Blastoff with a good book!

Hi Guys,

Normally, I don’t post when I reuse a display but since this month is light without my storytime posts, I figured I’d share.

As a public librarian, being able to save and re-use displays is a big $$$ and time saver. It is also good for the environment, right?

Blastoff with a good book is a display that I put up a few years ago. I was able to save my rocket from the original display and everything else was pretty easy to recreate. If you want to take a look at my original post for more details, click on the link above.

This is the perfect bulletin board for our Summer Read and Learn program, which is right around the corner. This year the theme is all about space!

That’s all for now!

-M-

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STEM Book Club: The Jamie Drake Equation

Hi Guys,

Oh man, I meant to post this one on Friday morning but between sick baby, sick husband, sick mommy and a library comic convention to run… let’s just say, I am beat! Anyway, here you go!

For this months STEM Book Club, I decided to go with a sci-fi/astronomy theme. We will be reading/discussing: The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge.

Jamie Drake is your average boy with one big exception, his dad is an astronaut on the international space station and he is part of a big mission to find life in outer space. Jamie is very proud of his dad but he misses him a lot, especially with his birthday coming up and his dad missing it.

When Jamie stumbles upon a rouge scientist at a dilapidated space observatory, he accidentally downloads something to his phone and starts receiving weird signals. Where could this signal be coming from? Could it really be aliens?

With his dad gone, Jamie doesn’t know who to turn to and decides to investigate himself. But when something goes wrong with his dad’s mission, Jamie knows it is up to him to save his dad from space and all of it’s dangers.

 Here are our discussion questions for this book:

  1. What is this book about? What themes are found throughout? 
  2. (Page 39/179) – What is the Jamie Drake Equation? Why do you think the author used this at the title of the book?
  3. (Page 2) – What is the Goldilocks Zone? How does earth fit into this zone?
  4. In 1977, NASA’s Voyager launched the Golden Record. Do you know what this is? How would you attempt to reach out to intelligent life?
  5. (Page 5) – “Invent an Alien.” This was Jamie’s school assignment. Take a minute and think about what type of Alien you would invent and why?
  6. How would you deal with a famous parent/sibling? Jealousy, admiration… what could be potential issues? What issues did Jamie have?
  7. (Page 88) – What is the Fibonacci Sequence? What do you think about this?
  8. What did you think of Buzz, the aliens in this book? What about their Hi’ive mind? Have you ever thought about there being aliens like this in the universe?
  9. How did Jamie save his dad? Is there a lesson here? 
  10. Jamie had this idea of a Goldilocks family—the perfect family structure? What might be wrong about this idea? Is there such a thing as the perfect family? 

 Then we get into our STEM activity:

DIY Spectroscope 

Supplies: 1 paper towel tube; two 4”x4” and two 1”x3” squares of aluminum foil; Masking tape; 1” diffraction grating square;  

Instructions: 

  • Take one of the 4″ × 4″ pieces of foil and tear or cut a small hole in the center of it — a hole that is smaller than the square piece of diffraction grating. 
  • Being careful to handle the diffraction grating only by its edges, tape it over the hole. Tape only the edges of the grating, not across the middle. 
  • Center this foil-mounted grating over one end of the tube, taped side in, and tape it to the outside of the tube at its edges. Look at the room lights with the grating installed, to see the effects of the grating before the spectroscope is finished. 
  • Assemble the slit end on the table. Take the other 4″ × 4″ piece of foil and make a hole in the center as before. The diameter of the hole should be smaller than the diameter of the tube, to avoid gaps and tears. 
  • Carefully fold each of the two smaller strips of foil (the 1″ × 3″ pieces) in half along the length. Make a sharp crease at the fold of each. Lay them over the hole in the larger piece of foil so that their creased edges face each other with a very small gap between them (no more than the width of a toothpick, or the thickness of a coin). Tape the two creased pieces of foil in place over the hole, and make sure not to cover the slit with tape. 
  • Place the foil-mounted slit over the open end of the tube, taped side in, and wrap the foil around the end of the tube to hold it in place. Don’t tape the slit end to the tube, but you may secure it with a rubber band if you wish. 
  • Align (precisely adjust) the spectroscope. We want to align our slit with the diffraction grating so that we get a wide spectrum, which will be easy to see. 

