Reading List: Children’s Books About STEM

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Children’s books are great resources for STEM education: they’re written at a level that a child can understand, and books about science, technology, engineering, and math for children are increasingly published. The library’s Family Room houses books on these subjects as well as fiction and middle-grade books. If you’re a student teacher or a parent, you can use this reading list to pick up educational children’s STEM books from the library.

*Book descriptions provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog

 

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba

When 14-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought in 2001, everyone’s crops began to fail. His family didn’t have enough money for food, let alone school, so William spent his days in the library. He came across a book on windmills and figured out how to build a windmill that could bring electricity to his village. Everyone thought he was crazy but William persevered and managed to create a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps. Several years later he figured out how to use the windmill for irrigation purposes.

 

Hey, Water! by Antoinette Pointis

Splash along with a spunky little girl who realizes that water is everywhere. But water doesn’t always look the same, it doesn’t always feel the same, and it shows up in lots of different shapes. And so the girl launches into a spirited game of hide-and-seek with water, discovering it in nature, in weather, and even in herself.

 

Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Science by Bob Cooper

Introduces kids to the vast and varied areas of science and the different types of scientists they can aspire to become. Whether it’s ancient dinosaur bones unearthed by paleontologists, anthropologists studying different cultures around the globe, or new planets discovered by astronomers, there’s bound to be something here any child will find fascinating and appealing.

 

The Girl With A Mind For Math by Julia Finley Mosca

This is a rhyming-text picture book about Raye Montague. After touring a German submarine in the early 1940s, young Raye set her sights on becoming an engineer. Little did she know sexism and racial inequality would challenge that dream every step of the way, even keeping her greatest career accomplishment a secret for decades. Through it all, the gifted mathematician persisted, finally gaining her well-deserved title in history: a pioneer who changed the course of ship design forever.

 

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest by Lynne Cherry

The many different animals that live in a great Kapok tree in the Brazilian rainforest try to convince a man with an ax of the importance of not cutting down their home.

 

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he’s a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem: at night, Chris doesn’t feel so brave. He’s afraid of the dark. But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is, and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company. (Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield.)

 

Even An Octopus Needs A Home by Irene Kelly

Shows how animals solve the problem of locating safe places in which to live and raise families.

 

The Brooklyn Bridge: A Wonders of the World Book by Elizabeth Mann

Describes the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, from its conception by John Roebling in 1852 through, after many setbacks, its final completion under the direction of his son, Washington, in 1883.

 

Are You A Beetle? by Judy Allen

This colorful first nature book introduces preschoolers to the world of the beetle. Ideal for reading aloud or as a first reader, the witty text and detailed illustrations bring this familiar creature to life. Young children will be fascinated by this tiny living thing found right in their own backyard.

 

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Here is the story of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon: a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away by steady astronauts in their great machines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “Neuromancer” by William Gibson

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Neuromancer is a classic science fiction novel written by William Gibson. The story follows Case, a cyberspace hacker, and his new assignment from a mysterious figure called Armitage. Eventually, a powerful AI comes into the mix, and Case is in for way more than he bargained for.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What Neuromancer gets right: It’s a lot like The Matrix, and who doesn’t like The Matrix? (Technically I should say that The Matrix is like Neuromancer, since the book came first.) Case’s world is flashy, fake, and fun. Neuromancer was one of the forerunners of the cyberpunk genre when it was released in 1984, so it’s certainly interesting for historical value.

I also enjoyed the various villains and ambiguous characters in the book (particularly the AI ones). They kept the story fresh and were always adding to the suspense.

What Neuromancer does wrong: It’s hard to follow. I found myself rereading sentences, wondering what I’d missed and confused by the vocabulary that Gibson never explained. I wouldn’t mind if a few terms flew over my head (I’d rather read on than get mired in semantics) but I was lost for the first half of the book. Neuromancer demands your full attention, and even then you still might miss something.

Like Ender’s Game, Neuromancer was a book that, while intriguing, ended up falling flat for me. I felt like I was being kept in the dark about Case’s mission a little too much. Sure, Case himself barely knows what he’s getting in to, but when you’re reading about a completely unfamiliar setting with barely fleshed-out characters, you need something to understand and relate to.

One of the characters, Molly, does get more backstory and nuance toward the end, which I was grateful for. I also liked what I saw of the characters Wintermute and Hideo, and I wished we could have learned more about them.

Who should read Neuromancer: Fans of classic science fiction, Blade Runner, and The Matrix.

Who shouldn’t read Neuromancer: Readers who don’t enjoy technical descriptions, unfamiliar words, or lack of character development.

