LAL and Science❤️Perfect Together
I love my Language arts coworkers, but it’s not often that there are crossovers between our curriculums. I’m always on the look out for some cross curricular opportunities for science and language arts teachers and have come up with a short list of books that are middle school appropriate and actually convey some science.
While certainly not a story about science, there are a surprising amount of science connections in the Harry Potter series. Truth serum, Hermione’s time traveling adventures, levitation and the three headed dog are just some of the scientific curiosities the book is filled with. Many of the names of people are based on astronomical objects. Sirius Black, Harry’s uncle who can change into a black dog, is named for Sirius, the dog star. Bellatrix LeStrange is named for a star in the constellation Orion. Draco Malfoy is named for the constellation Draco. Muggles, purebloods, squibs, and Muggle borns are an interesting take on genetics. Remus Lupin turns into a wolf (Canis lupis).
The Maximum Ride series by James Patterson is about a young woman named Maximum Ride and her family who are all human-bird hybrids, born with wings after being used as experimental subjects in a lab. The first book in the series, The Angel Experiment, introduces the characters as children and explains how they were created. Lots of interesting science fiction into animal hybrids and I’ve students enjoy it with my DNA unit. There are 9 books in the series.
The House of Scorpion
Another book that leans in to the genetic hybrid issue is The House of the Scorpion. Main character Matteo was created in a petri dish and developed in the womb of a cow. As a clone of the person whose DNA was used to create him, Matteo faces interesting challenges your students will be fascinated by.
Rats of NIMH
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is a clever novel about a population of rats and mice. After being captured by scientists and studied for research, the rats developed increased intelligence and have learned how to read, write, and operate complicated machines. They also became smart enough to escape from their captors. This novel was based on research into mice and rat populations at the National Institute of Mental Health in the mid 1900s.
Uglies is the first dystopian novel of a series of 4. In Uglies, everyone is born ugly but then has extreme cosmetic surgery to become pretty when they turn 16. In the novel, a teenager rebels against the expected surgery. As a backstory, the city had collapsed when petroleum was no longer available.
Life as We Knew It
Life as We Knew It is a fascinating book based on a premise that a meteor hit the moon and moved it closer to earth. The subsequent alteration of the earth’s rotation causes catastrophes everywhere. The story is told from the point of view of a teenager who helps keep her family alive during the tumult.
First Light is a novel by Rebecca Stead. A teenage boy named Peter is in Greenland with his parents who are researching global warming. A teenage girl named Thea lives in an underground colony below Greenland which is being destroyed by global warming. Peter and Thea must save the residents of Thea’s colony.
Wing Nut by Mj Auch is about a twelve year old boy named Grady and his mother’s boss who teaches Grady all about birds.
West with Giraffes
West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge is based on a true story of two giraffes who were brought to the San Diego Zoo to protect the species from extinction.
Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot is a novel that explores the efforts to preserve a colony of burrowing owls. The book does a great job explaining endangered species, their role in ecosystems and the importance of nature sanctuaries.
Flush is another novel by Carl Hiaasen. It is told from the point of view of a teenage boy whose father is an environmentalist. They learn of a casino boat which has been illegally dumping sewage into the ocean so the father and son set about trying to stop the dumping.
Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is a classic exploration into what makes something alive. Kids will love it.
The Same Stuff as Stars
The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson is about Angel whose life is a series of challenges. She meets a man she calls the Star Man who tells her about stars and planets.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas
The classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas is a fantastic story which was inspired in 1867 when author Jules Verne saw a model of an early submarine. The story begins when a sea monster is spotted and all sorts of expeditions go in search of it.
The 5th Wave
The 5th Wave trilogy is written by Rick Yancey. The story is about a teenage girl named Cassie who tries to survive in a world that has been devastated by waves of alien invasions. Among other waves that the aliens produce are electromagnetic pulses, giant rods which cause massive tsunamis, and a deadly virus.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jules Verne classic Journey to the Center of the Earth and then later a 2008 movie might make for an interesting “science vs science fiction” debate.
Hidden Figures was written by Margot Lee Shetterly about African American (female) mathematicians who worked at NASA. As a biographical movie in 2016, it was critically acclaimed for its representation of these women who calculated the flight trajectories for Project Mercury.
The Radium Girls
Written by Kate Moore, The Radium Girls tells the story of young women who worked in radium dial factories and suffer from radiation sickness long before such a thing was even understood. The Radium Girls was made a movie in 2018.
Fever, by Laurie Halse, tells the story of the 1793 yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia.
There probably are hundreds (thousands) or more books that should make this list of cross curricular opportunities for science and language arts. What would you add? Click here to let me know!