Friday, August 26, 2016

Bioengineering: How nature inspires human designs

Bioengineering, Discover How Nature Inspires Human Designs
by Christine Burillo Kirch; illus. by Alexis Cornell
128 pages; ages 9 - 12
Nomad Press, 2016

Engineers use the principles of physics to design and build machines, tools, and houses. Biologists study living things. Mash them together and you get Bioengineers: people who apply engineering principles to biological functions so they can create something people use.

Take Leonardo Da Vinci. He studied how birds and bats fly, and then designed a flying machine. He may have been the first person to document his use of bioengineering- through notes and sketches.

Bats use sonar to find the fruit and insects they eat. They send out a sound signal that bounces back off objects - letting the bat know where their dinner is. Submarines use sonar, too, and now engineers have developed walking sticks with sonar  that will help blind people navigate more easily. Pretty cool, right?

Sometimes bioengineering begins with a backyard observation. The guy who invented velcro was out walking with his dog when he discovered burdock burrs clinging to his clothes and the dog's fur. Most people would just pull them off, but de Mestral was curious about how the burrs clung so well. When he looked at them under a microscope he saw that the burrs had tiny hooks that could catch on loops in fur (and clothes). Ah-ha! What if you could make a fastener like that? One side with hooks, one side with loops?

Someone watching maple samaras whirl through the air got the idea to develop a small aircraft. Now engineers at Lockheed Martin are working on a tiny drone that looks a lot like a maple seed.

This book introduces kids to a wide range of applications of bioengineering, from medical applications to wind power, farming, clothing, architecture, transportation, and 3-D printing. There are 25 hands-on projects, including "backyard bioengineering", and tons of links to primary sources. Back matter includes a glossary, resources (including a list of QR codes) and an index.

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. Review copy from publisher.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wild Outdoor Wednesday

Sit by some flowers. 
How many kinds of insects visit the flowers? 
Capture their colors, sounds, movements with paint or pencil and words.

Remember to take your sketchbook or journal with unlined pages, something to draw and write with, and something to add color ~ watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, or markers.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Worms for Breakfast

Worms for Breakfast: How to feed a zoo
by Helaine Becker; illustrated by Kathy Boake
40 pages; ages 7-10
 Owlkids Books, 2016

It’s feeding time at the zoo, and You’re in charge! What do you feed the hungry hippos and elephants, monkeys and otters? If you don't know, that's OK because there's probably a recipe book somewhere in the kitchen. 

If you're not cooking for a zoo, don't worry - there are plenty of recipes inside the pages of this book Starting with the first page: “Platypus Party Mix”. All you need are crayfish, earthworms, mealworms, and fly pupae. All live, of course.

This book is a ticket to a different sort of zoo tour. Not only do you meet animals, but you learn about animal nutrition, how to feed a zoo baby, and more than you probably want to know about the eating habits of a diversity of animals. Plus there are the recipes - collected from zoos around the world. They include such delicacies as eucalyptus-leaf pesto, kelp tank goulash, and snail trail mix! And if you're thinking, "gee, I'd like a job like that," there are a whole bunch of interviews with zoo nutritionists.

Review copy from publisher.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wild Outdoor Wednesday

 Revisit your square. Do you notice any changes? Write down what you see; draw pictures; capture the colors of August in your square.

Remember to take your sketchbook or journal with unlined pages, something to draw and write with, and something to add color ~ watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, or markers.