Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 6, 2021

Book Giveaway: The Secret Science Of Sports by Jennifer Swanson

Jennifer Swanson has a new non-fiction picture book titled, The Secret Science Of Sports, illustrated by Laurene Boglio and published by Black Dog & Leventhal/Hachette. It is coming out on July 20th, but is available for pre-order, now. They have agreed to send a book with one lucky winner living in the US.

All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Thank you for helping Jennifer and Laurene.


Why does a football spiral? How do some athletes jump so high? The answer is science! The Secret Science of Sports helps kids better understand concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math through the sports they love to play and watch.

Every sport — from baseball to basketball, to football and soccer, to wrestling, tennis, and lacrosse — involves a bit of science, technology, engineering, and math. You can’t throw a ball without Newton’s Law of Motion, and you can’t calculate a player’s stats without math. And every type of sports equipment — a helmet, cleats, shoulder or knee pads — were designed with the latest engineering and technology.

The Secret Science of Sports breaks down normally difficult STEM concepts like forces of motion, gravity, algebra, and even neuroscience, in a language kids can — and will want to — understand. Divided into sections like chemistry, biology, physics, technology, and more, this handy guide uses examples from sports like soccer, baseball, softball, football, hockey, lacrosse, tennis, and others to explain important STEM concepts for kids ages 8 to 12. They’ll learn how to use math to calculate a batter’s average, why a tennis racket is shaped the way it is, how biology affects athletic performance, the aerodynamics behind competitive swimsuits, and much more. With dozens of original, captivating illustrations to engage young readers, kids will have fun while learning about key STEM ideas that will prepare them for years of schooling to come.


The journey for all of my books about science start in the same way, back when I was a kid. I have loved science my whole life. When I was 7 years old, I started a science club in my garage.  But the other part of the story for this book lies with my love of sports. That started as a very young child, too. Sports are a big part of your life when you have three brothers and a father who loves them. I started ballet, tap, and tumbling classes when I was 3. By the time I was 6, I’d given up tap (I didn’t like that), but I would continue the ballet and tumbling until I was 17. When I was 7, I started to play T-ball. It seemed a natural progression, mostly because a lot of my afternoons were spent playing baseball in the backyard with my brothers. Eventually, I moved onto swimming and track. When I was in 8th grade I was 2nd in state for the 200m dash.

Do you see the pattern there? I love sports. They were as much of a part of my life as science, and well, growing up. Many, many hours were spent on baseball fields, going fishing, swimming, riding my bike, running, and much more.

For me, writing this book, was like reliving my childhood all over again. When an editor from Black Dog & Leventhal, Lisa Tenaglia, emailed me to ask me about doing a book about Sports and STEM, I was thrilled. I actually already had a proposal for one that my agent was just about to go out with. Yes, being an author is all about the timing! (which means hang onto those old manuscripts and proposals that haven’t gone anywhere, you never know when they will become timely)

Anyway, I wanted my STEM sports book to be really cool… and interactive. If you are familiar with my books, you know that a lot of them have activities. That’s because to me, the best way to get excited about science is to see it in action.

The first step was for my editor to find an awesome illustrator, and they did a fantastic job of that. All of these amazing illustrations are done by Laurène Boglio. She captured not only the action involved but also brought a bit of attitude and excitement to all of her illustrations. Like this one below. You can easily imagine this sword being swung about, can’t you? And look at the images of the people with different body types. Brilliant!

I split the book up into four different chapters, one for each letter of STEM:  science, technology, engineering, and math. Yep. There is a whole chapter about math in this book. After all, how would people be able to spout off statistics of their favorite player or team without math?

This next spread depicts my love of swimming. I started swimming when I was 9 years old, and I’ve pretty much never stopped. At the age of 16, I was a lifeguard and at 17 I got qualified to teach swimming lessons to kids. Some of my best summers were spent from noon until 8pm (when it closed) at the swimming pool.

But it also reflects one of my family traditions. The Olympics was a HUGE part of my life growing up, and even as an adult. When it was on, we’d all gather around with a big bowl of popcorn and watch. I learned more about sports just sitting there listening to my dad and mom explain the scoring, the turns, and then trying them myself (in our basement). One of our favorite summer Olympic sports was swimming. We watched all of the events, especially the 100 m butterfly, since that is what I swam.

As I mentioned, I wanted to have a lot of activities in this book! Why should you just read about science when you can do it? When I’m trying to explain a somewhat difficult concept, like physics or drag,  I always ask myself —

“If I were a 10-year-old kid, what would I know about that could easily describe this? ”

Most kids are familiar with balloons. Even more have probably punched one and watch it come back at them. This is a great experiment to try to learn about the force of impact.

It’s impossible to talk about sports and STEM without discussing Newton’s laws of motion. In my Save the Crash-test Dummies book, I used cars crashing together and the movement of the crash-test dummies inside. For the sports book, I used a soccer ball. It could be any type of round ball that you kick, but this one seemed the best (and most familiar one) to start with.

The fun thing is, when kids (of any age) kick a ball around they probably aren’t even thinking about the forces that are involved. Hopefully, that changes after they read my book. Doing this action yourself and then reading this book is also a great way to cement these concepts into your brain so they are there for that next physics test you might have to take.

