I'm excited to share that my newest children's book, Exemplary Evidence: Scientists and Their Data, is soon-to-be in the world. It is currently available for pre-order through NSTA Press in both paperback and library editions, and will be physically available in October.
This book is a follow-up to Notable Notebooks: Scientists and Their Writings. I knew that I wanted to highlight another key practice of science while introducing students to more scientists. When I reflected on my own teaching experience and what practices need more time and emphasis with my students, data collection, analysis, and interpretation came to mind. And so the idea for this book was born.
As with Notable Notebooks, choosing the right scientists was a fun challenge. I wanted to show students the wide variety of what counts as data -- from observations to measurements to lab results -- and the many different ways that scientists collected, worked with and used that data. While I knew that the work of the profiled scientists should be accessible to upper elementary students (my target audience), I also strongly believe that quality nonfiction for children can stretch their thinking in a way that science standards and curriculum cannot. So I chose to include a few scientists, like Dimitri Mendeleev, whose work will not be officially taught until middle school. As I researched, rejected, and selected scientists, I kept my students in mind. Who might they be interested in learning about? What names had I already heard them ask about?
I'm proud that the book highlights another diverse group of men and women, including scientists of Middle Eastern, European, Asian American, African American, and Native American descent. Women are also prominently featured, making up five of the nine profiled individuals. I've seen firsthand the important of representation in children's literature, and hope that my books help all students to see themselves as part of the scientific community.
For classroom teachers, Exemplary Evidence is a great way to explicitly kick off or reinforce two of the Science and Engineering Practices: Analyzing and Interpreting Data and Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Several of the remaining six are highlighted to a lesser degree, as each scientist's work naturally encompasses one or more practices. I've also heard from teachers who used Notable Notebooks to kickoff biography student and research; Exemplary Evidence could be used in the same manner.
As with Notable Notebooks, the final pages of the book provide a 4-step process for collecting and analyzing data. I want children everywhere, whether in school or at home, to participate in the same practices as the women and men they'd read about on the preceding pages. As I tell students at the end of the book:
Data supports conclusions; it can change people’s minds;
It is used to build theories that help humankind.
Scientists all along have known this to be true: Data is powerful!
Now, what will yours do?
I hope you enjoy the book and that it helps the children in your life enjoy and engage in science. I'd love to hear what your students think, how you are using it in you classroom, or if you have children outside of the target audience who enjoy this book.