Fuzzy Mud again! Yes, ma’am! Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar is the first book I chose for my 4th-6th grade STEM Book Club.
Once a month I am going to be hosting, at the library, a STEM themed book club. This club is for 4th-6th graders as we will be reading challenging, yet fun, elementary school reads. The book we read each month will have some sort of STEM theme–weather, coding, geology, etc. The meeting will consist of 30 minutes of guided discussion about the book, including the STEM theme. And then we will do 30 minutes of a STEM activity that goes along with the theme of the book.
I chose Fuzzy Mud as my first book because it’s a fun read and a solid 4th-5th grade level book. I also chose this one because many of the elementary aged students might have read this book last year. It was a nominee for the Maryland Black Eyed Susan Award and a lot of the elementary schools read the nominees. This way, any last minute sign-ups might already be exposed to the book. Figured this would be a good thing for a first meeting.
I decided to create a hand-out with guided discussion questions. This way the kids have something to take home to further think about the book and we also have some things we can go off of if we have trouble getting started. Here are the discussion questions I came up with:
1. What is this book about? What are the main themes found throughout?
2. Why would we consider Fuzzy Mud, a fictional book with STEM themes?
3. On page 15, Tamaya remembers something her teacher once said, “Courage just meant pretending to be brave.” What does this mean? Do you agree?
4. Ecology is a main theme of this book. What is Ecology? How does this book incorporate/involve Ecology?
5. On page 131, Tamaya says, “No one’s all bad.” Do you agree? Can someone who does bad things be a good person?
6. Although, Biolene isn’t real, scientists are looking for clean, renewable energy sources. What is renewable energy? What are some examples?
7. When Marshall and Tamaya were lost in the woods, Marshall kept scolding himself for saying things he didn’t mean. Why do you think Marshal was doing that? Have you ever taken your feels out on someone who didn’t deserve it?
8. (Page 62) – Professor Alice Mayfair was more concerned with population control then the potential danger of Biolene. Let’s talk about this. What are some ways we can replace the resource we consume?
9. (Page 68) – “The worst part was the waiting.” Why is this? Why do you think waiting for something to happen is worse than the thing itself?
10. On page 144, Tamaya starts to lose her sight. What would you do if you suddenly lost one of your sense?
11. Page 177 – What was Hobson’s Choice? Why does the Committee on Energy and the Environment thing they’ve been presented with a “Hobson’s Choice?” What are the choices and can you think of another that might be better?
Also on the handout is an outline of the activity we are going to do. This week we are going to make out our fuzzy mud but creating magnetic slime.
Supplies: 1 (4oz) bottle of school glue; 1 tbls of baking soda; 1 tbls of contact solution; 1 tsp+/- iron filings; Neodymium magnets; big bowl; craft sticks.
- Combine the glue, baking soda and iron filings in a bowl and stir until well mixed.
- Once mixed, add contact solution. Mix well.
- Once you start to see a slime-like consistency—it will be less sticky now that the contact solution is added–remove the slime and knead it with clean, dry hands. **Wash your hands immediately after playing with slime or wear gloves**
- Your slime should be ready! Grab a strong magnet and see what happens!
Observations: Imagine our slime is a living thing and the magnet is the environment or an outside force acting upon it (remember the definition of ecology!). What observations can you make about the slime itself and the changes that occur when the magnet is introduced?
How’d it go: We had 13 kids show up for the book club and I think it went really well. The discussion part pretty much went like I thought it would. The kids needed to be prompted with questions but once I started asking questions, they really responded well. Our slime “experiment” was another story. I swear the experiment worked at home!!! But only two of my kids got their slime to be actual slime. But it was fun and we got to experiment with different binders. Hey, scientists don’t always get it right the first time!
It was, however, really messy. Even the kids were like wowwww. The parents came in at the end and were laughing. But fun was had and I think this is going to work out really well!
That’s all for now!