Sometimes it takes a great book to get students to fall in love with a field of study. If you are trying to motivate students to become interested in careers in science, technology, engineering or math – STEM – here are some books that could do the trick.
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski
The 288-page, highly readable book is written by a BBC science commentator. In one compact volume, it answers a common question that students have: “Why should I care about physics?” By exploring subjects like popcorn, rockets, and gravity, the author proves that physics is something we already deal with every day, and makes the subject downright interesting.
A Time for All Things: The Life of Michael E. DeBakey by Craig A. Miller
This beautifully written biography of Mr. DeBakey – who is often called the greatest vascular surgeon of the 20th century – should convince skeptical students that a career in science can help people. Dr. DeBakey was the son of Lebanese immigrants to the U.S. The sections on his childhood and education are highly relatable for many students today.
The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond by Barbara Dillon, with illustrations by Stephen Biesty
This engaging book tells the stories behind 16 of the world’s most important buildings – who was behind them, how they were designed, why they are loved, and more. Excellent illustrations make this exploration of architecture visually exciting.
Marie Curie: The Life and Legacy of the Legendary Scientist Who Became the First Woman to Win the Nobel Prize (no author cited)
This biography of Curie (1867-1934) does a good job of placing her remarkable life in the context of a historical time when women scientists were marginalized, demeaned, and dismissed. It offers good motivation for young women who are interested in pursuing careers in science.
Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow by Steve Letho
This book is a good choice to get students excited about automotive engineering. It tells the story of Preston Tucker (1903-1956), a pioneering entrepreneur (and a bit of a fraudster and rogue) who designed and marketed the Tucker Torpedo, one of the most innovative automobiles ever made in America. Many of the Tucker’s innovations – like a rear-mounted engine – have been used in many production cars in the years since the Tucker automobile was launched in 1948.
The Computer Book: From the Abacus to Artificial Intelligence, 250 Milestones in the History of Computer Science by Simson L. Garfinkel and Rachel H. Grunspun
This history of computers does a good job of not only describing computer milestones, but also placing them in societal and historical context. It’s both a good motivator for students who are thinking about studying computer science and a good reference book to keep on your classroom’s bookshelf.
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