UPDATE #1: Funding target reached thanks to you awesome backers, stretch goals now added at bottom of this page.
UPDATE #2: Stretch goal #1 reached - amazing! 88 amazing backers and counting
UPDATE #3: Stretch goal #2 reached and we're at 145%! Go backers!
Give Young Kids the Best STEM Start!
"Simply put, a child’s early years lay the foundation for all that is to come" John Hopkins University
I love reading storybooks to my young son and daughter, and like all parents I care about giving them the best possible start to life.
That's why I created the STEM Storybook: a series of beautifully illustrated stories for children that gently introduce them to the key mathematical concepts they'll encounter in their future lives.
As a Professor, father and multi-award-winning educational entrepreneur, I've spent my life innovating in education including creating STEM textbooks, action-packed maths workshops for young and old, a Hollywood STEM movie review series and even a maths novel for teenagers (the Who Am I section below has more details).
Thousands of students have used these resources and for some they've been a genuinely life-changing experience:
"I have been struggling in maths all my life as I missed out on the basics in primary school as a result of changing schools. I would like to take this time just too sincerely thank you for going out of your way to produce something that has and will help people, like myself, who have been struggling. You have given me new found energy to wake up in the morning and go to school and maths in particular. Thankyou.” Michael, student.
I've taken all that experience plus the experience of learning with my own kids and poured it into creating the STEM Storybook.
Why is STEM So Important?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. The National Science Foundation (NSF) summarises why STEM is so important for our children's futures:
"In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past." National Science Foundation
Why Starting STEM Early is Critical
"there’s growing evidence that very young children from all backgrounds — even children from birth to age 8 — learn important science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills and habits of mind"... Elisabeth McClure, referencing NSF report "STEM Starts Early".
We win or lose the minds of kids early on. I know from 17 years of working with teenage-aged and uni kids that it's always easier if they were engaged early on in their education.
To engage kids early, each fun story in the STEM Storybook is first and foremost a kids storybook. Where each story goes beyond a normal storybook is to gently introduce and explore key STEM concepts such as size, statistics, finance, probability, speed, rates of change, robotics, fractions, counting, acceleration and many more.
You can enjoy reading these books with your children or students in class: they'll also love going over them again themselves. Watch the project video to see how my own kids respond to the math content.
What's in the STEM Storybook
The STEM Storybook comes as a single all-inclusive 216+ page hardcover, full colour book containing all twelve stories.
The stories already completed are shown here with a synopsis and topic area summary:
- What Should We Do?: a group of animals works out how to find water: statistical significance & surveying (Scroll down to listen to a reading)
- Pirate Treasure: two friends search an island for precious treasure: counting and addition
- The Three Billy Goats Gruff: three goats take on a nasty troll: relative sizes, geometric sequences (Scroll down to listen to a reading)
- Faster Faster: animals, people, vehicles & aircraft race: speed, distance covered, speed units
- What Are The Chances?: how likely are common and rare everyday events?: probability
- Critters Eat Cake: monsters come out of hiding to eat humans' food: fractions
- Robots Robots Everywhere: Emily robot takes us on a tour of fun robots: robotics
- How Does It Speed Up?: Rachel plays with friends dropping balls, racing cars: rates of change, acceleration, constant speed
- The Gold Nugget: construction workers struggle to move a massive gold nugget: weight, strength
We also have 3 special Backer Rewards where you get to choose the topic covered, the type of story and even name a character in the story!
- Book 10: Backer Reward to Choose Topic, Story & Name a Character
- Book 11: Backer Reward to Choose Topic, Story & Name a Character
- Book 12: Backer Reward to Choose Topic, Story & Name a Character
Each story contains 18 vividly illustrated pages filled with STEM concepts. You can see the full contents of one of the stories, "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" (a retelling of an old Norwegian fairy tale), below:
Pages contain visual aids to help children understand concepts; in this example relative sizing of the different goats:
Or for counting and basic addition in this example from "Pirate Treasure":
In this example from "Faster Faster", the story starts with a slow tortoise and progresses all the way towards a rocket:
In "What Should We Do?" a wise elephant doesn't believe a cheeky monkey and surveys the animals to get a statistically significant answer to that question:
Watch a Book Reading!
