Interview with Erin Teagan - Doll STEM Camp 2018
I can't think of a better way to celebrate the launch of Doll STEM Camp 2018 than with an interview featuring the amazing author who sparked not only my interest in STEM, but also the interest of girls everywhere- Erin Teagan!
It was an honor to have talked with Erin and receive her insight on STEM topics. Before Luciana debuted, I was really unaware of how fascinating space and science could be. However, after reading Luciana's books, I developed a curiosity to learn more about STEM, and I'm sure many of you feel the same! This interview opened up a whole new world for me in the area of science, and I hope that it will be just as inspiring for you. Enjoy!
Q: I’ve heard that your daughter is an enthusiastic American Girl fan; was it hard to keep such an exciting secret from her while you wrote Luciana’s books?
A: It felt impossible! I couldn’t wait to tell her. It was especially hard when her friends would come over with their American Girl dolls and I was in my office working away on Luciana’s story.
Q: What was your reaction when American Girl asked you to write books for the 2018 Girl of the Year?
A: I really couldn’t believe it! My first book, The Friendship Experiment, was about to come out. It’s about a girl that decides she’s going to survive the sixth grade by writing Standard Operating Procedures like a scientist. At the same time, American Girl was looking for an author that wrote science-focused books for kids. They read the book and asked me if I’d like to work on this project with them. It was like the stars aligned
Erin Teagan smiles with Luciana at an event display
Q: As a girl, did you always have a passion for STEM and science?
A: When I was a kid, math and science were my worst subjects. I felt pretty lost in math and science was hard for me. When I went to middle school, though, I met a real scientist working in the lab and it completely changed my life. I saw her working with a team, asking questions and making discoveries, working with instruments and mixing solutions. I realized that science isn’t just for the math geniuses in the world, and so, I decided to become a scientist myself.
Q: Can you see some of your interests and personality reflected through Luciana?
A: Yes! It was important to me to show Luciana as a forgiving person who gives people second chances. I also wanted Luciana to be brave and the kind of kid that doesn’t let setbacks derail her from her goals. These are all qualities that I admire and aspire for as well.
Q: Science and outer space have so many unique aspects, but what inspired you most as you wrote Luci’s series?
A: I learned so much writing the Luciana series. Luciana: Braving the Deep was inspired from what I learned about astronauts training underwater, and Luciana: Out of this World was inspired by the research I did on the Atacama Desert and how this harsh desert in Chile has been compared to the harshness on the surface of Mars.
Q: One of the most popular space snacks is freeze-dried ice cream. Have you actually tasted the treat yourself?
A: Yes! It is delicious! I did find out, though, that astronauts can’t actually eat ‘astronaut ice cream’ in space because it’s too crumbly.
Q: Luciana’s STEM storyline opens up a whole new world for most girls. What were a few of the unique experiences that you encountered while researching for Luciana?
A: I went to Space Camp! I rode the multi-axis trainer, docked a capsule to the International Space Station in a simulation, and scuba dived in the underwater astronaut trainer. Going to Space Camp to write the Luciana books was definitely the most exciting and fun research I’ve ever done for a book.
Erin Teagan and her two children reading Luciana Vega's first book
Q: There are so many fun characters in Luci’s story-- from tech-smart Johanna to lovable little Meg. Who happens to be your favorite character, and why?
A: Well, of course Luciana is my favorite character! But, I do love so many of the secondary characters. Parts of Meg remind me of my daughter and Johanna was so fun to write. I also like Charlotte who is always trying to make peace around her, and prickly Ella who wants a friend. Although, if I had to choose a favorite secondary character, it would be – Raelyn! Although we don’t see much of Luciana’s best friend from home in the books, in my mind, she’s a fully fleshed out character. I think Raelyn is really important to Luciana and keeps her ‘down-to-Earth.’ If there was a character with more story to tell, I think it would be Raelyn.
Q: What advice would you give to girls that hope to follow in Luciana’s footsteps by becoming a rocket scientist or astronaut?
A: My only advice is: GO FOR IT!! Don’t give up. Even if it feels hard or impossible. Even if you think you’re not brave enough or smart enough. Even if you experience a setback or two or one hundred. Nobody is born a rocket scientist or an astronaut. Take the time to learn and train. You can do it!
Very special thanks to Erin Teagan for taking the time to answer these questions and inspire girls to reach for the stars!
Author Erin Teagan has written several science-related books for children, including the American Girl Luciana Series and The Friendship Experiment. Erin grew up in Pennsylvania and now lives in Virginia with her husband, two children, and their dog.
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