Friday, September 27, 2019

STEAM Jobs in Cybersecurity

STEAM Jobs in Cybersecurity (Series: STEAM Jobs You'll Love)
by Cynthia Argentine
48 pages; ages 9 - 13
Rourke Educational Media, 2019

Just one month ago, the computer systems in 22 small Texas towns  were hacked and held for ransom. Hackers blocked access to data, effectively closing down town governments and court systems. Just a week earlier, hackers locked down computer systems for a small town library system and school system.

Like pirates, hackers held town and institutional data hostage until a ransom could be paid. Their demands: hundreds of thousands of dollars in bitcoin. Those who don’t pay don’t get their data back. Even those who do pay often don’t get all their data returned.

Cities aren’t the only victims. Hospitals, credit agencies, even individuals are increasingly facing cyber-threats. So there are plenty of opportunities for people seeking a job in cybersecurity. Author Cynthia Argentine writes about those jobs, and the importance of a STEAM education for young people hoping to go into the field.

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Cybersecurity involves many of these subjects, from information technology to psychology and cryptography – that’s the math and science of secret codes. Art is included because musical patterns and visual art help develop creativity and problem-solving skills.

Argentine shows how hackers can get into a computer system, and shares their “toolkit of tricks”: viruses, malware, and bots. She devotes an entire chapter to designing a defense against cyber-intrusion, another to ethics

Fast Fact boxes add information about specific cyber-attacks, how computers influence our lives, and which passwords are the worst. Hint: don’t use starwars! Throughout the book Argentine highlights STEAM jobs in cybersecurity: cybersecurity analyst, cybersecurity consultant, malware analyst, cyber-forensic investigator, security software developer, information security administrator, cybersecurity engineer and architect, and cybersecurity lawyer.

Another cool thing about this book: it’s part of the STEAM Jobs You'll Love series. Other books in the series focus on jobs in Agriculture, Architecture, Forensic science, Game development, Robotics, Wildlife Conservation … and the list goes on.

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Plant Field Trip!

 Last week we toured cactuses in the Beardsley Zoo Greenhouse (Bridgeport, CT). Today we're heading back into the humid zone to find some flowers and more leaves.

What I like about this flower is the contrast of textures.

Who doesn't love a carnivorous plant? Not only do they snack on flies, they do it while looking lovely.

There are so many textures and sizes of leaves in this mini-jungle.

I love the way the colors blend in these leaves. They may look smooth, but the edges are serrated, like a steak knife.

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Lost Forest

The Lost Forest 
by Phyllis Root; illus. by Betsy Bowen
40 pages; ages 4 - 9
Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2019

theme: maps, forests, wildlife

How do you lose a forest?

Especially when trees are so tall you can’t see their tops. So big it takes two or more people holding hands to reach around. You’d think a forest of trees like that would be easy to find – but in 1882, in Minnesota, a survey crew lost an entire forest. It disappeared right off their maps! Great news for the trees – they kept right on growing. Great news for the other plants and the animals living in the forest – they kept on raising seeds and babies and continuing their community of life.

For more than 75 years the mistake stayed on the map, protecting the trees from the lumberjacks’ saws and axes. Now the forest is protected and you can go visit 350-year old pines. So it is a lost-and-found forest, right?

What I like love about this book: I love the way Phyllis Root tells her story, with a sly wink to the reader. “If you were trying to turn this rollicking land into straight lines on paper, you might make a mistake,” she writes.  She reminds readers that the trees had never been lost. Neither had the orchids, porcupines, and other wild plants and animals. They knew exactly where they were!

I love the illustrations by Betsy Bowen. They pull you right into the woods. I like the endpages – maps of the township – and the plentitude of back matter. There you’ll find out more about old growth forests and some of the species you might find there. You can find out more about surveying, and there’s a fun section called “how to talk like a surveyor”.

Beyond the Books:

Map your backyard. Here’s a great blog post to inspire you. And another link.

Use legos to build a map of a place you know, or a place in a story. Get some ideas here.

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website . Review copy provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Plants that fight back!

...continuing our field trip through the Beardsley Zoo Historic Greenhouse (Bridgeport, CT)...

After passing through the humid green zone, we came to the dry plants.

Plants with spines! Cacti (or you can call them cactuses) tend to live in deserts. They store water in succulent leaves, and some have beautiful blooms. But you don't want to pet these plants.

These dainty flowers grow on stems covered with spines. "Don't touch me!" it says to potential enemies. "Don't even think about it!"

I'm not sure what the real name for this guy is - I think it looks like a large, fuzzy spider.

They say that, in an emergency, the pulp of the barrel cactus can be chewed for its water content... but you'd need a good pair of leather gloves!

 This "Bunny Ears" cactus may look cute, but you don't want to pet it!

Friday, September 13, 2019

A rotten book!

