Author Jennifer Swanson and her love of STEM

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Hello world!

Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome the talented nonfiction author Jennifer Swanson. I absolutely love her book Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact. And, she just recently released a few gem, Beastly Bionics published National Geographic Kids. Check out her book journey below:

Please describe the journey to publication for this book.
I have always been fascinated by engineering and technology. For me, the excitement of this topic is what work is being done NOW. I felt very strongly that this book should not just include technology that has been proven, but also technology that is still in the creative process. I want to show young readers what is possible and how they can imagine something and work to make it a reality. The idea is a bit revolutionary in terms of children’s books, because most books cover information that has already been proven. But I had worked closely with my National Geographic Kids editor on several books and she was really intrigued by my idea and excited to have it at her imprint.

Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?
This book is about animals, which are cool, and robots, which are also cool. So, why not? I loved the idea of writing about bionics and biomimicry. Nature is a wonderful way to be inspired to create objects that can help humans. I started reading about all of these amazing inventions, and knew kids would find them fascinating.

What is your writing process, and does it vary depending on the project?
Since I write about a lot of very technical topics, I tend to do my research as I write. I will have multiple tabs open on the computer, stacks of books next to me, as I read, digest, and write my manuscript. If  possible, I try to visit the places that I’m writing about. For me research trips are the BEST! I’ve been lucky enough and honored to be invited to many amazing science venues.

What draws you to the world of nonfiction?
My whole life I’ve been curious. Mostly I wanted to know how things work. How is that made? Why does it work that way? What are those coils and cords that provide the electricity? Most of all, I love learning. For me, learning is best when it is FUN! Which means that in my books I always look for a unique way to convey information. A different take on something. I want my readers to constantly say, “WOW. I didn’t know that.” Because that is how I feel when I do my research.

Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from your book.
Sticky feet that climb anything. Trunk-like robotic arms.  Super-senstive hearing. What is this? Some kind of new superhero? Nope. These are examples of robots that are engineered with bionics, or nature-inspired technology. It is innovation in action! Animal-style.
Packed with cutting-edge robotics, this book gives readers a peek inside creations that may have only been previously seen in a rainforest, ocean, or even just flying right outside your window.  Perfect for makerspaces, or kids who love robotics but not necessarily just coding.

Where do you see your career headed? Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?
I will continue to write books for kids about science and STEM. It is my passion and if they are able to inspire even one child to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or math, I would be extremely happy. As a way to further my reach, I have also just started a new STEM podcast called Solve It! for Kids.

Solve It! for Kids
The science podcast for curious & creative kids and their families.
Peek into the world of real-life scientists, engineers, and experts as they solve problems in their every day jobs. Kids and families are then invited to take on a challenge and solve a problem themselves! Join Jennifer and Jed as they ask questions, solve problems, and offer challenges that take curiosity and creativity to a whole new level.
Don’t forget to participate in our weekly challenges! If you do, you can be entered to win a free book. (Different book every month!)

Please share your favorite books that have inspired you and served as mentor texts. Pick one classic and one contemporary book. What is it about them that moved you?
Classic books that inspired me: The Nancy Drew Mystery series. While it’s a fiction book, this series got me hooked on investigation and inquiry, something every good nonfiction author needs in their search for knowledge.
Contemporary book: A Black Hole is NOT a Hole by Carolyn DeCristofano (Charlesbridge Publishing). This is an awesome book is  a fun and exciting look an extremely challenging topic. Well done and a great mentor text for me.

What is the best (one) piece of advice you would give to other writers? (I will make an ecard with your quote and circulate it)
Write what you are passionate about! That is the key to everything. If you love your topic, that passion will show through to all of your readers.

And a bonus question just for kicks! If you could be any flavour of ice cream, which one would you be and why??
I love chocolate chip cookie dough. It’s a bunch of different things all mixed together and  yet it all works as a great flavor.

