Guest post by Laurie Wallmark
GUEST POSTS: NSTA Linking Literacy, NSTA National Convention, St. Louis, MO April 12, 2019, 1-4 pm.
The National Science Teacher’s Association has invited authors of Outstanding Science Trade Books and Best Stem Books to discuss literacy and children’s books at a special Literacy Event. 23 of these authors have contributed guest posts to run from January 15-April 9.
See the full author list at GUEST POSTS BY SCIENCE AUTHORS and the date on which they will post.
In choosing who was to be my next subject for a picture book biography about a woman in STEM (science, technology, math, engineering), I had to consider many factors—the availability of source material, existence of other kids’ books about her, and the importance of her contribution to STEM. The most important consideration, though, was whether the story of that person’s life and achievement would engage and inspire children.
Many adults have heard the name Hedy Lamarr. They think of her as a glamorous movie star, widely considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Few people, though, know she was also a brilliant inventor. Hedy co-invented the technology, known as spread-spectrum frequency skipping, which keeps our electronic devices—like computers, tablets, and phones— safe from hacking.
The more I delved into my research about Hedy, the more I realized she was so much more than her looks. As she put it, “People seem to think because I have a pretty face I’m stupid….I have to work twice as hard as anyone else to convince people I have something resembling a brain.” Although Hedy loved acting, she couldn’t wait for the end of each day’s filming. That was when she could work on her inventions in her home laboratory.
In thinking about Hedy’s life, I realized she would be a good role model (in some ways—not all) for young people. After all, many children have the mistaken idea that some interests and hobbies are incompatible with others. You can’t be a football player and like to sing. You can’t be good at math and be an artist. And you certainly can’t be smart and dress in the latest fashions.
I hope that by reading Hedy’s story, children will learn you don’t have to choose between their interests. (Not to mention they might learn a little science alone the way.)
Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life (Sterling Children’s Books) releases February 5, but is available for preorder now wherever fine books are sold.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark’s debut picture book, ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE (Creston Books, 2015), received four starred trade reviews (Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal) and many national awards including Outstanding Science Trade Book and Cook Prize Honor Book. Her picture book biography, GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE (Sterling Children’s Books, 2017), earned a Kirkus star and is a Parents’ Choice Gold Medal winner. Her next book, HEDY LAMARR’S DOUBLE LIFE (Sterling Children’s Books), releases in February 2019.Laurie has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from VCFA.