In a science methods course during the Covid-19 pandemic, 51 future elementary teachers wrote inspired children’s stories and then read them aloud as part of a giving-back, service learning activity as Open Educational Resources (OER). Collectively, we played Nature of Science (NOS) card games introduced by Cobern and Loving in 2002, and arrived at a cultural and the balanced view of NOS to highlight science as a complicated human affair that cannot easily be reduced to one or even a few simple descriptions. We advocated “knowing, understanding, and applying science” as culturally sustaining practices in that students’ cultural and linguistic ways of being and knowing needed to be part of their meaning-making processes and contributing factors to have a sense of belonging in STEM fields.
The 51 children’s stories and their accompanying audiobooks are intended to integrate STEM and the Arts to humanize science and scientific inquiry with history and philosophy of science in mind. Each of us read one chapter from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a prominent voice for the power and promise of traditional ecological knowledge, and its connection with Western science. In these chapters she showcases examples of the gift-based reciprocal relationship with self, with others, with worlds and with nature. Each of us authored, rehearsed narrating the authored stories, and recorded our own narration of an inspired fictional-educational children’s story.
Unwittingly or inherently, we may connect our lived experiences, perceptions, currently unexamined biases, and personal interpretations of the chapters to our children’s stories. For that, I hope we made the defects of our first steps perfect in presenting our work at a constant beta-stage. There is still much room to grow. Thank you and we hope you enjoy our children’s stories!