All Student Books

Our award-winning student books support, rather than eclipse, firsthand discovery and science inquiry. While conveying sophisticated science ideas, Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading books are designed to be accessible to a range of learners.

Our award-winning student books support, rather than eclipse, firsthand discovery and science inquiry. Books play a variety of roles in our units: for example, they set the context for firsthand investigation, model scientific processes, and provide opportunities for making sense of data. While conveying sophisticated science ideas, the books are designed to be accessible. Vocabulary is carefully controlled in the books; extraneous hard words are strictly limited, and readers are given multiple opportunities to encounter and learn key vocabulary.

Grades 2-3    Grades 3-4    Grades 4-5

Grades 2-3

Soil Habitats

  • 12

    Into the Soil introduces the topic of soil through a series of fun riddles. The book invites students to wonder about the ubiquitous substance that covers the Earth and to consider soil's functions. The book shows how soil helps all living things survive and introduces the ideas that: soil is all around us, many organisms live in the soil, and plants, animals, and people need the nutrients in soil in order to survive. Into the Soil provides an invitation to the Soil Habitats unit and depicts the important role of soil in our lives.

  • 13

    In Walk in the Woods students "accompany" a soil scientist named Asmeret as she walks through the woods. Students see the world through a soil scientist's eyes as Asmeret searches for evidence of decomposition. As Asmeret guides students through the forest, several important ideas emerge: soil is made of living and non-living things; small organisms help decompose dead plants and animals; and through decomposition, soil is made. It shows how scientists look for evidence to help answer questions about the world. Walk in the Woods provides a real-world context for the study of decomposition and soil habitats.

  • 59

    What Are Roots? describes how roots help plants survive, using a series of descriptive metaphors. The book describes important structures and functions of a variety of root types. Important ideas include: roots are adaptations that plants have to help them survive, roots take in water and nutrients, roots hold plants in place, and that there are two main types of roots--taproots and fibrous roots. What Are Roots? enables students to learn more about roots than is directly observable. Students use this book to help identify structures on the roots they observe firsthand.

  • 60

    Talking with a Habitat Scientist uses the story of one scientist to introduce students to the concept of a habitat and to the work of a habitat scientist. John Harte is a scientist who investigates what happens when the elements of a habitat change. The book describes how a habitat is a place where a plant or an animal gets everything it needs to survive, that a habitat isn't just a place but includes a collection of things that all together meet the basic needs of an organism. The book communicates John's love of nature and passion for science and provides examples of how sometimes habitats change and the organisms can no longer survive there, that these changes are sometimes caused by humans, and that scientists help us understand and protect habitats. Talking with a Habitat Scientist extends students' growing understanding of habitats and shows how scientists work to understand and ultimately protect habitats.

  • 62

    The Handbook of Forest Floor Animals is a reference book that describes some of the small organisms that live in, on, or near the forest floor, in the way that a field guide might. The book describes six types of organisms that live in or on soil: beetles, centipedes and millipedes, crickets, earthworms, pill bugs and sow bugs, and snails and slugs. For each type of organism, information is provided about the organism's body
    structures, behavior, habitat, and life cycle. Students use information they find in this handbook to help them identify and label body structures of the organisms they observe firsthand and to answer questions they have about forest floor organisms.

  • 61

    Earthworms Underground describes earthworm structures and behaviors with a focus on adaptations that enable earthworms to survive underground. These adaptations include being able to breathe through their skin, and use hair-like structures to move through the soil, and survive even if part of their tails breaks off. The book shows how earthworms eat soil and small living and dead things in the soil, and how this makes the soil better for all plants and animals. It tells how they reproduce and that the greatest dangers to earthworms are moles, birds, and sunlight that can dry out earthworm's skin. Earthworms Underground provides a view of the earthworm in its natural habitat and depicts earthworm structures and behaviors that are not directly observable.

  • 63

    My Nature Notebook shows how a small spot on the forest floor, where things grow, die, and decompose, changes over several months, and what a child's notebook recording those changes looks like. This book demonstrates the importance of careful and repeated observations, and of measurements, drawings, and detailed notes, in making good inferences about the nature and cause of changes. My Nature Notebook models careful observation and note taking, and also provides students with experience reading tables, and making inferences.

  • 66

    Snail Investigations is a fictional account of a class who sets out to figure out what makes a good snail habitat, so they can keep snails in their classroom. This book describes the investigations these students conduct and what they learn about how snails, like other organisms, need food, water, shelter, and air to survive. The book highlights the cycle of scientific inquiry and depicts the triumphs and missteps of a group of classroom scientists. It shows how it is possible to investigate to find answers to questions. Snail Investigations models the process of conducting a scientific investigation and provides an opportunity for students to practice interpreting data.

