On February 28, 1928, Sir CV Raman made an important discovery that won him a Nobel Prize for Physics. The Raman Effect, as it is popularly known today, was the first to explain inelastic scattering of light – the change in the wavelength of light that occurs when a light beam is deflected by molecules.
Today, several advancements in various fields, including physics and medicine, rely strongly on this principle. To commemorate this significant discovery, the country celebrates February 28 as National Science Day.
Bengaluru based Pratham Books has been actively involved in piquing children’s interest in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – subjects. This year, as part of their National Science Day celebrations, they’ve planned for the third edition of ‘Wonder Why Week’.
Suzanne Singh, Chairperson of Pratham Books, says, “This year, we are launching three new books on StoryWeaver (Pratham Books’ digital platform of openly licensed children’s stories), conducting a couple of storytelling events and running contests related to STEM books via social media.”
In fact, one of the books that they’re launching this time – Anna’s Extraordinary Experiments with Weather – is a book on Anna Mani, one of India’s most prominent weather scientists who did her research under CV Raman in Bangalore.
“Over the last three years, we have created over 400 STEM books to address the lack of such books available in India for young readers. We have received long-term support from Oracle to develop these STEM books,” says Suzanne.
The STEM books have been created in collaboration with subject matter experts like Vena Kapoor from Nature Conservation Foundation (for a book on spiders), Radha Rangarajan, Photography Editor at Nature in Focus (on crabs), Marine Biologist Shreya Yadav, Physicist Sukanya Sinha, etc. The topics of the books range from introducing children to fascinating marine creatures to demystifying math concepts, making physics more relatable to exploring incredible topics such as animals in space, virtual reality, and women in science.
While it is common to hear students complaining about how daunting STEM subjects can be, Suzanne explains that it is mainly because the more playful and exploratory aspects of these subjects haven’t been introduced to them.
Pratham Books is confident that these books can help introduce this more fun side of STEM to kids.
“It has been our observation that children are able to grasp and retain certain concepts more effectively when they are presented through memorable stories,” says Suzanne, citing examples of books such as Jadav and the Tree-Place, which is based on the life of Jadav Molai Payeng, an environmental hero from Assam.
Pratham Books also has a number of exciting books like How Do Aeroplanes Fly? in which the protagonist, Sarla, is fascinated by planes and aspires to be a pilot. Suzanne explains that by having adventurous, curious, creative, intelligent and daring female protagonists in their stories they are aiming to challenge the general perception of women.
“After children were exposed to the story, we saw a clear shift in their attitude, showing that their belief had changed: that women can indeed fly planes. This clearly demonstrates the power stories have to shape children’s worldview,” says Suzanne.
The books are available in both print and digital formats in English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and Tamil. Check out their books here.