Book 3: Sand Sack

What’s cooler than a geodesic tent? Igloos! (They have the same basic overall shape). Also cool: learning that the straight lines of their family tent’s triangles and an igloo’s square-ish blocks of snow are arranged to make surfaces that are rounded. What’s hot? Climbing sand dunes in summer. Mallory’s seven-year-old twin sister, Melody, enjoys the heat. Mallory? Not so much.

Mallory and his Dad head back down the dune while his Mom and sister continue their upward trek. In the shade of a small bush, Mallory discovers more than cooler sand as he settles into a little trench that his dog Rufus helped to dig. When Mallory and his father visit the local Indiana Dunes police station to turn in their find, they learn why some dunes are called “living.”

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 and Humanities content in selecting which BioFables books to give to your young readers:

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

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

The second outline provides the same information for the Humanities 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 Content: Entire Book 3, Sand Sack

Branches and sub-branches in Book 3:
  • Biology: Microbes/Bacteria; Plants; Animals; People
  • Chemistry: Molecules; Elements; Reactions; Forms; Functions
  • Physics: Heat and Temperature
  • Earth, Space Science: Geography; Geology; Environment
  • Math: Arithmetic
  • 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
     Microbes/Bacteria Bacteria that don’t need oxygen (anoxic)? Sure, those extremophiles living in bogs.
     Plants Insect-eating plants get even by using insects for food
Don’t even try to walk directly on a bog (which is mostly sphagnum (peat) moss)
Quaking bogs shiver and shake when someone walks over them on a boardwalk
     Animals The food chain isn’t made of metal
     People The case for protecting eyes from the sun’s damaging rays
Oh, my aching muscles
CHEMISTRY Substances, their structure, behavior, interactions
    Structure Make round, 3-D shapes, such as geodesic domes, using only triangles with straight lines; similar chemical structures are called Bucky Balls
     Function pH: Bogs with sphagnum moss are acidic (pH 3-4) compared with water (pH 7)
PHYSICS Properties and nature of matter and energy
     Heat, Temperature Water’s cooling effect: evaporation!
EARTH, SPACE SCIENCE Related to planet Earth and beyond
     Geography Continents, countries, oceans and other waters, and their features
         Locations Indiana  Dunes, Mt. Baldy, Mississippi Palisades
     Geology Earth’s physical structure, substance, history, processes
          Glaciers Melting ice masses (glaciers) scraped rock, creating sand
          Water table, bog Bogs get their water only from rain, not underground rivers or the water table
          Dunes Living dunes move over time; they also sing and squeak
   Environment  Physical, chemical and biological conditions that  impact people, animals, plants and microbes
Natural, human impact
          Habitats People can preserve and restore natural homes of plants and animals
          Wind Plants bend and dunes move with the direction of the wind
          Seasons Why is daylight so much longer in the summer than in the winter?
MATH Numbers, quantities and analysis
    Arithmetic Counting, adding multiplying
TECHNOLOGY Tools (products) and techniques using science
     Physics: Mechanics Structures: Igloos, geodesic domes
     Chemistry: Function Fuel cells vs. gasoline for cars
ENGINEERING Application of technology
Building sand castles: Wet or dry sand works better?

NOTE: The table of Values content for Sand Sack is being prepared and will  be uploaded as soon as possible.

Sand Sack Humanities Content

Humanities Branches and sub-branches in Sand Sack:
  • Society: Government; Public Behavior
  • Language: Sounds and Spelling; Word Derivations; Traditional Sayings; Classic Literature
  • History: Times/Eras; Locations
  • Health: Aging; FEAST; Physical
  • Arts: Writing; Play on Words; Drawing; Singing;
  • Life Skills: Planning Ahead; Safety, Security, Privacy; Avoiding Disease; Outdoors; Observing Surroundings
  • Work, Careers: Police Sergeant; Park Ranger

The left column of Sand Sack Table 2 highlights the major Humanities branches in light green, with their associated sub-branches indented below the major branch. The right column provides defintions of the major Humanities branches. Brief notes will give you an idea of the specific subjects and topics for each of the Humanities sub-branches.

