Ex-STEM-Poraneous | Collection Development: Math & Science Literacy

STEM (science, technology, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS) may seem like a recent creation, the focus of news reports and educational outreach, but the acronym is almost three decades old. First introduced by the National Science Foundation in the mid-1990s, STEM remains in the spotlight as math and science scores in the United States slump and as industry and political leaders push for an innovative workforce to address current infrastructure, environmental, and technological challenges. The emphasis on STEM education and resources to support it is not just for policy planners but also for parents, community organizers, and school reformers. Most important, books on STEM resources are for teachers and students at all levels.

In addition to an intense focus on STEM disciplines, teachers and librarians must also consider Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards when planning instruction, ­collections, and programs. Policies may vary from state to state or from school to school, but all are influenced by these principles. Students, parents, instructors, and support staff struggle with these new guidelines and how to implement them in an already heavy school curriculum.

Teaching STEM effectively requires not just a focus on the four subjects but an interdisciplinary approach. These recent publications encourage students to learn differently and teachers to teach differently. They provide strategies for teachers to engage students, for college students to stick with science majors, and for librarians to connect users to content and programming that interest them. STEM education spurs not just content acquisition but the development of transferable skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. These works help education professionals prepare students for higher education, open their eyes to career possibilities, and create an interest in entering the workforce. Many of these titles address empowering underrepresented minorities to consider STEM fields and succeed.

These STEM resources go beyond instruction and professional development to the development of learning spaces. Whether students are in the classroom, exploring the outdoors, or in the lab, the learning environment is essential to fostering discovery. While none of these titles focus on Maker spaces, which allow users to initiate their own activities and engage in real-world problem-solving, or digital literacy labs, which facilitate digital tools to engage student learning, both are mentioned in the context of instructional planning.

These books are for students of various levels and their instructors. Not included in this review are the many great picture books, nonfiction, novels, series, and career guides for students that support STEM learning. Recommendations for those titles can be found in School Library Journal and in a list published by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) (static.nsta.org/pdfs/2017BestSTEMBooks.pdf).

Starred (redstar) titles are essential for most collections.

Catherine Lantz is a Library Liaison to the Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science at the University of Illinois, Chicago. For six years, she has taught math to adult learners at Morton College, Cicero, IL

Parents & Caregivers

Barbre, Jean. Baby Steps to STEM: Infant, Toddler Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Activities. Redleaf. Aug. 2017. 224p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781605545080. pap. $29.95.

Lesson plans for age-appropriate (one to three years) active learning that builds on children’s natural curiosity. Activities that grow vocabulary and promote observation and play are outlined by age range, materials, outcomes, preparations, and options for homeschooling.

Carey, Anna & others. STEAM Kids: 50+ Science/Technology/Engineering/Art/Math Hands-on Projects for Kids. CreateSpace. 2016. 142p. photos. index. ISBN 9780692782361. pap. $24.99.

Simple steps to help children age four to ten to build drums, periscopes, bottle rockets, and paper circuits, with clear instructions and easy-to-find materials. Activities involving color, crystals, geodes, and rainbows add the “A” (art) to STEM.

redstarSelly, Patty B. Teaching STEM Outdoors: Activities for Young Children. Redleaf. Apr. 2017. 200p. photos. bibliog. ISBN 9781605545028. pap. $34.95; ebk. ISBN 9781605545035.

An overview of STEM subjects for beginning learners, emphasizing the role of outdoor play. Mapmaking, tracing shadows, collecting ice, and taking soil samples are a few of the 100-plus STEM starter ideas that lead kids to investigate the natural world. Kids listen, build, ­observe, and sort while learning how to ask questions and make ­predictions.

K–12 Educators

Adams, Dennis & Mary Hamm. Engaging Eager and Reluctant Learners: STEM Learning in Action. Rowman & Littlefield. Mar. 2017. 170p. ISBN 9781475834468. pap. $30.

With practical suggestions to reach every student in elementary and middle school classrooms based on relevant theories, student-centered learning, critique, and analysis. Strategies such as active reading, flexible groups, and tiered activities encourage student participation by addressing individual interests, cooperative inquiry, and creative problem-solving.

Bringing STEM to the Elementary Classroom. NSTA. 2016. 324p. ed. by Linda Froschauer. index. ISBN 9781681400303. pap. $30.95.

Educators contribute 30-plus lessons grouped by grade level that address real-world problems such as recycling, severe weather, and water filtration. Each lesson includes preassessment strategies, evaluation rubrics, printable data sheets, standards covered, and additional resources. Also included are chapters on developing an original activity similar to those ­presented.

