STEM homeschool resources

8 Must Have STEM Books to Ignite An Interest in Engineering

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Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool - 3

This is one of our top picks because it encompasses the application of engineering skills. Not only are you learning about Ruby and following her adventure, you learn about conceptual coding concepts, how to break down a problem, and how to look for patterns. The key to any successful engineer is to understand that you can solve anything you put your mind to, and this book is a great way to encourage kids that they can do anything!


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Mistakes That Worked: 40 Familiar Inventions & How They Came to Be

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7

At Growin’GEERS, we are all about encouraging failure. There are few great engineers that have accomplished something amazing that haven’t experienced failure hundreds of time. This book is a great way to give students examples of how failures can be great learning experiences and how you can truly stumble into something great by never giving up.


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Rosie Revere, Engineer

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Grade Level: 1 - 4

Rosie is a great all encompassing example of what it takes to be an engineer. Her aunt acts as a wonderful role model within the story, and her focus on encouraging her to not quit is so critical to building a strong and resilient engineering mindset. This is a great starter book for any child who hasn’t hear of engineering, is just beginning to show an interest, or is an old pro at STEM activities.


Ancient Rome: Monuments Past and Present

Age Range: All Ages
Grade Level: All Grades

Growing up, this was one of my favorite books. It is such an interesting way to not only compare past and present but to see how the ancient Romans approached architecture. What they were able to accomplish in the time is remarkable, and this is a great book to get it into the hands of budding engineers! In addition, this is a great book for students that aren’t the best readers. There is a lot to leann from the images alone, so it works for an array of ages.


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Anna the Engineer

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7

This is a fun and engaging story that follows the journey of Anna as she decides what she should do for her science fair project. The reading level is a bit higher, so this is a great pick for students at an upper elementary reading level. We love it because it breaks the traditional thought process associated with a science fair and introduces engineering as a valid science fair project option!


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The Giant Book of Creativity for Kids: 500 Activities to Encourage Creativity in Kids Ages 2 to 12--Play, Pretend, Draw, Dance, Sing, Write, Build, Tinker

Age Range: 2 - 12 years
Grade Level: K - 7

Growin’GEERS is a firm believer that creativity and critical thinking is a must-have skill to be a successful engineer. This book gives a lot of small, easy to take activities that exercise that creativity! In addition, it spans a large age range so this is a great read for families with a wide range of ages!


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I Can't Do That, YET: Growth Mindset

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Grade Level: 1 - 4

Engineering is all about solving the world’s problems. However, if you don’t believe you have the skills to get it done, you never will! This is a great read to encourage students to understand that they may not be great at everything now, but they can be if they value growth and learning through the entirety of their lives. By instilling these values early in life, kids can be better prepared for the skills that they may not be great at from the beginning.


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Engineered!: Engineering Design at Work

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7

We love this one for the attention that is paid to connecting engineering to real world scenarios. As one of our main missions, we know how important it is to connect concepts to application, and this one does an amazing job making that connection! Plus, the illustrations are so fun!

What STEM Isn't

Education is a hot bed for buzzwords and phrases: disruptive technology, digital literacy, MOOC, and the list goes on.. Buzzwords are good and bad. They bring attention to items that we need to be aware of (hence the technology reference in every word we listed above), but they also can be misused to create marketing hype around products and services.

As you probably already know, our favorite buzzword, (buzz acronym really) is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The reason why this buzzword is so near and dear to our hearts is because we believe it encourages the integration of some key areas that are cross functional in the digital or information age. When these four segments are integrated, they can truly create a learning environment that will prepare our students for the careers of the future, many of which may not yet exist.

STEM experiences brings attention to and demonstrate the value of the integration of these four disciplines. Yet, STEM is often referenced in circumstances when only one of the 4 pillars is in use. Can you think of any recent science experiments that you saw online that were referred to as STEM? What about math exercises or worksheets? Or perhaps a building or construction toy that included the STEM acronym in its packaging or marketing? The value that STEM brings is the actual application of these four disciplines to one problem or one exercise; not just a science or math exercise in a silo. The significance of STEM is teaching our students to recognize opportunities to apply science, technology, engineering, and math skills in ways that challenge their critical thinking abilities and prepares them to not be afraid to use a concept or idea differently than how it was originally explained or taught.

Today’s careers, and those of the future, will require our children to apply the skills they are learning now in creative and innovative ways. Adapting their learning to fulfill the demands of the future is what we need to be preparing our children to be able to do. So, how can we enable students to feel comfortable in that regard? We believe it centers around encouraging creativity, critical thinking, and a certain comfort level with failure. And cultivating these skills cannot be done with a set of instructions. Providing students with the answers without encouraging them to ideate and redesign limits the opportunity for students to think critically or challenge any preconceive ideas or prior knowledge. Instructions do not lead to failure, innovation, and creativity. Testing a hypothesis, asking open ended questions, and encouraging redesign creates an environment of innovation.

So, next time you hear the term STEM, ask yourself these questions when trying to decide if the product, service, or activity truly embodies the value that STEM adds to learning:

1. Does it encompass more than 1 discipline from the four pillars of STEM?
2. Is your child engaging his or her problem solving and critical thinking abilities rather than simply following a set of directions?
3. Is your child encouraged to create his or her own solution along with a testing process to know if they were successful or if they should consider modification?
4. Is technology utilized not only in the delivery of the content, but also in how students connect with the problem and complete the task.

If you answered yes to 3+ questions above, the activity likely embodies the foundation of STEM and encourages critical thinking, innovation, and creativity. Stay calm, and STEM on!

*Shout out to @SherylDwyer for the deep discussions and insights on this topic from the perspective of an educator!*

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