Book Review: Spaceman by Mike Massimino

In his autobiography “Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe” Mike Massimino, a NASA astronaut and Columbia University professor describes his journey from a childhood dream of being an astronaut to actual walking in space (of which he and his team set records). As soon as I started reading this book, I was absolutely captivated by Mike’s tale.

9781101903544

His manner of writing is very frank and straightforward. He just tells his story like it is, and it’s impossible to put down. His journey wasn’t always smooth, neither was it always aimed for the space. I admired his determination when he made a decision to get into space program. How he overcame stumbling blocks on his path, his personal ethics – everything is admirable. His story is full of the most important lessons in life -the value of education, the value of public service, deep desire to be a better person, true friendship.

Overall impression: Loved this book to pieces. My 11 y.o. son is reading it now, and I am sure it will make a difference in his world perception, and no doubt will inspire him . Absolute must read.

 

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

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Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky

Both of my children want to be scientists when they grow up. We often talk about great scientists and their contributions. It’s true that most scientists we are coming across in books are men. But it’s changing and women’s role in science is being acknowledged more and more often. The book Women in Science, written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky addresses exactly that.

9781607749769

The book allows a spread per scientist and covers about 50 brilliant women that contributed to the scientific discovery throughout the centuries, starting with ancient times and up to our days. Each spread features facts from a scientist’s life, her contributions and an awesome portrait illustration with additional facts surrounding her. The book is very fun to leaf through and even more fun to read. Many of these scientists I am learning about for the for the first time and some are like old friends. My daughter was delighted to see her favorite Jane Goodall featured here, and Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space. Most of the scientists covered in this book are Americans, although there are a few Europeans featured, as well as Asians. I wish there were more representatives from around the world, but we can’t have everything. There are more women mentioned in the end of the book, they didn’t get a spread, but they are there.

Overall impression: My children and I enjoy this book and found information straightforward and easy to understand. The illustrations add to the amazement of fantastic discoveries these women scientists brought to the world. This book is a valuable addition to our home library.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair an unbiased review.

 

 

 

Weekly Round up: Nov. 2- Nov 8, 2015

Closer and closer to winter, first week of November flew by.

We were blessed with a wonderful weather the first half of the week, we saw some snowflakes (which melted before reaching the ground, so they hardly count), the night temperatures are below zero and less and less leaves on the trees.

Picture of the week:

brilliant colors are still mostly there

brilliant colors are still mostly there

What were we up to this week:

Continue reading

Fall is my favorite time of the year, no doubt about that. And September, the time of transition is so much more special because the fall is nearly there, and getting closer every day. I wake up, look at the clouds and tell myself “almost sweater weather!”. Something to look forward to. September is also time when we are already in sync with each other in terms of school, but the novelty hasn’t worn out yet. And it’s a perfect time to have spontanneous outside lessons. Oh, how I love these days when the world is the classroom!

We intended just a short hike, but kids grabbed vials, zip baggies, pincers and announced they are going to have a science adventure! And so they did.

1

We haven’t been to this park since June probably, and of course so many things changed, flowers are going out, and only remnants of the berries here and there, but the water is still singing its sonf, and the moss is ever so green. A light rain started to fall as we made our way up the trail, pure bliss.

D. collected water from 1)a puddle 2) creek downstream and 3)creek upstream to compare

D. collected water from 1)a puddle 2) creek downstream and 3)creek upstream to compare

wild raspberries

there were hardly any insects around, apart from some hardworking bees

there were hardly any insects around, apart from some hardworking bees

so soothing

so soothing

Autumn made her first steps in the forest

Autumn made her first steps in the forest

september

At home children pulled out their microscope and compared the water they collected. So happy to see tiny grains of sand in the downstream water, cloudy bluish colors of the puddle water and clearness of the upstream water. C. mixed them up afterwards too.

microscope water

Our microscope isn’t powerful enough to see the real action, but we remembered a tiny dapne we saw at the museum earlier this week and wondered if such creatures could be living in the srtream.

dmns expedition health

And finally, our day ended with a lovely sunset

colorado sunset

Week’s Roundup: June 15-June 21, 2015

Another week flew by and it’s Summer Solstice time already. The summer is officially here, yay!

Photo of the week:

Kids were all about playing with water this week, no wonder, we had a couple of extremely hot days

Kids were all about playing with water this week, no wonder, we had a couple of extremely hot days

What were we up to this week:

Continue reading

More birds

We had an awesome mini lesson about birds on Monday, but weren’t very lucky locating any nests around our house. So Tuesday we headed to Audubon Center at Chatfield to try and see if we can spot some there.

We got lucky almost immediately and saw a swallow’s nest right on the eave of public restroom:

swallow's nest

Parents were nearby, one watching us:

swallow

Another one carrying things into the nest, feathers mostly:

swallow

After that we walked around in tall grass

C. seems so tiny

C. seems so tiny

Admired flowers all around us

flower

Were amazed by the amount of water that transformed a realtively calm little river. Indeed, after reading Rain by Cynthia Barnett I can’t stop thinking about blessing and horror that rain brings, and how precarious human relationship with rain really is.

It has spilled on trails even

It has spilled on trails even

a year or two ago our children could cross it hopping from rock to rock and now it's just angry mass that can sweep you up in seconds

a year or two ago our children could cross it hopping from rock to rock and now it’s just angry mass that can sweep you up in seconds

And at last listened to some amazing birdsong amongst the trees.

Audubon center chatfield

Other critters we saw: a lizard, a frog, multiple birds…what a great hike it was.

Learning about birds continued

Previously in Birding adventures we tried a Bird Walk and Bird Banding class. Today was all about nests.

I picked up another wonderful book by Sylvia Long and Dianna Hutts Aston “A Nest is Noisy”, so naturally we had to explore the subject. The book as expected is absolutely gorgeous and talks about all kinds of nests, big and small, those of birds and of beasts. Most of the information was new to kids and even to me. 5 stars as always.

a nest is noisy

Their “An Egg is Quiet” is another book on the subject

an egg is quiet

We talked a little bit more about nests, what’s inside and how to tell which nests belongs to a bird and which to a squirrel (squirrels use sticks to build theirs).  10 Facts about Bird Nests (although the video is a bit fast)

Kids then set out to look for nests around our house. Lots of birds were singing, but only squirrel mansion was found:

squirrell nestWe talked about helping birds by leaving materials for them to build nests and kids tried to make their own little “gift nests” for the birdies

D's nest includes tiny twigs, leaves and cat's hair

D’s nest includes tiny twigs, leaves and cat’s hair

C.'s also has leaves and cat's hair, plus she went for esthetics with dandelions :)

C.’s also has leaves and cat’s hair, plus she went for esthetics with dandelions 🙂

We watched a documentary called Hummingbird: Magic in the Air  (link leads to PBS episode, it’s also on youtube for those that can’t access PBS). What fascinating creatures these little birds are! 25 amazing facts about hummingbirds. I had no idea they only live in the Americas, somehow I thought they surely will be present in Asia or Australia.

We also looked at amazing close up photography of hummingbirds, which prompted our art making. Children did their best to draw hummingbirds in flight, while I experimented with my watercolor pencils to sketch one of the close-ups.

painting hummingbirds

It was a very interesting mini-lesson today, there are more documentaries in plans, as I hope to discuss different habitats with kids.

Also please check out our previous art activity “How to paint a portrait of a bird”