Monday, November 12, 2018

MMGM Guest Post - Serafina Loves Science




Guest Post - Cara Bartek



Serafina Loves Science

I am thrilled to host Cara Bartek for today's MMGM focus. Thanks so much Cara, for stopping by today!

 As the mom of a math and science loving daughter, I truly appreciate the STEM focus of these awesome stories. More than that, I love the fun and adventure thrown in. These books are a must have! Add them to your Christmas shopping list!

Cara has taken the time to share her publishing journey with us, and how the Serafina series came to be. Enjoy!

Time Traveling Ten-Year Olds

I read A Wrinkle in Time quite literally on a dark and stormy night. I was ten and we had just moved from the sprawling concrete suburbs of North Houston out to a small farming community in Austin County, Texas. Where my old school was new and state of the art with computers and carpeting and air conditioning, my new school was built sometime around World War II and looked like something Norman Bates and his mom would consider “lovely”. 

It was also a dark and stormy time in my life. We were living with my grandparents as we were making this transition. My parents were going through a rough time, I was going through a rough time adjusting to the new environment, and I felt pretty alone. 

The library at my new elementary school was cozy and proved to be a nice sanctuary, save for the really scary librarian. She was something like a cross between Old Mother Hubbard and the devil himself. In the library there was no talking, no eye contact, no loud breathing, and certainly no love. She preferred everyone to make his or her reading selection silently and then immediately leave. 

I had picked through the stacks many times, as I was already a bookworm at this point in my life. I ran across a copy of A Wrinkle in Time and was drawn in by the cover. It was a depiction of some sort of flying horse with kids on its back. It looked pretty cool, so I gave it a shot.

I read the entire book in a single night. That is a pretty big accomplishment for someone who actively avoided brushing her teeth. The book had me. I wanted to be Meg. I wanted to visit new and strange worlds. I wanted to be understood just like Calvin understood her. Most of all I wanted to escape. I wanted to jump through that tesseract just like Meg and Charles and Calvin. 

My life pivots along the line of that night – the ten years prior to reading A Wrinkle and all the time that followed. You may think this is a story about how I came to love reading. (Actually that story happened much earlier in my life as I watched my mom and dad devour hardbacks and paperbacks and grocery store novels and Tolstoy and McMurtry and Anne Rice. Reading brought them so much pleasure I thought I would try it on myself.) This is a story about something different. 

That chasm, that fault line represents the day I realized science was more than just a subject. Until that evening with my thirty-year old copy of A Wrinkle in Time, science was something that was talked about, studied, used, and left at school. Cold and antiseptic. It was never brought home. It didn’t have utility in my life. It was a concept that people who were much older and much smarter than me used. Meg, Charles, and Calvin had used science to bend space and time and transform their ordinary lives into something extraordinary. 

I took this realization into my own life and started to grow keen on science. I saw how the simple concepts we were learning had much broader and deeper meanings. You could almost hear all the gears grinding to life in my brain. I saw how through the understanding of the most basic tenets of the universe, you could in some small way begin to master the world around you. You could gain power in your own life. You could, in some small way, escape the nasty and dogging reality of being a kid in between. A kid who exists somewhere between child and grownup and has no real control over parents fighting or where you live or what other people think of you. This power was the power of understanding. 

As a woman in STEM, I see the under-representation of women in all roles, including leadership, the difficulty that exists in balancing work and home by way of outdated family and maternity practice, and the lack of opportunity for advancement. I spent time working in educational and advocacy groups trying to promote change. What I realized is the people standing next to me, my peers, my colleagues, all agreed change should happen. So I asked myself why were things so slow to change? Later, as I became a mother, I realized that not all girls believe they are capable, amazing, and wonderful. It struck me. The hearts and minds that need to be changed are not people my age; it’s the children. 

In the Serafina Loves Science! series I seek to create this connection for little girls. I am working to change their hearts and minds about their ability to excel in science. I also hope to make them laugh and enjoy scientific concepts along the way. I know I am no Madeline L’Engle, but I hope to make “nerdy” happen one fart joke at a time. 

About Serafina Loves Science! The series is middle grade fiction that focuses on an eleven-year-old girl named Serafina Sterling. Serafina is just like all other eleven-year-olds who have to deal with issues like annoying older brothers, cliques at school, and parents who restrict her use of noxious chemicals. Serafina is trying to figure it out, much like all of her friends. But she has a little secret… Serafina loves science! Her passion for all things scientific helps her make new friends and figure the old ones out, understand her family, invent new devices for space travel, and appreciate the basic principles of the universe.

About me: I live in Texas with my husband and two daughters. The Serafina Loves Science! series was inspired in part by my own career path. The other part of my inspiration is my two little girls. I hope to make this world a more equitable and opportune place for my daughters one silly story at a time!






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2 comments:

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Thanks so much, Cara!! :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats to Cara! I would have loved this series for my daughter when she was younger. She's always loved science and will graduate with a chemistry major this year.

And Shannon, so good to see you here. Hope you start blogging more regularly now.

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