Another sport that I played constantly growing up was basketball. We had a hoop attached to the top of our garage and we would play for hours in the driveway. My father was a coach and he coached all of my brothers in basketball and baseball, too. I got so good at basketball, that even played it for a year in high school. The other three years I was a cheerleader and cheered for basketball. Suffice to say, I’ve seen a lot of basketball games in my lifetime. 😊

And last but not least, I ran track from the time I was in 6th grade through 12th grade. I was a sprinter, and pretty fast, too. I ran the 100m, 200m dashes and both of the speed relays, the 4 x100m and 4 x 200m. I had to include a spread about the timing of the relay exchanges and the splits for each runner. That is the most important part! It tells you how fast each runner is running so that you can be sure to pick the four fastest people for the relay. It also means that you have to practice your exchanges over and over and over. A dropped baton puts you out of the race!

I hope everyone who reads this book has as much fun with it as I did writing it. As I said, it is a trip through my childhood, but also my life. I’m still a very active person. I run, bike, swim, hike, and walk. My husband and I raised our kids to be involved in sports, too. It’s a great way to stay active physically but also mentally. And it teaches you a lot about working together and concentration.

As for teachers, I hope they challenge their students to do the activities to see science in action. And this book is also great for a literacy connection as the voice I use for the book is a slightly snarky but energetic youngster who loves sports.

With the Summer Olympics coming up, this book is the perfect guide to the behind-the-scenes STEM that all athletes learn about as they train. So grab a ball, bat, track shoes, swimsuit, golf club, or whatever piece of sporting equipment you like and head outside. Spent some time enjoying life by playing a sport. Don’t forget to throw a little STEM in it, too. After all, science is all around you!


Jennifer began her writing career at the age of five when she wrote and illustrated books for her kindergarten class. A self-professed science geek, Jennifer has always been captivated by the world around her and is curious to understand how it works. As a young childe she used to gather leaves and flowers and look at them under a microscope, wade through her backyard creek, and tromp through woods. She has carried that love of science her whole life.

Jennifer has a B.S. in chemistry from the U. S. Naval Academy and an M.S. Ed in K-8 science from Walden University. In addition to being an award-winning author, she is also a middle school science instructor for John Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth.

Now, Jennifer Swanson is the award winning author of over 40+ nonfiction books for children, mostly about science and technology. Jennifer’s love of STEM began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. While no longer working from the garage, Jennifer’s passion for science and technology resonates in all her books but especially, BRAIN GAMES (NGKids) and SUPER GEAR: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up (Charlesbridge), Astronaut-Aquanaut, and Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner, Save the Crash-test Dummies. Her books have received many accolades including the starred reviews, Booklist Best Tech books list, Green Earth Book Honor Award, a Florida Book Award, and multiple California Reading Association awards, and National Science Teaching BEST STEM awards. her BRAIN GAMES book was even #13 on the The 50 Best Science books Ever Written.

An accomplished and exciting speaker, Jennifer has presented at National NSTA conferences, the Highlights Foundation, the Atlanta Science Festival, the World Science Festival in NYC and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival. Jennifer encourages kids (of all ages) to engage their curiosity and DISCOVER the Science all around them!


Laurène Boglio is a French art director & illustrator who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She leads the creative helm of celebrated illustrated film magazine Little White Lies, and works independently across a diverse range of media, for an eclectic mix of clients — from the Guardian to Taylor Swift. Studying in Paris and Strasbourg, Boglio has expertly tuned a unique and distinctive artistic style to incorporate her own smart (yet playful) humor. This trait resonates throughout her breadth of work and is most prominent when brought to life by her fun-infused GIF animations. With a passion for illustrating people, landscapes, and typography, she utilizes a range of techniques, always producing art with her truly original and compelling aesthetic. Through her work, Boglio strives not only to create the finest visuals and storytelling but also to challenge her viewers’ perspectives.

Jennifer, this is a very interesting book. I never thought about any of the reasons behind a good performing athlete. I am sure parents, teachers, and “would be” athletes will be drawn to this book. I am happy to let everyone know how this book can help improve athletic skills. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I’ve been waiting for this book! It sounds great way to hook kids into STEM topics. Can’t wait to read it!


  2. As an engineer, I’m going to absolutely love reading this book. I’m an email subscriber and shared on social:


  3. So brilliant to use sports to explain some fun uses and examples of physics and math! I love the way you have set it up, and can’t wait to read this book!


  4. Hooray for another terrific STEAM book from Jen! Lauréne’s illustrations pair perfectly with Jen’s text.


  5. Jennifer, what an incredible idea for a book. I work as a Math/ Science Tutor for the Boys and Girls Club. I am always trying to find ways to hook boys in 4th grade and up on STEM topics. This book will be a big help for me to share with those hard to reach students. Thanks. I will post on FB and Twitter. My fingers are crossed.


  6. WOW, Jennifer and Lorene! What an effort! I’m always blown away by the work that goes into books like this, and this one looks aMAZing! ❤


    • Sorry, Laurene! Spelled your name like my cousin’s lol


  7. Looks great, please count me in. I shared on FB and Twitter.


  8. This sounds like a winning concept! Can’t wait to read this book. (I’m signed up for the emails, too.)


  9. Great topic!


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