Counsell, Shelly & others. STEM Learning with Young Children: Enquiry Teaching with Ramps and Pathways. Teachers Coll. 2015. 216p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780807757499. pap. $33.95.

Based on extensive research, this guide provides activities, lesson plans, classroom setup, assessment, and professional development for early childhood educators looking to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to teaching by urging children to ask questions and investigate their world.

Englehart, Diedre E. & others. STEM Play: Integrating Play into Learning Centers. Gryphon House. 2016. 129p. photos. ISBN 9780876594025. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780876594032.

This elementary-age lesson plan provides outcomes, materials, and activities for dozens of centers focused on STEM concepts. Activities include art, music, and storytelling and are especially designed to engage play and foster inquiry. Assessment is also included.

Exemplary STEM Programs: Designs for Success. NSTA. 2014. 460p. ed. by Robert E. Yager & Herbert Brunkhorst. index. ISBN 9781941316030. pap. $31.95.

A review of STEM education at the program level investigates the goals, methods, and achievements of 20-plus examples in classrooms, labs, clubs, and after-school settings. Each case study—from an elementary school compost pile to middle school students designing doll furniture—is described by setting, program description, evidence of success, and next steps.

Jolly, Anne. STEM by Design: Strategies and Activities for Grades 4–8. Routledge. 2016. 184p. bibliog. ISBN 9781138931053. $125; pap. ISBN 9781138931060. $34.95.

Written by an educator and MiddleWeb blogger, this book outlines the considerations that go into developing integrated STEM lessons, including appropriate content levels, creative approaches, testing, and solution evaluation. Assessment is discussed not just for content and standards but also for soft skills such as teamwork and confidence. Appropriate for teachers new to STEM and those working in after-school programming. Incorporates career and technical ­education.

redstarSTEM to Story: Enthralling and Effective Lesson Plans for Grades 5–8. Wiley. 2015. 336p. ed. by Jennifer Traig. index. ISBN 9781119001010. pap. $24.95.

A pilot project of the educational nonprofit 826 National explored STEM topics through creative writing in a summer program for middle grade students. Included are 12 standard-based lessons that inspire students to use their imaginations to learn science concepts while building communication skills.

Talley, Terry. The STEM Coaching Handbook: Working with Teachers to Improve Instruction. Routledge. 2016. 166p. bibliog. ISBN 9781138651029. $125; pap. ISBN 9781138651036. $34.95; ebk. ISBN 9781317230687.

Instructional coaches are tasked with supporting policies, teachers, and assessment. A brief overview of coaching methods and programs with practical advice steps to enrich professional development; strengthen relationships with faculty and administrators; and increase student engagement in science activities and ­education.

Teacher Learning in the Digital Age: Online Professional Development in STEM Education. Harvard Education. 2016. 304p. ed. by Chris Dede & others. index. ISBN 9781612508979. pap. $34; ebk. ISBN 9781612508993.

Find the best models and online options for formal and voluntary professional development for K–12 educators that are scalable, inclusive, sustainable, and adaptable. This series of articles focuses on courses, curriculum support, and resources supported by research on how and when teachers learn most ­successfully.

redstarTexley, Juliana & Ruth M. Ruud. Teaching STEM Literacy: A Constructivist Approach for Ages 3–8. Redleaf. Nov. 2017. 200p. photos. bibliog. ISBN 9781605545622. pap. $39.95.

Twelve units, written with the understanding that learning is an active process, based on a framework of the five E’s—engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate—on topics such as motion, matter, heat, and light. Each unit also includes related literature lists, an engineering challenge, teacher tips, and brief biographies of STEM figures.


Akiyama, Lance. Rubber Band Engineer: Build Slingshot Powered Rockets, Rubber Band Rifles, Unconventional Catapults, and More Guerrilla Gadgets from Household Hardware. Rockport. 2016. 144p. photos. index. ISBN 9781631591044. pap. $22.99.

Catapults, helicopters, and slingshots ­created from mostly everyday household items illustrate general engineering principles for middle grade and above students. Supervision suggested for advanced projects requiring a glue gun, drill, or saw. (LJ 6/15/16)

redstarBauer, Justin L. & others. What Every Science Student Should Know. Univ. of Chicago. 2016. 256p. index. ISBN 9780226198743. $75; pap. ISBN 9780226198880. $22.50; ebk. ISBN 9780226198910.

Started by a group of undergrads, this guide for college students offers insight into how to succeed in science programs, including picking a major, studying for tests, connecting with faculty, conducting research projects, making career choices, and selecting a grad school. Quotes and interviews with current students provide encouragement and practical advice.

Challoner, Jack. Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects; Build * Invent * Create * Discover. DK. 2016. 160p. illus. index. ISBN 9781465451354. $19.99.