 

Neuromancer is available here at the library.

Content note: brief sexual scenes, language, violence, substance abuse.

Top 5 Engineering Databases

 

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Engineering is a fast-paced discipline with constant updates to technology, projects, and collaborations. Stay updated on the latest in the engineering world with these databases.

IEEE Xplore Digital Library: IEEE, pronounced “Eye-triple-E”, stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Access about 150 periodicals from IEEE, the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology. Union’s journal package is a subset of the full IEEE Xplore Digital Library.

ScienceDirect: ScienceDirect is a leading full-text scientific database offering journal articles and book chapters from more than 2,500 peer-reviewed journals and more than 11,000 books. There are currently more than 9.5 million articles/chapters, a content base that is growing at a rate of almost 0.5 million additions per year.

American Institute of Physics Online Journals: A collection for Mechanical Engineering and Physics.

Scitation: Scitation is a leading online publishing platform for science and technology content, serving a broad customer base with a wide array of features and services. We host over two million articles in fields that include physics, chemistry geosciences, engineering, acoustics and more.

General Science Collection (Gale): With the General Science Collection, researchers can stay current with the latest scientific developments in particle physics, advanced mathematics, nanotechnology, geology and hundreds of other areas. Updated daily, the General Science Collection includes more than 1.6 million articles.

 

Book Review: “The Terminal Man” by Michael Crichton

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If you’ve been watching popular movies for the last few years, you’ll know that the Jurassic Park franchise continues to inspire and terrify millions of viewers. But did you know that the Jurassic Park movies were based on books by Michael Crichton?

Michael Crichton was a Harvard Medical School graduate who started writing books (and later directing films) instead of practicing medicine. Due to his scientific background, many of his books include detailed accounts of medical procedures and the science behind genetics, psychological disorders, and new technology. While not as popular as the Jurassic Park series, Crichton’s 1972 novel, The Terminal Man, is still a great example of Crichton’s medical knowledge and his writing expertise.

The Terminal Man is the curious story of Harry Benson, a man who suffers from intense seizures where he attacks others and mental delusions as the result of an accident. Benson is taken to a hospital for a new “stage three” procedure, where eager Doctor Ellis will perform surgery to implant a computer in Benson. This computer is expected to calm Benson’s seizures. However, there is great concern from his psychiatrist, Doctor Ross, that Benson will not be cured and may in fact grow more violent and mentally ill than before. To complicate things even further, Benson’s specific delusions are that computers and technology are actively trying to take over mankind- yet he agrees to having a computer placed in his body.

The “stage three” procedure is described in detail, but Crichton’s writing makes it easy to read and understand even if you’re not a Harvard Medical School student. Crichton also writes from the the third person omniscient point of view, so you can catch a glimpse of several characters’ motivations and worries throughout. It’s a fast-paced read, and the sense of dread surrounding Benson’s odd situation will keep you turning each page until the end. What will happen to Benson? Could his violence have an agenda? What are the philosophical implications of making a computer’s terminal out of a man? Will the new technology help or hurt others?

If you’re interested in this science fiction thriller, you can check it out from the library. View our catalog to see if it’s available!

Book Review: “Brief Answers To The Big Questions” by Stephen Hawking

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Published after the death of the famous, accomplished scientist Stephen Hawking, Brief Answers to the Big Questions is Hawking’s final words on the state of the earth and space. Throughout his career, Hawking was noted for his theories about black holes, time, and the universe. A film about his life called The Theory of Everything was released in 2014; star Eddie Redmayne provides the foreword for Brief Answers to the Big Questions. Like many others, Redmayne was both intimidated and awed by Hawking- who, in spite of his attempts to make science available to the general layperson, was still a formidable genius set apart from others. This side of Hawking definitely comes to light in Brief Answers to the Big Questions. In fact, I think Hawking unfortunately had a lower view of humanity which affected how he perceived the past, present, and future.

There are 10 questions asked of Hawking in this book:

  1. Is there a God?
  2. How did it all begin?
  3. Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
  4. Can we predict the future?
  5. What is inside a black hole?
  6. Is time travel possible?
  7. Will we survive on earth?
  8. Should we colonise space?
  9. Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?
  10. How do we shape the future?

 

I won’t give away Hawking’s answers, but many of them can actually be found in Hawking’s other books, like A Brief History of TimeIn general, Hawking does take a more negative view of how humans will handle some of these big questions. For example, in regards to surviving on earth, Hawking muses:

We can be an ignorant, unthinking lot. When we have reached similar crises [global warming and climate destruction] in our history, there has usually been somewhere else to colonise . . .  But now there is no new world. No Utopia around the corner. We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds.

