STEM – Making Room For Girls

 

ada_lovelace_portrait-1 CC011 October is Ada Lovelace Day, a commemoration the plucky Nineteenth Century woman who pioneered computer programming. Ada was the daughter of brooding poet Lord Byron. Ada’s mother, who feared her daughter would inherit some of her father’s flamboyant poetic tendencies, put Ada on a strict diet of mathematics and logic.

The result was a fabulously gifted mathematical mind. Her mentor, Charles Babbage, referred to her as “The Enchantress of Numbers.” The efforts to curb the Byron flamboyance were not as successful. Apparently, Ada was odd. (As a Quirky Kid advocate and die-hard fan, I suspect today we would celebrate — or at least allow for — her neuro-diversity).

Ada Lovelace Day & STEM

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, all areas that have remained relatively closed to women and girls. 11 October provides an occasion to encourage girls to study STEM subjects and celebrate the noteworthy achievements of STEM career women around the world. It’s also a day to consider:

How do we entice girls to study STEM subjects?

How do we break down the stereotypes that say STEM subjects are “for boys”?

Both can be encouraged by putting inspiring STEM books in the hands of both girls and boys. Give them exciting books about girls like Ada Lovelace. Introduce them to stories that incorporate maths, natural sciences, engineering and technology.

Recommended STEM Books for Kids

Case_Missing_Moonstone_Wollstonecraft_DetectiveMystery lovers will enjoy The Case of the Missing Moonstone, written by Jordan Stratford and illustrated by Kelly Murphy. This rollicking Regency romp stars Ada Byron and Mary Shelley (who wrote Frankenstein) as they put their superior minds to work on solving a whodunit. (MG)

4/5 Stars

 

 

 

 

 

The_Lie_Tree_FHardingeFrances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree by  is a brilliant book about a 14-year-old aspiring natural scientist growing up in Victorian England. This story has fossils galore, freaky flora, lashings of fantasy — and murder. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the very clever girl. (Upper MG)

I can’t recommend this book enough, which falls into my favourite genre, Gaslamp Fantasy.

5/5 Stars

 

 

 

 

Flavia_de_Luce_1No STEM list would be complete without the wonderful Flavia de Luce Series (also known as The Buckshaw Chronicles in some places)

by Alan Bradley. She’s debuts in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. This precocious eleven year old protagonist plays with poison—literally! She’s a budding chemist who lives in a manor, which houses its own laboratory, thanks to some bygone relatives who specialised in this branch of science. Her brand of naughtiness sometimes verges on outrageous, but she’s a delightful amateur sleuth nonetheless. MG, 4/5 stars

For Younger Children

Engibear‘s Dream and Engibear’s Bridge, written by Andrew King and illustrated by Benjamin Johnston, are the most delightful picture books about engineering. Honestly — read the sweet stories and feast your eyes on the amazing artwork. I dare not to be inspired! Be sure to check out the app and the website. (PB/JF)

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-52-23-am     screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-52-12-am    5/5 Stars

STEM Careers Focus

And for something a little different and way cool …

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-35-04-amThe Tech Girls Movement has created two books called Tech Girls Are Superheroes, which are available for free to school girls in Australia. Full of excitement and derring-do, these books are inspiring and downright fun.

Written and produced at QUT in Brisbane! Yay for homegrown books! The website offers resources for teachers and breaking news about STEM teaching and careers.

 

 

 

My own STEM story for middle grade readers is underway (a little more slowly than I wish). Watch out for updates about Winifred Weatherby Saves the Century.

 

Porotait of Ada by Alfred Edward Chalon [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, CC0

How to Write a Superhero Story

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Featuring guest blogger, Karen Tyrrell

Karen, tell me about Song Bird Superhero.

Song Bird Superhero is a humorous adventure with positive messages for kids.

Kids can stop the bully … Kids can do STEM science … Kids can do anything.

Blurb…

“Rosella Bird’s nightly dreams are filled with flying. Too bad her waking hours are a living nightmare:

Her flying inventions crash.

Her kooky parents are overprotective.

Her singing shatters windows.

The principal bans her from the science fair.

