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JENNIFER SWANSON

Middle school science instructor, John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth 

 

And - Award-winning children's author and Founder, KidLiteracy, Inc.

Hang in there - great things are on there way if you just work hard and believe in yourself. 

What do you do?

I am a middle school science teacher for Earth and Space, Life Science, and Physical Science. 

I'm also an author of science books for kids. I take complicated STEM topics and turn them into easily understandable concepts that are exciting for kids to read about/interact with.

Lastly, I founded KidLiteracy, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to improving literacy in children and created STEM Tuesday.com, a blog that focuses on highlighting great STEM/STEAM books for kids.

   

Why did you choose this field?

"I write books for kids, like me, that have tons of questions about the world."

I have always loved science! I started a science club in my garage when I was 7. My 7th grade science teacher (a female) was the one who really helped to ignite my passion for science. After her class, I wanted more than anything to become and doctor. That did not happen (organic chemistry and I just didn't get along, so to speak), but I never lost my passion and love for science. 

I became a teacher, but when I was almost 40 I felt the overwhelming desire to write books for kids. And what would I write? Science books, of course! Writing for children has doubled, or tripled my passion for STEM. I focus more on engineering and technology types of books. 

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I just did a presentation at the World Science Festival on the main stage during their Saturday Night Lights: Stargazing in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime event. It was fabulous! If I would have known that this is where I'd be all these years later, I would have told that geeky self-conscious girl to hang in there, great things are on there way if you just work hard and believe in yourself. 

Why do you love working in STEM?

STEM is my passion! If you know me, I'm (still) that kid who asks tons of questions about how and why things work. And I get to learn all about it in research for my books. I've been so lucky to speak with a lot of amazing scientists and share the work they are doing with kids. That is what I look forward to every day-- figuring out what element of STEM I can get kids excited about next. 

Best advice for the next generation

Go for it! Don't let anyone tell you you can't, go out and learn. If you fail, pick yourself back up again. Remember, in STEM we all learn from our "mistakes". But if you love it, do it! 

Fun fact

I still have the microscope that my mom gave me when I was 7 years old for my science club. It is kept nice  in a very special wooden box. I have it in my office and look at it every day.