December 6 – It’s Computer Science Education Week

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About the Holiday

Computer Science Education Week was launched in 2009 to raise awareness of the importance of computer coding in all careers and to invite people to learn how to code. Students from kindergarten to grade 12 are especially encouraged to take an interest in computer science and learn coding skills and also to take part in Hour of Code programs at school and elsewhere. The holiday is celebrated in December to honor computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, who was born December 9, 1906 and went on to become a United States Navy rear admiral. Her work with machine-independent programming languages led to the development of COBOL, and she was instrumental in many other early computer-related advancements. To celebrate this week, check out Hour of Code and try coding for yourself!

Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing

Written by Dean Robbins | Illustrated by Lucy Knisley

 

“Margaret Hamilton loved to solve problems.” When she looked around, she saw many things that made her wonder “why?” Instead of going with the status quo, though, she came up with her own answers. Some things she questioned were why girls didn’t play baseball and why there were so few women doctors, scientists, judges and other professionals. So Margaret joined the baseball team and studied “hard in every subject at school—reading, music, art, and especially mathematics.”

From her father who was a poet and philosopher, Margaret learned about the universe. She wanted to know “how the planets moved, when the galaxies formed, and why the stars shone.” She loved to gaze “at the night sky in wonder.” She especially wanted to know more about the moon—how far away is it? How many miles is its orbit around the Earth? What is its diameter?

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Image copyright Lucy Knisley, 2017, text copyright Dean Robbins, 2017. Courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

In school, Margaret found it fun to solve “harder and harder math problems” in algebra, geometry, and calculus. “And then she discovered computers!” She realized that she could use computers to solve so many of her questions about the universe. She began writing code and called herself a software engineer. After starting with simple mathematical problems, Margaret moved on to writing code that “could track airplanes through the clouds,” predict the weather, and perform functions they never had before.

In 1964 she joined the team at NASA that was working on sending astronauts to the moon. In writing her code, “Margaret thought of everything that could happen on a trip to the moon.” What if the spacecraft went off course or lost power? What if one of the astronauts made a mistake? Margaret wrote code that could solve all of these problems and more. Soon Margaret was leading a team of her own as “Director of Software Programming for NASA’s Project Apollo.”

She was instrumental in helping Apollo 8 orbit the moon, Apollo 9 hook up with another ship in space, and Apollo 10 come “within nine miles of the moon’s surface.” When NASA was ready to land people on the moon, Margaret wrote the code. She thought of every problem that could arise and included a solution. The printout of her code stood taller than she was.

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Image copyright Lucy Knisley, 2017, text copyright Dean Robbins, 2017. Courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

On the day of Apollo 11’s launch, Margaret was in the control room while the world watched on television. It took four days for the spacecraft to reach the moon. Finally, the lunar module, Eagle, separated and was ready to make the landing. But just as it was about to descend, an astronaut flipped a switch that sent the Eagle’s computer into overload.

Had Margaret “prepared for this problem? Of course! Margaret’s code made the computer ignore the extra tasks and focus on the landing.” Slowly the Eagle approached the surface of the moon and touched down. “The Eagle has landed!” Neil Armstrong announced to an amazed audience. In NASA’s control room, everyone cheered. “Margaret was a hero!”

An Author’s Note with more information about and photographs of Margaret Hamilton follow the text.

With excellent examples from Margaret Hamilton’s childhood and adult life, Dean Robbins presents an accessible and compelling biography that reveals, from the beginning, Margaret’s curiosity, confidence, and convictions. Robbin’s focus on Margaret’s hard work, her excitement at discovering computers, and her leadership at NASA creates a narrative that is inspirational for all children. His emphasis on positive, affirming events in Margaret’s life is welcome, allowing girls and boys to realize that through dedication and self-assurance, they can achieve their goals just as Margaret—a superb role model—did.

Lucy Knisley’s bright, supportive illustrations, full of thought bubbles of Margaret’s ideas and wonderings, give readers the kinds of details that will spark their imaginations and help them understand and appreciate Margaret Hamilton’s many gifts and expertise. Images of mathematical problems give way to lines of code, helping children see the connection between what they’re learning at school and future careers. Kids interested in space exploration will be enthralled with the illustrations of the NASA control room and lunar launches.

