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MOWMT March 30: Lydia Lukidis Intersects Art and Science

The Intersection of Art and Science 

By Lydia Lukidis

If you know me, you know I’m a huge STEM fan. But interestingly enough, I started out as an artist. My main passions were drawing and writing poetry. Raised by a family of science enthusiasts, I went on to earn a degree in Pure and Applied Science. But when I started University, I decided to leave that world behind to pursue art and literature. 

At the time, I saw science and art as entirely distinct disciplines. Today, my path has come full circle and I understand that both worlds are, in fact, connected. I now incorporate all the knowledge I gained when I studied science into my work as a writer. I’m particularly fond of writing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) books that encapsulate the magic around us, as well as the science in our everyday lives. My journey has taught me that we can be scientists and artists all at once. 

This lesson culminated as I wrote DANCING THROUGH SPACE: Dr. Mae Jemison Soars to New Heights (releases April 4, 2024). I started writing this book in 2014 and it took four years to develop the right hook (I had almost given up!). I was ecstatic when the hook finally emerged: the intersection of dance and science.

There are many STEAM books that connect art with science, I’ll start with mine and then mention some of my favorites.

Dr. Mae Jemison is not only a scientist and astronaut but also a creative being. While Mae employs logic and science to explain the world, she also acknowledges the critical value of art. She had a deep passion for dance when she was young and this carried through to her adult life. Although she studied engineering, she continued dancing. In fact, many of the skills she learned as a dancer helped with her astronaut training. This inspired me to write the text as a dual narrative of her two journeys that ultimately merged together.

I adore this book and it's definitely been a mentor text for me on numerous occasions. I love how Spires sets up the premise, that her protagonist will make “the most magnificent thing,” but doesn’t share what that is with readers until the very end. The mc learns about the artistic process with its stages of development, experimentation, and mistake making as she "tinkers and hammers and measures." She perseveres throughout it all and builds a dream creation for her dog. What a great blend of fictional narration along with STEM and the power of art.

This book engages young readers not only theoretically but also physically. It inspires them to become makers themselves by asking questions that provoke critical thought. The use of rhyme and repetition helps expand their imagination and also helps them develop confidence to try new things. Being a maker involves STEM concepts, art, and creativity. This book is about reading just as much as it is about doing and making.

I'm a big fan of Rube Goldberg as well as Aronson's picture book biography. From a young age, Goldberg had a passion for art but he became an engineer because his father wanted him to have a secure career. Goldberg’s studies in science ironically helped him achieve his dream of creating complex and highly creative contraptions with many parts that performed a simple task in an elaborate way. Young artists and inventors are surely be inspired by this story, and we as writers can learn how to inspire as we write our own stories.

Roth has an affinity for bowerbirds but instead of writing a book that simply presents facts about these birds, she finds a creative way to present the information. She draws a parallel between bowerbirds and herself, between the way they live and her artistic process as a collage artist. Throughout the book, readers learn interesting facts about bowerbirds through text narration and stunning visuals as Roth uses collage as an artistic medium. What a great STEAM book with a strong, unique hook!

There are many other children’s books that highlight the intersection of art and science. These disciples are connected, and together, they provide a fuller understanding of who we are.

Prize: Lydia is happy to give away a fiction or nonfiction PB critique <1000 words or an AMA by Zoom of 30 minutes.

BIO for Lydia Lukidis 

Lydia Lukidis is the author of 50+ trade and educational books for children. Her titles include DANCING THROUGH SPACE: Dr. Mae Jemison Soars to New Heights (Albert Whitman, 2024), DEEP, DEEP, DOWN: The Secret Underwater Poetry of the Mariana Trench (Capstone, 2023) which was shortlisted for a Silver Birch Express (Forest of Reading) award, THE BROKEN BEES’ NEST (Kane Press, 2019) which was nominated for a Cybils Award, and NO BEARS ALLOWED (Clear Fork Media, 2019). A science enthusiast from a young age, she now incorporates her studies in science and her everlasting curiosity into her books.

Lydia is very involved in the kidlit community. She volunteers as a judge on Rate your Story, co-hosts the annual Fall Writing Frenzy competition, and is an active member of SCBWI, CANSCAIP, 12 x 12, and The Authors Guild. Another passion of hers is fostering a love for children’s literacy through the writing workshops she regularly offers in elementary schools across Quebec with the Culture in the Schools program. Lydia is represented by Miranda Paul from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. 

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