2017 National Science Teacher’s Association Outstanding Science Trade Book
On October 10, 2011 YouTube, Lenovo, International Space Station, Space Adventures, NASA, European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency jointly announced a world-wide student competition. Students were asked to post a video suggesting an experiment to be sent to the Space Station. Judged by scientist Stephen Hawking, 18-year-old Amr Mohamed of Alexandria, Egypt won with his suggestion that they send a jumping spider to space. Most spiders are passive spiders, just building a web and waiting for prey to come it them. Jumping spiders, by contrast, actively hunt by jumping on prey. The research question was this: what will happen when a jumping spider tries to hunt in a weightless environment?
Thus begins the adventure of Nefertiti, the Spidernaut. A Phiddipus johnsonii, or Johnson jumping spider was chosen because she was large enough to photograph well. Amr’s original hypotheses was that the jumping spider wouldn’t adapt to space and wouldn’t be able to eat. In 2012, Nefertitti clocked 100 days in space, during which time she circled Earth about 1584 times, traveling about 41,580,000 miles.
This is a story of change: through the dark and cold, in spite of being weightless and isolated, this amazing spider adapted and learned to hunt. She survived to return to Earth, where she had to re-adapt to Earth’s gravity. Nefertiti’s story of survival inspires hope that we, too, can adapt to a changing world.
Spot the International Space Station
When you read this story with kids, they are sure to ask more about the International Space Station (ISS). Here’s a great, free resource to use with your class. NASA provides this widget to help you keep track of the ISS. Get the widget here for your classroom’s website. Or you can sign up to be texted when the ISS is overhead.
COLORING PAGE: This site has a b/w drawing of a jumping spider that is a great coloring page.
- Archimedes Notebook
- National Space Society
- Kids Book Buzz
- The Musings of a Book Addict
- Guest Post on Authors for Earth Day
- Midwest Book Review
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Children’s book author Darcy Pattison finds inspiration in writing about science and nature; twice her books have been honored as NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books. Her nature picture books include Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub (Mims House), an NSTA 2015 Outstanding Science Trade Book; Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years (Mims House), a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly; Desert Baths (Arbordale), an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book 2013; and, Prairie Storms (Arbordale). Burn: Michael Faraday’s Candle (Mims House, Spring 2016) is a physical science book about how a candle burns, based on Michael Faraday’s famous 1848 juvenile Christmas lecture.
Other picture books include The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt), which received an Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature Honor Book award, starred reviews in BCCB and Kirkus, and has been published in a Houghton Mifflin textbook; Searching for Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt); 19 Girls and Me (Philomel); and 11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph: A Military Family Story (Mims House). Her series, The ALIEN, INC. CHAPTER BOOK SERIES includes Kell, the Alien; Kell and the Horse Apple Parade; Kell and the Giants; and Kell and the Detectives. She is also the author of middle grade novels and teaches nationally a Novel Revision Retreat. For more, see darcypattison.com/about
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
In her debut picture book, Columbian illustrator Valeria Tisnés, charms with her anatomically correct, yet exciting work. Her passion for accurate scientific illustrations is fueled by the textures and details she observes in nature and in animals.