Karen Bush Gibson, welcome to the blog, and congratulations on your new books in the GUTSY GIRLS GO FOR SCIENCE series!
Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here.
The GUTSY GIRLS GO FOR SCIENCE series is all about…
…how fun science, technology, engineering, and math can be. STEM is all about discovery, exploration, and questioning. About those “Eureka!” moments. The four books being released in the new series today (Paleontologists, Programmers, Engineers, Astronauts) are visually interesting with amazing illustrations. They also feature STEM projects that kids can try.
While the series is written for readers 8-11, it concentrates on girls, because girls have traditionally been left behind in these subjects. The books highlight females who made significant contributions in their fields even while facing resistance from scientific communities and society at large.
I hope that readers will…
…enjoy these books and start asking questions and considering possibilities. Many people face adversity. Life is often more difficult if you come from different cultural or racial groups or if you’re female. But some people succeed despite life not being fair. Learn from them. Look for mentors and role models you can identify with.
Teachers and librarians will…
…find ideas for discussion and projects to encourage students to explore their interests. Hopefully, they will also realize the importance of including diversity in everything they teach.
The research for this series was…
…challenging, but fascinating. I’m kind of a research junkie. I wrote two of the four books in this first group being released—Paleontologists and Programmers. Each book includes five women who made important contributions to their field. Think about it. Can you name five notable women in paleontology? Programming? Few people can. I couldn’t before I started researching.
The reality is that there are many, but their stories aren’t well-known. Research allowed me to uncover some of these stories to share with readers.
How did you get started writing non-fiction for kids?
I’ve always enjoyed writing. I started college as a journalism major. Even though I ended up changing my major midway, I never lost that desire to write. I’ve also always been a curious person, so asking questions and looking for answers comes naturally to me. That’s a good fit for non-fiction.
When I started writing for publication, I focused on articles, soon drifting to juvenile markets. I became aware that non-fiction books for kids was a growing market because of school libraries and curriculum standards, so I began focusing more on book-length non-fiction, which I’ve now been writing for about 18 years.
Any tips for aspiring authors?
Explore what interests you. You’re more likely to be passionate about it in your writing. And if you’re writing non-fiction, make certain that you’re using reputable sources in your research. Higher education (.edu) and government (.gov) websites are usually good options. And no, Wikipedia is not a reliable source. However, follow the trail from the Wikipedia bibliography and you might strike gold!
Can you share one of the STEM projects?
A fun paleontology project you can do without field tools is to create a new name for a dinosaur. Dinosaur names are usually combinations of root words from Latin and Greek. The words might describe their appearance, like “cerat” (horn) or “saurus” (lizard). The word might also recognize a place or the person who discovered the fossil, like “anningae” is used for famed fossil finder Mary Anning.
Come up with 12 different words to describe a dinosaur (notable body part, color, size). Then use translation apps or websites for Greek and Latin to translate the words into these languages. Put these words in one container. In another container, come up with six place names and six people names (definitely include your own). Change these words as needed to make them look and sound more scientific!
You want to use three words for your dinosaur. If you want “saurus” to be one of the words, then choose one word from each container. If not, then choose two words from the description container and one from the place/person container. Experiment and have fun with the different combinations. After you discover one you like, draw a picture of a dinosaur that goes with the name you’ve created.
Love it! Thanks so much for stopping by Karen!
Karen Bush Gibson is the author of 30+ non-fiction books for children, from picture books to young adult. She also writes travel articles and has published an adult novel. She particularly likes going down the research rabbit hole to discover fascinating women in history or learn more about the environment. Karen also works in education as an instructional designer and curriculum developer. When not writing or educating, she enjoys hanging out with her kids, traveling, and reading. Sometimes, she fantasizes about how cool it would be to live in a huge library or bookstore.
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