Include ElsBeth in Your
Common Core and STEM Curricula

The ElsBeth low fantasy adventures are based in a reality that includes accurate history, geography and geology, as well as real world mathematics and science appropriate to the

characters and the story, together with mythological elements 

that are active just above the

surface of this world.  

 

The stories show the tales of 

“historically accurate ghosts” and

“scientifically grounded magic,”

and the interrelationship of the

“natural world and its magical

kinship” provides an engaging

opportunity in which "students 

can acquire new knowledge,

insights and consider varying 

perspectives."

 

The progressive reading

comprehension levels of the books in the series encourage the development of applicable grade level vocabularies and help students achieve stated standards, while they acquire a continuing love of learning.

 

Examples in the ElsBeth Stories for

STEM and Common Core Use

Mathematics

 

                                                 Professor Badinoff cleared his throat. He was                                                    an important and renowned intellect, after all,                                                  and didn’t often have students rolling on the                                                      floor during math lessons. This wasn’t the                                                          expected or proper behavior.

                                            “Yes, well, as I was saying …” the professor                                            continued. Badinoff pointed to the extensive                                              collection of rubber, tree frogs ElsBeth kept in                                            her room.

                                            “ElsBeth, count out one hundred frogs,                                                    please.”

                                              ElsBeth busily added up the required                                                    number of amphibians and placed them

around on the hooked rug by her bed.  The professor flew to the slate chalkboard he used for mathematics lessons. He wrote neatly, in fancy script,

    “100 divided by 5=?”

    He then directed ElsBeth to separate the one hundred frogs into five equal piles. ElsBeth divided the tree frogs by color, because she liked the look of it that way, and put the green, brown, purple, orange and red frogs in their own neat rows.

    “Now, ElsBeth, count how many frogs are in each group, please,” the professor instructed in his serious teaching voice. ElsBeth carefully added up the number of frogs in each group, her tongue sticking out the side of her mouth with the effort to keep track.

    “Twenty! There are exactly twenty in each.”

    “Precisely,” said Badinoff. And flapping his wing over the slate, he erased the question mark and wrote “20” in its place.  “The quotient is twenty.”  ElsBeth frowned.

    “What’s a quotient?”  

    Badinoff smiled, his exceptional ears perking up. “Excellent question, ElsBeth. The word ‘quotient’ comes to us from Latin, an important language for magical beings, by the way.

    "In Latin the word means ‘how many times.’ The basic idea is ‘how many.’ So, if you had one hundred frogs, and you wanted to split them up into five groups — so you could have them jump out from all sides and surprise someone, for example — you would have a tidy total of twenty frogs in each group.

    “Finding a quotient comes in handy for cooking and spell making, and dividing and placing your troops in any serious battle — just to name a few uses off the top of my head,” he added modestly.

    “I would love to have a hundred frogs jump out and surprise Ms. Finch when she’s picking on me. Or at Robert Hillman-Jones when he’s pulling my braids. I never knew mathematics could be so extremely useful."

   “Thank you, Professor,” she added respectfully.

 

ElsBeth and the Privateer

"An easy way to integrate STEM into any subject matter is to have students read a storybook and design a solution to a problem one of the characters in the story has faced."

 

-- STEM Education in the Elementary Classroom

Teachhub.com

“Middle-grade literature is full of great girl scientists with inquisitive minds. Their relentless curiosity about the world around them makes for some unforgettable stories about discovery and science, while providing important role models for women in STEM.”

 

-- Girl Scientists in Middle-Grade Fiction

The Booklist Reader

"Storytelling is essential to good science, for two reasons. First, human beings prefer to organize their hard-won knowledge of reality in the form of a story. We find a pattern, which means we find a story. Second, the classical workings of the scientific method demand the formulation of not one but several alternative hypotheses. What is a hypothesis, if not a story?"

 

The Metaphor Unchained

"Scientists improve their craft by writing about it"

American Scientist

    "Stories are a great way to make science, technology, engineering and math ideas accessible and concrete to learners who might not think those kind of technical studies are for them. “When you can call a line of [computer

software] code a spell, then you are getting somewhere,” said Lev Fruchter, a computer science teacher at NYC NEST+m.  “After all, isn’t computer code basically modern magic?”