Worst of all, she lives next door to Frank Furter, an evil boy-genius whose sights are set on seeing her fail! Rosella is the girl least likely to soar, and yet when she learns to sing something incredible takes flight. Rosella becomes Song Bird, a flying superhero who saves the day.

Can Song Bird defeat Frank Furter’s evil bullying ways?”

Song Bird Superhero meets Captain Cybersafe at the launch.

Song Bird Superhero meets me–I mean, Captain Cybersafe–at the launch.

Why did you write a Superhero novel?

A: Readers of my Super Space Kid series (Jo-Kin Battles the It AND Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra) requested I write a superhero action adventure for girls. They wanted the main character and her side-kick to be heroic kick-ass girls. Rosella Ava Bird is a bullied girl who dreams of flying. Her side-kick, Amy Hillcrest, a super smart girl with cerebral palsy revels as a positive role model for diversity and disability, crushing stereotypes. Both girls excel with girls-can-do-anything and STEM science.

B: Song Bird is inspired by my real childhood events. I was bullied terribly in Year 6, losing my self-confidence. Each night I dreamed I could fly to escape my bully. I discovered my super powers when I sang in the choir and dabbled in science.

What are the rules of the superhero sub-genre?

A superhero battles against a super villain as he/she strives to keep the world safe. Super heroes and super villains co-exist in a supernatural world, a familiar world, but much darker than ours. The story begins with an inciting incident, when an ordinary person is initiated into being a superhero. In Song Bird Superhero it was from the accidental bite of a crimson Rosella. Rosella Ava Bird must then learn how to control her super powers. Eventually, Song Bird Superhero becomes the ultimate force of good, saving the world, and her school with her super powers.

What are challenges did you face writing Song Bird superhero?

  •  To create an original superhero with new superhero powers, appealing to children. Song Bird gains her superpowers from singing, science and self-belief.
  • Explain Song Bird’s super powers by Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths in a fun easy-to-understand way.
  • To create a relatable evil opponent, Frank Furter as the evil boy genius. Kids immediately identify Frank as the nasty school bully, who calls them names and trips them over.

What are the Top Tips in writing a superhero adventure for children?

songbirdsuperheroandsupergirl

Song Bird Superhero meets Super Girl at Oz Comic Con – Brisbane.

a. Create an appealing superhero. Make sure your hero saves someone/ something in the very first scene to create empathy from the reader. Add lots of FUN humour. Give your superhero and her side-kick positive heroic qualities to inspire kids. Readers want to connect with the characters emotionally, not just observe their physical amazingness. That means giving them a full range of emotions and an interior life, people they care about, obstacles and goals.

b. Create super cool and interesting superpowers. But not so complex that we can’t quickly grasp what your character can do. Readers of this genre expect characters to do amazing and unusual things, but they don’t want to have to take a crash-course in physics before they can understand what’s happening.

c. Create a FUN super villain that we LOVE to hate. Make them as powerful as the superhero, adding to the conflict and tension. What powers does the villain possess? How do the villain and the hero interact?

d. Explain the superhero’s super powers by STEM science. Research scientific explanations on how superpowers work. Use simple yet engaging language to explain these powers.

e. Create a super world where the superhero and his nemesis exist. What are the rules to this world? Ask yourself: How is your super world the same and different to a real world?

f. Create FUN names for your characters. ie Rosella Ava Bird AKA Song Bird, Ms Bamboozle the school principal, Frank Furter the villain and Perry Poopa, his evil side-kick.

FREE Teacher Resources and kids’ activities for Song Bird!

Includes STEM science, creative writing, flying history, art, craft, maths, literacy, drama, social skills and bully prevention. Download HERE.

Song Bird Superhero by Karen Tyrrell is now available on Amazon HERE.

Song Bird Book Giveaway

Let’s celebrate the release of Song Bird Superhero by Karen Tyrrell on Amazon. Comment below to win a signed “Limited Edition” copy of Song Bird Superhero. Giveaway closes on October 20. Good luck!

Answer this question: Why do you want to win a copy of Song Bird Superhero?

Thanks Karen! All the best with Song Bird Superhero!