Best STEM Books & Podcasts for Middle School Students

27 DEC 2021

When you think of a typical STEM-inclined student, the image of an avid reader is not something that comes to mind. Perhaps this is because STEM students sometimes favor Mathematics over English class work. Alternatively, STEM-focused students may prefer the hands-on nature of science labs compared to reading, which they believe to be more passive. However, we at Crimson are positive that with a push in the right direction, your STEM-inclined son or daughter may learn to love reading or listening to podcasts that help nurture their academic interests. So out of the abundance of choices on the internet, what are some recommended reads and listens for STEM-inclined middle schoolers? 

Books for STEM-Inclined Middle Schoolers: 

  1. Horrible Science: Bulging Box of 20 Brilliant Books by Nick Arnold – This is the “sister series” to the famous Horrible History books, with each book focusing on a specific scientific topic (chemistry, atomic theory, vegetables, electricity, etc – even poison!). Titles are wacky and entertaining such as “Bulging Brains” and “Deadly Diseases” while the books explain concepts taught at school in a more creative way that will ensure your child will commit them to memory, as well as sharing unique facts and ideas that might as well have your child impress their teacher in class the following day!   
  2. Mistakes that Worked – 40 Familiar Inventions and How They Came to Be by Charlotte Foltz Jones – One of the most frustrating (or fascinating, depending on personality!) aspects of being a budding scientist is arguably the trial-and-error nature of experiments. This book encourages your son or daughter to find inspiration when their ideas fail by discussing how many of our greatest inventions began as failed experiments. 
  3. Women in Science: 50 Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky – This one’s for the girls and the title says it all! This New York Times bestseller features well-known women such as primatologist Jane Goodall and the inventor of the X-Ray, Marie Curie, as well as the ones who have been under the radar, such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
  4. The Astronomy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by DK – This one is a great choice if your child is busy keeping up with Elon Musk’s space exploration or idolizes the work of UK astrophysicist Steven Hawking. In this book, ideas ranging from the telescope to atoms to the nature of different planets are all covered in detail and supported by labelled images that are far superior to your average science book!  
  5. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly – This is the story about black women mathematicians who helped win America the space race and a great inspiration to any child to follow their dreams. Covering a time period from World War II to the Cold War, this book is also a wonderful history lesson. As a film adaptation has been released in 2016, so holding a movie night as a family and discussing the message behind the story with your child also makes for some great bonding time.  

Podcasts for STEM-Inclined Middle Schoolers: 

  1. Science Friday @ https://www.sciencefriday.com/ - From telescope imagery to succulents to the latest discussions about COVID-19 at an age-appropriate level, Science Friday posts weekly podcasts discussing a wide variety of scientific subjects. Additionally, they have events that your child can take part in – from trivia contests to being a part of their radio station! Their extensive educational resource section would be a good lead for potential academic projects too!
  2. Radio Lab @ https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab - With the tagline “investigating a strange world”, this one is a must for STEM-inclined middle schoolers whose curiosity bolsters an insatiable appetite. Featuring everything from human biology (stress, brain development, etc) to how mixtapes from the days of old influenced the internet, the topic variety is endless! They have a special section for kids should your child skew on the younger end of middle school, as well as the opportunity for kids to send their own pitches for future podcasts and radio broadcasts to the team. Empower your child to do so! 
  3. STEM Everyday Podcast @ http://dailystem.com/stem-everyday-podcast/ - With 222 episodes and counting, this is a resource that will go a long way! Guests in this podcast range from CEOs to YouTubers, authors, and teachers. As such, STEM Everyday is guaranteed to provide your child with a wide variety of perspectives from the STEM world.  It’s available as an app on the iPhone and if your child has serious science chops or wants to practice their public speaking, they can even reach out to be a guest on the podcast too. What a wonderful opportunity! 

And there you go! Whether you need a podcast to keep your child busy on a family road trip during spring break, or if you’re at the bookstore eager to pick something up, we hope some of these suggestions prove fruitful. If your son or daughter tries to object – perhaps have them test out that hypothesis by going through the suggested material together and see how much they enjoy it at the end!  

Your friendly neighbourhood Rise blogger, 

Gala

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