Yet Hawking believes that, if more people become interested in science and space travel, humans may be able to find a new way of sustainable living.

To leave Earth demands a concerted global approach- everyone should join in. We need to rekindle the excitement of the early days of space travel in the 1960s. The technology is almost within our grasp. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves.

Overall, Hawking answers each question by explaining his research and that of others. He gives his opinion as a well-learned scientist without allowing for theological implications, since he believes that they are unnecessary. This can obviously be frustrating for Christians and other religious people.

Still, the special thing about Hawking’s writing is his ability to make large, abstract concepts make sense to people who are not scientists. I may not fully grasp every aspect of Hawking’s work, but I do understand Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle because of Hawking. Hawking made “the big questions” more accessible to people, and for that (along with his scientific discoveries and his inspirational life journey), he will certainly be missed.

 

*Read Brief Answers to Big Questions for an overview of Hawking’s theories and philosophy. It is available here at the library.

Spotlight on Informe Académico

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Informe Académico is a Spanish language database provided by Gale resources. Its Latino magazines cover business, health, technology, culture, current affairs, and other subjects. If you do better research in Spanish, or if you are trying to practice your Spanish reading comprehension, this database will be helpful for you.

Like the other Gale databases, Informe Académico lists trending searches (búsquedas principales) on its front page. For example, the current most popular topics are Cambio climático, Desarrollo económico, México democracia, Narcotráfico, and Revolución Cubana.

Informe Académico has over 9 million articles and counting. When you need the latest news in Spanish, this database is a great place to look. Simply locate Informe Académico under the library’s “Databases, E-books, and Media” tab and click on it to access this important resource.

Top 5 History Journals

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For history majors, the library has a long list of historical databases. The 5 listed here were chosen because they cover the widest variety of topics and trends in history, but remember that you can always search the library catalog for more specific historical topics.

 

American Historical Review

The library provides access to the American Historical Review from 1975 to the present day. The official publication of the American Historical Association, it strives to cover a wide variety of historical events and cultures. According to Oxford Academic, “the AHR has been the journal of record for the historical profession in the United States since 1895—the only journal that brings together scholarship from every major field of historical study. The journal also publishes approximately one thousand book reviews per year, surveying and reporting the most important contemporary historical scholarship in the discipline.”

 

The Historian

Members of Phi Alpha Theta can take pride in The Historian, which is published by Blackwell Publishing on behalf of Phi Alpha Theta. Parts of The Historian can be found on JSTOR as well as other databases that the library subscribes to. The Historian often covers controversial topics in history and analyzes different trends in historical theory.

 

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Reviews In American History

Reviews In American History dives into the latest history books and reviews them. This journal is a great resource for history majors needing secondary sources and criticism on current books.

 

Technology and Culture

Technology and Culture contains interdisciplinary essays on “the history of technological devices and processes, and the relations of technology to politics, economics, labor, business, the environment, public policy, science and the arts.” This cutting edge journal has articles as specific as “Technology on the Spot: The Trials of the Congreve Rocket in India in the Early Nineteenth Century”  and as general as “Discovering Steam Power in China, 1840s-1860s.”

 

Comparative Studies in Society and History

This journal is a product of Cambridge University Press; it covers topics such as anthropology, ethnography, colonialism, and global politics. Use Comparative Studies in Society and History when you need resources on how history impacts societies.

 

*Helpful links:

History Research Guide

Search Library Journals Online

 

How To Scan Multiple Pages To Your Email

Printer Help
The library printers have many options to offer students: printing, copying, scanning to email, etc. However, sometimes figuring out your options can be confusing. Many students use the “scan to email” function, but want all of their scans to end up in one file (so that way, they aren’t receiving scores of emails). This blog post will show you how to use this printer feature.*

How To Scan Multiple Pages Into One File:
1. When you go to scan pages, you can either choose “Scan to Email” or “Save to Device.” I’d suggest using Scan to Email unless you have a USB.
2. Once you’ve chosen where your scans will end up, there is an arrow at the bottom of the screen that says “More Options.” Click this.
3. Scroll down until you find the “Job Build” option. Turn Job Build on.
4. Start scanning. Click to save each page after you scan it. Don’t click “Finish” until you are ready to send the file.
5. Click “Finish” once you have scanned all of the pages you need.
6. The printer will now send your job to your email or save it to the device, depending on what you selected. All of your pages will be in one neat PDF file.

 

 

*4 of the library’s printers have this function: both printers in the South Lobby, the printer in the Open Printing area, and the second floor printer.

