Posts tagged science

Ivy and Bean: What’s the Big Idea?

Ivy and Bean: What’s the Big Idea?

(Book 7)

by Annie Barrows


Second graders Ivy and Bean are stunned when a group of fifth graders share their very depressing report on global warming. They slump on a bench afterward and worry about polar bears and pollution. The whole class arrives at school the following day feeling a little bit sad. When Ms. Aruba-Tate announces that the second grade will participate in a science fair, her students share how discouraged they are. She encourages them to be a part of the solution, and to use science to help solve the world’s problems. She suggests that the science fair’s theme be “Ideas that Fight Global Warming.”

Now, Ivy and Bean simply have to think of a way to once-and-for-all stop global warming. The two girls discover that throwing ice cubes into the air to lower the temperature doesn’t work, tying their hands together to make humans less powerful has unintended consequences, and hammering rice to make clean energy just, well, makes rice dust. Then, Ivy says, “If grown-ups weren’t scared of nature, they’d probably try harder to save it from global warming” and their great idea for the science fair is born (Barrows, 96).

Always funny and engaging, Ivy and Bean tackle the big issue of global warming in a heartfelt and courageous way. The series’ characteristic meanderings and funny moments make this an age-appropriate look at an environmental problem. The ending of the book will touch any adult or child who has wanted to make a real difference in the world.

Curriculum Connections:

What’s the Big Idea? would make a great read-aloud for younger children to connect with scientific method as Ivy and Bean come up with ideas, try them out, and evaluate whether or not they work.

It could also be connected with an upcoming science fair, or used as a positive approach to studies about global warming or environmental problems.

This book especially shows how Ivy and Bean, while not hard scientists, can make a difference by using their natural charm, skills, and talents for communication to share how much they care about the earth.  Before a day of service, or when brainstorming about ways to help in the community, share this book with students before having them think of their own particular talents and how those talents can help bring about big or small changes in the world.


Leave a comment »

How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming

How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate:

Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming

By Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch,

with a foreword by Prof. David Sobel


Climate change can be a very scary thing to learn about (I picture Ivy and Bean slumped on a bench feeling sad about polar bears), but this non-fiction book presents the information in an action-centered way. Each of the beginning sections consists of two colorful pages that discuss the ways in which the changing world of birds, frogs, butterflies, flowers, etc. show us how climate change is affecting the Earth.

The great thing about these chapters is not necessarily the scientific data, or even the explanation of the incredible inter-connectedness of our world, but rather the citizen science projects that come from the hands of students all over the world. The book discusses students who participate in butterfly or bird migration, frog monitoring, or flower-bud monitoring projects. Students from Vermont are featured, on more than one occasion, as they work to collect data and create positive change in the world. Most importantly, the ideas that everyone can help collect data about climate change and help in concrete ways to slow climate change are pervasive. Be surprised if you’re not inspired to take a look at Journey North or BirdSleuth to see what you can do to be a citizen scientist too!

While middle chapters may be overly complicated for some, especially younger, students, readers can feel free to pick and choose chapters. Just make sure not to miss the list near the end of the book that reminds us of things people can do to help slow climate change or (my favorite) the wealth of great resources listed in the back!

Environmental writer Lynne Cherry (The Great Kapok Tree, A River Ran Wild) and photojournalist Gary Braasch have teamed up to offer an accessible look at science, climate change, the things we can do to learn more and, most importantly, help.

Curriculum Connections:

So many connections can be made with this book!  Consider having your students participate in a citizen-science project that connects with your science curriculum and use this book to show your students how kids are making a difference all over the world.  When talking about environmental problems, use this book to demonstrate the negative changes that are happening, but also to address the work that is being done to curtail the damage being caused.  Scientists make a difference, and student scientists can make a difference too. The scientific process is laid out here and can be a real-world example of how it is used outside of the classroom.

For a math and social justice connection, have students take a look at local data  in their school, community, or state.  How can we understand what is happening by looking at charts, graphs, and numbers.  What kinds of things change over time?  Is there environmental data for your community?  If not, should there be?  This book may just be one connection to understanding data.  Take a look at community demographics and see how they have changed over time.  What can this tell us about changes that might need to be made (i.e. more English language classes, a more wide-spread public transportation system, etc.)?  What can your school do to help address these needs, whether environmental or social?

Leave a comment »