Griffith University scientists hopeto encourage more students into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through the creation of engaging children’s books.

Griffith’s That’s Rad! Science project was among 28 new ‘diverse and exciting’ Advance Queensland Engaging Science Grants recipients, sharing in almost $270,000 to increase STEM skills and engagement.

The project will support the creation of a series of illustrated children’s books for children aged five to nine that showcase Queensland women in STEM and their exciting fields and careers.

The three books, developed in collaboration with Queensland women in STEM, will be distributed free to 250 Queensland schools and will focus on these themes:

  • parasites
  • amazing nanoparticles including why butterfly wing have such vivid colours and nanoparticle ‘robots’ used for environmental sensing
  • science detective (forensics) or engineering

Professor Kathy Andrews, of theGriffith Institute for Drug Discovery, is leading the That’s RAD! Science project. She and Associate Professor Qin Li, of theGriffith School of Engineering, are the authors of the first two books.

“Our That’s RAD! Science project is a great example of how we can improve childrens’ STEM awareness by bringing together science and education experts,” Professor Andrews said.

“Our aim is to inspire children with fun and engaging stories about the fabulous STEM career areas of Queensland scientists. We want to educate children about science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers in an interesting and fun way.

“Research shows that children make decisions about careers they are interested in at a young age. We want to inspire in them an interest in STEM that they can take with them throughout their school education and beyond.

“Science related careers can lead in so many different directions. We want to use our books to show children the amazing possibilities there are in STEM careers.”

The Advance Queensland Engaging Science Grants are designed to support scientists, researchers, science communicators, journalists, teachers and community groups to deliver science engagement and communication projects, events and activities that increase the profile of science in Queensland.

Queensland’s Chief Scientist Professor Suzanne Miller said the successful award applicants exemplified a commitment to bringing the most engaging activities to Queenslanders.

“Creative content that blends science, engineering or maths with technology has the best possible chance of guiding young people towards tertiary studies and a career using one or more of these four disciplines,” Professor Miller said.

Earlier this year the Queensland Government also announced the outcomes from the second round of the Advance Queensland Fellowship scheme. Griffith was awarded a total of $1.08 million for one early career and three mid-career fellowships, which were:

  • Dr Shaun Gregory from the Griffith School of Engineering was awarded an early career fellowship for the project “Decreasing complications with mechanical hearts through improved implantation techniques”.
  • Dr Penny Rudd from the Institute of Glycomics was awarded a mid-career fellowship for the project “Old drug, new cause: fighting arthritis caused by Queensland viruses”.
  • Dr Christopher Carty from the Menzies Health Institute was awarded a mid-career fellowship for the project “The Personalised Digital Patient: helping children with lower limb deformities”.
  • Dr Brent Moyle from the Griffith Institute for Tourism was awarded a mid-career fellowship for the project “Stimulating Regional Tourism through Virtual Reconstruction of Queensland’s WWII Heritage”.