Dr Thomas Bernard and Lisa Moss, co-authors of the SuperQuesters series published by QuestFriendz, their STEM focused children’s book publishing company, comment on creating and using everyday activities at home that promote STEM learning and their inspiration for the series and its characters.
So much of what we do in our everyday lives at home and at work is related to STEM – even taking care of simple everyday activities and chores around the home we can be using and developing our STEM skills at times. For example, if we’re preparing a hard boiled egg that sometimes comes out too soft with runny yolk, and other times it might be overcooked. STEM learning is about identifying these small ‘mistakes’ and learning from them. If the egg was too runny then we know that next time we’ll need to cook it for a bit longer and we can keep experimenting with the length of time until we get it right. It’s about the cycle of continuous improvement and refinement through experimentation and reflection.
Even getting dressed in the morning requires us to use our STEM skills – we know that our trousers go on our legs, our socks go on our feet, our sweater goes on our upper body and we can use our sequencing skills to make sure we put on our clothes in the correct order. For example young children are already learning critical sequencing skills when they learn to put their underwear on before their trousers and their socks on before their shoes.
As per the egg example, the kitchen is a great setting for helping children to develop their STEM skills. We often bake with our children and we encourage them to choose a recipe and break it down into small parts (or steps) so that the larger challenge (e.g. baking a cake) becomes achievable and more manageable.
One example that comes to mind is when our daughters were 3.5 years old, we had just received an unassembled new family BBQ. At first our daughters were completely uninterested in the brown box and heap of components. Whilst some kids might be inclined to jump in and start tinkering with the parts, our daughters had absolutely no interest. We proceeded by explaining to them what this big heap of parts was and what it would be used for. We talked about how we would use it for a family BBQ. We proceeded to work together, collaborating step by step to turn the heap of loose parts into a beautiful new family BBQ. They took an active role in every step from sorting all the pieces, to working together to assemble it. OK the BBQ was a little wobbly at the end but with some final tightening of the screws from papa it was ready to use!
Given Thomas’ STEM background and our young daughters’ eagerness to learn and keep busy from a young age, we were always looking for screen-free resources that would nurture and develop their curiosity and foundational STEM skills such as problem solving and critical thinking. We looked across toys, games and books but found very limited options for this younger age range.
This inspired us to eventually launch QuestFriendz and create a series which features diverse and aspirational yet relatable superhero characters, to help change children’s perceptions about science and engineering. * Research by IET indicates that 90% of children love superheroes and 90% want to solve world problems, so superheroes who are scientists and engineers also act as inspirational role models, showing children that STEM is for everyone. Book 1 in the series, SuperQuesters: The Case of the Stolen Sun, introduces readers to three aspirational, confident and diverse characters – Lilli, Bea and Leo – who show that anything is possible with clear thinking, logic and patience. These characters are best friends and together they work to solve a number of ‘quests’ in a special magical kingdom (Questland) where they become superheroes. Lilli becomes Lillicorn, a caped crusader with diamond-bright puzzling skills and a swishy rainbow tail; Bea becomes Bea Bumble, a stripy superhero buzzing with ideas for incredible inventions and always ready to help solve challenges with her best friends and Leo becomes Leo Zoom, a super cool astronaut who is always ready to explore unknown lands in the name of problem-solving and helping others. We believe that every child possesses the potential to develop STEM skills – it’s about getting children interested and involved in STEM learning from a young age. Adventure fiction is a great way to immerse children, especially younger children and reluctant readers, fully in the book and spark their interest in STEM learning.
*Source ET STEM Superheroes: How children’s love of superheroes can inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Find out more about QuestFriendz and the SuperQuesters series, Book 2: SuperQuesters: The Case of the Missing Memory out March 16th 2023 and discover our downloadable resources at: www.questfriendz.com
We would love to hear your thoughts on our SuperQuesters series, you can drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org or @QuestFriendz.
SuperQuesters Case of the Stolen Sun and The Case of the Missing Memory are available now.
Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation.