THE ASTROCHIMP STORY
Explore the story behind America’s first astronauts, from chimp training and antics to space-race competition. Presented by an energetic science educator who respects learners of all ages. Curriculum connections includehistory, biological science, engineering, scientific research, experimental design, data, writing, and revision. Additional topics: social justice; conservation biology, and chimpanzees in sanctuaries. Want more or less on any topic? Just ask!
SOCIAL JUSTICE & THE ASTROCHIMPS
This presentation explores the context, decisions, and implications of using highly intelligent and emotional animals such as chimpanzees as human stand-ins during the space race. Includes ways to support chimpanzees in the wild and in sanctuaries.
Take an illustrated tour of the nonfiction book research process, from domino-effect discoveries to
disappointing dead-ends. Learn about sources, key words, research questions, creativity, copyright,
audience, and the one and only certainty: research will always reward you! Adaptable for any age
group; your choice of book topic(s).
AMAZING ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: THE BEST-KEPT SECRET IN SCIENCE
When people hear the phrase "animal behavior," they often assume biologists are talking about
cute animal stories. It’s true that the natural world is filled with fun stories. Just below the surface,
though, these stories provide fascinating glimpses into the intense competition for food, habitat,
and mates that shapes the amazing diversity of the world’s animals. Come explore the world of
antennae fencing, jet propulsion, egg guarding, territory marking, nest building, and more. Real science
is fun! Includes tie-in readings from Animals That Make Me Say Wow, Animals That Make Me Say Ouch,
Animals That Make Me Say Look Out, Bug Butts, Cool Animal Names, Animal Eggs, and Get the Scoop
on Animal Poop.
EWWW, GROSS! A WORLD-WIDE TOUR
OF ANIMAL SLIME, SNOT, PUKE, AND POOP AND THE REALLY COOL SCIENCE BEHIND IT
Do you think it’s fun to gross out your parents, teachers, and friends with gross animal facts? Well, get
ready to leave them crying . . . or crying for more. Includes tie-in readings from Animals That Make Me
Say Ewww, Get the Scoop on Animal Snot, Spit & Slime, and Get the Scoop on Animal Puke.
[can be customized to focus on biology, chemistry, ecology, or anatomy]
ANIMAL SNACKS: A SWEET WAY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ANIMALS & ECOSYSTEMS
When we think about animals, we rarely think about what they eat, yet food plays a major role in how
animals live and behave. Eating carbohydrates such as nectar and leaves means you have to eat a lot.
(Just ask herbivores such as elephants or pandas that spend most of their time eating.) Eating high-fat
foods lets you store energy for later. (Just ask a hibernating hedgehog or an alligator with fat stored in
its tail.) Animals forage for food in many ways: some search alone, others search in groups. And how
do you find food without becoming another animal’s food? Great stories are everywhere! Includes tie-in
readings from Animal Snacks, Get the Scoop on Animal Puke, and Animal Eggs.
ANIMAL DIGESTIVE SYSTEMS ROCK . . . FROM ONE END OF THE ALIMENTARY CANAL TO THE OTHER
This play-and-learn presentation opens with a basic review of digestive anatomy, and then turns the
fun over to audience. Children chose an animal, then build a digestive system that works for its diet.
Discussions of long- and short-term energy storage, foraging strategies, and anatomy follow. For
dessert, we’ll make a graham cracker chyme base, add a scoop of ice cream, and then use pipettes to
squirt in digest enzymes (chocolate and strawberry syrup) from accessory organs such as the pancreas
and the gall bladder. Includes tie-in readings from Get the Scoop on Animal Snot, Spit & Slime, Get the
Scoop on Animal Puke, Animal Snacks, Animal Tongues, and Animal Eggs. Comparative anatomy has
never been so much fun!
ANIMAL EGGS: HATCH A LITTLE FUN AND LEARN A LOT OF SCIENCE
Tour the wild and wonderful world of animal eggs in a highly visual, compare-and-contrast format.
Lionfish lay more than a million eggs twice a year, and leave them floating in plankton, undefended
from predators. Jaw-fish lay only a few dozen eggs, and guard them in their mouths. Most reptiles lay
leathery eggs that stretch to accommodate growing embryos, while crocodiles, alligators and birds
lay hard-shelled eggs. Apple snails and some insects lay pink eggs, while some birds and stink bugs
lay blue eggs. How? Why? Includes tie-in readings from Animal Eggs and Animal Snacks.
PRESENTATIONS & WORKSHOPS FOR ADULTS
PRESENTATIONS & WORKSHOPS FOR KIDS & KID-LIKE ADULTS
SAMPLING OF PRESENTATIONS & WORKSHOPS
READING NONFICTION WITH CHILDREN
A motivational how-to for parents about the importance and rewards of reading nonfiction with their
children, including information about increasing attention spans, counteracting information over-load,
learning to creatively use facts, enhancing knowledge bases, building bonds with friends and relatives,
and developing neural network connections. Includes guidelines for successful home reading plans.
[ideal for literacy nights]
USING NATURE NONFICTION TO CONQUER INFORMATION OVERLOAD AND DRIVE CREATIVE THINKING
Information has never been so quickly accessible from an incredible variety of sources, yet its potential
to drive the creative learning process is often underutilized. Explore ways education professionals can
use nature nonfiction books and digital research technology to expand creative, connect-the-dot thinking
to transform students into content organizers and distributors.[ideal for librarians and teachers]
DILUTION EFFECTS IN NATURE NONFICTION BOOKS: CAN REAL SCIENCE BE FUN?
The broad spectrum of substance and style in nature nonfiction children’s books invites important
questions for librarians, teachers, publishers, and authors. From cotton-candy fluff to encyclopedic
tomes, this presentation reviews the spectrum with a focus on specific benefits and costs of various
approaches. [can be adapted for the interests of specific audiences]
TEACHING SCIENCE WITH GROSSOLOGY
Trying to keep your students interested in biology, ecology, and chemistry? Tell them that elephants and
rabbits eat poop, clams and mussels make mucus string to catch food, and young wolves eat their parents’
puke. Discover ways to integrate the science behind grossology in everyday teaching. Mucus facilitates
diffusion, and can also transfer antibiotics and toxins. Defecation removes waste materials, and also marks
territories, transfers microbes, scars and disperses seeds, and serves as food for bacteria, fungi, and some
animals. Vomit protects animals from poisons, and it also helps birds and some mammals feed their young,
deters predators, and helps some herbivores with digestion. Saliva moistens food and adds some digestive
enzymes, but modified salivary glands release venom in snakes, some lizards, octopuses, and some spiders.
[Science standard topics: anatomy, digestion, adaptation, behavior, taxonomy, organic molecules, microbes]
* National Science & Engineering Festival, Washington, DC,
Child’s play: science as storytelling in nature nonfiction books, 2012
* Family literacy night programs, elementary schools
Reading non-fiction with children, 2010-present
* South Carolina Book Festival, Columbia, South Carolina
Learn, laugh, love: children’s books panel, 2015
* Blue Ridge Writers Conference, Blue Ridge, North Carolina
Trends in children’s publishing; Publishing math, 2015
* North Carolina State Science Teacher’s Association Conference, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Building literacy with grossology books; Leading with giraffes instead of molecules, 2015
* Mountain Science Festival, N.C. Arboretum, Asheville, NC
Animal behavior: the best-kept secret in science, 2014, 2013
* North Carolina State Children’s School Library Media Association, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Beta testing new books through author visits (with Beverly McBrayer); Using nature nonfiction to
conquer information overload; Dilution effects in nature nonfiction books: can real science be fun?
Award-winning Science Books
2017, 2014, 2012, 2011