QUT Robotics Professor Michael Milford is aiming to inspire the next generation of scientists, creating "The STEM Storybook" - a collection of 12 picture books covering topics ranging from statistics to robotics.
STEM is now considered to be one of the critical skillsets required for the future by organisations - ranging from the National Science Foundation to national and state government organisations - and Professor Milford wanted to create a series of storybooks he could read with his young son and daughter that exposed them to key STEM concepts.
"I couldn’t find anything that fit the bill already out there, so I went ahead and created them myself."
Professor Milford has 17 years of experience teaching maths and robotics to teenage and university students.
"We know from many studies and personal teaching experience that much of a person's" success in education is determined by what happens at an early age," he said. "If we can get young kids familiar and excited about STEM concepts early on, the rest of their education and careers will be that much easier."
Professor Milford wants the project to build on his previous work to boost knowledge of the STEM fields in education. Supported by the AMP Foundation, he sent nearly 2000 copies of math novels and study guides to more than 180 schools around Australia.
"We've already been working with school kids through the novels and workshops, and with adults through initiatives like Hollywood movie science reviews in The Conversation and workshops at World Science Festival. Now we're expanding our scope to early childhood," he said.
"It would be amazing if we could grow this initiative to the point where every child in Australia had cheap access to a range of STEM-filled, entertaining picture books," he said.
The STEM Storybook has just launched as a project on Kickstarter and has a funding goal of $5000 to cover costs including print production, distribution of printed copies and print licenses.
Professor Milford said if the kickstarter campaign just passes its target, it is likely the campaign will make a loss but he would use his own funds. He also said if the target was surpassed by a large margin then the offset printing becomes feasible and cost of printing drops and backers would receive extra bonuses.