  • 64

    Without Soil reviews the key themes of the Soil Habitats unit by asking students to imagine a world without soil. Through this device, the following ideas are reviewed: living things depend on one another, soil helps all living things survive by providing the nutrients necessary for the plants that animals (including humans) depend upon for food and other needs, that the roots of plants help soil stay in place, and that soil is a habitat for a great number and complexity of interdependent organisms. The book goes on to explain how soil loss is an important environmental problem. In addition to providing a review of many of the important ideas in the unit, Without Soil communicates the interdependence of plants, animals, humans and soil.

Shoreline Science

  • 2

    Beach Postcards provides an account of a girl named Jo who visits beaches around the world with her family and sends postcards back to her friend Linn. Linn writes a report about what she learned about beaches and shorelines from Jo's postcards. This book serves as an invitation to the unit and introduces students to some basic concepts about beaches and shorelines. It is also designed to help students who may have limited knowledge of shorelines to imagine the experience of being at various beaches.

  • 3

    What Belongs on a Beach? introduces the concept that some things belong on a beach and other things do not. It describes the different ways that trash can end up on a beach and its consequences to marine organisms. The book demonstrates how the kind of marine litter found on a beach is evidence about where it comes from. This book provides a real world context for the sorting and classifying that students do in class and provides an opportunity for students to practice making inferences about the source of marine litter.

  • 4

    Gary's Sand Journal begins with Gary Griggs, a shoreline scientist, sharing how he uses the properties of sand as evidence to determine the sand's origin and composition. The second half of the book consists of pages of a notebook like the one Gary uses to record his observations of sand, including notes about inferences he has made about the sand samples. The book ends with a picture of mystery sand and a challenge for the reader to use the evidence in the picture to make inferences about the mystery sand's origin and composition. This book models how specific observable properties can be used to make inferences about the origin and composition of sand and provides students with opportunities to make inferences based on these observable characteristics.

  • 5

    What's Stronger? The Forces that Cause Erosion illustrates the power of wind, water, waves, and glaciers to wear away things as hard as rocks and as big as mountains, through a process called erosion. Students see how erosion washes soil down hillsides and rivers carry sand to the beach. This book enables students to see the effects of natural phenomena that are not directly observable in the classroom.

  • 8

    What Lives on a Sandy Beach? provides a virtual walk along a sandy beach--with a peek at the multitude of organisms that live there--most hidden from view. This book is designed to stimulate curiosity and provide a rare look at these sandy beach organisms in their habitat. Students are challenged to answer questions posed in the text about the organisms--all of which can be answered through inference based on evidence in the illustrations. Students use information they find in this book to write reports about sandy beach organisms.

  • 6

    My Sea Otter Report is a humorous, fictional account of a boy writing a science report, guided by his sister's advice. This book models the process of writing a report, complete with commentary on the common missteps. It provides students with a framework for writing their organism reports.

  • 7

    Handbook of Sandy Beach Organisms is a reference book about sandy beach organisms. A different animal is described in detail on each page. The book is organized by type of organism, so there is a page of information about organisms that share something in common. For example, the page titled Birds is followed by pages of information about sanderlings, herring gulls, and peregrine falcons. This book provides students with a second source of information for their organism reports.

  • 9

    The Black Tide provides a newspaper-style account of an actual oil spill that occurred off the coast of Spain in 2002. A series of articles provides a blow-by-blow description of the initial stormy seas, the oil tanker that broke apart, how the oil moved towards shore, efforts to contain and clean up the spill, and finally the immediate and year-after effects of the spill on shoreline organisms in the region. This book provides a real world context for the simulations students conduct in class and an opportunity for students to make predictions about the effects of a real oil spill.

  • 10

    Shoreline Scientist is about the life and work of one scientist, Gary Griggs. Students first encountered Gary when they read Gary's Sand Journal earlier in the unit. Shoreline Scientist describes how Gary became interested in science, his education, and the questions and problems that Gary works on today. This book provides students with a view of the role scientists play in solving problems in the world.

Designing Mixtures

  • 135

    What If Rain Boots Were Made of Paper? asks students to imagine a series of unusual objects, such as rain boots made of paper and frying pans made of rubber, in order to get them thinking about the relationship between objects, the materials used to make those objects, and the properties of those materials. This book provides a real-world context for the importance of understanding about the properties of materials.

  • 138

    Solving Dissolving introduces and explains the concept of dissolving. Taking off from the familiar experience of dissolving sugar in water, the book provides evidence that the sugar is still there and describes what the remaining sugar might look like if we could see the tiny sugar particles. Students learn about the role of temperature in solubility; that some substances are more soluble in water than others while other substances are not soluble in water at all; the difference between melting and dissolving; and how dissolving is useful to cooks, scientists, and inventors. This book enables students to learn about more dissolving than is directly observable.

