Interview with STEM Author: Vicky Fang
Hi STEM Sparkers! I feel very lucky that STEM Authors want to keep being interviewed by me, and I couldn't be more thrilled that Vicky Fang, who's STEM/STEAM book INVENT-A-PET caught my eye on Twitter, agreed to be interviewed on STEM Spark! I also found out that Vicky Fang is a product designer who spent 5 years designing kids’ technology experiences for both Google and Intel, often to inspire and empower kids in coding and technology. How cool is that?
And through her product design work, she came to recognize the gap in STEAM education and inspiration, particularly for girls and minorities. She began writing books to provide kids with accessible STEAM-inspired stories that they can read again and again, learning from characters they love. Her goal for her books is to inspire computer literacy for a wide range of kids—while letting their imaginations run wild with the possibilities of technology! Her debut books, LAYLA & THE BOTS (Scholastic early chapter book series) and INVENT-A-PET (Sterling picture book), are launching in Spring/Summer 2020 and feature courageous and innovative girls in STEAM.
Let's give a big STEM Spark welcome to the amazing Vicky Fang!
1) I'm excited about your upcoming picture book, Invent-A-Pet. Can you please tell us a little more about the book?
INVENT-A-PET is a picture book about a girl who discovers a mysterious machine in her living room and must figure out the formula for her perfect extraordinary pet! It introduces the basic concepts of problem solving, inputs and outputs, functions, but most importantly - the idea that the extraordinary can be found all around us. The book is illustrated by Tidawan Thaipinnarong, who has created the most adorable fantastic animals, and it releases on June 2, 2020 from Sterling Children’s Books.
2) Are there other writing projects you'd like to tell us about?
Ah, so many! I recently launched the LAYLA & THE BOTS: HAPPY PAWS, which is the first book in the LAYLA & THE BOTS series from Scholastic Branches with charming illustrations by Christine Nishiyama. It’s about a rockstar/inventor and her band of bots who solve problems for people they meet at their show with their awesome inventions.
In October, I’ll be launching the I CAN CODE board book series with Sourcebooks. This heartfelt series introduces basic coding concepts to toddlers through simple, everyday, interactions. Keep an eye out for IF/THEN and AND/OR, with adorable illustrations by Jade Orlando.
And next year, I’ll be launching my author-illustrator debut series, FRIENDBOTS with HarperAlley. It’s an early graphic novel series about friendship and robots!
3) You're also a product designer. Do you have any fun or interesting stories from your design job?
Oh, gosh. I have had so much fun as a product designer! One time, I was working with an amazing team designing DIY cardboard robots for kids. We were building dozens of robots for a big event. One night, we stayed late at the office, pulled out all of the robot prototypes, and had a giant robot dance party!
4) What fun facts have you learned about STEM/STEAM as a product designer and author?
Hmm, one of the things that I’ve learned (which is not specific to STEM/STEAM) came from my team at Google, many of whom had background at Sesame Street or other children’s media companies. I learned that a child can form an attachment to a digital character and that relationship can enhance learning. This was one of the reasons I was so inspired to write children’s books—I was, and am, excited about the potential for story and character to empower our kids in STEAM.
5) What advice do you have for anyone interested in STEM/STEAM and/or pursuing a career in STEM/STEAM?
Do what you love! That’s also not specific to STEM/STEAM, but I firmly believe that if you pursue what you’re passionate about, it will lead to more things you’re passionate about. And it’s much easier to be successful with something that inspires you than something that doesn’t. So I encourage everybody to tinker, play, and explore! It will lead to great things.