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STLCC-Florissant Valley Professors Pen New STEM Book

September 14, 2015

STEM book  

Two professors at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley recently saw the publication of their book, “The Everything STEM Handbook.”

The book, coauthored by Rihab Sawah and Anthony Clark, features dozens of experiments and learning activities parents can use to engage their children. Published by Adams Media, the book is available on bookstore shelves across North America, as well through online retailers such as Amazon.

“STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is more than a buzzword in education,” said Clark, associate professor and acting chair of Business & Economics at Florissant Valley. “We actually believe it’s a pathway to the future for all societies. As we explain in the book, the fastest-growing careers these days are in STEM fields.”

Sawah, an associate professor of physics and astronomy, said, “The activities in the book draw on everyday life such that kids can learn to see science come to life all around them. I love to teach interactively and to help others learn through investigation. There’s nothing that’s more exhilarating than watching students discover new concepts about the world around them.”

Although Clark and Sawah are accustomed to working with college-aged students, both have experience teaching younger students.

“I used to go to Cub Scout meetings with my nephew and teach the kids about physics on a very basic level,” Sawah said. “That’s the kind of spirit we brought to this book.”

Clark has taught basic economics to third graders as a Junior Achievement volunteer.

Regarding the writing process, Clark said, “We wrote a fair chunk of the book over winter break last year. The publisher had us on a tight deadline – I think we had just a little over two months to turn in the final manuscript. Honestly, writing the book reminded me a lot of being in grad school.”

Sawah said of the experience, “It was invigorating. The days would blend into the nights such that I felt I stepped out of this reality for a couple months while completing the book.”

She added that her deepest joy was in sharing the writing experience with her husband.

On that subject Clark said, “It definitely helped that I was married to my coauthor. It made it easier to complete the book on time, but it also made it more special. We each wrote exactly half of the book – she took care of the science and I handled the math, the resource guides and the general chapters.”

“The Everything STEM Handbook” features activities related to physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, engineering, geometry, algebra, statistics and basic mathematics. The book also includes resource guides for things such as science kits, science apps, STEM summer camps, science magazines and science museums. 

When asked what it was like to see their book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, Clark said, “I must admit that it felt pretty good. I’ve written and published other works, but nothing that’s been so widely distributed.”

Sawah is glad that her hard work will benefit parents and kids across the country and, thanks to online distribution, around the globe.

Both Clark and Sawah intend to keep writing. Clark is working on an economics book for a general audience, and Sawah is planning to revise her master’s thesis focused on the historical development of astronomical observatories in the Middle East.
“I’m also beginning to write some metaphysical pieces relating to personal growth that I hope to one day publish in both English and Arabic,” Sawah said.