Book 5: A Stone’s Throw

Flames from Fish Boil OverboilTo most people, Wisconsin’s Door County doesn’t go beyond the peninsula. Did you know, though, that the Door in Door County comes from the narrow water passage called Death’s Door? Grandpa Mike explains how the open waters of Lake Michigan to the east and Green Bay to the west crash into each other here. Stormy weather makes this stretch of water particularly dangerous. Seven-year-old Mallory searches in vain for a floating door in the water as the ferry makes its way to Washington Island. His twin sister Melody is more interested in islands. 

Our main focus of BioFables is on illuminating STEM principles through entertaining stories. However, we need to emphasize that STEM knowledge and, especially, applying STEM  in the real world require a balancing Humanities perspective. Science and Humanities represent the two sides of practical human learning, left-brain (analytical) and right-brain (creative).

This is why we are building several tools to help you determine the value of each BioFables book’s STEM, Humanities and Values content in selecting which BioFables books to give to your young readers:

    • Table of all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Knowledge Gateways, Subjects and Topics
    • Table of all Humanities Knowledge Gateways, Subjects and Topics
    • Table of Values
    • Table of STEM and Humanities learning topics by Chapter

The first table presents a summary of all the STEM  Knowledge Gateways (or branches, if you prefer), Subjects and Topics occuring in A Stone’s Throw. This will give you an overvew of the entire book’s STEM lessons that are woven into the A Stone’s Throw story.

The second and third tables provide the same information for the Humanities  and Values lessons.

The table of STEM and Humanities places the combined learning topics into the specific chapter where it occurs.

We’re in the process of updating each book’s topic reference tables. The table shows the breadth of each book’s content, identified by chapter. Subjects and topics of the middle column appear in  bold, followed by abbreviated versions of their Knowledge Gateway(s) in parentheses. The table should be helpful in discussing each book as your children progress through the chapters. Follow the links for further investigation. Child-friendly sites appear in orange.

Want to make things even more interesting? Learn about taking the BioFables Challenge.

Please be aware that subjects and topics are unique to each book, so the following outlines do not reflect a complete list of subjects and topics within any category.

Thanks for your patience as we build these resources for you.

STEM ContentBook 5: A Stone’s Throw

Branches and sub-branches in Book 5:
  • Biology: Plants; Animals; People
  • Chemistry: Function; Mix of structure and function
  • Physics: Mechanics; Optics; Heat and Temperature; Gravity
  • Earth, Space Science: Astronomy; Geography; Geology; Environment
  • Math: Arithmetic; Estimating; Statistics
  • Technology: Physics (Mechanics; Optics)
  • Engineering: Architecture (Physics; Math); Data transmission (Physics; Earth, Space Science; Math); Complex Systems: International Space Station  (Physics; Earth, Space Science; Math )

Specific subjects and topics appear in the right column, next to their respective branches and sub-branches.

BIOLOGY Life and living things
     Plants Food crops: Rutabaga, potatoes
Cultivated flowers: lavender
     Animals Animal habitats; bird sanctuary
     People Extremophile traitQuick healing
CHEMISTRY Substances, their structure, behavior, interactions
     Function pH: Acidic conditions
     Mix of structure and function Don’t want your liquid (non-food) to boil over? Use boiling chips!
Oil and water don’t mix – or do they?
Water density: how much salt did you add?
PHYSICS Properties and nature of matter and energy
     Mechanics Stones don’t walk on water, but they can skip
Speed up air, water movement by narrowing outlets (Bernoulli’s Principle)
     Optics How do lighthouse lights shine so far? Fresnel lenses
Light reflections on water move as you move
     Gravity What makes you fall down, not up
EARTH, SPACE SCIENCE Related to planet Earth and beyond
     Astronomy Look up to the night sky: Northern Lights; International Space Station
     Geography Continents, countries, oceans and other waters, and their features
         Locations Door County: Washington Island, Rock Island
     Geology Earth’s physical structure, substance, history, processes
          Groundwater Underground springs
   Environment  Physical, chemical and biological conditions that  impact people, animals, plants and microbes
Natural, human impact
          Habitats Preservation and restoration
          Wind Direction the wind blows makes a difference
          Seasons Day length
MATH Numbers, quantities and analysis
    Arithmetic Counting
     Estimating A way to figure out the middle of an odd shape
     Statistics Collect facts or numbers, then use different kinds of arithmetic to analyze them and explain why your idea is right or wrong
TECHNOLOGY Tools (products) and techniques using science
     Physics: Mechanics Water pumps: valuable tools for reaching underground water for above-ground use
Buoys: floating markers that show location of dangerous underwater hazards
     Physics: Optics Fresnel lenses save lives by shining farther out in the water than simple magnifying glass can reach
ENGINEERING Application of technology
     Architecture  (Physics, Math
Stavkirche (Stave Church)
     Data transmission (Physics; Earth, Space Science; Math) Some buoys do more than mark hazards: monitor weather, send information they collect to satellites and land-based receivers
     Complex systems (Physics; Earth, Space Science; Math ) The International Space Station combines lots of technology for lots of different purposes