For kids interested in computer science and other sciences, biographies, and history, Margaret and the Moon is an excellent addition to home as well as classroom and school libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0399551857

Discover more about Dean Robbins and his books on his website.

To learn more about Lucy Knisley, her artwork, books, and comic, visit her website.

Computer Science Education Week Activity

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I Love Computers! Coloring Page

 

Learning to code is awesome! Why not try an Hour of Code here and then color this printable I Love Computers! Coloring Page!

Picture Book Review

October 29 – Internet Day

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About the Holiday

It’s nearly impossible to imagine the world without the Internet anymore. Today’s holiday commemorates the first internet transmission, which occurred on October 29, 1969. On that day Leonard Kleinrock and Charley Kline, a graduate student at UCLA, attempted to send the word “login” to Bill Duvall at Stanford. While the initial attempt crashed the system after the letter O, the transmission was completed an hour later. As in the invention of the telephone, a simple message ushered in phenomenal change in the way the world disseminates information and how it communicates.  

Nerdy Birdy Tweets

Written by Aaron Reynolds | Illustrated by Matt Davies

 

Nerdy Birdy and Vulture are best friends even if they are a little…well, a lot…different. While Nerdy Birdy’s favorite thing to do is play video games, Vulture spends her time “snacking on dead things.” There are three things, though, that they have fun doing together. They love to “make fun of each other’s lunch, make silly faces, and take goofy pictures of each other.”

One day while Nerdy Birdy was on his phone, he found a new game called Tweetster. The game was fantastic because you could make lots of friends, play games with them, and “tweet messages and pictures for them all to see.” Vulture thought it all sounded pretty boring even though she tried to sound supportive. In an hour Nerdy Birdy already had fifty new friends. Over the next few days he gained hundreds of other friends and discovered that some of them were really neat—like a flamingo, an ostrich he played games with, and a puffin from Iceland.

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Image copyright Matt Davies, 2017, text copyright Aaron Reynolds, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Vulture tried to remind Nerdy Birdy that she was pretty cool herself and that she was “dying of boredom.” Nerdy Birdy took note—but only partially because he was too busy looking at all the new stuff on his phone. Eventually, Vulture gave up trying to lure Nerdy Birdy back and flew away. It was nighttime before Nerdy Birdy even noticed. The next day Vulture was back with a surprise: she was now on Tweetster too.

“They tweetstered—TOGETHER!—all morning.” Then at lunch they stopped playing and had fun like they used to. But after lunch when they went back to tweetstering, Vulture discovered a shocking picture. Nerdy Birdy had tweeted a pic of Vulture eating an old chicken leg with the caption from @NerdyBirdy that read: “@Vulturegirl is a messy eater. She eats dead things. EWWWWWWW!!” When Vulture showed him her phone, though, Nerdy Birdy was nonchalant. He thought it was funny, that’s all. But Vulture was embarrassed and upset that Nerdy Birdy hadn’t thought about her feelings.

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Image copyright Matt Davies, 2017, text copyright Aaron Reynolds, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Vulture flew off, and this time she hadn’t return even after a week had passed. Nerdy Birdy didn’t know what to do. He decided to ask all of his new friends for advice. He waited and waited, but no one tweeted back. It took a whole day before anyone answered, and even then he got only three responses. @Puffinstuff wondered what Nerdy Birdy expected him to do about it since he lived in Iceland; @Ostrich49 thought the situation was pretty funny and offered an LOL; and @Pinkflamingo7 suggested Nerdy Birdy was a bird brain.

While these replies were unhelpful in solving Nerdy Birdy’s problem, they were “super-duper helpful” in another way. Nerdy Birdy closed his game and took off. He flew everywhere looking for Vulture and finally found her in an oak tree. He landed on a nearby branch and began to apologize. Vulture listened and then asked, “‘What about your five hundred Tweetster friends?’ Nerdy Birdy shrugged. ‘One real live you is worth a thousand Tweetster friends,’” he said. So now Nerdy Birdy and Vulture are back to being best friends. Some days they do what Nerdy Birdy wants, and some days they do what Vulture wants. “And some days they even get together…and Tweet!” at the top of their lungs.

