When you think of STEM books, do you think of both fiction and nonfiction? The fact of the matter is that fiction can be just as useful in teaching young readers about how science works. Fiction just happens to do it while weaving a marvelous made-up plot at the same time.
An idea had just popped into my head. I could write a book about a school science club that somehow goes on adventures and solves mysteries. And of course, they’d be using science all the while. As I noodled over this idea, I was going through my inbox and up popped one of the updates from Publisher’s Weekly or something else industry oriented like that.
And right there on the top was an ad for Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the World. No worries, I thought. This is still doable. Not all kids who love sciences are geniuses. Oh, wait. That’s written by Bill Nye. And the main character, Jack, isn’t a genius? Needless to say, I am not going to repeat what I said here for all to see. Bill Nye? Seriously?
And, of course, since it is Bill Nye it is really, Really, REALLY good. Yeah, I might still be a little miffed, but I can get over it long enough to tell you why, if you are writing STEM fiction, you need to read this book.
Nye and his coathor Gregory Mone work in so much science but they do it all in the guise of story. The kids ask questions — if this why not this — and solve problems. How do you create a craft that will get four people across the frozen plains of Antarctica? They look for information and investigate even when the adults don’t believe there is a mystery to solve. They interpret data gathered on video feeds and left behind on maps. On and on goes the science, but it isn’t at the expense of the plot. These two factors come together hand in hand.
In all truth, the whole thing felt like a modern, high-tech Boxcar children. Three foster children form a bond and make a life for themselves out of what they find in a poor urban neighborhood. All in all, there’s an awful lot to love and, if you want to write STEM fiction, you really should read it.