Though we often hear the phrase, “write what you know,” a good many of us are drawn to topics and ideas that we don’t know about, by a natural urge to know more. And kids are, too! I can totally identify with author Kristen Nordstrom’s experience. In this post, Kristen shares how she turned a lot of information into an engaging nonfiction picture book.
GIVEAWAY! DOUBLE GIVEAWAY! Kristen is offering 2 copies of MIMIC MAKERS: BIOMIMICRY INVENTORS INSPIRED BY NATURE! For a chance to win, leave a comment below!
And congrats to Carol Baldwin, winner of MISTER ROGERS’ GIFT OF MUSIC!
Find the Spark that Ignites Your Story by Kristen Nordstrom
I spent last weekend at the California STEAM Symposium. It was exciting to be in the company of so many educators that are motivated to bring quality learning to a diverse group of underrepresented learners including: students of color, girls, multilingual learners, foster youth, unsheltered students, LGBTQ, and low socio-economic students.To figure out which sessions were available, I downloaded an app. on my phone. There were literally hundreds of interesting sessions to scroll through, but in all honesty, I found myself drawn to presentations that included science, engineering, and the people behind it all. I want to know what scientists are seeking to understand, how will they figure it out, and what will the impact be? I also want to understand the problems engineers seek to solve, and how will they do it?
This fascination drew me to the topic of biomimicry, and helped me to ultimately develop an angle that would tie all my nature-inspired science and engineering stories together for my debut picture book – MIMIC MAKERS: BIOMIMICRY INVENTORS INSPIRED BY NATURE. If you’re unfamiliar with this subject (you’re not alone), bio means life, and mimicry means copying. When you put the two words together, you get biomimicry, the process of copying life or nature to solve real-world problems.
Several years ago, I started researching biomimicry case studies to share with my young students. This unit focused on the structures and functions of plant and animal adaptations. I covered many examples including: how a burr inspired velcro, a kingfisher beak inspired a bullet train redesign, and how sharkskin inspired a germ-resistant coating. We learned about the scientists and engineers behind the inventions, did all kinds of interesting investigations, created our own inventions, and even met the bullet train inventor, Nakatsu,Eiji.
My students loved learning about biomimicry but when it came time to put all this interesting research together to create a picture book, my story fell flat. It took some soul searching about what I found compelling about these case studies, some good advice from a fellow writer, and several revisions to weave the stories of the scientists and engineers behind each of these inventions into the main text. Their inspiration from nature, their curiosity, their driving questions, and their passion to invent solutions to help people and the planet was what drew me to the subject of biomimicry. At last I had found the spark that ignited my story! What’s yours?
MIMIC MAKERS profiles ten inventors from around the world whose investigations about nature lead to amazing inventions that help people and the planet. It is illustrated by Paul Boston and published by Charlesbridge Publishing.
Don’t forget to leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing for MIMIC MAKERS: BIOMIMICRY INVENTIONS INSPIRED BY NATURE! (continental US addresses, please. Winners announced 10/21/22)
And…when you enjoy a book, please take a moment to support authors and illustrators by leaving a review with online booksellers.
Kristen Nordstrom is a nonfiction author, teacher, and founding member of a Title 1 NGSS-based (STEAM) public school in California. She is a nationally stem certified teacher. Her debut picture book Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventions Inspired by Nature, illustrated by Paul Boston,is a Junior Library Gold Standard Selection, CYBILS Nonfiction Picture Book Finalist, NSTA Best STEM Picture Book, and AAAS/Subaru Best STEM Picture Book.