Making math and quantum physics fun with Chris Ferrie

Chris Ferrie, a physicist from Sydney, believes that parents and children may learn that quantum physics and mathematics “can be fun.” Therefore he decided to create the For Babies Series of children’s books.

We had a chat with Dr. Ferrie about his children’s books and the importance of introducing curious children to big ideas!

1. What motivated you to create the Baby University Series?
It started back in 2013 when my oldest daughter was in preschool. I was looking for science books for the pre-reading age range and couldn’t find any. So, I decided to write one myself! Once the title “Quantum Physics for Babies” popped into my head, I knew I had something that would at least get some double-takes. Self-publishing is so easy to get into these days that I didn’t think I had anything to lose and so I gave it a go. Later, the Baby University brand was conceived by Sourcebooks, my current publisher. For them, I suspect, it was a combination of a good market opportunity and the desire to change the world with books.

2.On your blog, you mentioned that children today spend their lives closer to technology and computers more than ever before. Can you explain what kind of impact you want your books to have on children?
Regardless what I write in children’s books, kids will always learn more from the passive interactions with their parents and teachers. But, the problem is that many adults find physics and mathematics scary. I hear things like this all the time: I was never good in science class, I’ll never understand physics, or I hated math in school. Whether it is intentional or not, they steer their children away from these topics. I want parents, and hence children, to not fear physics and mathematics and to see that, maybe, it can even be fun.

3.The Goodnight Lab book that was recently published highlighted an ending to a long day in the lab. What are the benefits of reading to children about this scientific parody that is not commonly seen in today’s children’s books?
When I thought of the idea, I had many things in mind: I wanted female representation in a STEM book for my daughter; I wanted something reasonably accurate instead of science fiction; I wanted something funny; and, of course, I wanted something to catch people’s attention. The parody part covers the latter two. The book wouldn’t be funny or interesting without it and it also benefits from the success and status of a classical book. Not everyone knows yet they need STEM books in their life 😉

I think there is very little benefit from reading one STEM book. But I hope that parents and children like it enough to continue reading more science books and authors continue to fill this space with more like it.

Chris Ferrie is a senior lecturer at the Centre for Quantum Software and Information at the University of Technology Sydney. You can find more information about him and his books here:

 

About Yasinee Rotratsirikun

I am a molecular biologist in California with a passion for science communication. I believe our world can benefit from science if there was a better connection between scientists and the public. I am passionate about communicating science to children, science visualization and 2D/3D animation.
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