Improving equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the ORE sector is a core part of our work at the Supergen ORE Hub.
In response to a scoping study that looked at EDI in the engineering sector, the hub commissioned a children’s adventure book aimed at 4 to 6 year-olds and people reading with them.
The scoping study reported that:
- gender beliefs and stereotypes are often embedded at an early age
- by the time children reach primary school they often have a firm idea of their place in the world, making this an important stage to tackle diversity issues.
- books are important in the formation of how children see themselves in the world
- generally speaking, an overwhelming majority of main characters in books written for young people are portrayed as male and white. This becomes more of a direct issue when portrayals of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) job roles have an almost complete bias towards this overrepresented group.
Gaia’s Energy Adventure!
The book, Gaia’s Energy Adventure!, follows a young girl called Gaia and her teddy polar bear, Ursa, who comes to life. Ursa takes Gaia on an adventure to explore the engineering and environmental aspects of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy. Gaia learns how these technologies play a vital role in ensuring a clean and sustainable energy mix for the future.
Over 200 copies of the book have been sold to families and organisations using the books as gifts. In addition to this, copies of the book were shared with members of the public in the green zone at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). 200 copies of the book have been donated to 66 primary schools across the City of Plymouth thanks to a collaboration between the Supergen ORE Hub and Plymouth City Council.
Engaging young children
The book has also led on to explore further methods of engaging young children around ORE, including:
- University of Plymouth education students developing ideas for teaching materials based on the book
- a ‘game jam’ with perspective and early stage university students, looking at how the book could inspire ‘gamification’ of ORE
- discussions with several educational academy science leads around developing additional teaching materials that could sit alongside the book
- exploratory discussions with STEM Climate Ambassadors around using the book as a form of engagement in schools.
Copies of Gaia’s Energy Adventure! are available to purchase from the University of Plymouth online store for £5.99. The proceeds pay for the cost of producing the book and supporting other EDI activities undertaken by the Hub.
Top image: Credit: kohei_hara, E+ via Getty Images