Why you should include STEM in your children’s books

The Australian Government is investing money in schools to increase student engagement in STEM subjects.

So what is STEM?STEM in schools

Science

Technology

Engineering

Mathematics

We need to get kids enthused about these subjects again… but what has this to do with fiction?

Book Links (Qld) hosted a panel discussion on STEM in literature, and it was such an inspiration!

Andrew KingSTEM – ENGINEERING

Dr Andrew King, author of the Engibear books explained the need to encourage more kids, and especially more girls, into the area of engineering. Through his books he challenges kids to think about the planning and processes behind building grand structures such as bridges. Andrew’s books are big hit with primary school kids!

How can engineering fit into children’s fiction?

  • Designing gadgets for spy thrillers
  • Craft technology for travelling to Mars
  • 3D printing plans for producing characters from your story
  • Paper crafts for younger readers
  • Robots. I mean, who doesn’t want robots in their story?!

STEM – TECHNOLOGY

children's books dailyMegan Daley, teacher librarian and book reviewer at Children’s Books Daily, explained the intention and benefits to ‘make-a-space’ projects in schools. Even in early years of primary school, children are learning to code, to create working circuits and to design their own apps. Stories focused on ICT (Information and Communication Technology) are not just appealing to teachers and schools, but include a topic children are comfortable and familiar with. You can go a bit further than just including an iPone in your story, you could provide QR codes for them to scan, or secret coding instructions for them to follow.

STEM – SCIENCE

Sheryl GwytherFacts in fiction. Kids love to know how and why things happen. Sheryl Gwyther is passionate about science and this shows in much of her children’s fiction. Sheryl talked about the way you can see kids’ brains switch on when you engage them with a story filled with scientific facts. Her Pearson publication, Ali Berber and the Forty Grains of Salt explains this compound to children within an entertaining tale. With sciences being a key focus in STEM for schools, it’s a good idea to look at ways you could include this in your children’s fiction.

Hot Topics for Science in Fiction:

  • Mars
  • Genetics
  • Enhanced Greenhouse Effect
  • Evil chemistry – highly reactive elements
  • Newton’s Law
  • Explaining superhero powers

STEM – MATHS

mathsnovel.comWait a minute. How could you possibly include mathematics in fiction and still make it fun? Associate Professor at QUT, Michael Milford, doesn’t just think it can be done, he’s produced a great example! Over at MathNovel.com, Michael introduces us to his exciting new series of thrillers that include maths puzzles in each chapter. I’ve already started reading, and I LOVE this. In chapter two, I actually pulled out a calculator to check the calculations. This sort of fiction will have kids so involved in the story and learning and practicing maths at the same time!

These thrillers are aimed at the older high school kids, but there’s no reason books aimed at middle grade or even picture books couldn’t include puzzles within the story.

Are you inspired to include STEM elements in your fiction now? Not only will you be turning kids onto important technologies for their future, but you’ll also open up your market to possibly include schools. What types of STEM topics appeal to you? I’d love to hear, how about some ideas in the comments?

Comments

  1. Thanks Charmaine, Andrew, Megan & Sheryl, for posting this…
    Please consider…
    ‘JO-KIN Battles the It’ Super Space Kids #1 as a STEM novel featuring science, astronomy, Mars, techno gadgets, and explains super hero powers. ( Sheryl mentioned these on her list of needed topics).
    Download FREE teacher resources and kids activities: science and astronomy sheets, creative writing, humour & family themes, team power, quiz and colour sheets. I would really appreciate your feedback
    How can I improve the STEM quota in the story and the activities?
    http://www.karentyrrell.com/free-teacher-resources-free-kids-activities/
    Cheers,
    Karen 🙂
    Karen Tyrrell recently posted…Reviews Jo-Kin Battles the It -Super Space KidsMy Profile

  2. Wow, a stellar write up! Thanks Charmaine! Wasn’t it inspiring?!

  3. So wanted to attend this seminar Charmaine. Thank you for sharing. STEM, been around for yonks but creating new age buzz and deservedly so. Brilliant how the Kids Lit Industry is able to accommodate, educate and deliver on this critical part of pedagogy thanks to people like yourselves and those mentioned in your post. Love how we can entertain kids by drawing them into bigger braver, better understood worlds. 🙂
    Dimity Powell recently posted…Two Birds on a Wire – Balancing with Heidi Cooper SmithMy Profile

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