More about "enrichment" novels
Once the typical STEM kit’s finished, that's usually it. You might hear mutterings from those gathered around the assembled item: "So what?”, or "Now what?”
Good questions. Let’s face it, those are not the questions you want to hear.
Yes, some learners enjoy Makerspace activity but that’s no guarantee they see how assembling a kit connects to everyday life. And, finding out can be ‘boring’.
Another issue is that a particular S.T.E.M. kit topic might not be of interest to the learner. Definitely not enriching.
So, how to engage learners in a new and fresh way? How to provide a platform for enrichment? How else to cater to the diverse interests of learners?
Introducing SpringboardBooks, a series of what is intended to be three middle-high school novels, a hybrid genre. Originally, this was designed as a series activities for three, different five-day camps. But there’s no putting the lid a broader, better, bigger concept.
Each novel has a full storyline that weaves in enrichment materials, STEM activities and the arts.The first in the series is TimeTrap: OverLand Trek. The second is Star Chasers: ThroughUp&Over. The title for the third novel, with an ocean travel theme, is pending.
As a designer of S.T.E.M. Education experiences, I’ve craft a storyline then carefully select certain S.T.E.M. kits plus other activities to fit the plot. The reader can choose to complete the kit or activities as if she or he is part of the story. Each novel enfolds different STEM activities into an organic whole so there’s variety.
A springboard novel allows the reader to take a single line, or a paragraph, a setting, an activity, or a character and move beyond the storyline. For example, the characters in the novel might be taking a water sample or building a bridge. If the reader is intrigued by that theme, they are free to use this as a springboard into other areas--for instance to construct other types of bridges.
What else can you expect from a SpringBoard book? For starters, the reader is free to imagine him or herself as part of the team in one continuous story. Along the way, the team of intrepid adventurers in novel #1 TimeTrap: OverLand Trek must assemble more than one S.T.E.M. kit, or invent from scratch according to the plot line and challenge. One moment learners might be called on to examine an ancient document. Or break a code Sherlock Holmes style—to save lives and survive. Or figure out how to navigate without modern equipment.
The novel involves a team of eight (middle-high school) learners to work through the activities so teamwork is essential --which means eight readers can gather to meet the challenges posed by the novel plot line.
There’s more than typical S.TE.M. activities involved. Woven throughout the StoryLine are inserts of music, drawing, physical exercise, photography, debate, codes, writing (and dozens more).
On one level, this is the springboard. It offers unique experiences that each and every learner can choose to explore on his or her own. Not interested in learning about solar ovens? That’s fine. You learn how to make them then you move on in the plot. However, you might be interested in the mathematics of the angles involved in making the oven. Cool.
On another level, the plot propels the learners though the equivalent of five days worth of activities (approximately 35 hours).
I could continue but I won't. Suffice to say a springboard book ought to be enough to even pull adults in!