Why Teach Science Students to Write and Publish Books?

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Science Students in ProgramsAs a science and engineering teacher, promoting STEM education, why would I want to teach students how to write and publish a book? Don’t I have enough to do in mentoring them in STEM activities? Well, yes, and in the photo here are some of the groups I have mentored in the past several years. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer in the whole person concept – students are not just interested in STEM, or in literature, or in art, but most are interested in all these subjects to some degree.

Our education system is also getting away from strict specialization and moving more toward a holistic education. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) promote literacy in science, combining the concepts of scientific knowledge with the ability to communicate. One of my sons is going to attend Boston University’s engineering school this fall, and they have trademarked the idea of the “Societal Engineer,” advocating that engineers have a wider focus than just the technical problem at hand. For all these reasons, teaching science students to clearly communicate their science research through a book seemed very appropriate. Given my recent experience in self publishing a book, I knew I could mentor them through the process.

How did the students react when I approached them with the idea for this project? They were excited and eager to begin! I asked them to focus on a target audience as one of the first steps, and they came up with a very diverse set – one is appealing to children, another to cancer patients and their friends and families, another to school administrators, and a couple of them to fellow students, but each with a different message. We will work together so that the students can mutually share ideas and get feedback. I will be writing along with them to document our experience and provide a comprehensive guide to other teachers who would like to do the same type of project.

Next month, I will be blogging about the realities and challenges of publishing a book and what I am doing to shepherd my students through the process so that they can get right to work without wasting time figuring out which of the myriad of options to choose. For the general schedule we are following, go to https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com/project-schedule/.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by April 2015. Also, please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

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