  • 143

    The Handbook of Interesting Ingredients is a reference book that provides information about most of the ingredients students use in the Designing Mixtures unit. For each ingredient there is a two-page spread with illustrations and information, some of which is directly observable and some of which is not, in sections titled: how it looks, substance or mixture?, where it comes from, important properties, what it's used for, and cause and effect. Ingredients in the handbook include baking soda, cinnamon, citric acid, corn syrup, cornstarch, egg white, flour, gelatin, oil, salt, sugar, vinegar, and water. Students use information they find in this book to support their firsthand investigations.

  • 146

    Jelly Bean Scientist shows how food scientists use science to design new kinds of food. In the book, readers meet Ambrose Lee, a food scientist who invents new jelly bean flavors. Students see examples of scientists who use their senses, try to design mixtures that have certain properties, and work in teams. They learn about the effect of ingredients in creating the texture of jelly beans and get a glimpse of the hard work and the serendipity of invention. This book provides a real-world context for the work students are doing as they design mixtures in the classroom.

  • 144

    Jess Makes Hair Gel provides an account of a boy who sets out to make his own hair gel. In the book, Jess identifies the properties of a good hair gel and then tests different ingredients to see which have these properties. While conducting tests on each ingredient, Jess realizes that he needs to expand the list of properties of good hair gel to include several more. With this realization he is able to solve problems he encounters and end up with a great hair gel. This book models the steps of the design process that students use in the unit.

Gravity & Magnetism

  • 151

    Forces introduces students to several foundational concepts about forces, including: 1) a force is a push or a pull; 2) forces act between two objects; 3) forces can change the way things move; 4) you can feel evidence of forces; and 5) there are some forces that act at a distance—between objects that aren’t touching. The book helps students view the world through a scientific lens and see how forces are at work around them every day, all the time. In addition, Forces provides students with a book from which they can gather clear examples of both pictorial and textual evidence.

  • 157

    What My Sister Taught Me About Magnets is a realistic, fictional account of a girl who loves to investigate magnets. She investigates the similarities and differences among magnets of different shapes, sizes, and strengths. Through a series of “speeches,” the girl explains to her older sister what she has learned by investigating, and the ways in which she compared different magnets. What My Sister Taught Me About Magnets models ways of investigating magnets, recording data, making explanations, and the use of comparative language.

  • 160

    In Gravity Is Everywhere, students learn that gravity is a pulling force. The force of gravity exerted by Earth holds us and objects around us on the surface of Earth. The book explains the relationship between weight and gravity, and students learn that objects would have different weights on different places in space, such as on the Sun, Moon, and various planets in our Solar System. Gravity Is Everywhere provides evidence about the force of gravity through multiple examples. The book provides students with additional evidence about gravity that is not directly observable in everyday experience.

  • 165

    A train floats in the air. A tree shrinks instead of growing. A spoon seems to move by itself. What’s going on? Students grapple with these “mysteries” as they read Mystery Forces. Students are provided with a mysterious scenario and are asked to figure out which force (gravity, electrostatic force, or magnetic force) is involved. They use descriptions of different pulls or pushes to determine which force is at work. Students think carefully about the effects that each force has in order to make an explanation and solve the mystery. The book also helps students connect what they’ve been learning about forces to the world outside the classroom.

Grades 3-4

Light Energy

  • 196

    The Speed of Light communicates that light travels and that it is the fastest thing in the Universe. The book compares the speed of light to other extremely fast things, such as a jet, a rocket ship, and sound. Data about these comparisons are presented in tables, as well as through descriptive examples that suggest what would happen if light were in a race with such competitors as the fastest human, the fastest animal, and the fastest car on earth. Through examples like these, The Speed of Light helps students understand how fast light travels—something that is impossible for them to observe firsthand.

  • 195

    Can You See in the Dark? invites students to wonder about whether or not people need light to see. The book details a search for a completely dark place, following the narrator from a movie theater to a closet to a dark campsite, finally ending in a cave where there truly is no light at all. This book introduces the idea that all light comes from a source, and that light is necessary for us to see. The book enables students to identify many different sources of light through its text and illustrations. Can You See in the Dark? provides an intriguing invitation to the Light Energy unit and poses a question that students will return to many times as they learn more about light and how people see.

  • 197

    Why Do Scientists Disagree? is a book with two distinct but related threads. On the right-hand pages, students read about the ways scientists use evidence, make explanations, and debate their ideas to move the field forward. Science is defined as a community enterprise in which explanations are based on evidence and there is discussion about that evidence. On the left-hand pages, these ideas are exemplified in the story of the scientist Galileo and how his observations of the Moon changed people’s ideas about light. This book helps students to see that disagreement is an important and positive stage of scientific discussion that often leads to new understandings and eventual agreement.

