Superhero Science at the Imagination Academy!
I know some of you have been wondering about my recent “Superhero Science” workshop. It was so much fun! Hooray for science! Hooray for writing! Hooray for Superhero Science!
The 67th Street branch of the New York Public Library has an awesome summer program for kids 8-12. They get to meet published authors and then try their hand at writing all kinds of neat stuff in workshops designed especially for them! The “Imagination Academy” is a great chance for budding writers and inspired readers alike to write, read, and hang out with other writers! My workshop theme, "Superhero Science" was inspired by this year's national summer reading program theme, Superheroes.
I had a chance to meet 10 awesome young writers who are thinking and writing about amazing things. We had a great time talking about two different ways to write about science! Of course there are lots of ways to write about science, but since we only had a few hours, I thought it would make sense to focus on two possibilities.
First, we talked about “Just the Facts, Ma’am!” Sometimes, we want to write about cool science facts and report real science. It’s important for people to know about the amazing way our world works (thanks, science!). These are the kinds of articles I have written for Spigot and Appleseeds. The information is scientific in nature, but I work to make it interesting by translating some of the science into more understandable language.
But… sometimes we want to take those facts and write fiction! I call this “Science-Flavored Fiction” because even though the story or character might be made up, the ideas start with real science! (PS: this is the kind of work I’m doing in my novels!)
Our writers had 5 writing stations during our workshop: Superhero Scientists, Evil Lairs & Secret Hideouts, Gizmos & Gadgets, Superpowers, and Maps. We also had a “Mad Scientist’s Lab” station with crayons and markers and paper to kick start our thinking by drawing. At each station, I provided a bunch of cool science facts and information. After checking out the science, our writers got to choose: “Just the Facts, Ma’am” or “Science Flavored Fiction,” writing in response to a prompt.
We had a blast! At the end of the workshop, each writer got a chance to read her favorite piece for the rest of the group to hear. Our writers explored the amazing speed of cheetahs and imagined superhero powers for primatologist Jane Goodall. We had amazing lairs in outer space, in trees, and in an iceberg! (Just imagine, if you could choose the scientist of your choice and give him or her super powers inspired by real animal powers in nature, what would you write?)
I can’t wait to do a workshop like this again! The Superhero Science theme worked really well. We explored both fact and fiction in fun, new ways. The writers were amazing and their imaginations were bold and inspiring. I can’t wait to see what they write next!
Here are a few photos from the day! I can't thank Superhero Librarians Rebecca Dash Donsky and Jacqueline Schector enough for the chance to spend the day at the “Imagination Academy"!
This series of photos is part of our discussion about how to research and write about science. Here, we discuss research techniques like interviews and how field research--like underwater mapping techniques and photographing amazing creatures like an octopus--can play a part in shaping interesting articles. (To see the next image in the carousel, just click it with your mouse.)
Update: Here is the NYPL post about the first week of Imagination Academy!