Can You See the Light?

Posted by Rita G.

This digital book is meant to be a pre-learning book for a unit on curved lenses and mirrors. Its main purpose is to show students that they have probably seen mirrors and lenses already doing the types of things we will be studying, so they should be able to connect the unit to something they are familiar with and activate prior knowledge. Additionally, some vocabulary words are introduced and they are connected with a photograph that provides a definition. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, it should give students a good understanding of the word, or at the very least, a reference point for further studies.

Magnetism Digital Book

Posted by: Dan Krill

Magnetism: From Small to Large

My ebook about magnetism discusses magnetic objects of all sizes, from microscopic to planet-sized. I've used pictures to engage the reader and visually illuminate the concepts discussed in the text.

The literacy strategies that could be used with this text include vocabulary strategies such as a Word Tree or List-Group-Label; pre-reading strategies such as a KWL; and post-reading strategies such as 3-2-1. These strategies are more geared for scientific material, in my opinion, and would do well with a technical subject such as Magnetism.


I've Turned Magnetic

Posted by: Laurie

K, G. I've Turned Magnetic. Retrieved January 29, 2008, from

Summary: This poem describes the properties of magnets.

Favorite Part: Line 6: "Look at me, I'm so bi-polar" because this line has a deeper meaning that can be used to delve deeper into magnetism and the properties of magnets and their poles.

Connection to Instruction: I would use this poem to generate interest in the magnetism unit. I would point out all of the properties of magnets that are mentioned in the poem and how they relate to what will be discussed in class.

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • Pictures of magnets to introduce the topic
  • 5 Word/3 Word to brainstorm properties/uses/etc. of magnets

Science Jokes: 2.1 Physics poetry

Posted by: Beth

Science Jokes 2: 2.1 Physics Poetry can be found at the following website.
Retrieved 01-June-2010

Summary: Tons of poems included at this site, along with quotes, jokes, puns cartoons and one-liners. Some are good, others are “groaners” but they might get their point across to the students.

Favorite Part: Brownian Motion (based on Eleanor Rigby, the Beatles tune)
Brownian motion tries to explain how a dust mote can move
when there's nothing else there,
Except the air.
Air isn't moving -
there must be something that is on the move but that we cannot see.
What can it be?

Connection to Instruction: When a “hook” is needed, this site could be searched for that one poem, quote, whatever, that will catch the student’s attention. Ideas for poems include: The way the water wends, Archimedes Principle, Schrodinger’s Principle, Einsteinium, and Quantum Physics and Superstring Theory.

Use of Literacy Strategies
  • A poem, quote, cartoon can all serve as a good hook to get students' attention;
  • Can be used as an anticipation guide which introduces various new concepts and terms;
  • Use it as a post-reading exercise to offer an alternative method of remembering the new ideas.
  • Posters would allow more sharing of ideas with other students.

Picture Book

My Book of Seasons

Posted by: Laurie

Calmenson, S. (1982). My book of the seasons. Wisconsin: Western Publishing Company.

Summary: This book is a picture book. It describes characteristics of the four seasons.

Favorite Part: For each season the author asks "Can you feel it?... Can you hear it?... Can you taste it?... Can you see it?... Can you smell it?" and describes something that you can feel, hear, taste, see, then smell that is unique to each season.

Connection to instruction: The use of senses can be connected to the scientific method and the process that scientists go through to describe something. It gets students aware of describing something in detail using all of their senses. This book could be a good introduction or transition into the physics (or earth science) topic "why we have seasons" or the introductory topic of "how to be a good observant scientist".

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • This book uses pictures and descriptive language to grab the students' attention.
  • Students can prepare a concept map of descriptors of seasons before and after the reading of the story. They can look for similarities and differences among seasons and predict Why.

Physics - Why Matter Matters!

