using super glue (for smooth surfaces) or iodine (for paper) to hollowing out the zinc interior of a penny using muriatic acid—are interspersed with the answers to such questions as What makes soda so fizzy? and Why do you get cavities when you eat too much sugar? From separating food coloring into its component dyes to using easy-to-find chemicals to create “slime,” Silly Putty, or bouncing balls, this handy guide is the ideal resource for the budding chemist.

Coding Games in Scratch: A Step-by-Step Visual Guide to Building Your Own Computer Games

A step-by-step visual guide to building your own computer games using Scratch 3.0

Scratch 3.0 has landed, so stay ahead of the curve with this fully updated guide for beginner coders. Kids will love the step-by-step, visual approach that makes even the most difficult coding concepts fun and easy to understand. Coding Games in Scratch, 2nd Edition, blends coding theory with the practical task of creating exciting games. Children learn the fundamentals of computer programming by seeing how to build their own games.

Highschool STEM Books

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

The Housekeeper and the Professor: A Novel

Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family.

He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem—ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.

She is an astute young Housekeeper—with a ten-year-old son—who is hired to care for the Professor.
And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor's mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities—like the Housekeeper's shoe size—and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

From the New York Times–bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From and Farsighted, a new look at the power and legacy of great ideas.
In this illustrated history, Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing facets of modern life (refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, to name a few) from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—from the French publisher who invented the phonograph before Edison but forgot to include playback, to the Hollywood movie star who helped invent the technology behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

It’s a scientific fact: Women rock!
 
A charmingly illustrated and educational book, New York Times best seller Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

The Martian: A Novel 

In April, the ABA announced “The Martian” as the Indie Choice Book Award for Adult Debut Book of the Year. There has been a lot of praise and hype around this book since its debut. It’s all well deserved. Instead of being a boring, techy tome, it is a riveting, barnburner of a story.

Mark Watney is an astronaut who has been accidentally left behind on Mars after a sandstorm threatens the Ares3 Crew millions of miles from home. He is seriously injured, separated and because his suit is damaged, the crew sees no sign of life and believes he is dead. The commander has to make the difficult decision to evacuate the rest of the crew.

When he comes to, Watney assesses his situation and declares that he is in trouble. Two words come to mind ingenuity — the quality of being clever, as well as inventive — and resilience — the ability to recover quickly from hardship. He never blames the crew for abandoning him and instead, attacks his problems head-on and with humor. - Kim B

Adult STEM Books

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine: The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, which are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. 

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

It’s a Numberful World: How Math Is Hiding Everywhere

Why aren’t left-handers extinct?
What makes a rainbow round?
How is a pancreas . . . like a pendulum?

These may not look like math questions, but they are—because they all have to do with patterns. And mathematics, at heart, is the study of patterns.

That realization changed Eddie Woo’s life—by turning the “dry” subject he dreaded in high school into a boundless quest for discovery. Now an award-winning math teacher, Woo sees patterns everywhere: in the “branches” of blood vessels and lightning, in the growth of a savings account and a sunflower, even in his morning cup of tea!

Here are twenty-six bite-size chapters on the hidden mathematical marvels that encrypt our email, enchant our senses, and even keep us alive—from the sine waves we hear as “music” to the mysterious golden ratio.

This book will change your mind about what math can be. We are all born mathematicians—and It’s a Numberful World.