Prof. authors nanotech books for kids

University of Texas at Dallas - The Mercury - Sept. 24, 2012

UTD researcher Moon Kim strives to make nanotechnology, the diverse study of very small sciences, understandable to even the youngest of scientists.

Through the publishing company, 2Lux Media, he has authored a new iBook, "Hello Nano." The iBook aims to be an innovative and interactive way to immerse children and adults alike into the developing field of nanotechnology and is the first of its kind, Moon Kim said.

"Starting a company, writing a book and making money is a good thing, sure," Kim said. "But the main reason I started writing these books for students is for education, for outreach."

A collaboration between the author and various members of the Arts & Technology department, "Hello Nano" follows a hero named Nano as he showcases various nanotechnologies, from cars that change color to a painless syringe, and other applications that can improve the quality of life. The author combined their text with pictures, animations, videos and interactive games to present the knowledge in an easy, digestible format.

"Mathematics, physics and chemistry are difficult concepts to overcome. With animations and visualizations, we can make those things easier to grasp," Kim said. "It will make science more easily accessible and understandable. I think a lot of students can approach science and engineering in an easier way than before."

The work is amongst the many efforts by Moon Kim to encourage and motivate students to study science and engineering.

In 2010, Moon authored "A Day Surrounded by Nano," a children's book that showed how nanotechnology influences many aspects of everyday life.

It was selected for one of the best science books of the year by the Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Creativity.

"Young kids have a lot of curiosity. They are curious about how a thing works; they want to play with it. As they get older, they lose interest," Kim said. "Studies show that if we do not educate young kids in science and engineering before they become fifth or sixth graders, they will lose their interest in science and engineering completely."

Moon Kim, who frequently submits articles to scientific journals, faces the challenge of being understood by his younger audience.

"These books are not for professionals. They are for the general public and young students," Kim said. "Just telling the science the way I usually do is not going to be good, it's not going to be understandable."

Science, engineering and mathematics are critical in determining the competitiveness of a country and the respective economy.

The author hopes his work will reach the next generation of scientists and researchers.

The second book in the Hello Nano series, "Here Comes Nanorobots!," as well as translated editions of "Hello Nano" are currently in development.

Although "Hello Nano" is currently only available on iPad through iBooks 2, 2Lux Media is developing a version that will be compatible with Kindle devices.

"I'm not asking everyone to become a scientist, but at least everyone does appreciate a faster computer, a more accurate GPS and large flat-screen TVs," Kim said. "Whether people like nanotech or not, they enjoy the benefits; whether they want to pursue a career in that area is a different thing altogether."

By Joseph Mancuso.