This insightful article on STEM Fiction is brought to you by our friends atFat Brain Toys We liked it so much, we just had to share!We hope you

   
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This insightful article on STEM Fiction
is brought to you by our friends at
Fat Brain Toys

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We liked it so much,
we just had to share!

We hope you enjoy it as much as we did...
and there's a little something extra from Fat Brain
at the bottom.

S.T.E.M. in Education

You've probably heard about the S.T.E.M. movement in education. According to the Idaho Department of Education: “Technology helps us communicate; Math is the language; Science and Engineering are the processes for thinking; all this leads to Innovation.” Sounds pretty snazzy, huh?

Promoters of S.T.E.M. want to help prepare kids for their futures in a technological world. Most layman can't repair anything much more complicated than a toaster. Even cars come with computer chips!

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Kids are great users of technology. The joke always used to be, if you wanted to record a TV program, you needed to find a kindergartner to program your VCR (implying that anyone else was too old to figure it out!). But just because your kids can program your DVR or download books off the internet, that doesn't mean they necessarily understand how it all works. They can use it, but not replicate it.

Enter S.T.E.M. education! The more science, technology, engineering, and math a child is exposed to, the better they will be able to integrate complicated systems learning into their everyday lives.

So, then, what's S.T.E.M. fiction?

The great thing about S.T.E.M. fiction is that it takes concepts and explains them, then uses the concepts in story form to reinforce the explanation. It may also use story context to show history, advances, and pros and cons.

And then there's S.T.E.A.M. fiction, which explores politics, current events, ethics, and discusses controversial topics like the use of nuclear power, and reform or change. S.T.E.A.M. fiction books are ideal for active parenting and finding conversational topics!

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Yeah, well, how accurate is fiction going to be?

Just because it's S.T.E.M. doesn't mean the stories won't also delve into the worlds of magical realism, humorous exaggeration, or even science fiction in order to tell a good story. It's fiction for a reason!

Besides, technology is constantly in flux.

HUMANS + TECHNOLOGY = ??????

You just never know what will happen when you mix humans and technology!

Humans misinterpret data (oh yes, yes, we do).

We announce end-all, be-all empirical findings that can quickly be refuted when our current technology is updated (try comparing your findings from a desktop microscope with an electron microscope).

And occasionally new findings simply go up against a long-held belief (like when Galileo proposed the Earth was not the center of the universe—gasp and the Spanish Inquisition!).

As such, it's nearly impossible for S.T.E.M. fiction to be on the cusp of technological advances. To preserve accuracy, fiction must be able to meld scientific learning into story form. This means using technology that has already been integrated into the human world, making it part of the story, instead of standing out apart from the story. After all, the most important aspect of fiction is the story itself—look at all the generations of humans who passed down culture and learning through oral storytelling!

BlendedFictionSet all awards 2015 small

Grumble, grumble, why's I gotta READ sumpthin' anyhow?

Girls, in particular, excel at learning through language. Their toys and early learning experiences often focus on adult imitation, role playing, and creativity (all language-based). If nothing else, girls do read! And what they read helps them create an image of what their world is. Why not include science and technology?

Scrabble Tile Love Books

Conversely, boys' toys and early learning (building with blocks or bricks and using replica vehicles) have often given them an interest in the science and technology fields, although their language skills at a young age are often less developed than their female counterparts. Boys might be more likely to read what they're already playing with.

Reading and science have never really gone hand-in-hand. Yet reading fiction is important. Fiction:

• Explores possible scenario outcomes (like disobeying Mom and talking to a Wolf on the way to Grandma's house)

• Imparts proper interpersonal exchanges (like the little girl who politely told her beloved grandmother that she had awfully large teeth)

• Teaches about our world (lumberjacks work in the forest; wolves eat when they are hungry)

Virtruvian Man MC

It's important to put entertaining books into children's hands that will whet their appetites for further exploration (ie: Harriet the Spy might encourage a child to check out a non-fiction book on codes and semaphore).

Kids love to become experts in things, and once they find a topic that really engages their attention, they'll want to check out every book on that topic. You might have known kids who've gone out of their way to learn Elvish or Klingon—and you have to admit, that takes a dedicated student, the capacity to learn, and the thirst for knowledge!

So why shouldn't fiction also offer up principles of aerodynamics or the enchanting theory of Schrodinger's Cat to tap (and guide) the insatiable curiosity that already exists?

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