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Image copyright Matt Davies, 2017, text copyright Aaron Reynolds, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Aaron Reynolds’ sweet Nerdy Birdy is back and just trying to fit in with the Internet crowd on Tweetster. There’s so much fun and so many friends to be had! But when Nerdy Birdy gets caught up in the impersonal world where someone’s joke is another one’s hurt, he learns the true meaning of friendship. Reynolds’ relationship and dialogue between two opposites who happen to be best friends rings true as Vulture finds her friend drifting away but tries to stay supportive and even join in. Reynold’s humor highlights Nerdy Birdy’s obliviousness to Vulture’s feelings, allowing readers to understand that their actions sometimes have far-reaching consequences. The two birds’ agreement to compromise is a wonderful example of true friendship, and children will cheer when Vulture and Nerdy Birdy go back to being besties.

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Image copyright Matt Davies, 2017, text copyright Aaron Reynolds, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Matt Davies’ dry wit is on full display from the cover—where Nerdy Birdy’s phone has a persona of its own—through to the end where the body of a dead raccoon is discreetly covered up by a text box. In between, Davies’ squiggly lines and crosshatch style draw two of the cutest birds you’ll ever see. While Vulture may be a scavenger, she likes to eat her meals from a Hello Birdy lunchbox, and Nerdy Birdy’s oversized glasses reflect his owlish capacity for wisdom.

When Nerdy Birdy hides behind his phone as he plays game after game with his new friends, the camera and banana logo on the back are transformed into a mask that hints at the changes Nerdy Birdy is undergoing. As Nerdy Birdy collects friends, the pages become wallpapered in more and more Tweetster friend notification announcements to show his growing number of followers. Readers will giggle at the dead snacks here and there and recognize all the references to texting and game playing that make this story a modern cautionary tale.

Nerdy Birdy Tweets is a timely friendship story that entertains while it enlightens, which makes it a book kids will Like on their home bookshelves and in their classrooms.

Ages 4 – 8

Roaring Brook Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1626721289

Discover more about Aaron Reynolds and his books on his website

To learn more about Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies and his work, visit his website.

You’ll find a fun Nerdy Birdy Tweets Activity Package from Macmillan Publishers here.

Internet Day Activity

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Trendy Trending Word Search Puzzle

 

The Internet has added so many new words and definitions of old ones to our language. Search for twenty-two Internet-based words in this printable Trendy Trending Word Search Puzzle. Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

June 30 – Social Media Day

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About the Holiday

In 2010 the website Mashable established a special day to celebrate the popularity of social media. Since then social media has become even more a part of our lives. It’s great keeping up with friends, learning what’s happening in the news,watching silly videos, and making your opinions known. While unplugging often and living in the “real world” provides balance and a chance to relax, social media has changed the way we connect and interact with others all around the world—and that is something to celebrate. If you limit your time online, I appreciate your spending some of it with me!

Tek: The Modern Cave Boy

Written by Patrick McDonnell

 

There once was a Troglodyte cave boy named Tek. Well…actually, this might have happened yesterday. Tek was a normal cave kid except he never wanted to leave his cave. Even when his friend Larry the T-rex came by wanting to play, he stayed inside “glued to his phone, his tablet, and his game box.” At night the light of the stars was dwarfed by the “eerie glow” coming from Tek’s cave. His mom was mad at his dad for ever inventing the Internet.

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Copyright Patrick McDonnell, 2016, courtesy of Hachette Book Group

“Outside, the real world was evolving, but Tek couldn’t have cared less.” During the ice-age? Tek missed all the winter fun. Dinosaurs? Tek only knew them as “Watchamacallitasaurus,” “Hoozdatasaurus,” and “Idontgiveadactyl.” Time was going by, and even Tek’s Larry, whose brain was “the size of a walnut” knew something had to be done.

Tek’s parents tried everything they knew to pull him away from his gadgets. “‘I need to light a fire under that boy’s butt,’ grumbled Tek’s dad. ‘Except I haven’t invented fire yet.’” Even the higher-ups in the tribe tried to get through to Tek, but he paid them no notice. Not even “Dora Duddly and her dinosaurs for a better tomorrow” could talk sense into Tek. But then Big Poppa, the village volcano, had a blast of an idea.

