Inspiring the Next Generation of Exploration

Teachers and parents are all hoping onto the STEAM bandwagon. Seems like people have gotten the message that if we want to be world leaders, we have to raise creative thinkers and innovators. In years past, tinkering and creating were things all kids had to do to keep themselves occupied, but in our fast-paced world, all of the technology that has been created is keeping today’s kids from creating their own. There is a wealth of great books out there, but today I’m going to focus on three new books from National Geographic Kids to encourage our future creators.

* Thank you to Media Masters Publicity and National Geographic Kids for providing me with review copies of these books. All opinions are my own.

astronautJennifer Swanson has created an amazing mashup of information in her new book Astronaut/Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact. While we often think of space and sea exploration as being incredibly different, the reality is that much of the experiences people face in these two fields are similar. Both deep space and the deep ocean are filled with mystery and only accessible to people who have gone through years of training and research in order to get there. From gravity/buoyancy issues, darkness, pressure, and temperature, sea and space are a lot more similar than we might think. This book goes through a wide range of information hoping to encourage young minds in both of these fields of study. Additionally, at the end of each chapter there is an experiment to help make sense of the heady topics that have been discussed. Kids often learn about space and oceans in school, but seeing the two together in this light was very effective.


dr. eFor those who know that they are ready to focus more on deep space, the new book Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System, by Bethany Ehlmann with Jennifer Swanson, is a fun way to get a rather in depth lesson on space. Each chapter opens with a comic book style spread featuring Dr. E and her sidekick Rover.  Dr. Ehlmann is a planetary geologist who studies rocks on Earth and other planets, but she isn’t an astronaut herself. The concept of this book came from Dr. Ehlmann’s thoughts about how cool it would be to zoom around the solar system like a superhero. By using a superhero format and a conversational tone, the book becomes more accessible to a wider audience. She manages to cover a wide range of topics from dwarf planets to volcano worlds, and frozen worlds to climate issues. Filled with amazing photos that we have come to expect from National Geographic books, this is a must have!IMG_0403

try thisOne big part of the STEM/STEAM world is experimentation. My younger daughter is completely in an engineering phase and both of my girls think that science experiments are the bomb. So we really enjoyed the full-picture book, Try This! Extreme: 50 Fun & Safe Experiments for the Mad Scientist in You, by Karen Romano Young. One of my favorite parts about this book is that the experiments were separated into chapters based on what they are looking at – Snow and Ice, Survival Skills, Feel the Force, Animal Superpowers, Social F/X, Water Way to Act, and Hot Stuff. Additionally, each experiment states right at the start how complicated it is, whether or not it needs grown-up assistance, and what you are learning. The photographs and bright colors draw you in and there are lots of great questions to make young scientists consider concepts past the experiment itself. We are going to have hours of fun with this one!


Giving kids confidence to try different things and explore worlds far beyond their own is important. When you are ready to go past the picture book style of science books, these are wonderful resources. For additional book reviews on STEM/STEAM related books, click here.

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