Inspiring girls to pursue STEM this Book Week? That’s RAD!

Professor Kathy Andrews.

The 2023 Children’s Book Week theme is Read, Grow, Inspire! A Griffith University researcher is using the latest in a series of children’s books to do just that by breaking down gender stereotypes and encouraging children to be the scientists of the future. 

The That’s RAD! Science project – developed by malaria researcher Professor Katherine Andrews – has released a new children’s book in 2023 titled My Stepmum is a Project Engineer, That’s RAD! 

The book, the fifth in the series, was written with engineer Tamara Champ and supported by the project delivery and engineering firm Ausenco 

The cover of the latest That’s RAD! book.

Written from a child’s perspective, the book uses fun and engaging examples to inspire children to learn about how engineering applies science to “make or create things that are useful in our everyday lives”, for example thinking about how aeroplanes fly or how smart devices are made.   

Professor Andrews is an internationally known expert in malaria drug discovery and Director of the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery. While her schedule is often full, she highly values inspiring young children through her science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) That’s RAD! Science series. 

“I am an advocate for STEM engagement and passionate about promoting diversity in STEM. As a scientist, I believe it is essential to encourage young people, particularly girls and other underrepresented people, into STEM based careers,” Professor Andrews said.  

“To achieve this, I founded the That’s RAD! Science project, through which I and four other female STEM professionals have written books for primary school-aged children on our respective work in parasitology, nanotechnology, forensic science, protein crystal science and engineering.”

Despite significant growth of STEM-related occupations requiring STEM skills and knowledge, only low numbers of secondary students are currently undertaking STEM-related subjects in Australia.  

The That’s RAD! Science books use female role models to inspire a love of STEM in young children and build awareness of STEM careers. This allows children to visualise themselves as scientists and breaks apart gender stereotypes that can influence children’s assumptions of who can undertake STEM careers. 

Engineer Tamara Champ.

The author of the latest book in the series, Tamara Champ, is a licenced chemical engineer who has built a career in project engineering by delivering large scale engineering projects in the mining and chemical plant industries.

“I am passionate about inspiring children to follow in my footsteps through pursuing a career in STEM. I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by scientists and engineers who encouraged me to study science and mathematics. This early learning provided me with the strong foundation required for a successful career in engineering. I encourage all children to ask questions, be curious and imagine new solutions! I enjoyed writing a book on engineering for the That’s Rad! Science Series! and hope it might help inspire readers to consider a career in STEM,” Tamara said. 

“Ausenco is extremely proud to have been part of this book series. As engineering professionals, we aim to inspire the love for STEM in children, with the hope that one day they aspire to be professional engineers or designers. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Griffith University and inspiring the next generation of female engineers,” said Chris Pitman, Vice President, Queensland, Ausenco. 

To date, more than 9,000 That’s RAD! Science books have been given to children and libraries across Australia through the support of Griffith University, a Queensland Government Engaging Science Grant, the Australian Society for Parasitology, the Australian Nanotechnology Network, the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society, the Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand and Ausenco.   

Visit the That’s RAD! website for more on the series.