  • 198

    I See What You Mean explains the relationship between reflection and vision. It is an extended dialogue between two people who are trying to figure out how light is involved when they see a peach. As they question each other and add more to their description of how people see, they explain more of the process involved in sight. Over the course of the book, students learn that light comes from a source, bounces off objects, even non-shiny ones, and travels to our eyes. Detailed illustrations and ray diagrams support the text and show the path of light in each scenario. This book supports firsthand investigations with critical information that is not easily observed and directly addresses the misconception that only shiny materials reflect light.

  • 199

    The Handbook of Light Interactions presents real data on how various materials interact with light. The investigation on which the book is based took place in a dark room with a flashlight as the only source of light. The resulting data is organized into tables by type of material, showing how much light each material absorbed, reflected, and transmitted. By comparing their observations with data in the book, students can draw more accurate conclusions about how light interacts with various materials. This book supports students’ firsthand investigations by providing additional information that they need to answer important questions about light interactions. It also provides quantitative data for them to interpret.

  • 200

    Light Strikes! shows light interactions in real-life situations. Students are invited to look at ordinary scenes and observe how light is interacting with materials, sometimes in unexpected ways. The book reinforces concepts about reflection, absorption, and transmission. It helps students make connections between the science they are learning and their everyday lives, and to be aware of the role light is playing when they see shadows on a wall, notice reflections in a window, or put on their favorite pair of sunglasses.

  • 201

    Cameras, Eyes, and Glasses is about three important things that use lenses to refract light. The book explains what lenses are and what they do, then describes the lenses in cameras, eyes, and eyeglasses. Photographs and ray diagrams help students understand how the lenses work. The book also includes suggestions for simple activities readers can do to observe refraction in action. It reinforces and extends students’ firsthand investigations by providing examples of refraction in use in the world.

  • 202

    It’s All Energy explains that energy makes things happen all around us, all the time. The book highlights the many different forms of energy we use every day—to move, talk, cook, create music, light or heat. Students learn about light, sound, electrical, thermal, and motion energy through familiar examples. They also learn that energy can be transformed from one form into another.

  • 203

    Sunlight and Showers introduces readers to Dr. Ashok Gadgil, a scientist who uses his scientific knowledge to address real-world problems. Dr. Gadgil’s students work together as a team to design a solar water heater for use in Guatemala. The book describes various ways the young scientists solve the design problem—working as a team, investigating the issues and gathering data, and designing and testing a solution. The book demonstrates that solar energy is useful as an alternative source of energy and models the nature of science by providing a compelling example of scientists solving real problems for real people.

Weather & Water

  • 186

    Tornado! A Meteorologist and Her Prediction tells the story of a weather scientist, Lynn Burse. Students read about how Burse gathers evidence that helps her predict when a tornado is coming. They learn that meteorologists take measurements, including wind speed and temperature, and use weather balloons to take measurements high above the ground. The book includes examples of weather data displayed in different ways, such as a table and a map. This book supports students in making connections between their own weather data collection in the classroom and what scientists in the field do to help society.

  • 188

    In Falling Through the Atmosphere students are introduced to Captain Joseph Kittinger, the only person to have “fallen” almost 20 miles through the atmosphere to land on Earth. Students first follow his ascent in a balloon, and learn about what the temperature was like, as well as the things he saw and experienced as he rose in the air. Next, students follow his descent down through the atmosphere. This book helps students visualize what our atmosphere is like, and provides a window into Kittinger’s unique experience.

  • 190

    The Weather Encyclopedia is a collection of interesting information about a variety of weather topics. From atmosphere to wind, this encyclopedia contains 27 major topics, describing types of weather and related subjects, such as meteorology (and meteorologists), the water cycle, humidity, condensation, evaporation, weather maps, and more. Careful attention has been given to the text features in this reference book, so students can become familiar with a number of important ones (Index, Table of Contents, headings, specialized vocabulary, etc.) and learn how to use them strategically.

  • 192

    The book Water in the Desert examines water in an unlikely place—a hot, dry desert in North America. As students learn how a small amount of water in the desert changes phases throughout a typical day, they also see how the organisms in this environment have to live in special ways in order to survive. This book gives students the opportunity to experience phase change, particularly evaporation and condensation, in the context of a real-world ecosystem.

  • 194

    Drinking Cleopatra’s Tears is a book about the water cycle. The book uses humorous and interesting examples of how water on Earth is recycled over time. It emphasizes the point that water is continuously recycled on Earth through the water cycle. Diagrams in the book highlight the different phase changes (evaporation, melting, condensation, freezing) that water goes through as it travels around the Earth and in the atmosphere. This book helps students review and apply their growing knowledge of the water cycle, and adds an important dimension to their understanding—that water on Earth is not lost over time.

