Fascinating STEM Books for Middle School/Junior High

Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve enjoyed reading about science, especially the life science areas of animals, human anatomy, and diseases. I still enjoy reading adult popular science (some of my favorite authors are Mary Roach, Sam Kean, Carl Zimmer, and Sy Montgomery), but I’ve found that science titles meant for middle schoolers still have plenty of information to satisfy my interest.*

The science books below are well written and have plenty of information for research. They are either written as a narrative and/or are on high-interest topics. Their intriguing covers and formats should attract even reluctant readers.

And if you want to discover some great new STEM titles for elementary and high school, click here.

faster-higher-smarter-1Faster, Higher, Smarter : Bright Ideas That Transformed Sports by Simon Shapiro. 9781554518142. 2016. Gr 5-9.
Many times in sports history, people have thought that men (and women) had reached the limit of what could be accomplished…until new methods or new materials were discovered to change this thinking. Ted Williams used a lighter bat, speed skater Tonny de Jong used the newly designed clap skates, and Dick Fosbury tried out a new backwards jump over the high bar. These athletes made great strides by using their brains as well as their brawn. . The accessible text explains the science, and the clear illustrations show exactly how the new inventions and methods work.

super-gear-1Super Gear : Nanotechnology & Sports Team Up by Jennifer Swanson. 9781580897204. 2016. Gr 6-9.
The science of nanotechnology has been used to benefit athletes in almost every competitive sport. Swimmers and skaters wear clothing that is water-repellent and reduces drag from water and air. Baseball bats, tennis rackets, and golf clubs made with nanotechnology are lighter and stronger and makes the balls they hit fly much farther.  Super Gear highlights the sports products created from nanofibers and other nano-materials, such as running shoes, bikes, snowboards, and explains the science behind how these new materials work.

radioactiveRadioactive! : How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World by Winifred Conkling. 9781616204150. 2016. Gr 7-10.
Irene Curie, the daughter of Marie Curie, discovered artificial radioactivity in 1934 and earned a Nobel Prize along with her husband. Because of her work, four years later physicist Lise Meitner was able to unlock the secret of nuclear fission. Though these two women were discriminated against for their gender, their accomplishments were crucial in the development of nuclear energy and ultimately, the nuclear bomb.

space-junkSpace Junk : The Dangers of Polluting Earth’s Orbit by Karen Romano Young. 9781467756006. 2016. Gr 5-8.
Earth’s land, air, and water aren’t the only areas that humans have polluted.  With all of our missions to space, we have left an awful lot of junk orbiting the Earth.  Over 2600 satellites launched since the late 1950s no longer work and are in a decaying orbit around Earth. Sometimes they collide, creating lots of smaller space junk—all of which could be dangerous to working satellites, spaceships, and astronauts. The author explains both the problems and possible solutions.

bubonic-panic-1Bubonic Panic : When Plague Invaded America by Gail Jarrow. 9781620917381. 2016. Gr 6-9.
Historically, bubonic plague pandemics had been confined to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, so in 1900 health officials in San Francisco were alarmed to find a case in Chinatown. Events that followed were prophetic of “Jaws”, no one listened to the medical expert, businessmen and politicians denied the existence of plague in California, and all the while, the body count grew and grew. Jarrow has also written about typhoid and pellagra, and here she focuses on what brought the plague to California and how doctors tracked it and kept it from spreading. She also talks about plague cases in the U.S. today.

all-the-dirt-1All the Dirt : A History of Getting Clean by Katherine Ashenburg. 9781554517909. 2016. Gr 4-7.
You wouldn’t think that the history of cleanliness and hygiene would be so…well, so gross. But it is, perhaps because much of that history is about the lack of washing and bathing. And when someone did wash, the ingredients of their soaps and shampoos were also less than appealing. Each chapter in this book starts with a hygiene-related story with characters from different time periods, and then there’s plenty of information for reports, with plenty of humorous sidebars and illustrations.

bridge-to-the-wild-1Bridge to the Wild : Behind the Scenes at the Zoo by Caitlin O’Connell. 9780544277397. 2016. Gr 5-8.
Have you ever wondered what zookeepers actually do at the zoo, besides feeding the animals and cleaning cages? What do the animals do when they’re not on display? How much can we really learn about wild animals by studying their counterparts in zoos—and how does their behavior change in captivity? The author is a scientist. She tells us all about the animals and shares her passion for conservation after her 5-day behind-the-scenes visit at Atlanta Zoo.

*A plus for those of you with aging parents: My parents were avid readers, but as their eyesight weakened, I began recommending middle school nonfiction to them. With a slightly larger font and more white space, these books were easier for them to read.

Tracey2Blogger: Tracey L.