A Stone’s Throw Humanities Content

Humanities Branches and sub-branches in Whoosh:
  • Society: Social Relationships; Family Relationships; Government; Traditions
  • Language: Sounds and Spelling; Word Derivations; Traditional Sayings; Classic Literature
  • History: Locations; Objects/Processes; People
  • Arts: Writing; Play on Words; Drawing; Singing, Music; Creating, Building Things
  • Life Skills: Organizing; Technology in its Place; First Aid; Food; Memory Aids
  • Work, Careers:
A Stone’s Throw TABLE 2: Humanities Content
SOCIETY Community, Culture and People
     Social Relationships Rufus attracts new (human) friends; the Maloneys enjoy his friends, too
New friends share food and Death’s Door history at multi-family picnic
Staying in touch with new friends, enjoying family games
     Family Relationships
No dessert for Mallory, who was just acting like a typical 7-year-old
Everyone learns a different side of Dad as he tells his “overboil” story
     Government Bird sanctuary’s Land Trust is joined by school children planting native trees and bushes
NOAA (pronounced like Noah, who built the ark); National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
     Traditions Wow! greets the fish boil’s grand finale “overboil”
LANGUAGE Means of communication
     Sounds and Spelling Fresnel lens (French) pronounced fre-nel
Don’t confuse Pottawatomie Lighthouse with Potawatomi Native Americans
Buoy: pronounced boo-eee (Dutch, German, Spanish)
     Word Derivations Port des Morts (French): Death’s Door in Door County, Wisconsin
Docent: Teacher (Latin, later German)
Stavkircke (Norwegian) Stave Church
     Traditional Sayings “Time and tide wait for no man” (or, no one)
“A watched pot never boils”
     Classic Literature “Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink”
HISTORY Information about the past
     Locations French explorers to Door County learned the hard way how high winds and big waves can sink ships in narrow passages vs. open waters
Ntive Americans lived on Little Lake on Washington Island more than 3,000 years ago; learn how the lake was formed
Wisconsin’s oldest lighthouse: Pottawatomie, on Rock Island
Early settlers on Rock Island from Iceland found soil so poor that they could only grow rutabaga
Rock Island’s stone boathouse is built in the manner of Reykjavik’s parliament building
Washington Island’s Stavkirke replicates medieval-design Norwegian wooden churches using lots of layers and levels
Mallory is fascinated by Washington Island’s Maritime Museum and daydreams about Death’s Door
The Historic Island Dairy boasts an art gallery, history exhibits; lavender from its fields is made into jams, vinegars, and even doggie bath (hmm,will Rufus like it?)
     Objects/Processes Fresnel lens, used in lighthouses and magnifiers, was invented by French physicist
     People Melody is compared to Nurse Florence Nightingale
ARTS Creative skills and their expression
     Writing Writing new words to familiar tunes
     Play on Words Chairs made of rock but aren’t rocking chairs
Make sure water is deep enough for a “cannonball” dive; don’t hit bottom with your bottom
Whoever climbs down, must also climb back up
A small rock was Grandpa’s downfall but Mallory observes that Grandpa did not fall down
Nature preserve reminds Mallory of food (fruit preserves)
“Ready to drive off into the sunrise?” Mom asks at dawn
Loch Ness monster? “Sounds pretty fishy to me,” Dad says
     Drawing Melody tries drawing the Stavkirke the family visited
     Singing Singing new words to On Top of Old Smoky and When Irish Eyes are Smiling
     Creating, Building Thigs Visitors to Schoolhouse Beach enjoy rock creations left by earlier visitors
LIFE SKILLS Practical abilities for attending to everyday needs
     Organizing Grandpa orchestrates an orderly dinner sharing/tasting
     Technology in its Place Lights from beacons, lighthouses , even buildings can serve as visual compasses and even GPS
     First aid Is it a broken bone, or a bad sprain?
Wet towels can keep a sprain’s swelling down
     Food Why shake an oil-and-vinegar salad dressing?
     Memory aids Drawing, writing notes to yourself
WORK, CAREERS Productive activity to earn an income or give back to society
     Wellness Guide Mom’s attention to her family’s healthy eating is an extension of her work
     Chemist Dad describes his own “boilover” experience at a school lab
     Air Force Pilot (retired) Grandpa makes use of skills developed from several careers
     Innkeeper The family appreciates Tom and Karen’s third-generation hospitality
     Volunteer Docents Volunteer docents (tour guides) Louise and Brian
     Weather Researcher, Monitor Ms. Kate is part of a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric team

NOTE: The table of Values content for A Stone’s Throw is being prepared and will  be uploaded as soon as possible.