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Copyright Patrick McDonnell, 2016, courtesy of Hachette Book Group

“The eruption shot Tek and his phone, tablet, and game box out of his cave and into the sky.” When he crashed down to Earth he was “totally disconnected.” Upon opening his eyes, Tek wondered at the fresh smells, the warm sun, the bugs and flowers, the hairy elephant, and the hairy people. He thought the world was “‘Sweet!’” Tek rushed to find Larry and on the way stopped to kiss his happy mom and dad. He used some fancy footwork atop a round stone to wheel himself to Larry. Larry was thrilled to see him. The two spent all day playing with their friends, and that night they looked into the dark sky, imagining ways to “reach for the stars.”

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Copyright Patrick McDonnell, 2016, courtesy of Hachette Book Group

On every level Patrick McDonnell’s Tek: The Modern Cave Boy is a delight. If you love wordplay, it starts on page one…no, before that—on the cover—with riffs on technology, kids TV, dinosaurs, and more. If you like time shifting, you’ll relish the prehistoric/modern mashup, and if you’re partial to laugh-out-loud illustration, you’ll want to get an eyeful of little Tek, full beard and all. This is one book that adults and kids will giggle over together even as it humorously pokes fun at our penchant for gadgets. Even the book itself is in on the joke, with a size and shape any tablet user well knows. The board book-thick covers give way to paper pages, reinforcing the idea of leaving technology behind to enjoy the outside world.

Tek: The Modern Cave Boy will quickly become an often-read favorite for both kids and adults and would make a welcome addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 9 and up

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0316338059

Discover more about Patrick McDonnell and his books on his website!

Social Media Day Activity

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Social Media Coloring Pages

 

Social media has a vocabulary all it’s own! Can you find the hidden texting abbreviations in these printable coloring pages?

Coloring Page 1 | Coloring Page 2

 

Picture Book Review

October 11 – Ada Lovelace Day

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About the Holiday

Today we remember the woman who is regarded as “the first computer programmer.” A mathematician, inventor, and scientific pioneer, Ada Lovelace wrote and was the first to publish an algorithm to generate Bernoulli numbers. Her notes published in Taylor’s Scientific Memoirs in 1842 inspired Alan Turing to design the first modern computers 100 years later. Today’s holiday celebrates all women in the science, technology, mathematics, and engineering fields. To learn more about Ada Lovelace Day visit findingada.com.

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

Written by Laurie Wallmark | Illustrated by April Chu

 

Ada was the daughter of two very distinguished—and distinct—parents. Her mother loved geometry and was known as “‘The Princess of Parallelograms.’” Her father was a world-renowned poet, “beloved for his Romanic poems.” When Ada was still a baby, however, her mother left Lord Byron and his “scandalous behavior” behind, and “Ada never saw her father again.”

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Image copyright April Chu, text copyright Laurie Wallmark. Courtesy of crestonbooks.com

As was common in Ada’s time she was often left on her own while her mother traveled. Ada filled the hours and days writing, sketching, and inventing in her journal. When she was still a little girl, she built a set of wings for a flying machine she had imagined. To discover if her wings could actually fly, “Ada needed to compute the wings’ power. She broke the problem into steps—surface area and weight, wind speed and angles.” She had to multiply and divide again and again, and while she loved calculating numbers, Ada wondered if there wasn’t an easier way to find the answers.

As she sat at her desk one day a storm blew up, sending the curtains around her open window flapping. They reminded Ada of sails and she suddenly realized that sails were like wings. She grabbed her toy sailboat and headed out to a nearby pond to test her theories. She launched her boat over and over, and “each time she adjusted the sails and studied the effect on the little boat’s speed. A storm of numbers and calculations whirled in her mind and spilled onto her pages.” She stayed by the pond until dark, and “returned home muddy, dripping wet, and triumphant.” Her nanny was not pleased. She didn’t agree with Ada’s mother, instead believing that girls “should not waste their time with math and science and experiments and other such nonsense.”

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Image copyright April Chu, courtesy of aprilchu.com

Overnight, Ada developed a high fever, and the doctor diagnosed measles. Ada’s mother was sent for. She hurried home and spent the days and nights at Ada’s bedside reading to her. Ada’s “fever finally broke, but the measles left her paralyzed and blind. To keep Ada’s mind sharp, Mama quizzed her on math problems,” asking her harder and harder questions. The numbers kept her company, and in her imagination Ada used her flying machine to travel to London.