  • 187

    Go with the Flow: Making Models of Streams is a book about Chris Cianfrani, a hydrologist who studies the movement, distribution and quality of water on Earth. The book pays special attention to the models Cianfrani makes in order to understand the water that she studies. Both physical and computer models are introduced as tools that Cianfrani uses in her work. The book emphasizes the important concept that models are very useful for making predictions and helping to understand how something works, but that they cannot show everything.

  • 189

    Sky Notebook is set in the Colorado mountains where storms move through on a regular basis during the winter. The narrator is a scientist and an amateur meteorologist who takes measurements and keeps detailed notes about the weather each day in his “Sky Notebook.” Beautiful photographs illustrate what the narrator is seeing each day as he takes measurements and writes notes, so the storms that pass through can be experienced visually as well as through the data and description that is provided. This book serves to model what students could do if they, too, wanted to track their own weather with a sky notebook. It also offers a second-hand data experience by giving students a chance to make predictions and inferences from the data that is included in the book.

  • 191

    The Wet Weather Handbook is a reference book about eight different kinds of wet weather. The book presents the following information about each type of weather: what it is and how it forms, a United States map showing weather patterns, a focus on a surprising detail about the type of weather, and a severe example of that weather. Careful attention has been given to the text features in this book, so students can become familiar with a number of important ones (Index, Table of Contents, headings, maps, etc.) and learn how to use them strategically.

  • 193

    What’s Going on With the Weather? is a fictional story describing the weather observations and investigations that a young girl named Toby makes as she moves from Boston to San Francisco one summer. As soon as she begins her new life in San Francisco, Toby notices that the weather is quite different from the summer weather she left behind in Boston. She begins with questions about why this is so, and ends up learning a great deal about the weather patterns in both San Francisco and Boston. This book models a realistic investigation that a student might undertake. In the Weather and Water unit, Toby’s investigations serve to model an actual investigation students will do in subsequent sessions.

Variation & Adaptation

  • 168

    Blue Whales and Buttercups invites students to consider the diversity of life on Earth. The photographs and informative captions in the book show many examples of ways in which organisms are different; the text explains that living things can differ in size, how they move, and how they protect themselves. At the same time, living things also share many characteristics, and these similarities help scientists classify organisms into groups. The book provides context for the unit through a virtual tour of some of the amazing living things on Earth. It provides many examples of characteristics for students to draw upon in order to understand that living things are different in many ways and the same in others.

  • 169

    The Code introduces students to the science of genetics in an accessible way. The book explains that individual characteristics are the result of the combined DNA “code” that people get from their birth parents. The book discusses the difference between inherited and acquired characteristics, providing several familiar examples. One example is that of identical twins who have the same genetic code but are distinguishable because of their different life experiences. The theme of variation and relatedness is extended throughout this book as students consider what characteristics all humans have and which characteristics make each of us unique. This book provides students with important science information about cells and genes that is hard to observe firsthand in the classroom.

  • 171

    Mystery Mouths introduces students to the concept of adaptations by providing them with the opportunity to examine the characteristics of various animal mouths. First the students are shown a mouth and asked to examine it. They then turn the page and learn what kind of animal has such a mouth, and what these mouth adaptations allow the animal to do. The students also examine skulls and animals with similar mouth structures and compare how they are similar and different. The structure of this book makes it an ideal text for students to practice and use the science and comprehension skills they’ve been learning thus far—examining the visual evidence offered by the skulls in the book and making inferences based on this evidence.

  • 176

    Evidence from the Past introduces students to the work of the Argentinean paleontologist Rodolfo Coria. By reading about Professor Coria and his work, students get a glimpse of what an actual paleontologist does and how paleontologist use evidence to make inferences that help to explain how species lived long ago. The book follows Coria as he makes a series of discoveries about two important dinosaurs found in Argentina. It focuses on Coria’s evidence collecting through his fossil discoveries and the scientific explanations he constructs along the way as he reviews his evidence and revises his explanations based on new fossil evidence he finds. This book models both the nature and practices of science through following Professor Coria and his work.

Digestion & Body Systems

  • 179

    Systems develops the concept of systems through an analysis of parts that interact to create a whole. Photographs, diagrams, and tables convey the structure and function of a bicycle wheel and a bicycle. The book illustrates how parts work together—a bicycle is a collection of interacting parts including a seat, handlebars, a frame, a chain, pedals, and wheels. It shows how you can change a bicycle system so it works differently and you can change a bicycle system in ways that cause it not to work. The book goes on to discuss systems more broadly—the human body, a dishwasher, the Solar System. Triangle diagrams are used to show how different systems work together to form larger systems. This book helps students understand an important scientific concept and apply it in a variety of situations.

