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Materials Science Made Easy

Interesting and Educational: Finja Researches on the University Campus

University employee Isabell Harder has written a children’s book on materials science at Bremen University. The special thing about it is that it not only offers easy to understand insights into a very complex research field. All the institutions and employees mentioned in the story also exist in real life.

Finja and her friend Malik are really excited after finding a mysterious powder in a small box in a Bremen park. They don’t only want to find out whom it belongs to but also what it is. Their search leads the children to several institutions at Bremen University: firstly, to the MAPEX Center for Materials and Processes and the Leibniz Institute for Materials Engineering – IWT Bremen. Then they went to the 146-metre drop tower at the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM). They were welcomed everywhere they went. The scientists explained to the children how to find out what the powder is. In the drop tower, Finja and Malik were able to watch an experiment on microgravity.

The Idea for the Book Came During Maternity Leave

Isabell Harder spent several months researching her story. The 33-year-old visited numerous laboratories and spoke to the researchers who would feature in the book. “I learnt a great deal during this time,” says the former humanities student. Hereby it was certainly beneficial that she used to work in PR at the IWT Bremen. Isabell Harder, meanwhile, coordinates the kid’s university and numerous other knowledge transfer programs for children and young people on the campus and works as a freelance science communicator.

The young mother came up with the idea of the book during her maternity leave. “Someone should write a children’s book about a research topic,” she thought. There are so many exciting things to discover in Bremen.” In spring 2018 Isabell Harder started the project with the help of a crowdfunding campaign which raised 17,000 euros. Hereby the people who helped fund the idea were also able to choose the subject and figures which would appear in the story. The response of Bremen’s materials scientists to this idea was so great that the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) “Colored States” at Bremen University even brought the subject. Further people in materials science also wanted to appear in the story and were all carefully drawn by illustrator Lea Fröhlich.

Complicated Processes Explained Clearly

“We are all really impressed by the book,” says Dr. Nils Ellendt, Director of the CRC “Colored States”. “And we were really impressed by how clearly and easily the story describes complicated processes. It describes really well, for example, how a scanning electron microscope (SEM) works. “I will use this explanation for my lecture,” says the engineer. The research association thought a children’s book about materials science would be a good idea as the CRC is overseeing a project at the Wilhelm-Focke school in Bremen. “The pupils really enjoy our research topics,” says Ellendt. The book “Finja forscht – das geheimnisvolle Pulver” (Finja researches – the mysterious powder) is the first volume of a series in which Isabell Harder plans to present four further research areas in Bremen in the next few years. The book is published by Bremen’s Carl Schünemann Verlag.

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