 

-- Could Storytelling Be the Secret Sauce

in STEM Education?
KQED NEWS

"Scientific American recently [2013] investigated the connection between STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and the humanities in the classroom, discussing how their integration is crucial in engaging girls and young women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics…. Teaching STEM through the lens of literature — whether fiction or nonfiction — allows them to view the material as relevant and meaningful."

 

-- Storytelling in Science:

Using Fiction to Engage Girls in STEM

National Girls Collaborative Project

Geology

 

      Lisa Lee was apparently mid-lecture when ElsBeth was drawn back to her friends.  “Cape Cod was formed by the

last glacier. It picked up sand and rocks when it moved south, and left them behind when it melted.”

     The boys had caught up. Robert was Robert and shoved past them.

     “Everyone knows that, Lisa Lee.”  

     She ignored him and continued.  “The mountains of Scotland, on the other hand, were made when the earth

underground shifted. England and Scotland ran into each other, and this land was pushed up.” 

     ElsBeth saw a worry in her friends start deep below the surface and push up onto their faces.  

     She remembered an extra Earth Science lesson "The Finch" had assigned her and she said, “Not to worry. Earth

movements like these take millions, even billions of years, and they happen in

ultra slow motion.”

     She bumped into Veronica very slowly to demonstrate. Veronica frowned, but played along, and the others

laughed. 

     ElsBeth thought it was easier to enjoy the Highlands without thinking too much about how it all got here, even if it was interesting. The looks on her friends’ faces seemed to agree.

 

ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties

Geography

 

    There was snow-covered land to the north on her left. Behind   her was another large landmass, which looked like the east           coast of the United States. She could see Maine and Cape Cod       jutting out into the ocean. In front of her, where the yacht was       headed, she saw two islands that looked like Ireland and               England on the map they had in the classroom last year.

     This was a great way to learn geography, she thought.

 

ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties

Philosophy

 

  “In me day, we took treasure for our country or our families — or at least for the love of the game.

  “Ye are just gold-hungry! What’s the matter with ye, lad? There is more to the chase than the gold.

  “There is freedom and honor and friendship, and best of all adventure. Ye need to learn to care about something worth fighting for.

  “Something other than yeself,” he added sharply.

 

ElsBeth and the Freedom Fighters

Environmental Science

 

    ElsBeth explained. “The fish and birds will be attracted to the bright foil. They’ll think

it’s a small silver fish and will try to eat it. But their insides will get torn up trying to

digest it.  We can’t throw candy wrappers or plastic away in nature. They can last

practically forever, and they will hurt or kill any creatures who tangle with it or try to

eat it — never mind how ugly it is to see trash in the woods or marshes or on the dunes."

   

                                                                                             ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure

 

     Lisa Lee stood up. Her glasses glistened with drops of seawater as she glanced around

and announced, “I think we’re following the Gulf Stream north.” 

     Maybe worried that someone would make fun of her, she quickly continued. “Did you

know Benjamin Franklin tried to get the English to use the Gulf Stream, after the

Revolutionary War, to speed up mail ships from England to America?”

    She got a few curious looks but no reply so she answered herself. “Yes. American mail

ships could save two weeks on each trip over to England — when they used water

temperature, water color, and the speed that bubbles travelled in the water in order to

follow the Gulf Stream. They wanted to get their return mail from England faster, too.”

    Veronica, who’d been staring at a broken fingernail, seemed to come back to life.

ElsBeth knew Veronica liked history, and secretly liked science, and had really enjoyed

the talk by the Environmental Scientist at the military base on the Cape last year. 

     It did seem odd, though, coming from Veronica, who pretended interest in nothing but fashion and boys, but the words “What do you think about using ocean energy to replace a lot of the oil we use?” escaped through her pretty mouth.

    Lisa Lee looked at Veronica like a long lost sister. “My favorite subject.” She pushed her glasses up on her nose and began to explain the unique designs she’d come up with to use the tides for power.

 

ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties

 

 

    Johnny Twofeathers came to their rescue. “My grandfather makes poultices with native Cape plants. Lester Killfish, one of the elders of the tribe, swears a poultice saved his leg when he cut it in a whale rescue.”

    “I use healing plants I gather wild,” Effie said proudly. “Many of them only grow here in the Highlands.”

    Johnny spoke with a quiet passion. “This is important. We talked about this at tribal council. Too many of these plants have disappeared entirely.” He paused. “Sometimes big farms that grow only one kind of crop can kill off the wild plants in an area.”