  • 182

    Secrets of the Stomach describes the work of three scientists who investigated how the stomach digests food. It outlines how each of them found evidence that added to the scientific community’s understanding of digestion. By reading this book, students learn that scientists base their explanations on evidence and that the best explanations are those that take into account all of the evidence. After looking at several explanations, students learn that acid juices in the stomach aid in the digestion of food. This book models how to make explanations based on evidence and how to revise explanations when new evidence is discovered.

  • 183

    Voyage of a Cracker follows the path a cracker takes as it is eaten and travels through the digestive system. Each page spread includes a real photograph that was taken inside the body, as well as a diagram indicating the part’s position in the body. As the students read the description of where the cracker has traveled, they are prompted to make inferences about which digestive organ is being described. This book provides images and context to deepen students’ understanding of a system that is largely unseen and helps to summarize what they have learned.

  • 184

    Handbook of Body Systems is a reference book with a section about each of the six most important systems in the body: the circulatory, digestive, musculo-skeletal, nervous, renal, and respiratory systems. Each section tells about the function and main parts of the system and briefly describes how the system works. Common problems that can occur within or between each system’s organs are also mentioned. Students use the book to learn basic information about several body systems.

  • 185

    What’s the Diagnosis? tells about Elaine Davenport, a real doctor who specializes in pediatric medicine. The book’s introduction describes how an important part of Dr. Davenport’s job is making diagnoses when patients are sick. The book presents two fictional accounts that are based on Dr. Davenport’s real experiences. In the first scenario, Dr. Davenport makes a diagnosis of the cause of a boy’s sore throat. As Dr. Davenport gathers evidence for the diagnosis, students learn the process involved in making a diagnosis. The second scenario introduces a patient who has an upset stomach. Students learn how to use the evidence collected by Dr. Davenport to make their own diagnosis of this patient.

Grades 4-5

Planets & Moons

  • 213

    Exploring Planets and Moons introduces three people and the various ways they study planets and moons. Students read about astronaut Eugene Cernan and how the work of the Apollo 17 mission added to our understanding of the surface of the Moon. They are introduced to engineer Jessica Collisson Samuels, learning about her work on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which have added greatly to our understanding of conditions on the planet Mars. Students then read about space scientist Gibor Basri, who uses powerful telescopes to gather information about distant planets orbiting other stars. Exploring Planets and Moons sets the context for the unit and helps students see that there are a variety of ways to explore the Solar System and beyond.

  • 214

    Spinning Through Space helps students understand the rotation and orbit of planets in the Solar System. The book is framed around of a series of surprising statements about Earth, day and night, the movement of objects in space, and the length of a year. Each statement is supported with a detailed explanation of why the way we often describe things isn’t quite what’s really happening out in space. The book also provides students with data (in photographs and tables) about planetary motion. Students use these data to make comparisons and further support the ideas they have been learning firsthand.

  • 215

    Observing the Moon reports actual observations as a narrator watches the Moon over a period of weeks. Each phase features a photograph of the Moon’s shape, along with the date, time, and name of the lunar phase. The pages that follow provide telescopic images of the Moon and diagrams of the Moon in relationship to Earth for each phase. Through the recorded observations and diagrams, students come to understand that the Moon appears to change in a regular pattern. This book provides secondhand investigation opportunities for students as they analyze data in order to look for patterns.

  • 216

    How Big Is Big? How Far Is Far? is about relative size and distance in the Solar System. The playful illustrations and varied examples help students consider the size of objects in the Solar System. Data tables reinforce the idea that although planets vary in size, even the smallest one is quite large. Distances in space are also considered, using a variety of examples, comparisons, and quantitative information. The book invites students to consider our place in the Solar System and to try to visualize the vastness of space. The book supports and deepens students’ understanding gained through their firsthand investigations.

  • 217

    Handbook of Planets and Moons is a reference book that provides information about eight planets and various moons. Each entry describes the object’s location in the Solar System, as well as its orbit, composition, and surface features. Close-up photographs show the surface of the planet or moon in detail. Each entry also includes some information about the exploration of the object. Data tables provide key facts at a glance. This book supports students’ firsthand investigations by providing essential information that students will refer to throughout the unit.

  • 218

    What About Pluto? compares Pluto to other objects in the Solar System. Students learn that astronomers classify objects according to their characteristics. Rocky and gaseous planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and Kuiper Belt objects (icy bodies that orbit the Sun beyond Neptune) are all compared and contrasted with Pluto. Students read how Pluto is no longer considered a planet since its reclassification in 2006. From this example, students learn that scientific knowledge and, therefore, classifications can shift as new evidence becomes available. This book provides students with important information about the classification of Solar System objects.

