Hi STEM Sparkers! We're very excited here at STEM Spark; we got to interview the co-author of Everyday Superheros:Women in STEM Careers (you can check out STEM Spark's review of the book here), Erin Twamley! Below is a little bit about Erin, followed by our interview.
Erin Twamley is an educator and author. She is dedicated to engaging the next generation of learners in protecting and creating a sustainable planet through hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning. She is an author of numerous publications on STEM from magazine articles, blogs, teacher guides to non-fiction children’s books. She loves to travel the world and has lived on three continents. You can find her collaborating with Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools and classrooms engaging our US military kids stationed abroad.
Thanks Erin for being on our blog. How long have you been writing and what inspired you to write a STEM book?
This is my 4th year writing non-fiction children's books. Prior to that I had written blogs for Department of Energy, but branching into the book world has been a journey. Today, there are so many ways to consume books, especially in the digital world, which makes it challenging and rewarding to be a writer at this time. If you would have asked me, will you be a writer when you grow up, I never would have said "yes." I don't think I knew that it was a career, at least not for someone like me who loves research. I think that is why writing STEM books is an incredible niche space for me, because I get to combine my love for learning, collecting and interpreting data with kids. The inspiration for writing a STEM book, at least my first, came from a colleague and dear friend, my co-author Joshua Sneideman, who invited me to collaborate on a STEM book. It opened a new career for me and I haven't stopped since, that was in 2015.
Are you working on any new projects you'd like to tell us about?
My co-author, Joshua Sneideman, and I coming up with new editions for our favorite topics Climate Change and Renewable Energy. Our original books are nearly five years old now, so it is time for a refresh of data, highlighting how the world has become green and the look of the books. We are excited to be offering real photographs from NASA/NOAA instead of illustrations and to share new diverse awesome "Giants of Science" -- people that kids should know about who are helping to make our world a green place. You can see our new release, Climate Change: The Science Behind Melting Glaciers and Warming Oceans with Hands-On Science Activities (March 10, 2020) with Nomad Press for pre-order on Amazon.
Ooo, I can't wait to see those photos in the update version of the book. Speaking of books, where do you get your ideas from?
As a writer it is important to remember your "why?" Why do you write and how does it matter, not only to you, but in our world. I think that is why I am so passionate about Everyday Superheroes and building a brand around the importance of diversity and representation in non-fiction books. I am combining my research oriented mind and the years I have spent studying achievement gaps and career gaps for math and science with an action. I am actually working to tackle the problem in STEM and in the book world -- we don't share the diverse faces, the trailblazers or the next generation of leaders. Although our world is full of technology, we don't celebrate and know the WHO and the HOW behind it. Through writing books, I am able to share not only the people with kids, but their careers and what they do!
What is the best part of writing?
You can write from anywhere. Kids and even my friends probably have this idea that I am behind a computer in a quiet place, but writing happens in all sorts of ways. I often actually talk into my phone and use an app to transcribe into written text. I have written on airplanes, in the middle of the night, while watching TV or even sent myself notes while out and about. The reward and challenge of writing, is that it happens anywhere in the world. You can block your time to say I am going to write today, but often it doesn't happen with you at a desk and typing!
What has surprised you about STEM? What fun fact have you learned about STEM as you wrote?
We often think of STEM as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math -- and sometimes we add the "arts" for STEAM. STEM is not [only] about the subject areas, but all the skills! Our efforts [in our books] call these skills superpowers and there are 6 of them that every kid and adult can cultivate:
Imagination and Curiosity
Data Collection and Analysis
Those are great STEM skills! In addition to STEM outreach/education, are there hobbies that you pursue in your free time? I love to travel. I have lived on 3 continents and been to nearly 35 countries. Each place I go, I am inspired by how they go green, recycle or have created their environments. I love for example, the trash cans in Minneapolis MN that compact trash using solar energy!
If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
I have an education background and have always loved teaching. I have always said I don't want my own classroom; I just want to be invited into others. I would probably be in an informal education setting like a library or a museum engaging in STEM learning.
Teaching STEM at a library or museum sounds fun! Thank you again Erin for being on STEM Spark! Readers, we hope you enjoyed reading the interview! And of course, happy STEM-ing!