    Lisa Lee tuned in to this conversation like an antenna receiving a signal. “There are more than fifty-thousand different kinds of plants that can help heal, but at least fifteen-thousand of these are at risk of extinction. Did you know that eighty-five percent of the different apple varieties we used to have are totally gone from the planet? And that’s just apples.”

    “Wow,” Nelson said. “You guys are scary smart.”

    “It’s not so much being smart, really, Nelson,” Lisa Lee said. “It’s just that if we don’t realize what we’re doing, we can lose the living things that help keep us healthy and make life interesting.”

    “This happens with animals too,” Baird said. “The wolves in Scotland were killed off in the late 1600’s. And since then the deer population has gotten out of control. The deer are beautiful. But there are so many of them now that lots of our native plants, and even whole forests, are dying off. The Highlands aren’t in balance anymore.”

 

ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties

  History

 

                                                                                                         “Halloween is the most special holiday for witches.

                                                                                                         “It has been celebrated for at least two thousand years. And probably                                                                                                    much longer.

                                                                                                         “ ‘Halloween’ means ‘Holy Evening.’ It has always occurred at the end                                                                                                    of summer, and many believe it first took place in Ireland and Britain.

                                                                                                         “It is a time when the barriers between the natural and the                                                                                                                      supernatural worlds are weak or broken. Spirits are close, and are able                                                                                                        to pass across into our world.

                                                                                                         “Halloween is the most powerfully magical time of the year.

                                                                                                         “It might sound odd but in the old days, instead of pumpkins, turnips                                                                                                    and beets were carved and lit with candles.

                                                                                                         “These lanterns were, and in some places still are, made to help the                                                                                                        ghosts of loved ones who are lost to find their way back to their homes.                                                                                                        Or to scare bad ghosts away with a spooky carving if they mean ill.

                                                                                                         “Traditionally, large bonfires are also set to keep the evil spirits away.

   “In these times, in most of America, it is just a reason for children to dress up and create mischief and get candy.

   “But here on Cape Cod the holiday is still important to many people. Even non-witches here get extra-perceptive, and are apt to see ghosts and goblins, though few would ever admit it.

   “To those who are receptive bits of the future often become clear.

 

ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure

 

 

    Then ElsBeth saw strangely dressed figures suddenly appearing beside gravestones everywhere. And they were all speaking to her at once.

    On her right, next to his own gravestone, was the famous Samuel Adams. He wore a fancy gray wig and called to ElsBeth. “Young witch, young witch, come here. I have some complaints that need to be addressed. This taxation without representation cannot be tolerated. No taxation without representation, I say!”

    ElsBeth stared wide-eyed. She wasn’t too sure what taxes were, but according to Mr. Adams they were definitely a bad thing. Especially if you had them and you weren’t represented.

    The ghosts of the real Ben Franklin’s mother and father argued about their son. “What will he come up with next? We never should have sent him to the Latin School,” shouted Ben’s father.

    “That boy never could control his imagination after studying the Classics. Next thing you know he’ll try to harness lightning itself!”

    The chubby old fellow laughed at his own joke and then asked ElsBeth her opinion. “What do you think, young witch?”

 

ElsBeth and the Freedom Fighters

 

 

 

    “At the bloody battle of Bunker Hill,” Beth continued, “after trying to make peace between the colonials and the British troops, this beloved officer had fallen off his horse and was killed.

    “There were many dead and injured on both sides in the battle, and they were all brought to the church. Some bodies of the fallen soldiers got mixed up in the confusion. It was war, after all. 

    “Major Pitcairn’s family sent for his body to be buried properly at Westminster Abbey in London. But the wrong body was mistakenly sent to England, and the Major remained here — despite formal protests and much argument from mother England.” 

    The children got more and more nervous with this talk of restless spirits and misplaced bodies.

    Beth turned a corner and passed along another wall.

    “Behind here is the saddest place. Here is where all the orphans are buried.”

    Frankie was hiding right next to this spot and he tried to move away as far and as fast as possible.

    Many shivers ran up and down spines as the kids filed past.

    Beth led the group a little farther on and came to an area directly under the altar of the church above.

    “Finally,” she explained, “this thin plaster wall here is all that separates us from the main underground burial chamber or crypt.

    “And it’s rumored that somewhere on the far side of this crypt is a maze of caverns and tunnels that were used by pirates and smugglers in the old days.

    “These ran right under the north end of the city, and straight out to the sea!”

 

ElsBeth and the Freedom Fighters

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