  • 219

    Planetary Scientist describes the work of geophysicist Michael Manga. Manga uses a variety of research methods to explore the surface features of planets and moons. Readers learn how Manga uses the study of Earth’s surface features and innovative models to answer questions about how features formed on distant Solar System objects such as our Moon and Jupiter’s moon, Europa. Readers also learn why Manga finds the study of these objects so interesting and relevant for life on Earth. This book models important aspects of the nature of science for students.

  • 220

    Tomato Landers describes one girl's attempt to design a device to protect a tomato from breaking when dropped from a tall building. The girl conceptualizes the design, tests the lander, evaluates the results, and redesigns. Readers follow the girl's lessons learned as she incorporates the results of each test into a new and improved design. This book models the design process and teaches students that learning from what does not work is a critical part of what engineers do.

  • 221

    Technology for Exploration is about the creative and varied solutions that engineers have designed to help humans explore Earth, the Solar System, and beyond. Each section of the book is organized by function and describes how different kinds of technology can serve the same function in different conditions. Through reading about various technologies, students are reminded that the conditions in the place to be explored dictate design features. This book provides support for students’ firsthand investigations by providing relevant ideas for their own designs.

Aquatic Ecosystems

  • 204

    Visit to a Pond is an invitational book for the Aquatic Ecosystems unit. It provides a context from which all students can draw ideas, and it engenders excitement, interest, and curiosity about some of the overarching content that will be addressed in the unit. In Visit to a Pond, students are invited to consider what they might see on a walk around a typical pond. Many of the environmental factors are described (where the water comes from, how much sunlight it gets) as well as many of the typical members of a pond community (birds, visiting mammals, insects, turtles, and fish). Additionally, the book is an example of how to write descriptively about places and organisms.

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    Tabletop Pond Guide begins by describing how people can build model ponds so they may closely observe and study pond organisms and the relationships among these organisms. When scientists do this, they are trying to better understand behaviors and relationships in outdoor ponds. Directions for building a model pond and a description of several common pond organisms are provided. These organisms are recommended for use in model ponds because of their prevalence worldwide, and because they offer representative examples of the categories of organisms found in most ecosystems. The book closes by addressing important points for maintaining a model pond and for dismantling it when the time is right.

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    Investigating Crayfish describes a backyard crayfish investigation carried out by two curious kids. Hannah and Manny decide to explore a nearby creek and soon discover many crayfish live there. Guided by Hannah’s mother, a scientist and teacher, the two children create their own scientific investigation to answer a question about crayfish. In an engaging and informative way, the book models the whole scientific process—selecting a question, planning an investigation, making hypotheses, recording data, explaining results, and communicating those results to a wider community. The process described in the book foreshadows a parallel process that will take place in the classroom as students prepare for their own model pond investigations.

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    Dragonfly Explanations focuses on a scientist named Lauren Pintor and presents research she conducted on dragonflies. Readers follow Pintor through the steps of an investigation about the Hine’s emerald dragonfly as she discovers some surprising results. Special attention is paid to the written steps of this investigation—Pintor’s hypothesis and her final scientific explanation—in order to highlight and model these aspects of an investigation for students, who are asked to do similar kinds of writing as part of their own classroom investigations.

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    Eat and Be Eaten: How an Ecologist Uses Food Webs introduces students to food chains and food webs, two kinds of diagrams that scientists use as models to show what eats what in an ecosystem. Students follow the work of Thara Srinivasan, an ecologist who has made a detailed study of one lake ecosystem. Students learn how she uses the data that she and other scientists have collected to create computer models of food webs, which help her make hypotheses about what might happen to particular species if pollution continues to accumulate in the lake.

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    What Makes Living Things Go? follows the energy source for one animal to show students that energy is used for many things such as movement, growth, and reproduction. The book explores the ways in which organisms are classified in particular roles (producer, consumer, herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, decomposer) based on how they take in and use energy, but points out that not every instance is straightfoward. Emphasis is placed on understanding that all energy can eventually be traced back to the Sun.

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    Ecosystems Around the World highlights nine very different ecosystems—from savannah to tropical rainforest to the surprising deep-sea vent ecosystem. Each is presented in the same format: the environment, the community of organisms, and human impact—both positive and negative. Organisms that are featured are either typical or vital to each ecosystem, and water’s significant role is noted as six of the nine are aquatic ecosystems. This book helps expand readers’ ideas about what constitutes an ecosystem and exposes them to many unique ecosystems around the world.