spectroscope

session_5_spectroscope_diagram

  • Hold the spectroscope so that you can look through the diffraction grating end (the plastic square should be about as close to your eye as your glasses’ lens or as close as you would put a microscope). Point the slit end of the spectroscope towards a light source – this can be a light in the room or if you are outside, at the SKY, but NOT the SUN! Look for a rainbow in the spectroscope, probably a little bit off to the side or up or down (you should be able to see regular light from your source coming through the slit, but the rainbow will be off center). 
  • Never look directly at the Sun with the spectroscope or your naked eye! It can result in permanent eye injury! 
  • While still pointing your spectroscope at the same light source and holding the tube steady, twist the slit around until the rainbow is as “fat” or “tall” as you can make it. (Conversely, you can twist the tube while holding the slit end steady – either is equally effective.) Once you are satisfied, tape the foil of the slit end into position. That is it! 

**Adult supervision required**

The Science: 

The diffraction grating in the spectroscope separates light into the different wavelengths (colors) that the light is made of. The Sun’s (or the incandescent bulb’s) spectrum shows all the usual colors of the rainbow. Sunlight is white light, meaning it includes all wavelengths of visible light. The different colors seen inside the tube represent different wavelengths of light, but all are in the visible range.

Sources:

https://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/educators/programs/au/docs/sessions/Session_5.pdf 

How’d it go:

I was so excited for this STEM activity and it went really great. I’ve got a few kiddos who don’t like to follow along with the group and needed a lot of help. But other than that were all able to successfully create our own spectroscopes. Wooo!

That’s all for now!

-M-

See You In The Cosmos

See You In The Cosmos by Jack Cheng is a 4th-6th grade novel about growing up and finding out the truth.

Eleven-year-old, Alex is a space buff. He loves his dog, Carl Sagan, his mom, with her quiet days and his brother, who he doesn’t see very often. When Alex and Carl Sagan go on a mission to launch his golden ipod into space, Alex will learn that family comes in all different sizes and that life can be a lot more complicated than he thought.

And so a boy and his dog travel from Colorado to New Mexico, to L.A. and back again in this journey toward growing up.

Oh boy, this was not what I thought I was getting into when I picked up this book. I’m always on the lookout for a good juvenile STEM read for my book club and with this one having to do with rockets, space, golden ipod’s and Carl Sagan, I thought it would be book club gold. And maybe for some people it is but I think this book might be a little too heavy for my crew.

See You In The Cosmos was a quick read, what with the narrative being written in the form of recordings from a 11-year-old’s perspective. But this almost made the serious topics harder to read because as an adult, I knew what was going on but knowing it through Alex’s naivety sort of made me feel like I was “watching a train wreck coming.” And it made me wonder what middle school readers would and wouldn’t pick up–most of it I’m betting.

This is really a book about growing up and beginning to understand some of the grown-up truths we don’t always recognize as children. With that in mind, this book really succeeds. Alex, for a kid who has a rough life, is incredibly optimistic and determined. He is smart and has such a big heart.

Although this book wasn’t what I was looking for when I picked it up, I do think it is a great read that broaches some heavy topics with hope. This one gets a solid four stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Jamie Drake Equation

The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge is a 4-6th grade science fiction book.

Jamie Drake is your average boy with one big exception, his dad is an astronaut on the international space station and he is part of a big mission to find life in outer space. Jamie is very proud of his dad but he misses him a lot, especially with his birthday coming up and his dad missing it.

When Jamie stumbles upon a rouge scientist at a dilapidated space observatory, he accidentally downloads something to his phone and starts receiving weird signals. Where could this signal be coming from? Could it really be aliens?

With his dad gone, Jamie doesn’t know who to turn to and decides to investigate himself. But when something goes wrong with his dad’s mission, Jamie knows it is up to him to save his dad from space and all of it’s dangers.

The Jamie Drake Equation was one I was considering for my 4-6th grade STEM book club. It was a good read and would have given us a lot to talk about but I just didn’t think we had enough copies in our library system to make it work.