Sand Sack TABLE 2: Humanities Content
Community, Culture and People
Local police sergeant locks found items in a vault until owner is located, signs official statement
      Public Behavior
Park rangers respond to impolite guest
LANGUAGE Means of communication
     Sounds and Spelling 4 N 6? Mallory didn’t understand either! Forensics
Melody learns that animals prey on each other, not pray
     Word Derivations Sol and stice (Latin) sun stopped (longest and shortest days); Equi equal and nox night (Latin)
Vernal (Latin) the spring season
Forensics (Latin) forum
     Traditional Sayings Dad says, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse”
“Nobody learns when they’re talking, only when they’re listening”
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”
“Where there’s life, there’s hope” (for improvement)
“Everyone out of the pool” What if there’s no pool?
“Finders keepers, losers weepers” mostly doesn’t apply
     Classic Literature Dad compliments Mallory, calls him Sherlock
HISTORY Information about the past
     Times/Eras Buried treasure, lost since the Great Depression
     Locations The role glaciers played in forming Indiana Dunes
HEALTH Level of well-being
     Aging Grandpa realizes his excess weight and little exercise is limiting his activities
     FEAST The twins remember Mom’s Food Exercise Attitude Sleep Timing philosophy
     Physical Sunglasses protect eyes from sun’s damaging effect
Going to bed at the same time is healthy, but not much fun when it’s still light outside
Muscles feel sore the day after unaccustomed exercise
ARTS Creative skills and their expression
     Writing Mom’s poem is “almost as good as Dad’s”? “We all have poems in us,” Mom says
     Play on Words Getting the family’s black labrador to wear sunglasses would make quite a spectacle
“Vernal means spring, and it’s time to SPRING into bed,” Mom says
Man-eating or boy-eating plants?
     Drawing Drawing a geodesic dome tent helps to remember its shape
Sergeant shows how something buried near the base of a sand dune can be lost over time as winds cause the sand to shift
Ranger Ted draws a simple food chain for Melody
Dad draws dunes holding four colored pencils together
     Singing, Music What do “Twinkle, twinkle little star” and “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” have in common?
     Creating, Building Things Mom creates a clock calendar with each number representing a month and stickers to represent the four seasons
A sand castle challenge. Who will build the winner?
LIFE SKILLS Practical abilities for attending to everyday needs
     Planning Ahead Setting up a new tent before a camping trip
     Safety, Security, Privacy Sergeant agrees to Dad’s request for no publicity on the discovery for himself and his family
     Avoiding Disease A Ranger assures Mom that local squirrels don’t carry rabies, but bats and woodchucks do
     Outdoors Mallory wants to compare a Dunes tree graveyard with the one that the family saw at Yellowstone
Mallory discovers his map-reading skills
     Observing Surroundings Bushes snag Rufus’s leash where Mallory couldn’t
WORK, CAREERS Productive activity to earn an income or give back to society
     Police Sergeant Sergeant at a local police station
     Park Ranger Park Rangers have many differet roles indoors and outdoors


Sand Sack Values/Behaviors Content

Values Branches and sub-branches in Sand Sack:
  • Ethical/Moral: Honesty/Truth; Doing the Right Thing
  • Emotional: Sense of Humor; Calm Reasoning; Competitiveness; Impetuousness; Awareness of Consequences; Serenity; Need for Recognition
  • Mental: Reasoning; Intuition; Sense of Wonder; Visualization
  • Physical: Aging Well; Physical Health
  • Learning/Knowledge/Skills: Acquiring Knowledge; Analytical Reasoning; Sharing Knowledge; Eliciting Knowledge
  • People: Parental Responsibility; Judgmental; Concern for Others; Respect; Proper Assertiveness; Hospitality; Generosity
  • Biosphere: Research; Erosion; Respect for Earth, All Things Living on It
Sand Sack TABLE 3: Values/Behaviors Content


