The Trouble with Robots
by Michelle Mohrweis
288 pages; ages 8-12
This is a book about trouble – and it’s not just the robots that are causing it. Eight-graders Allie and Evelyn are their own kind of trouble. Evelyn needs perfection, a trait that is causing a whole lot of trouble with her robotics team. Robotics is Evelyn’s life and she wants to win the competition. But her drive to make everything perfect is driving her team apart.
Allie can’t seem to settle into school – any school – and the robotics class is her last chance. The only problem: Allie doesn’t care about engineering. She’s into art. When she’s added to Evelyn’s team, it’s like baking soda meeting vinegar … and Allie can’t risk things blowing up. She needs to get through this year for herself, and for her Oma.
One thing I like about this book: people forget is that art is an essential part of engineering. Else how do you visualize a new design? Writing, drawing… these are as important in STEM endeavors as “the smart stuff” (as Allie would call it): the calculating of gear ratios, the physics, the data collecting. Nearly every scientist I know draws or sketches stuff in their notebook, from flower parts to skulls to design elements for machinery.
Another thing I like about this book: it portrays the reality of engineering (and STEM projects of most kinds) as teamwork. This means learning to respect and work with people of all sorts and with different skills. When Evelyn learns to let people contribute in their own way, the team grows stronger.
And finally, a shout-out to the different kinds of diversity portrayed in this book, from learning styles and neurodiversity to families. We need diverse thinking if we are going to solve the problems facing our future.
Thanks for dropping by today. On 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.