Helpful Hints Door County Islands (Earth)
Chapter 1
Where is the Door in Door County?
Death’s Door; Green Bay; Lake Michigan; Rock beach (Earth); French exploration; Family history (History); Appearance of light on water; Skipping rocks (Physics); Nutrition (Health); Removing natural objects (Social); Chemist; Wellness Instructor (Work); Estimating the middle of an object, distance (Math); Limiting screen time (Values)
Melody and Mallory learn an easy way to calculate the maximum distance you’re from the water when you’re on an irregularly-shaped island.
Chapter 2
Washington Island: First Explorations
Schoolhouse Beach; Little Lake; Underground springs; Death’s Door (Earth); Making new friends (Social); Air, water movement in narrow places (Physics); Animal habitat (Biology); Native Americans (History); Trust (Values); Nutrition (Health) Bernoulli’s Principle: flow in narrow opening
What do skipping stones across water, doing cannonballs into water (ouch!) and blowing up balloons have to do with each other? Demonstrating some laws of physics!
Chapter 3
An Even Smaller Island
Rock Island (Earth); Potawatomie Lighthouse; Purpose of lighthouses (History); Water Pump (Technology); Word derivation (Language); Fresnel lens; Gravity (Physics); Poetry; Samuel Taylor Coleridge History of lighthouses
Fresnel lenses & lighthouses, links
How Frasnel lenses work
Learn how lighthouse beacons can shine so far, and that the gravity that keeps you from floating away also pulls you down when you try to climb up hills or stairs.
Chapter 4
An Unplanned Delay
Cooling to reduce swelling (Health); Polite terms of address; Helpfulness (Social); Sharing; Helping with chores (Values); International Space Station (Engineering); Night sky (Earth); Compass reading (Life Skills); Music; Writing poetry (Arts) Rock Island map
Locating International Space Station in the sky
Grandpa badly twists his ankle. Will this be the end of the Maloney family’s fast-paced hikes and explorations?
Chapter 5
Another Day at Rock Island
Quick healing; Extremophile trait (Biology); Compass reading (Life Skills); Music; Writing poetry; Architecture design (Arts); Gratitude; Sharing; Behavior (Values); Rutabaga crop; Iceland immigrants (History)  
Grandpa’s ankle mysteriously heals overnight. But it wasn’t due simply to good luck.  
Chapter 6
Back on Washington Island
Play on words (Language); Nurse Nightingale (History); Counting; Use of statistics (Math); Stavkirke – Stave Church (Engineering); Northern Lights; Washington Island sights; Wetlands (Earth); Recreation (Health) Florence Nightingale
Stave Church
So many sights to see, things to do when you’re on a trip. The twins’ Mom draws a map of the island , marks the farther away and closer in places to visit and suggests a plan.
Chapter 7
Fish Boil, Boiling Chips, …and Extremophiles?
Animal habitats; Bird sanctuary; Environmental protection (Earth); Growing lavender, potatoes (Biology, History); Water density as function of salt content; Oil and water mixture; Use of boiling chips; pH (Chemistry); Story telling (Language) Density of water
As the fish boil pot over boiled, the twins’ Dad tells of his experience of a “boil over” in his lab. He learned the hard way what happens when you put cold boiling chips into a hot liquid.
Chapter 8
Crossing Death’s Door a Second Time
Learning new things about people you know (Social); Buoys (Technology); Weather research (Earth); Pronunciation of the word “buoy” (Language); Data transmission to satellites (Engineering) World-wide location of weather monitoring buoys
The ferry back to the mainland passes a buoy that monitors and reports warnings of weather conditions that gave Death’s Door its name.
Chapter 9
On the Way Back

Sheboygan breakwater lighthouse (Earth); Setting-sun sky reflecting on water (Physics)
Some stopovers on the leisurely drive back home: a restaurant with goats munching grass on its rooftop, watery caves along the shore and a lighthouse at the end of a long pier.
Chapter 10
Next Adventure: Discussing the “Loch”
Retirement (Work); Nutrition (Health)
A different kind of “fish story” awaits the Maloney family on its next adventure at a local farm with its reputation for a mini Loch Ness on its property.