No adults needed. Activities explore topics such as the secret-ink properties of citric acid, tension/compression of Popsicle stick bridges, and the water cycle, which is investigated by building a rain forest in a plastic bottle. For the most part, the projects require everyday household objects but not much time, taking an hour or two to create and an afternoon in which to play. The science behind the projects and everyday applications is included. (SLJ 8/16)

Mould, Steve. How To Be a Scientist. DK. May 2017. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781465461216. $19.99.

With 50-plus at-home experiments that get elementary age kids asking questions, hypothesizing, looking for clues, testing ideas, and collaborating like a scientist. Activities such as modeling tectonic plates by folding towel mountains or studying acids by cleaning pennies are organized into categories such as Earth, physics, space, natural world, chemistry, and the human body. (SLJ 6/17)


How To STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education in Libraries. Rowman & Littlefield. 2013. 298p. ed. by Vera Gubnitskaia. index. ISBN 9780810892736. pap. $67; ebk. ISBN 9780810892743.

School, public, and academic librarians contributed these articles on programs, partnerships, and resources for students pre-K through college. Using digital anime software with teens and shadow puppets with preschoolers are some of the activities detailed in articles about instruction, outreach, collection development, research, and funding.

Mardis, Marcia A. The Collection’s at the CORE: Revitalize Your Library with Innovative Resources for the Common Core and STEM. Libraries Unlimited. 2014. 147p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781610695046. pap. $45; ebk. ISBN 9781610695053.

A guide for school librarians on how to evaluate and select both print and multi­media STEM titles. Explains how both STEM disciplines and Common Core are important to librarians in their roles as teacher, program planner, administrator, and instructional partner. With a chapter on open educational ­resources (OERs).

redstarTeaching Technology in Libraries: Creative Ideas for Training Staff, Patrons and Students. McFarland. Feb. 2017. 228p. ed. by Carol Smallwood & Lura Sanborn. index. ISBN 9781476664743. pap. $55; ebk. ISBN 9781476627182.

School, academic, and public librarians contributed articles and case studies about technology education experience and research aimed at higher grades and adults. The focus is on the challenges of new software, hardware, and applications with ideas on STEM classes, ­device clubs, and badges.

Higher Education & Careers

redstarFelder, Richard M. & Rebecca Brent. Teaching and Learning STEM: A Practical Guide. Wiley. 2016. 336p. index. ISBN 9781118925812. $45.

A step-by-step manual, aimed at scientists and professionals new to teaching or lacking a familiarity with education literature, on how to design or revamp a ­college-level course. Includes helpful insight into grading practices, engaging students, and incorporating technology, as well as creating learner-centered instruction and problem-based ­projects.

Helliwell, John R. Skills for a Scientific Life. CRC. 2016. 215p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781498768757. $49.95.

A concise guide for all phases of the research process, from expanding a first research idea to publishing results. Includes brief chapters on grants, peer-review, super­vising postgraduates, leadership roles, and communicating science. Helpful for new professors and researchers and students hoping to work in academia.

Palmer, Robert T. & others. African American Student’s Guide to STEM Careers. Greenwood. 2016. 181p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781610697354. $58; ebk. ISBN 9781610697361.

Aimed at students, parents, and all those who play a role in the education system, this practical guide presents scholarships, college descriptions, success skills, and support groups for addressing the challenges that people of color face in STEM disciplines. Academic preparedness is discussed at all levels but specifically targets high school and college-bound ­students. (LJ 7/17)

Sinche, Melanie. Next Gen PhD: A Guide to Career Paths in Science. Harvard Univ. 2016. 272p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780674504653. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780674974777.

A career counselor provides realistic ­advice for college students considering an academic career. Resources focusing on the scientific community and job market include self-assessment exercises, job descriptions, professional etiquette, boosting marketable skills, postdoc training, and career planning. (LJ 8/16)

Wolverton, Ann & others. Breaking In: Women’s Accounts of How Choices Shape STEM Careers. Stylus. 2015. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781579224288. $95; pap. ISBN 9781579224295. $22.50; ebk. ISBN 9781620362464.

Eight scientists describe the strategies and accomplishments that led to successful and fulfilling careers working in government, academic, and industry positions. Compelling first-person accounts paired with research data present a somber yet hopeful view of the challenges and obstacles still facing women in education and the workforce.

The Developing Schedule

DEC Graphic Novels/Nonfiction
JAN 2018 Fake News & Media Literacy
FEB 2018 Sustainable Living
MAR 2018 Feminism
APR 2018 Income Inequality

To submit titles (new and/or backlist), contact Barbara Genco four to six months before issue dates listed above (email: bgenco@mediasourceinc.com)

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