As you know, I’m always interested in what’s happening in education. A good friend of mine is involved in a new startup called EduFiction. He and the founder have both been working in STEM for many years and asked if I could send this blog out to my network to get some feedback. It would be wonderful if you would take 5 minutes to check out the idea and fill out a few questions for them.
EduFiction’s first science set and 150 page novel is called “Kate Witch and the Stolen Sceptre” . It came about because one of the founders, Mark Hardwick, couldn’t find the STEM science kit that he wanted for his daughter. Here’s a short interview I had with Mark about the concept.
Richard: – How did Kate Witch and the Stolen Sceptre come to be?
Mark: – I was really excited when my youngest daughter, Kate, asked me to get her a chemistry set for Christmas.
There were many reasons. It was about learning, and science in particular which is often not a young girl’s first choice. I knew we could have fun with it together, and most importantly, being an engineer, I wanted my girls to have a good understanding of science, not as a body of knowledge but as a way of thinking.
In a world full of AI generated fake news that cleverly weaves truth and fiction, I think it’s important my kids can research issues and make informed decisions. Science is all about testing and asking questions about theories, alongside peer review.
Anyway, the chemistry set arrived and we got stuck in. That was the end of the excitement. The set was bland and dull. Kate was quickly bored (which is unusual). In the end, the main use of the set was both girls mixing potions in the kitchen using food colouring, oil, glitter and herbs while pretending to be witches (which she and her sister, Georgia, found fun).
Then something magical happened. We added some baking powder and vinegar to her potion and with a whoosh it came to life. That’s when I had an ‘aha’ moment. I realised I could make a new kind of science toy, one that combined a fantasy story with chemistry and science. That is how “Kate Witch and the Stolen Sceptre”, a narrative science set, came to be.
Richard: – A book isn’t a small undertaking, was it a labour of love?
Mark: – It took me a long time, but 5 years later I’ve written the book and created the companion science set. It’s designed to be interesting and engaging for young girls (age 9 and up).
Richard: – What’s the book about?
Mark: – The book is a fantasy about Kate, a witch learning magic. At the end of most chapters there are links to science experiments that mimic the magic Kate learns.
Richard: – You say it’s for girls, why is that?
Mark: – First and foremost, I have two daughters, and I know neither they nor many of their friends are interested in robots and drones but they do love great stories. I felt they’d find this approach more appealing. Studies have also shown that girls tend to lose interest in STEM subjects rapidly between ages 10-15. There’s many reasons including lack of role models, success stories and relevant learning experiences. I’ve written the book to try and address these problems.
Richard: – What about boys?
Mark: – The aim is to include more girls not to exclude boys in any way. I’m sure it will be appealing to any boy who loves fantasy and science.
Richard: – What are the next steps for the product?
Mark: – This is where we hoped your loyal following Richard could help. We want anyone who reads this to answer a few quick questions. To do that all they need to do is to click on this link https://forms.gle/pjuvmV96PUK2MCCi7 . That takes you to a video explaining exactly what we’re trying to achieve at EduFiction and 4 quick questions to answer.