Internal character, beliefs
     Honesty/Truth Mallory shows Dad why the rock was so interesting
     Doing the Right Thing Dad tells Mallory they need to report his discovery to the local authorities
Mom says “finders keepers losers weepers” doesn’t apply
Dad will be discussing Mellory’s “heist” of the 9 lb rock with the Dunes’ police sergeant
Emotional Feelings, sentiment, intuition
     Sense of Humor Dad teases Mom about her advice to get more exercise
Mallory and Dad are happy that dogs don’t talk
     Calm Reasoning Jumbled thoughts at first prevent Dad’s calm reasoning about what to do with Mallory’s unexpected “find”
Mallory’s questions bring Dad’s jumbled thoughts back to reality
     Competitiveness Melody and Mallory both feel that their sibling know something they don’t
     Impetuousness Mallory races after Rufus, who bolts from his leash
     Awareness of Consequences Mallory knows he’s in trouble when Dad finds the rock
     Serenity Dad enjoys resting and enjoying the surroundings while Mallory cools off in moist sand
     Need for Recognition A visitor rudely interrupts the park’s rangers program
Mental Rational, theoretical, analytical thinking
     Reasoning Mallory wonders how something round can be made up with just straight lines
Mallory compares the dunes’ “tree graveyards” with Yellowstone’s, discovers dry and swampy kinds at the dunes
Mallory remembers that wet sand stays together; good for building sand castles
     Intuition Grandpa’s mention of unexpected wind leads Melody to think Grandpa knows more than he lets on
Dad suspects what’s in the canvas sack that Mallory found buried in the sand
     Sense of Wonder Melody wonders how the dunes got there
     Visualization Melody thinks a food chain is a chain made out of food
Physical Health, bodily strengh and movement
     Aging Well Grandpa knows he wouldn’t be able to climb dunes or be comfortable sleeping in a tent
     Health Mom’s “FEAST” is an easy path to good health
Exercise helps pump oxygen to your brain
Pursuit and acquisition of understanding, wisdom, capabilities
     Acquiring Knowledge Mallory is impressed by the police seargent’s reasoning
Melody learns that bacteria can live in oxygen-less bogs
Mom and Dad encourage constant observing and learning
     Analytical Thinking The police sergeant suspects why the canvas sack was buried in the dune
While Melody’s reasoning about bogs and water tables wasn’t quite right, she learns some new facts
     Sharing Knowledge Grandpa says an igloo-shaped tent is more stable than other designs
Mom uses a clock and stickers to explain solstice
Mom and Dad explain how glaciers and wind made sand dunes
Melody learns from Ranger Lisa what makes a bog a bog
Mom and Dad help their twins understand human nature and how to react in certain situations
Mom tells Melody that different ways of writing poems help to understand your feelings
     Eliciting Knowledge Mom shows the twins how to look at their tent’s design
Mom’s and Dad’s questions help understand how dunes become “living”
Dad helps Mallory figure out how trees died in the sand dunes
People Regard for, and relationships with, humankind
     Parental Responsibility “The reward is in doing the right thing,” Mallory’s Dad says when the sergeant suggests a reward
Oops. Dad forgets about poor Rufus in the hot car
Mom agrees with Dad’s privacy request to the sergeant
Mom encourages sharing reward, rather than competing, to making the biggest, best sand castle
Dad confronts Mallory about the big rock
     Judgmental Attitude Mom says not to be critical when people’s choices may be different from your own
Melody softly calls her Dad and brother “wimps” when the dune gets too hot for them…but Mom hears
     Concern for Others Dad hopes Grandpa would take better care of his health
Mom asks Dad how Mallory and Rufus are doing
     Respect Mom thanks Ranger Lisa and moves on, noticing other guests waiting to learn about the bog
     Proper Assertiveness An attendee at the park ranger program addresses a rude visitor
     Gratitude Mallory thanks the sergeant for free ice cream coupons
Mom is touched that Grandpa selected a nearby place that is (kind of) similar to where she grew up
     Hospitality Grandpa invites the Maloneys to dinner, and they bring Grandpa his own portable “salad garden” to grow his own healthy greens
     Generosity Mallory gives his sister a small rock with holes the right size for pencils
Melody asks for an extra magnifier to give to her brother to investigate bugs and things
Mississippi Palisades is the site of Grandpa’s next monthly mini-vacation gift
Biosphere Earth’s natural environment: living organisms, water, surface, subsurface, atmosphere
     Research The Maloneys drive their new experimental fuel car to the Indiana Dunes
     Erosion Walking on dunes causes sand to tumble down
     Respect for Earth, All Things     Living on It Melody comforts a squirrel that escapes being lunch for a hawk
Melody changes her mind and agrees squirrels shouldn’t be kept in cages as pets
Mallory thinks that while people make changes to Earth, nature makes changes, too


The following table, not quite finished, identifies Sand Sack content by chapter. Subjects and topics of the middle column appear in  bold, followed by abbreviated versions of their Knowledge Gateway(s) in parentheses. Follow the links for further investigation. Child-friendly sites appear in orange.

