Super Stemmys, a stem cell story
“We need more children’s books like this.”
Posted by Jimalakirti in Books, Critical Thinking, General
at 11:00 am on Saturday, 10 April 2010
Stem cells to save the day! Or the heart, at least. That’s the plot of a new children’s book on adult (or repair) stem cells, published by theRepair Stem Cell Institute(RSCI) — a Dallas- and Bangkok-based public affairs company that provides interested patients with contact information for stem cell treatment centers around the world.
“It’s a nice idea,” said cell biologist Mahendra Rao ofLife Technologies,a California-based biotechnology company. “I think it’s good to tell kids about all current events, [including] technological breakthroughs,” and “it’s a nice book for kids [with] illustrations [that] are nice and a logical flow to it.”
(The-scientist.com, April 8, 2010)
Comment by Jimalakirti at 11:11 am on 10 April 2010 at
The subject of this book is a little off–topic for us. But, since it is about science education (and we are all about science education), it is worth while to look at this attempt to introduce 6th graders to some basic concepts about stem-cell research and use.
The question that dogs nearly every attempt to use a story to teach children about scientific subjects is that the story oversimplifies, or is too limited in scope, or some such objection. These objections are out of bounds if the story doesn’t distort the science or represent bad science. A story has its own needs and to ignore the needs of a story for children in order to get a bit more complicated science into it is disastrous.
A children’s book cannot be a complete science course. It is enough that the science be basically accurate, so that the reader will gain some familiarity with basic concepts in a format that helps the reader to understand and remember. Then, someday, when the student encounters the subject in a class or in a more advanced book, she can recognize it and have a bit of a head start on people who have never heard of it (or have been taught that it is evil meddling in god’s business).
We need more children’s books like this.