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  • Writer's pictureSuzie Olsen

STEM Product Review: Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

In my previous post I mentioned STEM Spark participating in Multicultural Children's Book Day (MCBD), which is on January 31 this year. I was super excited to receive another picture book Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom from the author, Teresa Robeson, to review for STEM Spark! This books is about the female physicist Wu Chien Shiung, and it is serendipitous with what we try to do at STEM spark, which is showcase STEM professions to encourage kids, especially girls, in STEM! So yeah, I was super excited when this book arrived in the mail!

Again here's a little about MCBD. Multicultural Children’s Book Day in its 7th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.


Alright, let's apply some impulse and get this review started (wink, wink, groan). Here's the review of Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom.

Will your kids like it and/or will you hate it?

We love this book! The book is about Wu Chien Shiung who was a physicist that proved beta decay and the Law of Parity-- she was declared the queen of physics(by Newsweek)! It's such an empowering story from how Wu Chien Shiung's parents encouraged her education at early age by opening an all girls school at a time when girls weren't sent to school in China to how Chien Shiung traveled across the world to attend university to how she continually made ground breaking discoveries in physics despite not getting the recognition she deserved. She never gave up and always did as her dad said, "ignore the obstacles. Just put your head down and keep walking forward."

Wu Chien Shiung is amazing STEM hero who children everywhere can look up to, and minority and female children interested in STEM will see themselves reflected in her in this book. The book is beautifully written by Teresa Robeson (example: "like a seed that must fly far to flourish, Chien Shiung set forth once more in 1936, this time to Berkeley, California, thousands of miles across the ocean." Like how lovely is that description? even as an engineer I know that's some good writing), and the illustrations by Rebecca Huang are gorgeous and set the tone for empowerment. I feel so honored that Teresa Robeson gave copies to MCBD and that STEM Spark received one (thank you again!). And Jack says 2 thumbs up. So yes, your kids will like Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom and you will too!

How long will it keep them entertained?

We've read this book a couple of times, and we plan to read it a couple of more times. It's easily maneuvered into our normal book rotation, and I believe it would make it's way into any STEM enthusiast's (or biography fan or book lover or so on) rotation.

Are they a good value?

My trusty tool Amazon tells me the hard back of Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom is selling for $12.98. Looking at the picture book market (aka other hard back picture books) that price is spot on, and thus the book is a good value. Again, if you don't quite think it's in your budget, cause you're like me and have already blown your book budget 4 weeks into the new year, then you can check it out from you local library. I highly encourage you to check the book out-- physics dictates it. Well until a physicist disprove my theory, you must check it out. And even if they disprove my thinly supported "physics dictates you check this book out theory", I still think you should check it out. 😉

Ninja-like STEM Skills

There's a glossary of terms, and the terms are all physics and science based! Plus, there's some great figures in the book that are all about physics. Of course Jack's favorite figure is the math Wu Chien Shiung is performing in elementary school, but it's a math figure that is related to the intended child audience. There's also tons of STEM atom and physic related STEM activities to accompany this book like this one or this one.

Overall, STEM Spark rates Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom a 5 out of 5 stars (using the Amazon scale). Oh, and did I mention that this book is award winning? Congrats on recent award for Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature Picture Book! So I don't know what else I can do to convince you dear STEM Spark readers to go buy this book from your local store or borrow this book from your local library other than ask you one more time, kindly, to please go check out this STEM inspiring book! Happy STEM-ing Sparkers!

Thanks again to MCBD and Teresa Robeson for all they do in supporting diversity in children's literature!

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