Helpful Hints Erosion; Sand movement; Sand dunes; Mt. Baldy (Earth) Indiana Dunes
Chapter 1
A Tent Shaped Like an Igloo
Buckyballs (Chemistry); Igloos; Geodesic domes; Buckminster Fuller; Scientists (Math, Technology); Weight; Eating Habits; Exercise (Health); Software development (Work) Buckminster Fuller
Twins Melody and Mallory discover that their dome-shaped tent is made from big and small triangles.
Chapter 2
Camping in the Sand
Eyesight, Impact of sun (Biology); Dune erosion: Human impact; Sand dunes: Shifting sands; Seasons: Day length (Earth); Cars: Fuel cells, Gasoline (Technology); Eye protection; Adequate water; Exercise (Health)
A clock has twelve hours, the year has twelve months: an easy way to remember the changing lengths of daytime, and the extremes of the solstice and equinox. 
Chapter 3
A Generations-Old Secret Uncovered
Water’s cooling effect (Physics); Sand dunes: Living dunes; Wind (Earth); Counting, Adding, Multiplying (Math); Local government (Social); Great Depression (History); Muscle aches (Health); Privacy issues (Life Skills); Reporting found items (Values) Great Depression
Wind and Weather
A “living” dune covers a long-buried sack and Rufus (good doggie) helps Mallory and his Dad dig it out. What do you think is in the sack?
Chapter 4
How Do Sand Dunes Happen?
Glaciers; Dune formation; Wind (Earth); Sharing reward (Values) Glaciers
Glaciers scraping rocks grind them to sand; over time, winds blow the sand into hills (dunes). The Maloney family enjoys an ice cream treat for doing the right thing. 
Chapter 5
Spongy Ground and Bug-Eating Plants
Bacteria; Insect-eating plants; Sphagnum mossQuaking bogs; Food chain (Biology); Acidic conditions (Chemistry); Water table; Quaking bogs (Earth): Rabies awareness (Health); Not keeping wild animals as pets (Values) Rabies information
Extremophile microbes can live in bogs, even with no oxygen available. Moss up to six feet thick covers the bog’s surface, making the boardwalk feel like you’re walking on a bouncy mattress.
Chapter 6
Blowouts and Tree Graveyards
Blowouts; Tree graveyards; Marshes (Earth); Sherlock Holmes (Language); Map-reading (Life Skills)
Mallory and his Dad learn that “tree graveyards” can be hollowed out areas with dry sand, or wet and marshy like the family saw in Yellowstone.
Chapter 7
Learning about the Dunes (and even more about Human Nature)
Habitats: Preservation and restoration; Sand dunes: Singing and squeaking sands (Earth); Types of responses to rudeness (Social, Values)
After trading stories about what they learned about bogs and blowouts, the Maloney family learns how “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” during the evening Park Ranger program.
Chapter 8
Aches and Pains
Building sand castles: wet vs. dry sand (Engineering); Drawing techniques (Arts); Muscle aches (Health) Wet Sand Is Sticky
Delayed Muscle Soreness
Walking along the sandy beach made “music” (except for Rufus: soft paws). A day to take it easy after climbing the dunes.
Chapter 9
A Rock is NOT a Stone
Removal of natural objects (Social); Value of writing poetry (Language, Arts); Healthy eating habits; Sleep, Regular bedtime (Health); Cost saving, healthier eating, exercise from knowing how to cook and vegetable gardening (Life Skills)
Mom writes a poem about singing sands; Mallory can’t resist the fascinating (heavy!) souvenir that he can examine more closely with the new magnifier his sister gave him.
Next Adventure Mississippi Palisades (Earth); Local government: performing social service (Social)
The Maloney family discuss the rock cliffs they’ll visit next. Mallory and his Dad make a trip back to the State Park to learn the consequences of removing the nine-pound rock.