Monday, June 28, 2021

Seven Days, Seven Books, Day 2. Invent a Pet by Vicky Fang and Tidawon Thaipinnarong

Hold on to your seats, we're moving into Day 2 with the picture book, INVENT-A-PET written by Vicky Fang and illustrated by Tidawon Thaipinnarong.

INVENT-A-PET touches the "nerd heart" of this science teacher for showing the scientific method in action in a fun and creative way.

This time, instead of documenting what is found and observed in nature as shown in The Collectors for Day 1's post, we are now moving into keeping track of data and analyzing Outputs that result from Inputs. In essence, today's book is all about finding patterns to crack a code.

In INVENT-A-PET, Katie wants a pet of her own, but the goldfish suggested by her mother seems too ordinary. So when her mother gives Katie a machine that will allow her to invent an extraordinary pet, Katie jumps at the chance. Of course, as with most scientific endeavors, the process is not as straightforward as Katie expects and the pets she creates are definitely packed with surprising traits. Eventually Katie figures out how the machine works by monitoring each output that is produced for every input that is changed -- one at a time.

I love this story because it combines the process of coding with scientific discovery and experimentation.

In the classroom I can envision numerous ways in which this story could be used to spark imagination and engage learning. Three books below offer different applications and pairing that a teacher could use depending on their goals.
However, each story involves the common thread of understanding the links between inputs and outputs, as well as overcoming odds in finding solutions to seemingly impossible and difficult questions.

Counting on Katherine, How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13, written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. This book relays the importance of patterns in numerical relationships and being able to recognize patterns in understanding when answers make sense. In this case, the lives of three men depended on the getting the answer right!

Gregor Mendel, The Friar Who Grew Peas, written by Cheryl Bardoe and illustrated by Jos A. Smith. This book tells the story of Gregor Mendel who was determined to figure out how breeding and artificial selection worked in cracking the code toward the inheritance of traits. Mendel is considered to be the Father of Genetics based on his detailed accounting of offspring over generations that were created from cross-breeding particular selections of parent plants.

The Leaf Detective, How Margaret Lowman Uncovered the Secrets in the Rainforest by Heather Lang and illustrated by Jana Christy. Margaret Lowman follows her dream to study and understand trees of the rainforest, a biome never studied before in Australia, particularly by a woman.

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