Posted by: Beth

Green, Dan. (2008) Physics - Why Matter Matters. New York: Kingfisher

Summary: This is a picture book for older students. It covers topics from E(instein) = mc2 to Nuclear Heavies and Electrical Cuties. The chapter on Nuclear Heavies includes subjects such as Radioactivity, Alpha Particles and Schrodinger’s Cat which uses the persona of a cat to explain the “quantum” effects of particles in terms of their speed.

Favorite Part:
I loved the illustrations. Each one looks like it was created as an anime drawing.
I especially liked Infrared (page 67) who explains, “You can run, but you can’t hide. I’m the original heat seeker, and I’m out to give you a good grilling!” It then goes on to explain some modern day applications using infrared light.

Connection to Instruction: Each page of text is accompanied by a full page illustrated anime-like character representing the concept presented by the text. The text is written in the first person that gives the student a personal stake in the concept.

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • If a student can relate an amusing illustration to a concept, it might make remembering that concept easier.
  • Each page and concept could be used as a pre-reading tool as each concept is approached in the classroom.
  • Jigsawing would allow an entire main section to be covered and easily understood quickly.

Trade Fiction/Nonfiction

Underwater Mission

Posted by: Laurie

Pastor, T. (1982). Underwater Mission. Boston: Walker Books Ltd.

Summary: This non-fiction book describes underwater exploration and the intricacies that go along with it. It explains different machinery that is needed to travel underwater for long periods of time in addition to the affects of being underwater, and the capabilities of some of the underwater animals.

Favorite Part: Two pages on dolphins and their abilities. The author provides real numbers for the rate of the dolphin’s sonic echoes making it easy to relate to how fast they are traveling as well as easy to compare the affects of being underwater.

Connection to Instruction: The book discusses pressure, rates of travel, frequencies, weight under water, and speech that can all be related to topics in physics class. The easiest connection would definitely be to the topic of pressure.

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • A KWL could be used to draw out students’ misconceptions on these topics and what they want to know more about the topic
  • “The Last Word” would be a fun post-reading activity using either the title of the book or just “Underwater” to have students pick out or synthesize what they read

E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation

Posted by: Beth

Bodanis, David (2000). E=mc**2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation. New York, New York: Berkley Books.

Summary: A wonderful history not only of Einstein's famous equation, but a chapter devoted to describing each of the terms of the equation: energy, mass, the concept of the squaring of the speed of light, and even mention of how our current "=" sign came into being! The next chapters focus on how the equation was accepted and how it traveled around the world.

Favorite Part: I'm still reading the last part of the book, but I truly enjoyed the discussion in Chapter 2 about "energy" and "mass". These terms and the ideas behind these terms had to evolve from nothing into what we know of them today.

Connection to Instruction: This equation represents the basis of modern physics and could, and should, be presented to all new physics students. It is presented in a step by step fashion and each chapter could be used to help students understand not only the equation itself, but where it came from, its history and biography. Knowing the basis for a concept can be key in understanding that concept.

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • This book could be used with a Read-Aloud Guide to show students that reading a technical book doesn't have to be a daunting experience.
  • It could be used by students who would like to know the history surrounding the equation and the times in which it was developed.
  • Reciprocal teaching would allow the teacher to see who is most interested in this kind of background research.

The Physics of Super Heroes

Posted by: Beth
Kakalios, James (2009). The Physics of Super Heroes, Spectacular Second Edition. New York, New York: Gotham Books

Summary: An awesome book which uses comic book heroes (and villains) and their powers to explain physics without using complicated math.

Favorite Part: The titles of each chapter are enough to grab you and interest you in reading! Here are a few examples:
Up, Up and Away- Forces and motion
The Day Gwen Stacy Died - Impulse and momentum
Energy, Heat and Light:
The Central City Diet Plan - Conservation of Energy
How the Monstrous Menace of the Mysterious Melter Makes Dinner Preparation a Breeze - Phase transitions

Connection to Instruction: This book shouldn't be used as a text but could be used by those kids who can really grasp the comic connection to the physics world. The explanations are clever and give a unique way to look at physics concepts

Uses of Literacy Strategies:
  • Jigsaw would be a great way to read a chapter or set of chapters.
  • Some of the vignettes would make a great Anticipation Guides
  • Reciprocal Teaching especially using those kids who make a connection to the world using comics would be fascinating!