While Ada regained her sight in a few weeks, it was three years before she could walk again. During this time Ada’s mother hired tutors to teach her higher and higher level math. One of her tutors was Mary Fairfax Somerville, a famous scientist and mathematician. Somerville invited Ada and her mother to a gathering of other influential scientists, mathematicians, and inventors. There Ada met Charles Babbage. Babbage, a mathematician and inventor, was impressed by 17-year-old Ada’s knowledge and understanding and invited her to visit his laboratory.

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Image copyright April Chu, courtesy of aprilchu.com

Ada brought her journal and shared with Charles Babbage her own work. He didn’t treat Ada as a child but as a fellow scientist and engineer. Babbage showed Ada a mechanical calculator he had designed. With the turn of a handle cylinders of numbers on the three columns of his Difference Engine spun toward the answer to a math problem Ada posed: what is 15 x 12? The machine gave the right answer: 180!

Babbage also had an idea for a mechanical computer—and Analytical Engine—that “would solve harder problems by working through them step by step.” It was an amazing concept, but Babbage hadn’t built it yet. He gave Ada his notebooks and she studied Babbage’s descriptions of how the machine might work. She realized that the Analytical Engine could work if numbers told it how.

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Image copyright April Chu, courtesy of aprilchu.com

Over several months Ada created an algorithm—a set of mathematical instructions. Her journal was filled with lines and lines of numbers and symbols. At last she checked her work for errors and found none. Ada had developed the world’s first computer program! With her creative imagination she could see that someday computers would “design powerful flying machines and majestic sailing ships. They would draw pictures and compose music. And they would play games and help with schoolwork.”

Unfortunately, Charles Babbage never finished building his Analytical Machine, and Ada never saw her program in action. But future generations remembered her and her contributions to computer programming. There is even a computer program named for her. We can imagine that the little girl who wanted to fly would be very pleased to know that Ada helps guide modern flying machines.

An extensive Author’s Note, a timeline of Ada’s life as well as a partial bibliography and resources follow the text.

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Image copyright April Chu, text copyright Laurie Wallmark. Courtesy of crestonbooks.com

Laurie Wallmark’s compelling biography of Ada Lovelace is perfectly aimed at her young audience, highlighting Ada’s childhood dreams, obstacles, and events that led her to become an influential mathematician and inventor. Wallmark’s fast-paced text, which beautifully merges lyrical and technical language to tell Ada’s story, is uplifting in its revelation that from even a young age, Ada was respected and acknowledged for her intelligence and mathematical gifts. Illuminating Ada’s predictions for future uses of the computer forms a bridge between her foresight and the experience of today’s children, bringing history alive for readers.

Gorgeous, detailed illustrations set Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine firmly in its 19th-century time period. Lush greens, reds, and golds welcome readers into Ada’s home, where her wooden and paper wings lay among blueprints for other inventions as Ada sits at her desk jotting notes in her journal. A mural in her home cleverly depicts Ada’s imaginings while she recovered from the measles, and the gathering that Ada and her mother attend is a stimulating portrait of the scientists and new inventions of the day. Kids will be amazed to see one of the first “calculators” as built by Charles Babbage. Included on the pages are images of an early loom and punch cards that influenced the development of our computers. It is fitting that the last page shows how far we have come—and how forward thinking Ada was—with an illustration of Space technology in action.

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine is an important biography that should be included in every public and school library. For children interested in history, biographies, and the science and math fields, Laurie Wallmark’s and April Chu’s book would make a beautiful gift and addition to home bookshelves as well.

Ages 5 – 10

Creston Books, LLC, 2015 | ISBN 978-1939547200

Discover more about Laurie Wallmark and download curriculum and activity guides on her website!

View a portfolio of artwork and learn more about April Chu’s books on her website

This is one book trailer that really computes!

Ada Lovelace Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-computer-coloring-page

Love Your Computer! Coloring Page

 

What would we do without our computers? Here’s a fun printable Love Your Computer! coloring page for you to enjoy!

Picture Book Review