One of my favorite parts about my job is getting requests for really unique subjects and finding really good titles that will work for their parameters. I worked on a request just like this recently that asked for fiction suggestions for their science classes that incorporated real science into the story. It was a challenge to find books to recommend because there is so much pseudo-science in science fiction novels. However, I really enjoyed searching in our database and online to find books others had found to fit in this unique genre. There is a whole website devoted to this new genre of fiction, located here. Most of the books they have on their list of titles are adult, because unfortunately it seems like this trend hasn’t taken full effect in children or teen books yet. Below are a few options that I believe incorporate real science into their stories without skimping on the actual story of the book.
Set in the 1970s, twins, Mark and Scott Kelly, disassemble their Dad’s antique calculator and are punished by being sent to their Grandpa’s house. Their Grandpa encourages them to fuel their voracious energy into building something useful, like a go-kart. Instead, the boys want to build a rocket ship that will be able to orbit the Earth. With the help of new friends, who are excellent in their field of science; a physics genius, a computer whiz, and the daughter of a mechanic, they begin to create their rocket. The kids visit the library often to research their rocket and figure out how they can make their rocket space worthy. This book would be perfect to incorporate into any STEM units as science is used to explain how they can build a rocket and make it orbit the Earth. The book is co-written by retired astronaut, Mark Kelly, so you can be sure that he has gotten the science right.
Astrotwins – Project Blastoff by Mark Kelly and Martha Freeman, 9781481415453. March 2015. Gr 4-6.
This book has been mentioned multiple times on our blog by Tracey’s post here and Ryan’s post here. I felt compelled to include in this post also because it fits so well in this genre. This science fiction novel is centered around Mark Watney’s survival on Mars. The crew of the Ares 3 mission discovers that a large dust storm is moving in on their working station and evacuate, during the evacuation Watney’s space suit is punctured and it disables the computer that tracks his life signs, which causes the rest of the crew to believe that he is dead. Watney is a botanist and mechanical engineer and uses those skills to help him survive alone. He is forced to find ways in the Mars terrain to survive by creating food and water. Watney begins a log of his journey to survive in which he goes in depth into of the science and math that he uses. These explanations can be a little overwhelming or fly over the head of some readers, but Watney’s humor in face of a difficult situation will keep readers flipping the pages.
The Martian by Andy Weir, 9780804139021. Feb 2014. Gr 10 – Adult.
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