Archive for September, 2019

Dr. Renee Horton: Scientist-Author Extraordinaire

Dr. Renee Horton’s visit celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon walk.

Author, scientist, role-model: Dr. Renee Horton is whip-smart, hardworking, good-natured, and caring. She visited Des Moines in August. In a trip hosted by the Des Moines Public Library, she stopped by Drake University for a reception in her honor. She shared her book, her experiences with NASA, and her message on STEM and kids.

Horton’s life is the inspiration behind her book series Dr. H Explores. Currently, there are two books out, From Mercury to Mars and From Jupiter to Uranus, with two more forthcoming. Readers can also get Dr. H dogtags and a Dr. H stuffed toy.

What makes this author special is that she lives what she writes. Horton specializes in Materials Science and holds degrees in engineering, math, and physics. She works full-time at NASA as the Space Launch System (SLS) Lead Metallic/Weld Engineer and has won numerous awards for her professional work and community advocacy. And while you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to write books, it sure makes book talks interesting!

After her Des Moines visit, she took to a moment to talk with us about her incredible adventure into STEM literacy.

Visit Dr. Renee Horton’s website to learn more or purchase her books and merchandise.

Q. What inspired you to write for children?

A. I believe that every child is born curious with an active imagination, and we should allow them to explore to find themselves. The books are my way to impact their lives early, to help them stay curious, and create a desire to explore in a creative way.  It’s my way of letting the kid in me have fun. 

Q. What message do you hope to share with kids through your books?

A. First, I hope to provide a positive representation of inclusion of all in STEM while helping kids learn that everyone is different. The second thing I want them to walk away with is that STEM is fun. 

Q. What writing projects are you or will you be working on next?

A. The next writing project for Dr H Explores is Trip to the Moon coming out at the beginning August. Next, Dr H finally gets to meet Pluto in the book scheduled to release in October.  For a personal writing project, I am currently working with Kay Fenton Smith on writing my memoir that will detail my pain, my growth, and my happiness in life. 

For more information or to contact Dr. Renee Horton, please visit her website: https://www.reneehortonphd.com/about.html. We love her opening quote: “When you find your intersection between your talent and your passion, you find your true happiness.” It’s clear that Horton has found that intersection, and her enthusiasm helps pave the way for others on a similar path.

Thanks to the Des Moines Public library for sharing Dr. Horton’s visit with Drake University.

Author Grace Grundmeyer Writes Geode Adventure

Meet Grace Grundmeyer, author.
(Photo courtesy of G&R Rock Keepers.)

Authors, even very young ones, are inspired by things that happen in their lives. That is especially true for our talented 10-year-old friend, Grace Grundmeyer. She stopped by the blog to share her debut picture book: The Adventures of Eli and Lincoln: The Hidden Treasure.

Overview:
Grace chose the names Eli and Lincoln, who are friends in the story, to pay tribute to her cousins who passed away. In the book, the boys stumble upon a geode while playing. They find it’s ugly on the outside and hollow on the inside.  Soon, they learn it’s a geode, find out it’s beautiful, and start a rock collection. To make it more visually challenging, there’s a hidden pick ax on every page.

Writing Process
Grace’s story started like most do. She wrote it out by hand on lined paper. But the process didn’t end there. “Once I got the story just how I wanted it,” said Grace, “my parents helped me locate an illustrator and publishing company.  I met with the illustrator a couple times to get each page just right.” After a final proof, she waited for the hard-cover copies to arrive.   “It was fun to see them all printed,” she added. Besides writing and editing the book, she spent a lot of time researching information.

Governor Kim Reynolds, Co-Chair of the Iowa STEM Initiative, stopped by Grace’s booth at the Iowa State Fair. Iowa’s official state rock is the geode.

STEM/Literacy Connections
The book is a perfect supplement to an elementary rock unit, classroom read-aloud, or bedtime story. On the last page, Grace included topics for teachers or parents to talk to kids about, titled Discussion Points. 

Grace shared a few highlights: “Some of the important lessons include how the beauty is on the inside (just like a geode) which can be used to discuss many important topics like bullying, self-esteem, or rock hunting.”

The book also promotes getting outside and going on an adventure. “Although a new adventure may make you nervous,” said Grace, “there are also exciting things that might happen or you may learn by experiencing something new.”

Advice
We asked Grace what advice she has for other people who want to write a book. She passed this along, “If you want to write a book, anyone can actually do it.  It takes time and you have to focus on just how you want it to be when it is all done.  I learned writing a book is harder than I thought, but it can be a fun process.”

More Info
Grace welcomes the opportunity to talk to others about her book and geodes in general. Visit her website for contact information on speaking engagements. To learn more about geodes, to buy a copy of the book, or get some geode jewelry and bling, visit Grace’s website: www.gandrrocks.com. You can also find her book online at Mascot Books‘ website or Amazon.

Nature rocks! Grace’s whole family enjoys going on an outdoor adventures.
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