 

Check out this video tutorial for more help:

Top 5 Underrated Library Perks

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With so much to do and see in the library, it’s easy to overlook some of our resources. But, if you’re a student here at Union, the library has several perks for you that you shouldn’t miss out on! Check out the list below and make the most of your library experience.

 

Top 5 Underrated Library Perks:

  1. The Research Guides.

What’s your major? You name it, we have a guide for it. Using your subject’s Research Guide, located through the library website, you have access to a tailor-made list of the best databases, articles, books, and tips for how to succeed in your major. Check out the heavily-used Pharmacy Guide for an example: librarian Jeannie Byrd worked hard on this guide to help Pharmacy majors with their papers, clinicals, and careers. Instead of searching aimlessly online for resources, you can look to a Research Guide- the best resources have already been gathered for you!

 

2. The Recording Studio.

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Who doesn’t enjoy a good podcast? Well, with the library’s Recording Studio, you can make your own! All current Union students, faculty, and staff can use the Recording Studio by reservation only, and reservations must be made a day in advance. This is easy to set up- you can make reservations online via our website. The Recording Studio is perfect for those who want to record but don’t have equipment of their own.

 

3. The Self-Check Machines.

When you need to check out in a hurry, the self-check machines are a great way to bypass lines at the Circulation Desk. Simply locate a machine, let it read your student ID barcode, and select the option to check out. For more info about how to use the self-check machines, check out this guide.

 

4. The Research Coaches.

If you need help with…

  • Framing your research question
  • Choosing where to look for resources
  • Using resources in the most effective way possible
  • Knowing how to evaluate different sources
  • Citing your sources accurately

…then a Research Coach is your best bet! The library has several professional Research Coaches who can help you with getting started on research projects. You can make an appointment with a Research Coach or simply drop in to visit one at the Research Desk.

 

5. The eBooks.

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Not everyone loves eBooks, and while you’re entitled to your opinion, eBooks do help the environment by cutting back on paper products. Plus, you can access an eBook anywhere, using a tablet, phone, or computer. We also have an option where you can download an eBook, if you know that you will be going somewhere without wi-fi but still need to read. Finally, since eBooks are easier to produce, many of the eBooks that we have in our collection are more current and cover a broader range of topics than our print books. Click here to learn more about how to download eBooks, and here to learn more about our eBook collection.

The Best Books To Learn Programming Languages

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Learning to program? Looking for help on a specific language? The library has some books- both in print and online- that can help!

Listed below are some of our best books on popular programming languages. Click their links to see where they are located in the library (or to read them online, if they’re eBooks)!


Learning C#…

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This eBook introduces the C# language, how it connects to other languages and shares elements with them, and explains processes like remoting & creating intranet applications.

 

 

 

  • For those who already know some C#, we recommend C# In Depth.

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This book covers C# from version 2 onward, so if you’re looking for older versions, this may not be the book for you. However, it’s a great resource for more up-to-date developments. C# In Depth also moves at a faster pace since it assumes that you are not starting from scratch, which may be a plus for more experienced developers. The author writes with the tone of someone who knows and loves what he’s talking about, making this manual an enjoyable- as well as instructional- read.

 


Learning Java…

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This guide has definitions for everything, from algorithms to vectors and everything in between. It is written at an easy-to-understand level and explains the basics without embellishment.

 

 

 


Learning JavaScript…

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This bestseller takes you from your very first JavaScript script to document object model essentials. It’s a large book, but the descriptive chapter titles make it navigable. Interactive examples and exercises will have you understanding JavaScript in no time.

 

 

 

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With a tagline like “Rich, fast, versatile- JavaScript the way it should be!,” you know the authors concentrated their full efforts on streamlining jQuery. This book contains in-depth examples on various jQuery UI components, the jQuery UI library, event parameters, and more.

 

 

 


Learning Objective-C…

If you want to write applications for Apple products, take a look at Objective-C for Absolute Beginners. The library has this book in both print and eBook form.

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Equally helpful for new programmers and those who have never used OOP languages, this book allows you to learn in a visual manner. With a focus on debugging to really learn the language, Objective-C For Absolute Beginners will help you understand what you are doing each time you write an algorithm.

 

 


Learning Python…

Python Programming Fundamentals  provides both practice exercises and solutions for learning Python.

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From installing Python programs to get started, to emphasizing creativity in your programming, this manual does it all. It also takes into consideration the differences (and similarities) in using Python on Macs vs. Windows. Finally, there are even games you can play to increase your Python knowledge.

 

 


Visit the library for the programming manuals you need! We may have just what you’re looking for.