That being said, this book was full of fun STEM-iness. We learn about the Jamie Drake Equation, we learn about the fibonacci sequence and more space science. But there is also the sci-fi element of the alien’s and Jamie’s interactions with them.

This book is very emotional for a middle school read. That’s not a bad thing, but there’s this almost Armageddon feel to the end and I really don’t want to make the kids cry! We also deal with serious themes like divorce and separation, moving, fear and more.

This is a read I would recommend a caregiver reading with their child. But I think any 5th-6th grader could get through it alone. In terms of being full of STEM goodness, this one rocks!

I think this one gets a 3.5 from me. Good but not quite what I was expecting/looking for.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

Family Storytime: Space

Man, it has been forever since I’ve posted a family storytime! I cannot wait for the fall to get back in the swing of weekly storytimes. Family storytime is a storytime for all ages, so we try to do a little bit of everything. This week I went with a space theme.

Here’s what I planned:

  • SONG – Top of the Morning
    • This is a fun tune and great for waking up and doing a little stretching. It’s called Top of the Morning.
  • HELLO RHYME – Say Hello
    • This is a great rhyme for saying hello because we get to do it in so many fun ways!
  • MOVEMENT STRETCH – Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
    • We go through this three times, getting faster and faster each time.

Then we get into our theme:

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  • ASL – SUN / MOON / STARS
    • I also teach my group a few American Sign Language signs to go with every theme. This is great to help frustrated little ones communicate but it also helps make our world a better place by fostering communication with each other. We have a large deaf community near my library so learning just a few signs are great! I usually use Signing Savvy or Baby Sign Language.
  • BOOK – Mousetronaut by Mark KellyThis is a great little book, that is semi based on fact about some of the first mice in space. A little long but an interesting one for the kids.
  • MOVEMENT RHYME – How Astronauts Get Dressed
    • I can’t for the life of me find where I got this from… if it’s you, let me know so I can credit. I didn’t sing this to any tune, we just acted out the movements.

HOW ASTRONAUTS GET DRESSED! Put on your spacesuit. We’re going to the moon. Climb aboard your rocket ship. We’re blasting off soon. Put on your helmet. Strap yourself in tight.Check your controls and instruments. Get ready for the flight. Time for your journey. The countdown has begun. Here we go, Get ready, Get set! 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Blast off!

  • Song – Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
    • There are a ton of versions of the song for zoom, zoom, zoom, any will work and you can do the movements too! At the end we blast off by lifting baby in the air or jumping up and down. 51cadhjbdsl-_sx339_bo1204203200_
  • Book – Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me by Eric Carle
    • This is a teeny tiny book that I just had to enlarge and use for storytime. I love this one. It teaches us about the phases of the moon and why the moon looks different.
  • Magnet Board – Identifying Planets
    • I printed out clip art versions of the planets and stuck magnets on them. For each planet I am going to tell the kids it’s name and one interesting fact.
  • Rhyme – Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
    • How could we possibly do a space theme without this one!
  • Book – Life on Mars by Job Agee
    • This is a brand new one I couldn’t pass up. It is funny and I hope the kids will get it.
  • Shakers – Mr. Sun518kjd0zs0l
    • I put on the song Mr. Sun and pass out shakers and we just shake shake shake!

Finally, we finish up with:

  • Movement Exercise – If You’re Happy and You Know It
    • I tell the kids that I want to know how happy they are.
  • Rhyme – Say Goodbye
    • This is the same rhyme we started with, so the new guys are familiar with it by the end of storytime.
  • Song – Clean It Up! by The Laurie Berkner Band
    • Everyone helps put our shakers away
  • Song – Goodbye, So Long, Farewell my Friends by Music Together
    • I always put this one on as I go to open the door. Its a nice, slow, peaceful song to wind down on.

How’d it go: You know what they say about the best laid plans, well this one went a tad wonky. My planet facts didn’t seem all that impressive; my magnets weren’t sticking; oh and my iPod decided to stop working. We made due and sang our songs and held up our magnets but it was a smidgen frustrating.

That’s all for now!

-M-