Rotten! Vultures, Beetles, Slime, and Nature’s Other Decomposers 
by Anita Sanchez  ; illus by Gilbert Ford
96 pages; ages  7-10
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019

theme: decomposers, ecology, nature

“It’s a rotten world,” writes Anita Sanchez. No matter where you look, from the backyard compost pile to the landfill – and even in the back of your fridge – things are decomposing. And that’s a good thing, because imagine what the world would be like if nothing broke down. Decomposed. Rotted away. What would happen to dead animals, orange peels, that pile of dog poop?

In this book we meet dung beetles –the little critters that especially love the dung of plant-eating animals. Turns out, dung beetles are major players in the battle against global warming.

We meet vulture and other scavengers that feed on the flesh of dead animals. Scavenging is a pretty good strategy because dead meals don’t fight back!

We meet the “fun guys” of the decomposer club, fungi. They excel at breaking down the tough bonds that hold molecules of wood together, Sanchez writes. They turn fallen logs into humus – crumbly dark soil perfect for growing new plants. We meet ants, termites, slugs and slime molds, and even take a field trip into our own homes to check out what’s rotten.

I love the way Sanchez makes rotten things sound like the most exciting stuff to look for! And her hands-on challenges: follow sandwich crusts and a “rot it yourself” test. And I really like the last chapter about Rotten People – and we’re not talking about scallywags, thieves, and politicians!

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ A Field Trip! part 1

 Last month I visited the Beardsley Zoo, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I expected to see red pandas, tigers, and tortoises - and I did. But I did not expect a greenhouse.

 And what a cool greenhouse it was. I was amazed all over again at the wonderful diversity of plants. So today, we're looking at some of the beauty of leaves: colors, patterns, designs.

Spots splattered across succulents! Stripes ziggedy-zagging the length of tall leaves!

Brilliant colors with contrasting ribs and margins.

Now it's your turn:
What kinds of leaf colors and designs do you see on the plants growing in your neighborhood?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Books about Skunks and Noses!

Skunks are cute, when seen from a distance. But - whew! - up close they pack a sensory wallop. So I figured it's only fair to combine these books in a review.

themes: animal families, animal adaptations, nonfiction

The Secret Life of the Skunk (Secret Life series)
by Laurence Pringle; illus by Kate Garchinsky
32 pages; ages 6-9
Boyds Mills Press, 2019

Warm. So warm! Five baby skunks snuggle in the fur of their mother’s belly.

This book takes us inside the underground burrow of a striped skunk and her kits. The burrow is a cozy place, lined with soft leaves and grasses. It’s filled with warmth, earthy smells, and mama skunk’s musky scent. As the kits grow, they begin exploring outside the den. Eventually mama takes them on a foraging expedition, digging up beetle grubs to show them how to find food.

What I like about this book: Kate Garchinsky’s illustrations are so soft that you almost feel the furry little kits. And Laurence Pringle finds the best words to describe skunk sounds: squeak, squeal, churr, twitter. I love the narrative arc of the story told over one season of the skunks’ lives: from birth in the spring, through summer growth, and into the fall when they are preparing for winter dormancy. I also like the back matter where you can learn a lot more about skunks, check out words in the glossary, and find a short list of books about skunks.

Check out my reviews of Pringle’s other Secret Life books: little brown bat, woolly bear caterpillar, and red fox.

Given the musky fragrance of skunks, it’s only fair to consider the noses of those living nearby!

Animal Noses (Animal Adaptation series)
by Mary Holland
32 pages; ages 5-9
Arbordale, 2019

Noses come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Some are pointed, some are flat. Some are tiny and some are huge.

In this book we meet a variety of animal noses: shrew noses, bird nostrils, bear and possum sniffers, and insect … antennae! Because everyone needs to be able to smell their friends, their enemies, their food, and potential mates. Some of these noses are very strange – like the star-nosed mole’s nose. The question is: what kind of nose do you have?

What I like about this book: The photos are fantastic. Holland took most of them – she posts her nature photos on her blog, Naturally Curious. One of the things I like about Arbordale books is the back matter – four pages of book-related activities. Holland includes more information about the sense of smell, fun facts about animal noses, a matching game and a thoughtful challenge.

I like how Holland focuses on one animal adaptation and shows the diversity of ways of using that adaptation. You can check out my short reviews of her books about tails, legs, eyes, and ears.

Beyond the Books:

Skunks are omnivores. That means they eat both plants and animals. Are you an omnivore? What do you eat for your meals?

Your nose provides information you need to use. What is the best smell you’ve discovered? What is the worst?

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And we're joining  Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website . Review copies provided by the publishers.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ buggy buddies hanging out on the flowers

When you take a closer look at the flowers growing in and around your neighborhood, you might notice different things:

  • hairy leaf edges
  • spirals in the center of the flowers
  • tiny insects you didn't notice at first
  • uneven petal tips
What do you see when you look closely?