Now, Jennifer Swanson is the award winning author of over 40+ nonfiction books for children, mostly about science and technology. Jennifer’s love of STEM began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. While no longer working from the garage, Jennifer’s passion for science and technology resonates in all her books but especially, BRAIN GAMES (NGKids) and SUPER GEAR: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up (Charlesbridge), Astronaut-Aquanaut, and Save the Crash-test Dummies. Her books have received many accolades including the starred reviews, Booklist Best Tech books list, Green Earth Book Honor Award, a Florida Book Award, and multiple California Reading Association awards, and National Science Teaching BEST STEM awards. her BRAIN GAMES book was even #13 on the The 50 Best Science books Ever Written.
An accomplished and exciting speaker, Jennifer has presented at National NSTA conferences, the Highlights Foundation, the Atlanta Science Festival, the World Science Festival in NYC and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival. Jennifer encourages kids (of all ages) to engage their curiosity and DISCOVER the Science all around them!

Social Media
Starred review from School Library Journal:
Twitter: @JenSwanBooks

30 thoughts on “Author Jennifer Swanson and her love of STEM

    Riya said:
    May 22, 2020 at 10:55 pm

    Thank you for sharing your process. Looking forward to ‘Plants Fight Back’ too. Such a great title!

    Liked by 1 person

    Paula Henson said:
    May 22, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    This looks great. Also looking forward to Plants Fight Back!

    Liked by 1 person

    Heather Haylock said:
    May 16, 2020 at 5:46 am

    Always great to read about the processes different people use to write. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    kelbelroberts said:
    May 16, 2020 at 3:40 am

    Always love there author stories about the road to getting a book on the shelves!

    Liked by 1 person

    Sara Petersohn said:
    May 16, 2020 at 1:09 am

    What a great Q & A! I appreciated hearing about your process for writing this book. Thank you both!

    Liked by 1 person

    aturner513 said:
    May 15, 2020 at 8:56 pm

    I’ve read several of your interviews on various blogs, Lisa, and I always learn something and it’s always interesting. I also have a science background. Love your Amazing Amphibians book and thank you for the critique offer.

    Liked by 1 person

    Susan said:
    May 15, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    It is so wonderful to see the non-fiction books are on the rise! Lisa is reputable and interesting. Thank you for the good post.

    Liked by 1 person

    Nora Nickum said:
    May 15, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this interview and finding some pieces of wisdom as I work in marine conservation and am working on writing picture books that make science and nature fun and engaging too. Thank you both!
    I look forward to checking out these books. And I would just love to win the critique!

    Liked by 1 person

    Elia Ben-Ari said:
    May 15, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Congratulations on your new book! It’s encouraging to see a fellow scientist having such success with children’s books.

    Liked by 1 person

    Linda Hofke said:
    May 15, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    Congrats, Lisa! This book looks toadly awesome.
    I love amphibians. I just read an article out the wolverine frog. Wow. It is one mighty weird frog.
    I can’t wait to see which amphibians you’ve featured in the book and to look at the pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    Marta said:
    May 15, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    So glad to see an environmentalist so successful. It’s wonderful what you are doing. With more books like yours, children will grow up respecting their surroundings.

    Liked by 1 person

    Jeanette Koscheski said:
    May 15, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing about your book. Thanks for offering a critique.

    Liked by 1 person

    Kathy Halsey said:
    May 15, 2020 at 11:55 am

    This looks like a book my grandson Tobin and I will dig. I know Lisa, we’re Ohio SCBWI buddies, and shared a lon car ride to Ga for an NF retreat. Congrats on another book, Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

    Laura Purdie Salas said:
    May 14, 2020 at 7:42 am

    Congrats, Lisa! Researching and writing simultaneously…yep! They’re not nearly as separate parts of the process (for me, anyway) as lots of people think!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      May 14, 2020 at 8:32 am

      I agree with that! Thanks for stopping by 🙂


    anitayasuda said:
    May 13, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    Looking forward to sharing Lisa’s book with students!

    Liked by 1 person

    Angie said:
    May 13, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    This book sounds so good! Love the picture! Thanks for sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    Mia Geiger said:
    May 13, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing how this book came to be! It looks informative, interactive, and fun! Best wishes with it!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      May 13, 2020 at 2:59 pm

      It’s always interesting to see how books come into this world…


    idzikola said:
    May 13, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Thanks Lydia for your interview of Lisa! I love her amphibian book!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Susan Johnston Taylor said:
    May 13, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    This book looks great! Thanks for the opportunity for a critique.

    Liked by 1 person

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