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Aussie STEM Stars Junior Fiction series

Wild Dingo Press have created three great books as part of a new series called Aussie STEM stars. The three first scientists in these books are Fiona Wood, Munjed Al Muderis and Georgia Ward Fear. Each book has also been written by a different Australian author.

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These books are an excellent addition to the literacy classroom and many gifted students will devour these books – not only because they are reading about scientists, they are reading about people who have had to show grit and determination to get where they are today.

With simple illustrations scattered throughout these book (maps & diagrams) alongside short facts or word definitions, this book is a great read for those aged 8-12.

There are some concise teacher notes on Aussie STEM stars Website

 Aussie STEM Stars is a fresh and unique series for children and young teens aged 10-13 years that focuses on our Australian STEM heroes. Each book is written by an award-winning children’s author and follows the real-life stories of Australia’s top scientists and inventors, chosen on the basis of their pioneering work. Themes explored in the series include childhood, school, family and formative experiences, what inspired them to pursue their chosen path, how they persevered in the face of challenges and what they have contributed to science in Australia.

Reason for studying this book

Wild Dingo Press publisher Catherine Lewis is excited about their publication. “These disciplines are more important than ever as we look to our inventors and innovators to solve contemporary problems facing humanity and the planet. Our Aussie STEM Stars series uses narrative non-fiction as a tool for educating children – making it as fun and interesting as fiction books in this market. Our writers are passionate about doing justice to their chosen subjects – and their lives – providing teachers, parents and librarians a wonderful series aimed at encouraging children to develop an interest in STEM at a young age.”

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Higher Order Thinking: Changing perspective

You may have heard of the Kaplan model and possibly used it in the classroom so in this blog today I am going to outline a way I have easily used ‘Multiple perspectives’

Multiple Perspectives encourages students to think about a topic from various, specific points of view. This aspect of the Kaplan model adds complexity by asking students to look widely at how others may see a topic/question/issue rather than just depending their knowledge in one particular area.

In this task I asked a group of Year 2 students to show me the books they like to borrow from the library. After an enthusastic discussion we then looked at the front cover of these books and compared the types of books the boys and then the girls had borrowed.

We discovered that there were certain covers that boys would never borrow as was the same for girls.

So it was time to encourage the thinking tool of multiple perspectives.

Each child was asked to take home a book that they would have never picked up before – think a Rainbow Magic fairy book for a boy and a Zac Power for a girl – both covers are very stereotypical female/male.

At first all of the students protested and begrudgingly placed them in their bags but after a week there were some great responses:

  • Some enjoyed the experience and actually enjoyed the books
  • Others had better insight into why boys/girls read these types of books and why
  • Discussion of how the publishers play a huge role in what we borrow
  • Many would read that book series again
  • Insight into what stereotypically boys and girls like to read as the discussion was together so children were able to discuss why they like these types of books.

Overall this was an excellent literacy activity to view writing and books from different perspectives, step outside of comfort zones and of course to have a robust and meaningful conversation.

Let me know if you give this a go!