Interview with a STEM Author: Jennifer Swanson
Updated: Apr 23
Happy February STEM Sparkers! The weather is pretty awesome in Phoenix right now, and I get to talk to STEM author Jennifer Swanson on the blog, so today is a good day. I really enjoyed hearing Jennifer's answers because her love of science shines through each word. Here's a little bit more about Jennifer before we dive into to some fun questions.
Jennifer has a B.S. in chemistry from the U. S. Naval Academy and an M.S. Ed in K-8 science from Walden University. In addition to being an award-winning author, she is also a middle school science instructor for John Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth.
Now, Jennifer Swanson is the award winning author of over 40+ nonfiction books for children, mostly about science and technology, including Brain Games (NGKids) and Super Gear: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up (Charlesbridge), Astronaut-Aquanaut, and Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner, Save the Crash-test Dummies. Her books have received many accolades including the starred reviews, Booklist Best Tech books list, Green Earth Book Honor Award, a Florida Book Award, and multiple California Reading Association awards, and National Science Teaching BEST STEM awards.
You have so many cool STEM books out there (one of my personal favorites is Astronaut, Aquanaut), could you please share some of your current STEM books and what they are about?
Thanks for your kind words. I am so passionate about writing books for kids who are curious and want to know more about STEM. Astronaut-Aquanaut was one of my favorite books to write. It was so cool to learn that both extreme environments are different and yet similar. My other STEM books include: Save the Crash-test Dummies, which is a rollicking ride through the history of car safety engineering, steered by Crash (a crash-test dummy). Beastly Bionics: Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions Inspired by Nature gives readers a peek inside the cutting-edge engineering technology of biomimicry (inventions inspired by animals and nature) and meet some of the scientists and engineers who are doing this work. This book will inspire kids to get outside and get inventing!
Upcoming books include Outdoor School: Rock, Fossil, and Shell Hunting: The Definitive Interactive Nature Guide is an interactive guide to rock, fossil, and shell hunting. Re-Wild your life! And finally, The Secret Science of Sports which helps kids better understand concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math through the sports they love to play and watch.
What inspired you to write STEM for kids?
I have loved science my whole life. I started a science club in my garage when I was 7 years old. I took my love of science to college where I majored in chemistry at the U.S. Naval Academy. There, we were required to take a lot of engineering classes so that's where I became interested in engineering and technology. I am a curious person and STEM is everywhere! I am fascinated by new things and new technologies that creative humans dream up. STEM Rocks!
Do you have any fun or favorite STEM facts from your books?
Did you know that some of the first bumpers were actually called "cow-catchers" and were designed to scoop up unwary pedestrians and drop them in the net attached to the front of the car instead of hitting them? (Save the Crash-test Dummies)
The ocean covers more than 70% of the Earth's surface, yet a whopping 95 percent of that ocean is completely unexplored. (Astronaut-Aquanaut)
The thick red mucus that hippopotamus secrete to keep their skin from burning in the sun contain tiny crystals that might just inspire scientists to design a sunscreen for humans that works this way, too! (Beastly Bionics)
You also have an awesome blog called STEM Tuesday and a podcast called Solve It for Kids; could you please tell us a little more about both?
I started STEM Tuesday almost four years ago. I wanted to bring attention to STEM books for older readers, 3rd- 5th graders and up. At the time there wasn't anything like that out there. Luckily, I knew a bunch of amazing, award-winning authors who also write STEM and they were excited to be a part of this blog. We post every Tuesday on the Mixed Up Files blog. Each month has a different topic and the blog is fully searchable. It's a great for teachers and homeschoolers!
Solve It! for Kids is a science podcast for curious & creative kids and their families.
Peek into the world of real-life scientists, engineers, and experts as they solve problems in their every day jobs. Kids and families are then invited to take on a challenge and solve a problem themselves! Join Jennifer Swanson and Jed Doherty as they ask questions, solve problems, and offer challenges that take curiosity and creativity to a whole new level.
Solve It! for Kids sounds really fun! Jack and I will have to check it out. Jennifer, thank you again for being on STEM Spark-- awesome interview! STEM Sparkers, please check out Jennifer's books here on Amazon or from your local library (libraries take requests)! You can also follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenSwanBooks and her Podcast, Solve It For Kids. Happy STEM-ing everyone!