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: Structure; Function
  • 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 live 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: Tables of Humanities and Values content for Sand Sack are being prepared and will  be uploaded as soon as possible.


The following table 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.