Saturday, March 15, 2014

Experiment with Science and Poetry with Fifth Grade PFA FOR SCIENCE!

Each day this week I will be sharing about the new PFA FOR SCIENCE, brought to you by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, with a host of fine poets contributing! And what a fun week it's been... thanks to all for your comments and warm enthusiasm.

Here's the schedule:

Each day I will be giving away a copy of the Student Edition for that grade level... and at the end of the week, I will choose one winner from all the commenters via blog/Facebook/Twitter for the K-5 TEACHER edition!

So, FIFTH GRADE. Again, the line drawings that accompany the poems in the Student Edition are wonderful and engaging! There's also a Glossary and Index, both of which I find particularly helpful. And I especially appreciate the inclusion of English and Spanish translations of some of the poems. Nice!

The poem I'd like to share today reminds me of why I love poetry. It magnifies something small and often taken for granted: 

by Buffy Silverman

Think of an atom
so tiny, so small--
a speck of the world
             a speck of us all,
a speck of the ocean
a speck of a fly
a speck of a mountain,
             a book or the sky.

Imagine that speck
growing wide, growing tall
              an atom as large as
your school or the mall.

The atom looks empty--
           almost nothing at all,
but there in the center
a tiny tight ball
of neutrons and protons
with mass and with weight.
How many for each?
           for oxygen: eight!)

Its charges are balanced: 
a proton adds one,
           -(each electron's a minus)
the neutrons add none.

Outside of the nucleus--
             that tight little ball--
the electrons are swirling
they're smaller than small
like pieces of dust
whizzing through space
a cloud of electrons
              in a zip-zapping race.

An atom is tiny--
astoundingly small--
Trillions like here
on this dot that I scrawl.

Yay for atoms! This poem makes something we can't even see wondrous and fun. To which I say: yay for poetry! :)

In the TEACHER'S EDITION for this poem (p.237), Sylvia Vardell has created TAKE FIVE! activities that include: 

Listening for science words
inviting students to join in on the final stanza
challenging students to illustrate a part of the poem using sketch or collage
discussion about matter and properties and a look at a model of an atom
a reference to other poems about matter

Good stuff! 

GIVEAWAY: Comment here or on Twitter @irene_latham or on my Facebook page! Winners announced daily.


  1. I am happy to finish up the week Irene. This again is another good example of using concepts in poetry, isn't it? Real facts, presented happily! Thanks for a nice week of presentations!

    1. Linda, you are the winner of the 5th grade student edition! Sending it your way. xo

  2. Your samples from the book make me wish we could teach every subject through poetry. Maybe we should. I teach gifted students. Poetry speaks to them and they are amazing poets. I need to get my hands on this anthology. Thanks for peek inside.

  3. I wish I had Buffy's talent of explaining non-fiction in such a fun, yet factual way. I especially love the image of " a cloud of electrons/in a zip-zapping race." Thanks again, Irene, for offering us a peek at all of these student editions!

  4. Hi Irene--Thanks for featuring my poem! Glad you enjoyed it (and after writing it I am indeed more in wonder of atoms and also the physicists who explain what is seemingly unexplainable.)


Your thoughts?