Alternative Energy

Posted by: Mark
(2004, Oct 28.). National Geographic News.

Summary: This news article reviews the future of alternative energies without getting to technical. The article covers wind, solar and bio fuels. Facts about our energy usage and the economics of the various alternative energies is also covered.

Favorite Part: Page 16 –
Engineers have also developed a roofing material coated with the electricity-producing film. "The guy who puts on the roof [on a house now] puts on the [solar] panels at the same time,"

Connection to Instruction: It would be a stretch for 13 year olds. It would be a good introduction to energy for up to a high school physics class.

Use of Literacy Strategies:
  • I would suggest using a anticipation guide for this text.
  • Think-aloud works well to describe critical scientific thinking.

Bringing NASA Down to Earth

Posted by: Beth

Huntington, Tom (2008, Fall). Bringing NASA Down to Earth. Invention and Technology, [23(3)], 33-39.

Summary: The subtitle of this article says it all: You'd be surprised how many objects used everyday came from the space program.

Favorite Part: (Page 34-35) In the early days of space travel, scientists had to figure out fuel flow in zero-gravity situations. Suspending tiny pieces of metal in the fuel creating "ferrofluids" was one solution. Although NASA decided to use solid fuel, the inventors of this magnetic liquid licensed their idea and formed a company. These liquids have now many modern day applications.
And Tang was not invented by NASA (page 39).

Connection to Instruction: Exposing students to everyday technology that had its roots in the space program is one way to bring the curriculum to the students.

Uses for Literacy Strategies:
  • Pre-Reading strategy of an Anticipation Guide. What preconcieved ideas do they have?
  • Coding Text could also be used especially what might be contradictory to their current knowledge.
  • SQ3R would be a way to conclude the article with discussion about what each student might see as their contribution to the space/modern technology.

Eyjafjallajokull's plume is electrified

Posted by: Beth

Johnston, Hamish (2010, May 27). Eyjafjallajokull's plume is electrified,
Retrieved 01-June-2010

Summary: Scientists realized that the ash cloud from the Iceland volcano might have some inherent electrical charge. This might allow airliners flying in the area of the plume to detect it and reroute. This might be an alternative to grounding all the flights because conventional radar can't track the plume and it's dangerous particles.

Favorite Part: I used this article as a Think-Aloud Activity so I found the whole thing interesting from a Physics perspective.

Connections to Instruction: This is another application of practical physics in the real world. It was written in simple language, but offers another link to a more complete report.

Uses for Literacy Strategies:
  • Think Aloud allows the teacher to explain what and what isn't important to know
  • Guide-A-Rama is another way the teacher could guide the students to what is important in the article.

Other Web Resources

PEEP - Physics & Ethics Education Project

Posted by: Beth

PEEP - The Physics & Ethics Education Project 01-June-2010

Summary: An interactive website devoted to teaching students about Energy Resources, Transportation, Space, Communications, Radiation, Weapons and Climate Change. Then there are questions to be considered about each topic.

Favorite Part: The topic of Communications is very interesting to me as I begin to think how to incorporate new technology into my teaching methods. The sub-topic of Who's listening to you brings up questions about our reliance on our electronic information. What are the benefits versus the risks? How can you use it in difficult situations.

Connection to Instruction: Within each major topic there are pages discussing sub-topics. Included with each sub-topic might be an activity or a question to be considered. Ethical issues are also brought up. Each of these are based on an essential question which should be at the core of each of a teacher's unit plan.

Uses of Literacy Strategies:
  • This site could be used as anticipation guide to get all people thinking about technology and its ethical implications.
  • Students could be encouraged to use this site on their own to develop a sense of responsibility for their decisions.
  • Think-Alouds could be used when starting to investigate this site to guide students in how to best use a web-site with its many hyperlinks.
  • Posters would be a good way to bring ethical concerns to their fellow students.