STEM education for babies and children
Goodnight Lab, the latest publication from Dr Chris Ferrie, quantum theorist and father of four young children, gives young people – and their parents – a fun and colourful introduction to STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths).
STEM knowledge is increasingly essential for a huge range of careers in the digital age and exposure to complex ideas can begin from babyhood, said Dr Ferrie, from the Centre for Quantum Software and Information (QSI) at the University of Technology Sydney.
He writes children’s picture books with a STEM theme, based on the stories he tells his own young family aged 7, 5, 3 and 6 months!
Goodnight Lab is a ‘scientific parody’ of the children’s classic Goodnight Moon and gives budding scientists the tools needed to identify and acknowledge common laboratory equipment and activity.
His previous titles include Newtonian physics for babies, General relativity for babies, and his first, Quantum physics for babies, which he started because he wanted something he could read to his daughter that had scientific concepts and “because I thought it was fun!”
The books explain complex scientific ideas in a way anyone can understand, introducing preschoolers to maths and science and promoting a familiarity and literacy in these subjects for when they encounter them later in school.
“I don’t have any problem with introducing science as soon as possible. Because I have four small children I could see how they would grasp and process the world around them. I simply take that process, convert scientific themes into short, five-word sentences, draw some pictures and that forms the basis of my books. Kids learn most from play and they are not going to be engaged if they don’t find it interesting,” said Dr Ferrie.
The books are a first step in communicating complex ideas to a larger audience.
“I hope they are something to get people started in scientific communication, allowing parents to feel that STEM is not such a hard topic that it should be avoided,” he said.