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ALERT: cross-genre writing
What does "cross-genre" mean?
Hey folks: in case you aren't sure what cross-genre writing is, you've just met your first example here. TimeTrap, is a seamless blend of two, or more genres: the novella form plus how-to manual. Just to let you know, a novella typically hovers around the 17,000-50,000 word mark though this varies depending on who's writing about it. There's quite a bit of flexibility. The average novel can hit 75,000-90,000. Not to be outdone, a typical sci-fi novel can register well above 100,000 words and counting. In other words, word limits don't always mean all that much other than it gives writers some sort of ballpark in which to play.
On to a more important issue: what's the motivating force behind the creation of TimeTrap? For one thing, it's about creating a STEM/STEAM novella for enrichment purposes. It involves active creation on the part of the reader and the use of STEM kits. Here's where TimeTrap is different...
How can STEM kits be part of a novella?
Consider the typical S.T.E.M. education kit—a collection of wood, metal, paper, plastic or cardboard pieces in a box plus some very dry, bare-bones instructions. Build a solar car, a bridge, a kite, a catapult. That sort of thing. In the average kit booklet, there may be predictable questions of the sort found in the everyday curriculum. Not the most exciting approach to learning enrichment, engagement and creativity. But wait! There’s more! I mean less.
Once the kit’s finished, that's usually the end. You might hear mutterings from those gathered around the assembled item: "So what?’, or "Now what?’
Not the responses you want to hear if you’re an educator. Or if you are a learner.
Yes, some learners enjoy Makerspace-style activity involving cobbling materials together but that’s no guarantee users see how assembling a kit connects to everyday life. Another challenge to deal with: a particular S.T.E.M. kit’s topic might not be of interest to the learner.
So, how to engage learners in a new and fresh way? How to provide a platform for enrichment and cultivate the imagination? How to cater to the diverse interests of learners and encourage them to see that there are hundreds of topics with relevant and important connections to everyday life?
Introducing the first in a series of three Enrichment SpringboardBooks—part novella, part how-to manual, part activity using STEM kits and creativity exercises. TimeTrap is the first of these. Originally, the concept of Springboard Books was as a series of activities for five-day STEM camps for teens. But there’s no putting the lid on a broader, better concept.
Each novella will have a full storyline that weaves in enrichment materials, STEM activities and the arts. The first in the series is TimeTrap: OverLand Trek because the characters in the story travel across a deserted island. The second novella is currently named Star Chasers: ThroughUp&Over. because the characters go over mountains and through caves. The title for the third novella, with a water travel theme, is pending.
As a designer of S.T.E.M. Education experiences,
I craft a storyline then carefully select certain S.T.E.M. kits plus other activities to fit the plot. The reader (you perhaps) can choose to complete the kit or activities as if you are a character in the story. Each novella enfolds different STEM/STEAM activities into an organic whole.
Each novella is built on “springboards”. A single term, line, paragraph, setting, or activity in the plot can prompt the reader to move beyond the storyline to investigate further and actively create. For example, characters in TimeTrap might be forced to choose one of several options to solve an urgent problem such as cross especially difficult terrain. Should they build a bridge? use a hot air balloon? or employ some other method? Should these be made from commercial kits or be home made?
What else can readers expect from a SpringBoard Enrichment book? The characters are involved in a believable adventure that’s wholesome, apolitical, and very challenging.
Click the planet to read the excerpt from TimeTrap. Enjoy!
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