Watch and listen to me read The Three Billy Goats Gruff:
And watch and listen to Terese read "What Should We Do?":
Who Am I
I am a Professor in Robotics at the Queensland University of Technology and the founder of Math Thrills Pty Ltd, a startup that creates entertainment like young adult novels that stealthily embed key mathematical concepts. I have been passionate about innovation in education for my entire adult life and have led a number of initiatives in educational outreach and engagement.
I've also run two successful educational Kickstarter campaigns: Maths Thriller and A Robot for Every Child. After the birth of my two children Ethan and Rachel (who are turning 3 and 5), I've become increasingly interested and active in creating early childhood educational resources for them to use.
I have been an educational entrepreneur for 17 years and have won multiple awards including a 2016 AMP Tomorrow Maker Award, a 2015 Queensland Young Tall Poppy of the Year Award and a 2006 Queensland Young Achiever of the Year award. I also recently gave a TedX talk on "How Hollywood can save math education".
I've written a series of successful STEM textbooks and a maths novel:
I also write a regular series "Maths in the Movies" for The Conversation including movies like Spider-man:Homecoming, The Mummy, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alien: Covenant and Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2.
We also run math workshops in schools and have recently run a successful "Maths in the Movies" event at World Science Festival Brisbane 2017.
You can see some recent media coverage here:
Hopefully what all of the above shows is that I am really, really passionate about STEM education and about finding new ways to make sure every child enjoys and benefits from a proper STEM education.
The Kickstarter campaign is raising funds to assist with the following costs.
Artwork Print Licenses: To distribute print copies, we need to purchase print distribution licenses. Purchasing these licenses ensure that content creators are fairly compensated for their hard work.
Print Production and Distribution: The other major cost is print production and distribution. We will use the optimal combination of overseas-based offset printing and print-on-demand services based on final demand.
A Note About Costs:
Printing professional quality, full colour hardcover kids books is expensive. Small print runs are done using an expensive "print on demand" digital printing service.
Prices rapidly get better as quantities go above 1000, because you can move to "offset printing" processes.
If the Kickstarter campaign just passes its target, then the campaign will make a loss - which we will make up from other sources.
If we surpass the target by a large margin, then offset printing becomes feasible and the cost of printing drops significantly. If that occurs, I'll add stretch goals that give all backers extra bonuses to show appreciation for everyone's support - and ensure the campaign runs at an overall loss.
We have 9 finished stories and 3 more in progress, aiming for 12 stories in the finalized STEM Storybook. All current stories have gone through multiple rounds of proofing and production testing.
You can see some actual test copies here (noting that in the final version all stories will be combined into a single full colour hardcover book):
All stories are currently undergoing rigorous evaluation with kids!
Please Lend Your Support!
By backing this Kickstarter campaign, you help out in many ways:
- You directly help a young child by giving them a fun way to engage in STEM
- You help support a growing initiative to improve the STEM experiences of young children and help their future
- You help support graphic artists whose work goes into these books
Thank you so much for your support... and if you haven't already, head on up to the Backer Rewards section and choose how you'd like to get involved!
And please tell all your friends and family - almost everyone knows someone with young children or students. The more people involved, the wider the impact of this project.
Because our backers have been so amazing in their support and have helped STEM Storybook reach its funding target with a week to go, we've added some stretch goals to make the STEM Storybook even more super:
REACHED!!! STRETCH GOAL #1: $6000
A parent & teacher guide with specific tips on how to read each STEM Storybook story with kids and work through the STEM concepts.
REACHED!!! STRETCH GOAL #2: $7000
An e-book version of the STEM Storybook, distributed exclusively to every backer.
STRETCH GOAL #3: $8000
A complete set of narrated readings of every story in the STEM Storybook, available on YouTube.
Risks and challenges
*PRINT AND DISTRIBUTION LOGISTICS*
I have 17 years experience working with both Australian (small print run) and international printers (large print run) and freight companies. The international print company I work with has been in business since the 1950s. I also have experience dealing with the importation process and customs clearance, and tricky issues such as marine freight insurance etc.
I've also successfully run and funded two previous Kickstarter projects and delivered the final polished product to all backers on time with great feedback. In 2017 I led a campaign supported by the AMP Foundation which resulted in book packs being sent out to almost 200 schools around Australia.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)