Robo-Books: A “Secret Sauce” for STEM Education

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Journal of Children's Literature






FOR OUR FIRST book review column under editors Donna Sayers Adomat, Karla Möller, and Angela Wiseman, we delve into the real and imagined world of robots. With the growing popularity of robotics programs in inquiry based elementary school classrooms, we explore the creative genius that undergirds the development of compelling robot literature for children and supports science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education initiatives. As described by science advocate Ainissa Ramirez (2013), creativity is not only the "secret sauce" to STEM education; it is a "virtue" of STEM (para. 3). In other words, engaging in creative play with ideas and concepts is key to productive thinking and learning. At our university (the University of Nevada, Las Vegas), we have had the privilege of collaborating on interdisciplinary STEM projects that support elementary school teachers in fostering the engineering design process through robotics while advancing literacy connections through children's literature. We have also had the pleasure of hosting children's book creators such as Peter Brown, who invites readers into a philosophical conversation about artificial intelligence in a natural world in his new novel, The Wild Robot (2016). Below, we share a recent interview with Mr. Brown. Following this, we present an array of fiction and nonfiction books that puts the secret sauce in interdisciplinary STEM units that promote creativity and the early study of engineering and robotics in elementary school.

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