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    Ecosystem News presents three different environmental situations in an intriguing format: a series of newspaper articles based on real-life problems caused by human impact. Readers are taken back in time, and as each situation unfolds, they learn why and how changes in a particular ecosystem were made and how these changes affected other aspects of the ecosystem. They learn that humans can have both positive and negative impacts on ecosystems, and that scientists need to consider all parts of the ecosystem before they decide to intervene.

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    Making a Difference is about a class that participates in the restoration of a local creek. With the help of scientists and their teacher, the students in the book travel to the creek and plant trees. The students learn that making a difference in the world can be hard work, but it is something that anyone can do if they really want to. By reading about this project, students learn about how small changes in one aspect of an ecosystem can affect the entire ecosystem because everything in an ecosystem is connected

Models of Matter

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    Made of Matter introduces students to several important concepts about matter. Students learn that everything around them is made of tiny particles called atoms, and that atoms joined together are called molecules. By comparing different amounts of everyday materials, students get a sense of just how tiny atoms and molecules are. They are introduced to models as representations of atoms and molecules and learn that all molecules of one kind are exactly the same. Students also learn that molecules can have different properties, and that most matter is a mixture of substances.

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    Break It Down: How Scientists Separate Mixtures discusses mixtures and the importance in science of being able to separate them into component substances. Break It Down shows students three contexts in which separating a mixture is important. Students learn about the separation of pure water from salty ocean water, plasma from blood, and the ingredients of a meal found in an ancient tomb. Each example features a different separation technique. The book emphasizes that each technique uses the individual properties of the substances in the mixture in order to separate them.

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    Phase Change at Extremes allows students to expand their conceptions of phase change beyond water and other substances that change phase at moderate temperatures. The first sections of the book provide basic information about the phases of matter, phase change, and energy. The sections that follow describe phase change in four materials that melt at very high temperatures or freeze at very low temperatures. By learning about phase change in gold, diamond, alcohol, and carbon dioxide, students see that many kinds of matter change phase, but that they do so at very different temperatures.

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    Science You Can’t See introduces students to the work of three scientists, each of whom studies a phenomenon that cannot be observed directly. Karen Chin studies dinosaurs, Edward Saade investigates the ocean floor, and Farid El Gabaly uses an electron microscope to make images of magnetic atoms. In order to answer their questions, these scientists must make inferences based on evidence. The book also highlights the ways that using models can help scientists make accurate inferences. Science You Can’t See models an important aspect of the nature of science for students—making sound inferences based on evidence.

Chemical Changes

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    Chemical Reactions Everywhere shows that chemical reactions happen not just in science labs, but everywhere around us. The book explains that everything in the world is made of chemical substances, and these substances change to produce new substances with new properties during chemical reactions. Twelve familiar chemical reactions are featured, and evidence of each chemical reaction—taste change; color change; temperature change; or the production of gas, light, or electricity—is identified. By connecting science information to familiar examples, students will see things around them in a new way.

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    Handbook of Chemical Investigations is a reference book that students use to help plan, conduct, and understand their investigations. It includes sections on safety, materials, common and safe substances to investigate, evidence to observe, variables to change, and hints for choosing questions to investigate. Reference sections include information on atoms and molecules, chemical formulas, and a periodic table of elements. Students use this reference book throughout the unit to generate ideas for their own investigations as well as to look up information to make sense of the chemical reactions they observe.

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    What Happens to the Atoms? explains how atoms and molecules rearrange as a result of chemical reactions. The book begins with an introduction in which students are reminded of basic concepts about atoms and molecules. Then, three simple investigations are described; two are chemical reactions (mixing baking soda and vinegar and letting steel wool rust), and one is not (mixing sugar and water). A detailed explanation of what happens to the atoms, in both words and diagrams, is provided for each investigation. At the end, readers are invited to consider what happens to the atoms in an exciting reaction—sodium and chlorine combining to make ordinary table salt. What Happens to the Atoms? helps students understand what is happening on a molecular level during their own investigations.

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    Bursting Bubbles: The Story of an Improved Investigation is a realistic fictional account of two kids designing an investigation. As Daisy and Pablo investigate yeast, sugar, and different temperatures of water, they make a series of mistakes. Each time they notice a mistake, they make their investigation a little better. This book models how to plan, carry out, and communicate about an investigation. It highlights common points of difficulty in the investigation process, such as controlling variables, making comparisons, taking measurements, and making explanations.

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    Communicating Chemistry follows chemist Michael Grass as he prepares to present his investigation to the scientific community. Grass studies ways of creating nanoparticles—tiny shapes made of groups of atoms—used to make chemical reactions happen more quickly. Communicating Chemistry describes how Grass creates a poster and prepares for a scientific conference, highlighting why conferences are important for scientists. Students may use the included tips for presenting posters as they prepare for their own classroom scientific conference. This book models the process of communicating the results of an investigation.