Inspiring children’s curiosity and creativity by weaving tidbits of science and other knowledge into fun stories of (mostly) ordinary life and life’s pop-up learning moments
“I don’t like math.” “Biology is boring.” Sound familiar? These are the sounds of the dreaded SASS (“Science Avoidance Study Syndrome”) disease.
And SASS doesn’t just afflict young children, by the way. Teens have been heard saying: “Why should I sign up for physics? I’m not a nerd.” Some adults join them: “I never could get what understanding chemistry can do for me.”
May we suggest BioFables books as a remedy for SASS ?
Mischief is inevitable with smart seven-year-olds, as the Maloney twins amply demonstrate when the famiy visits places as far away as Yellowstone National Park and at their own backyard vegetable garden in suburban Chicago. An extra dimension of the BioFables stories is the mysterious extremophile nature of the twins, revealed in extreme circunstances as the stories unfold. Not that the adults around them believe it. Except, perhaps, for Grandpa Mike. And he keeps his thoughts to himself…mostly. (Everyone knows that only some microbes of the gazillions of them on earth can be classified as extremophiles, right?) This is BioFables’ only departure from valid science, by the way.
Take your pick of the first six BioFables titles published so far (cover photos above plus an under-revision Companion to Book 3 and working titles for future books). All books are in full color, with scores of explanatory diagrams and photos. You’ll find a wealth of information on what’s inside each published book by clicking on its title in the right sidebar or in the drop-down list in the Series 1 Book List tab at the top of the page.
The initial BioFables concept was a series of children’s stories featuring science, or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) topics to make these subjects less intimidating. In reviewing the content of the first book, we realized that the sciences alone “do not a story make;” rather, they are interconnected with social (or humanities) attributes that contribute to everyone’s unique character.
So, Why Science? Science skills are more in demand than ever, from Biology (e.g. discovering new drugs, vaccine development) to Math and IT (everything computing) to Physics and Chemistry (e.g. improved energy generation, developing new materials for uses from medical applications to construction). Our aim is to help children become comfortable with the sciences so that when they encounter these STEM subjects in school, they will already have an awareness of some science principles and their practical applications in real life. Furthermore, these pop-up science mini-lessons lay the foundation for developing critical thinking skills.
Science Is Everywhere! Science isn’t only about careers and good-paying jobs. Knowing basic principles of science helps in everyday life as well. For example, chemistry is useful in comparing labels at the grocery store to identify the natural nutrients vs. the added “fillers” in prepared foods. Math is indispensable for calculating price per ounce or per pound to know whether the larger size is really the better deal or not. And physics? From golfing and skiing to fixing a broken light switch or getting the most out of your camera, knowing a bit about energy, gravity, electricity and optics will go a long way to improving your everyday life.
What About Humanities? While science is focused on facts, the humanities focus on relationships, (human relationships, as the word humanities implies) and culture. Neuroscientists tell us that the left and right portions of our brains are heavily interconnected and work together as we go about all seven facets (family, personal, professional, physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual) of our daily lives. Fact-based, analytical subjects (STEM) are processed by the left portion of our brains and are rarely encountered in children’s fiction. The right portion of our brain is involved in creative or intuitive activities (arts and other humanities). Our aim in incorporating both left- and right-brain subjects is to inspire a sprit of lifelong learning, so that children can reach their full potential in school and throughout life.
Multi-Generation Natural Learning and Teaching. Speaking of everyday life, you probably encounter dozens – if not hundreds – of learning opportunities to pass on to your children or jog your own memory. Using these everyday events as they pop up is a time-honored way to teach or to reinforce valuable knowledge on how the world works (including the people in it) . BioFables books adapt this natural learning setting through stories starring 7-year-old Melody and her twin brother Mallory. Their parents, Grandpa Mike and other family members and friendly people they encounter offer factual tidbits and quick lessons, as they arise naturally.
AGE GROUPS. BioFables books are written for children, but their reach extends much further. Here’s a closer look at the five (approximate) age groups appearing in the green circles, above.
- Ages 7-8: Read to children
- As a parent or teacher, you can have fun tapping into your own inner thespian while reading BioFables to the children in your care. Even if 7- or 8-year-olds can’t quite grasp all the science or social principles involved, your playfulness and enthusiasm will surely be passed onto them. And that’s the first step in opening the window to learning.
- Ages 9-10: Read with children
- The fun is multiplied as your child or children learn to tap into their own inner thespian by following your example. Their enthusiasm for certain topics are clues for you to ask questions, explain and further explore those areas.
- Ages 11-12: Children read to you
- The tables are turned, and you are now the student. How fun is that…for both of you?
- Ages 13-14: Read to younger children
- Older siblings can step into your role (and you can go back to doing your own thing while watching the interactions and playing the trusted sage when there’s a question). How fun is that?
- Ages 15+: All reading choices
- BioFables books are designed to be enjoyed by those who read them at different ages and at different levels of education. You’ll know what we mean if you’ve re-read children’s classics such as 20,000 Leagues under the Sea or Little Women twenty or 50 (!) years after you’ve first encountered them.
THIS BIOFABLES WEBSITE is an evolving, free resource designed to supplement the BioFables books themselves. Here is a quick look at some of what this site offers:
- Dedicated Web page for each BioFables book (links in the right sidebar), including
- Cover photo, a paragraph excerpt from the book, and a paragraph or two of introduction to the book
- General description of BioFables series focus
- Description of tools to decide if the specific book is right for your child (or children):
- List of the book’s unique STEM content by STEM branches and sub-branches
- Table of the book’s STEM content: branches and sub-branches with their associated subjects and topics
- Tables of the book’s Humanities content and Values content (under development). Because of the subtle influence that people have on children’s values, we will be highlighting instances of Values lessons in separate tables
- Table of the book’s STEM, Humanities and Values content by chapter
- Index of STEM subject content for all six published books
- At-a-glance and detailed Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of the BioFables series
- “Bioblog” posts by the main (fictional) characters appearing in BioFables
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